Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bitteroot, The Annie Ford Band and Drunken Prayer at Conor Byrne 2-11-12

It was a hippie love fest at Conor Byrne on Saturday night. Portland's Bitteroot was first on the bill and their audience was waiting for them. Playing original folk/rock/bluegrass/country they definitely were down home northwest in style. Boys hugging girls, girls hugging girls, long hair, beards, definitely a mellow buzz in the air. I am old; I want to thank them for letting me come into their world.

Wearing Pendleton like shirts were the brothers Foster and Colt, the vocal and guitar leads for the group. James is playing bass in a pair of overalls and the lovely female vocalist (sorry, missed her name, will fill in when I get it) in black with jeans. They were excellent musicians all and appreciated by the obviously partial crowd, as well as us newbys.

Apparently they were playing one of their first gigs of a tour. I overheard them talking later (Conor Byrne is a small place) that they were nervous. I understand the butterflies, but when you are as tight and talented as this crew you should have some confidence.

They played several tunes that had changes in tempo and in feel as they progressed. Tight sweet vocals slowing morphing into jamming guitar; the brothers showing how they do it family style. I always love to watch kin play; you know they have been playing for years, and they also know each other like the back of their hands. They had a great rapport as they were using brotherly ESP to create beautiful music. From sweet folk to manic rock they played with expertise and passion.

James was animated and playful as he rocked the bass, the killer bottom for the band. The female had an angelic voice and with Colt and Foster, sang some beautiful harmonies.

They were so grateful for the applause, they had big smiles all around. The crowd was screaming and I will admit to being one of the loudest.  It was touching to see how happy they were at the reception; they had a group hug on stage at the end of the show. I saw Jon Hyde (steel for the 1Uppers) in the crowd, he also mentioned the joy they exhibited. Sniff, I feel a tear coming on.

As far as the appreciation for their stuff, I want to say to them; get used to the applause.

See them here:

The audience was changing, Bitteroot had a big following and some folks left. The next band was more countrified and as they took the stage the place started filling up again.

The Annie Ford Band had a pedal-steel, my new favorite instrument. The steely was a tall lanky guy who played a lovely soaring guitar.  BTW, not a great mix tonight; I couldn't hear him like I would have liked. normally CB and this tech do stellar work, might have been me. Annie played the fiddle, viola, banjo and sang lead vocals. She had a great presence and sang with love.

I checked her site and I did find the names of some of the band members. She lists 4, I saw 5. So here is what I got: Annie, Matt, Ollie and Ivan. I can't match to instruments either, maybe later in the week.

The lead guitar player also played banjo; a versatile musician, he was fun to watch. He had a sly smile on his face as he played some killer licks. He is one of the reasons I come out to see live music; a great artist putting it all out there for us to see. Doing what he loves and in turn making us all so very happy.

The bass was another accomplished artist. He played with soul on a beautiful instrument.  He was obviously having fun; moving with the beat, loving being on-stage.

The surprise of the night was the drummer, he was dynamite. He sang much of the lead, at times sounding just like Steve Earle. As much as Annie was the lead to the band, the percussionist was a one of the major influences. How he plays an original and creative drum set and at the same time sings lead vocals is beyond me. He is a talented guy, in a awesome band.

The set was marvelous, I enjoyed every moment as did the rest of the crowd. They performed a lot of sweet country tunes with stellar harmonies and great instrumentals. And then rocked the place with jamming' country rock that had us all up and dancing.

I am looking forward to seeing them again, here is a link to their site:

I didn't make it past midnight tonight, missed the headliner completely. Drunken Prayer was the top bill and I assumed by the schedule that they came on around 12:30. I had been at Slim's on Thursday night, I went to Darrell's and saw a killer show Friday night and crawled in bed at 2...I was done.

I am going to get their new cd, I hope I get the chance to see them in the future.

Another great weekend of live music. What were you doing at 11 on Saturday evening? In bed already; reading, watching TV? I left the house at 9, a half hour later I was admitted to Conor Byrne. I bought one beer which I nursed for 3 musical hours. I drank 7 glasses of water. I saw 8 great musicians, all putting their balls out there for my entertainment and enjoyment. The whole night cost me $13.50 plus gas. I had 3 hours of bliss, put some dollars in the local economy and who knows, maybe I saw the next big thing.

Do yourself a favor, see some live music soon.

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