Countercurrent to make Boulevard debut

(Photo by Molly Walsh)

Seattle acoustic duo, their bio says, “met at Oberlin College in 2009 and have been performing at concerts, festivals, and dance events ever since. Alex Sturbaum and Brian Lindsay play their own brand of folk that features fiddle, guitar, harmony vocals, and foot percussion, and they’re bringing it to Boulevard Music for the first time this weekend. They told the News what they have in store for Culver City…

When did the band form, and when/how did you join?

Countercurrent first played together in 2009 on the first day of freshman orientation at Oberlin College, as two bright-eyed first-year students with a shared interest in Irish traditional music. We formed a five-piece band there and toured regularly, but it wasn’t until 2014 – when both of us moved to the Pacific Northwest – that we took on the name Countercurrent and began playing seriously as a duo. Since then, we’ve played concerts and dance events all over the country, and even a little bit internationally.

How would you describe your sound…

While we draw primarily from Irish and old-time American fiddle tune traditions, our sound is unique and defined not only by our approaches to our instruments but by our musical conversation with each other. Brian Lindsay is a masterful fiddler, a Mid-Atlantic Irish fiddle champion who is also a gifted improviser with a fantastic ear. Alex Sturbaum is a powerhouse rhythm guitar player who can reharmonize the same tune a dozen different ways. Both of us are also strong singers, and Brian thunders out complex and driving rhythms with his feet while he plays. Countercurrent shows are engaging, electrifying, and always elicit the same response: “How does that much music come from just two people?”

What are your career highlights so far?

We’ve been lucky enough to play some very cool stages. As a concert band, we’ve played Club Passim in Boston, and the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. As a dance band, we’ve played the main stages at festivals such as Northwest Folklife and, just recently, Flurry Festival. That being said, the most rewarding part of our career thus far has been our opportunity to meet so many wonderful people from all over the country, and to get to sing and play music with wonderful musicians from all over.

Do you have any recorded music available?

We do! We’ve recorded two albums and an EP (our most recent album, Not So But Far Otherwise, came out last September). Alex has also recorded a number of solo albums of both their original songs and traditional music, from which Countercurrent will occasionally draw material.

Have you performed at Boulevard before? Any memories?

We haven’t, but we’re very excited to!

What can we expect from the set this time?

We will definitely be playing hot fiddle tunes from both sides of the Atlantic. You can expect some songs and tunes off our latest album, but we also like to switch up the set and play tunes from elsewhere. We’ll definitely do some chorus songs, so the audience should feel ready to sing along, and we might turn on some effects pedals and turn the fiddle tunes into a spacey jam! We like to try and make music that will be enjoyed by fans of everyone from Liz Carroll to the Grateful Dead. 

What else do you have coming up?

This is the second stop on our West Coast tour! We’ll be playing all over California in the week following this show, so if you enjoy the show and have friends to the north, let them know!

Countercurrent performs at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 2 at Boulevard Music. Go to for more information about the show. 

Elsewhere this week

The Culver Hotel will be hosting the likes of Sylvia & the Rhythm Boys, and Scotty Bramer. Go to for more info.

There’s a full program of music at the Cinema Bar this week, as usual. The Hot Club of Los Angeles plays every Monday, and Wednesdays are singer/songwriter and open mic night. Other artists performing this week include Dennis Spencer, the Mighty Mojo Prophets, A Night with La Cerca & Friends, Harry Hochman, Taylor Morris, and more. Go to for more info.