The more times I look at the lineup for this weekend's Birds on a Wire Festival, the more tempted I become to drive to Pullman>"/>
The more times I look at the lineup for this weekend's Birds on a Wire Festival, the more tempted I become to drive to Pullman tonight. The two-day event is being billed as a folk music festival, but it's really a showcase for the Northwest's best but not well-known indie folk bands. Although good portion of the acts hail from Portland and Seattle (about half, by my count), very few are really big name draws: Rocky Votolato, Damien Jurado, and maybe Sera Cahoone are likely the best known Seattle acts. The biggest name on the bill is New York-by-way-of-Nashville's Justin Townes Earle. This lineup--even with Final Spins and the Moondoggies--doesn't scream major label record deals.
Instead, the bands playing Birds on a Wire are understated acts, known well in their hometowns but not elsewhere. But damn, there is going to be some lovely, lilting music wafting through the Pullman air this weekend. After jump are the bands I'm most sorry to miss:
1. Cataldo. Sometimes, when 2008's Signal Flare is playing on my iPod, I wonder to myself why Seattle-based Cataldo isn't a bigger success. True, Eric Anderson's project has received some lovely press in Paste and other publications, but his music is so heartbreaking and intelligent that I'd expect more buzz. I swear, some of his songs--"Black and Milds," for example--are so catchy and bouncy they must be written in iambic pentameter. Anderson has been busy lately as the touring bassist for Laura Veirs and the Hall of Flames, but I hope he'll record another album when things slow down.
2. Horse Feathers. Primarily the musical project of Portlander Justin Ringle, Horse Feathers features Peter Broderick, the 22-year-old multi-intstrumentalist that has played with Efterklang and She & Him (among others). This combination of musical talent means lush strings and acrobatic vocals. The band is currently signed to Kill Rock Stars and has another album planned for April release.
4. Dolorean. Al James is a heartbreaker. His band, Dolorean, was once he backing band for Damien Jurado's live acts, but don't be fooled by that reputation: James' vocals and lyrics--check out 2007's You Can't Win--easily rival Jurado's for intensity.
3. Laura GIbson. On second thought, Gibson is probably well-known among indie aficionados, especially after her genre-breaking project with electronic artist Ethan Rose. But Gibson is compelling in the same way as Cahoone: she is completely unassuming and totally lovely; three years ago, I saw her apologize for swearing at Portland's MusicFest Northwest. If I start driving right now, I might make it to Pullman in time to see her sing "Hands in Pockets."