Welcome to a new edition of "For The Record." In this edition, we focus on an album by The County Well titled "Future Country.” For those readers not yet in the know, The County Well is a Marin County, California-based musical artist collective.

The County Well

The County Well’s signature sound is a fluid blend of musical influences from different decades. It is a musical mashup of multiple genres including Americana, bluegrass, blues, country, and roots music. Led by multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and recording engineer Don Zimmer, it is all about unifying the particular of both local and traveling performers.

Zimmer states that he wants everyone to be “free and creative” and explains that the group name “The County Well” was derived from the concept “of growing the well of musical collaborators in the area." The group’s roots harken back to collaborative efforts between Zimmer and Graham Guest of the Houston, Texas-based band Moses Guest. "We started writing and collaborating together," Zimmer noted, "and then I would use anyone that came by the studio that had musical talent."

Their present roster features Guest (nylon and electric guitar, and lead vocals), Tracy Blackman (backing vocals), Michael Blumenstein (guitar and vocals), Alyssa Joy Claffey (fiddle. vocals), Eric Eisenberg (backing vocals), Joel Jaffe (pedal and lap steel), Sophie Meiers (backing vocals), Steve Moore (bass), Sean Nelson (drums and percussion), Amy Nordstrom (backing vocals), Sandy Stadtfelt (trombone), Erik Yates (flute, dobro, and backing vocals), and Steven Younger (keyboards and backing vocals.)

Track by track

This 11-track experimental disc opens on their first single “Whiskey Before Noon.” Written by Zimmer, this is a country-tinged tune complete with a memorable chorus.

“Mezzanine,” by Guest and Zimmer)is next. Some sources refer to it as a “Country Cha-Cha.” While the “paper bag” reference might be dated, any drinker out of his or her 20s is sure to appreciate it. The song is further highlighted by Stadfelt’s trombone.

“Mrs. Soul” is a jazzy number composed by Zimmer. Guest’s song, “Baby,” follows as the drums are dropped as it takes on a country feel and further demonstrates the fun, fluid, underground nature of this release.

“Ship You Can’t Steer” is a musical metaphor by Zimmer that begins with a definite Jethro Tull-like flute lead.

Guest’s “Light” features an a cappella opening and further reveals the fluid harmonious signature sound of this tuneful team. “Alabama,” another Guest song, includes a country tint and a blues-like swell. The harmonies and almost polyrhythmic bass and drums add a vaguely Simon and Garfunkel-like element to it.

Zimmer’s “Extra Heavy” is next. It demonstrates not only what Zimmer can do as a composer but it also indicates an obvious Grateful Dead-inspired sense of musically-experimental attitude. It’s back to Guest tunes with the ethereal “Empty Hall” which has a definite blues influenced quality to it.

Zimmer takes on “Hollywood” in a lyrical reflection on the jaded L.A. crowd, and those afraid to venture out here any more. To answer the question posed within this piece: The Hollywood sign is still here. Unfortunately, you have to avoid the local homeowners who intentionally misdirect you in order to preserve their parking spots and remain well behind a fence even if you manage the hike.

Things pick up with the instrumental album endnote “Subtle And Serene,” by Guest and Zimmer.

Here the gang gets one more chance to show off their stuff.

For the record

For the record, this debut disc does what it was meant to do: It exemplifies the unique audio offerings of a united underground Country Music scene and then some with its own occasionally odd intermixing of instruments, vocals, and music genres and inspirations. So check out The County Well’s “Future Country” and you just might see the “Light.”