Based out of Seattle, Washington, the North Country Bluegrass Band is one of the premier traditional bluegrass bands from the Northwest. North Country was founded in 2012 when the guys were jamming together at a local bluegrass event in Seattle. They quickly found a unique chemistry and demonstrated the same love for music, songwriting, and instrumental dynamics. Within the first year of formation, the band played at prominent music venues, including Wintergrass and the historical Paramount Theatre. Since then, they have continued to build their repertoire and toured throughout the United States and Canada.
In July 2014, the band released their first album titled “Won’t Be Over You,” which was named one of the top ten bluegrass albums of 2014 by KCBS radio. The album demonstrated both the band’s instrumental talent and songwriting ability. Furthermore, it showed the band’s ability to bring classic country and folk music into a traditional bluegrass style.
In late 2014, original band member and fiddle player Stephen Burwell was hired by Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. North Country knew they couldn’t hold on to such a great talent for so long. Doyle Lawson is one of the premier bluegrass bands touring the country right now and has had an enormous influence on shaping the history of bluegrass music.
In January 2015, the band placed 6th overall in the prestigious SPBGMA Bluegrass band competition consisting of band throughout North America. Being from Seattle, a place not well recognized for traditional bluegrass music, the band showed that bluegrass music is alive and well in the Northwest. In October of 2015, the band was selected to showcase at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) in Raleigh, North Carolina.
In December 2015, another North Country member was stolen by a national act. Nick Dumas was hired by the band Special Consensus, who has been around for around 40 years. Like Doyle Lawson, Special Consensus has been a staple in the bluegrass industry and has molded some of the best bluegrass musicians in the music today.
North Country has replaced Nick with Zach Top, who is known around the Northwest as being one of the premier, young guitar players and singers. Zach will be playing mandolin with North Country.
Norm Olsen – Guitar, Lead Vocals
South Bend, Washington
Norm is a killer guitar player who gets great tone out of his lead breaks and plays mean, dynamic rhythm. His passionate and solid voice brings a great vocal dynamic that sounds especially good on old country and folk songs. Born and raised in South Bend, Norm works with his father managing their family oyster farm, Olsen and Son Oyster co. inc., and enjoys hunting, fishing and playing music as his hobbies. Norm lays down outrageous lead solos that emulate some of flatpicking guitar’s finest influences, such as Doc Watson, Bryan Sutton, and Tony Rice, while incorporating fast, jaw dropping licks that will make you shake your head.
Kent Powell – Bass, Vocals
Kent is a true veteran to the Northwest Bluegrass scene and brings his experience to North Country. He has been an established member in some of the most popular Northwest bands, including Crossfire and Runaway Train. Kent’s rock solid bass playing is the backbone of the band’s sound, and can sing any part needed, which adds an incredible dynamic to the band, Kent makes his home in Tacoma, Washington.
Will McSeveney – Banjo
Columbia, South Carolina
It’s hard to be considered bluegrass without the presence of Scruggs Style 5-string banjo, and fortunately for us, Will delivers just that to North Country… And then some! Will is currently attending Law School at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. Will is fast becoming one of the most prominent banjo players, young or old, in the Northwest bluegrass scene today. Will’s powerful command of the instrument, and awareness of timing and taste have made him a valuable asset in our future endeavors. Drawing influence from such key figures as Terry Baucom, Jason Davis, Ron Stewart, Jim Mills, and last but not least, the great Earl Scruggs. It is plain to see that Will plays banjo in pursuit of one purpose…. DRIVE!