Californian Grover Anderson balances teaching, family life, and country gigs to deliver The Frontman
My blog is mostly a hobby, something that’s transformed a passion for country music into a pursuit to uncover new music and have a creative outlet while telling others what I discover.
So, when a young indie artist like Californian Grover Anderson approaches Karen Loves Country with a PR pitch, it is oh-so rewarding but always a little surprising. Grover has a new country album The Frontman out this Thursday (Download/stream via iTunes, Spotify, groveranderson.com). Amazingly, my blog ended up on his target list of ways to promote it.
Before social media, Grover and I would probably never have crossed paths and it kinda blows my mind we did now. Grover lives about ten miles up a mountain road from Murphys, California (population 2000), and about an hour east of Stockton. I live ten miles from Davenport, Iowa, in a town even smaller than Grover’s and 1,593 miles away. But social media makes miles disappear and Grover found me on a list of country music blogs written from a fan’s perspective. “You are at the top of a lot of lists for that actual category,” Grover explained. Marvel that.
Grover’s vintage sounding name and PR pitch hooked me even before I listened to his music. (My name was Anderson for my first 27 years but there is no relation.) His nicely-detailed PR package proffers The Frontman as a homespun, Americana collection of story based songs. That’s accurate.
The Frontman features eight country tunes from someone who has seemingly found a sweet spot blending artistic, creative pursuits within the steadiness of family life and a regular day job. The 32-year-old Grover teaches English and Drama at the same high school he attended.
On weekends, he hits the road with his four-piece band The Lampoliers (Anderson plus Marshall Henry, Anthony Delaney, and Josh Certo) for gigs at mountain wineries, small bars, and festivals. During the summer when school is out, he expands touring stretches and he’s about to head out for a circle around the Northeast.
Grover is married to Katie, also a teacher, and they have a darling toddler daughter named Jo Jo.
The album artwork calls attention to a track called Wasps with a sketch of a big brown wasp. That particular tune is my favorite; it is about giving oneself permission to enjoy life’s free and easy moments such as a dirt road Jeep ride or backyard guitar jam despite, “a hundred things to tend to” and pesky troubles. I’m sure the catchy country pop song plays well with a Sunday afternoon winery crowd.
The title track Frontman was written in a bar parking lot before a gig. At the risk of sounding grandiose, this song may be what a Steve Goodman song could have sounded like if the folk singer/Chicagoan had been from California. With this song, Grover cleverly pokes a bit of fun at himself for being the frontman of the second biggest band in a small town. It’s a fun story.
Standing Water is a more serious tribute to his commitment to music while making a conscious choice to pursue it as a sideline versus a fulltime career. Still, fulfilling creative yearnings takes time, effort, and sacrifice. Standing Water seems to celebrate and appreciate a partner’s courage to say: “Go, go, there’s nothing for you in this town. You’ve seen all there is to see. I want you to stay, stay, and you’d love to settle down. But I can’t let you burn out here with me.” Katie must be the song’s muse. “My wife is very supportive as I record my CDs and drive across the state on Saturday evenings for shows,” Grover says.
The Good urges friends (or a younger self) that there’s no good in agonizing over what is lost. There’s a practicality as Grover sings, “the flowers you bought will decay inside a landfill. The tree you carved your names into will burn down into ash.” What’s the use in worrying, he asks.
There are some similarities in theme with the track Parallel. But in this song, Grover observes a brokenhearted friend’s raw pain. It is about what happens when love goes cold and someone finally realizes they are better off out of a relationship.
Grover has Jo Jo on his mind for The Archives, a reflective folk-infused tune. He gives his baby daughter a word about life while reminding himself to take time with her. In a way, it reminds me of Sturgill Simpson’s Welcome to Earth (Pollywog) from A Sailor’s Guide to Earth.
Keeping on with the namedropping, there are two artists that came to mind when I heard Evergreen. If Paul Simon wrote a country love song it might be this one. (Maybe he did, btw?) The melody and poetic lyrics in Evergreen are blended perfectly. You might even imagine a balsomy breeze as Grover’s smooth, sweet vocals confess satisfaction and joy at finding an everlasting partner. Grover told me 90s country music is a big influence and he’s a big fan of Garth Brooks. He sounds like Garth Brooks, especially on Evergreen.
Grover’s political statement On Comfort leans on his folk side as he shares his feelings of guilt for being too comfortable amid unsettling times. Most of the recording for The Frontman happened at his home recording studio with support from The Lampoliers and Grover acting as his own recording engineer. “I do my best,” he says.
Grover is hoping to build on his earlier streaming success – he’s achieved over 2 million streams on Spotify with an earlier “poppier” album called The Optimist and songs Moonshine, Little Spoon, and Sick of You. “Somehow between Pandora and Spotify something about it kind of hooked into their codes or whatever. It started getting played a lot on much bigger artists Pandora and Spotify stations. And that song (Moonshine) ended up on a Playlist that got delivered to people,” he explained.
Knowing the popularity of country music, I bet The Frontman gains even more traction for Grover Anderson. Check it out.
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