Blueground Undergrass 

Fourth album, Faces, released last month

"[Our fans] encouraged us to do it again," says banjo player and singer the Rev. Jeff Mosier of his decision to reform Blueground Undergrass in 2004. The group disbanded in 2002 after a successful four-year run as one of the few disciples of the Grateful Dead to explore the improvisational aspects of bluegrass and country music. In fact, it was too successful, he explains, and the original members found it difficult to adjust.

"I think we came out of the box really fast and hit the road really fast. We got a tour bus. It put a strain on our relationships," says Mosier, who lives with his wife and three daughters. "I think it was just burnout. We took some time off." Now Mosier plays alongside original fiddler David Blackmon and new members Matthew Williams, Matt Cowley and Francisco Fattoruso. The band released its fourth album, Faces, last month.

Most people probably haven't heard of Blueground Undergrass. But the band is a big deal in the jam scene. Mosier is a former member of Aquarium Rescue Unit, a Zappa-styled psychedelic group that often toured with Phish in the early '90s before the latter became mainstream rock stars. He's also widely credited with teaching Phish about bluegrass music. "I'm a musicologist about bluegrass," says Mosier, who got his "Reverend" moniker from Aquarium Rescue Unit leader Col. Bruce Hampton. "I've studied the music and love its history. I know a lot about the history of the banjo, the African history of the banjo."

On Faces, Blueground Undergrass is confident and relaxed, though Williams' melodic guitar solos sometimes break the calm. Mosier says the biggest difference between the first incarnation of Blueground Undergrass and the new one is Williams, who co-writes songs with Mosier and adds a rock element to the music with his guitar-playing. Blueground Undergrass, according to Mosier, plays "bluegrass-inflected psychedelic rock."

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