Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
iven that Blitzen Trapper's most recent release, "All Across This Land," came out almost exactly one year ago with the band having played the same exact venue a few weeks later, the band had to do something a little different this time around.
Lead singer Eric Earley promised as much at the get go, saying "Tonight's going to be a little different. It's going to be more intimate."
The result was a loose, fun and engaging night of the Songbook: A Night of Stories and Songs tour. The Portland, Ore.-based country, folk and rock band mixes its own material along with those of key influences. That would include folks most prominently like Dylan and Neil Young.
Perhaps indicative of the confidence that Blitzen Trapper had was inserting "Furr," probably its best known as only the fourth song of the night.
That meant BT felt like it have enough worthy material to fill out 110 minutes, and they were right. Among the songs was the closing, pretty faithful "After the Gold Rush" and "Unknown Legend," Dylan's "I Am a Lonesome Hobo" (Earley has a definite Dylan influence in his singing style and presentation, blowing harp on occasion as well).
Blitzen Trapper also paid homage to its northwest roots with covers of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun," Nirvana's "About a Girl," Pearl Jam's "Hearts and Thought" and the late Elliot Smith's "Alameda." Except for perhaps "Black Hole Sun," Blitzen Trapper made the rest sound like their own.
What enhanced the music was the interplay between band and audience and within the band itself. Yes, Earley was the lead singer for most of the set and does a good chunk of the talking, but his compadres weren't denied the chance to speak their mind either. Drummer Brian Adrian Koch and keyboardist Marty Marquis were part of the repartee with bassist Michael van Pelt occasionally chiming in as well.
Blitzen Trapper's been at it for 16 years, but this night was far from same old, same old. Doing it differently made for a most engaging night.
Kacy & Clayton, a youthful duo from Saskatchewan, Canada opened with a pleasing folk-based set. Kacy Anderson, 19, and Clayton Linthicum, 21, are second cousins, who grew up in a small town together. They just released their American debut and showed promise.
Anderson displayed ample vocal skills, somewhat reminiscent of Annie Haslam of Renaissance, while Linthicium was adept as a guitarist. They mixed it up between playing as a duo, staring strongly with "Strange Country" and adding two band members for a fuller sound.
Given their age, it was no surprising that Kacy & Clayton are not a finished product. Anderson was not a big presence personality-wise, leaving that to her cousin. Given that she sings most of the leads, maybe it's a matter of time.