Two of Skagit County’s favorite performers were joined by Datenite and Matt Dorrien for an evening of superb, and very diverse music.
I was drawn to the evening of music at Kennelly Keys on Feb. 15 by two names I recognized, local performers The Hoe and the Harrow and Lizzie Weber. Always on the search for new music to experience, the other two bands on the ticket, Datenite and Matt Dorrien offered the promise of something unexpected. They didn’t disappoint.
Datenite is a four piece band fronted by Caroline Calaway and Anna Steinle, both on keyboards and vocals. Each of them have gorgeous very distinctive voices, that blended nicely in their well practiced harmonies. The rhythm section of Phil Hamilton on standard and electronic percussion and Garrett Parker on bass helped fill out the very modern, beat driven sound. I would compare them to Phantagram, Silver Sun Pickups, and the Ya Ya Ya’s. Most of their songs seemed to deal with relationships and emotional situations. They ran through a set of short, powerful songs, creating a moody, but rhythm oriented experience that took a while to absorb. I had a chance to talk with Caroline and Anna after their performance.
We’ve have been writing songs together for several years, but the band itself was formed just over a year ago. Caroline
Datenite is based out of Seattle, and seemed really happy to have played their first gig in Anacortes. They have shows booked in King County at the Sunset Tavern and Central Saloon. The following weekend, they were scheduled to play at the MAI Festival in Doe Bay, Orcas Island.
Next up was Matt Dorrein and his band. Their first song was bluesy, with lots of slide guitar. For the rest of the set, Matt stepped down off the stage to make use of the baby grand piano. His set showcased a pretty diverse selection of tunes. Some of them included ironic lyrics, soulful ballads, and more rockin numbers. Joel our photographer and I both were impressed by how well written the songs were. The Randy Newman influence in Matt’s compositions seemed very strong. One minute the band would play something with a honky tonk feel, next would be a melancholy tune, others had a country feel to them. His songwriting skills combined with the excellent back up band, love that great hollow-body guitar work, produced a really quality performance. I spoke with Matt after the set about their recent time on the road.
We just finished up a West Coast tour last night with another Portland band, Typhoon. They headed back to Oregon and we came up here. The tour started down in Phoenix and we worked our way up the coast, finishing up in Seattle.
Matt hails from New York, but moved to Portland about four years ago after spending some time in San Francisco. Previously, he has also recorded under the band name Snowblind Traveller.
Northwest WA favorites The Hoe and Harrow took the stage next. Frontman James Parker started out by apologizing for not actually having their new CD available. Productions issues is what he indicated was the cause. They launched into a couple of the songs from the new list, several of which had political undertones. A special addition to their set was violinist Channing Waves breaking out her newly acquired musical saw. After donning a pair of thick white gloves, she had cut herself the first couple times playing it, Channing coaxed some great unearthly background music from it.
I‘ve been a fan of the band for some time, and am really impressed by how their sound is evolving. In particular, the excellent harmonies and backing vocals by Channing really seems to fill out their sound. Can’t wait to hear what this very original local ensemble comes up with next.
After their set, I spoke with James about the two new songs and future projects, here is what he had to say.
American Dream is about fascism and the divisions in our country. In America was written less than a week before the shooting in Florida. I kind of sprung it on the band, but they seemed to have no problem picking up on it. I’m also working on a solo effort. Karl (Blau) and Ben (Starner) are helping me out with it. It’s less string heavy, more of a stripped down feel.
Closing out the night was stellar vocal, guitar, and piano performer Lizzie Weber. The first time I heard Lizzie was on a gorgeous July afternoon during the Friendship Walk in Causeland Park several years ago. She had just moved here from Missouri. Sitting on the stone wall singing a couple original tunes in her high, lilting voice, I was struck by how polished and confident her delivery was. She has gone on to become a regular performer in the area. Lizzie started her set with a couple melodic tunes, California and Fidalgo. She then introduced Benjamin Woods Meyer who joined her on background electric guitar.
Benjamin and I have been working together for a couple years. We were playing a gig together, he was playing in Sky Colony, and after the show we all went down to the Union Tavern for beers. He and I got to talking, and he said, “I was thinking that your songs would sound great with some electric guitar accents.” I wasn’t so sure at the time, but we starting working on it, and the rest is history.
The third song, based on the Cormac McCarthy novel, “Blood Meridian”, highlighted Lizzie’s ability to convey emotion. Beneath the beautiful timbre of her voice, we heard a darker edge seep in. She ran through a couple more songs, namely one called The Big One, which I assume is about an earthquake. Ever the grateful performer, Lizzie thanked the audience, and closed out the evening by mentioning that she is finishing production of her upcoming EP in Iceland. Best of luck to her from all of us here at the SAM Project. My only question about the evening was the order of the bands. Having organized small concerts in the past, my approach was always to start out quiet and build. It seemed a little skewed having the biggest band perform second to last, but that’s just my opinion.
Entertainment Writer Mark Perschbacher…A man who will cross great barriers to find exceptional music, art, food, and beer. Mark is a long time Skagit County resident, contributor to, and supporter of local arts.