top of page


  • Twitter
  • YouTube

Music has guided Driftwood to hallowed ground many times since its founding members, Joe
Kollar and Dan Forsyth, started making music as high schoolers in Joe's parents' basement.

Whether the Upstate New York folk rock group—which today also includes violinist Claire
Byrne, bassist Joey Arcuri, and drummer Sam Fishman—are converting new fans on a
hardscrabble tour across the country or playing to a devoted crowd at hero Levon Helm’s
Woodstock barn, the band’s shapeshifting approach to folk music continues to break new
ground. And yet in many ways Driftwood's latest work, the transformative December Last Call,
finds the group coming home.

Recorded in that very same basement where the Driftwood dream began, December Last Call
lyrically reflects on the recent past, musing on the ways the group grew up, together and apart,
through curveballs like new parenthood or pandemic shutdowns. But sonically, the band’s sixth
album looks confidently to the future, experimenting with new sounds while staying true to the
bluegrass roots that built them. Across the album’s nine tracks, the band often leans into hard-
rocking electric guitars and driving percussion: On “Every Which Way But Loose,” we get a foot-
tapping beat and a sweeping chorus, and on “Up All Night Blues,” the band shines with an
ambling, sing-along-able reflection on the challenges of new motherhood. But other tracks, like
standout closer “Stardust,” take a simpler route, allowing bare-bones vocals and acoustic
instrumentals to underpin a deeper emotional message.

One of Driftwood’s biggest differentiators—and perhaps its biggest strength—is the sheer
breadth of talent in its lineup, with Claire, Joe, and Dan all contributing as songwriters and
vocalists. This creative push-pull, where each selects songs to share with the group and record
together, bakes vulnerability and collaborative spirit into every recording. “It's at the heart of
what we do,” says Dan. “Everybody has a strong love for songs, for songwriting, and we each
appreciate everybody else and the way that they contribute to that.”

While 2019’s acclaimed Tree of Shade tapped Simon Felice as producer, the band opted to
self-produce this latest effort, leaning into their creative impulses and striving to capture their
distinctive live energy. Figuring out how to channel that on-stage intensity into a recording has
actually, in many ways, been a lesson in restraint. “When I look back at the things we were
writing and playing, oh, I don't know, 10, 12 years ago, they were really arranged: a lot of you do
this here, we're going to do this there, we're going to break down, we're going to do a big build,”

Claire explains. “These days, it's more like, ‘Let's play the song and just see what happens.’”
This approach makes all the more sense when you consider Driftwood’s live shows, which
operate not only as effervescent, twang-studded musical parties, but also as reunions for their
throng of devoted listeners—folks who have started to feel less like fans and more like
something bigger. “They're supporters. They're friends,” explains Joe. “It's crazy how much love
we've got and how many wild situations on the road we've gotten out of because of those
people.” Many of them are quite literally invested in the band’s future: December Last Call was a
crowd-funded effort, and it wasn’t the band’s first. It’s as if every listener, ticketbuyer, album
backer, and general band evangelist is in on Driftwood’s biggest secret: this whole band thing

has endured for nearly two decades because it offers a kind of community you can’t get just

“Driftwood is basically a beautiful friendship that happens to play music together,” says Joe. “I
know it's rare. I know I'm lucky to know these people and lean on them and go through these
massive life changes together.” For Driftwood, each song is like a journal entry: cathartic to
create, yes, but capable of unlocking new lessons—and when shared—forging new bonds.
“We're communal, right? Humans need to be connected,” Joe says. “And we get to have this
special thing.”

bottom of page