Today & Tonight: Citizen Cope In-Store at Easy Street, Black Prairie at the Tractor

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Today & Tonight: Citizen Cope In-Store at Easy Street, Black Prairie at the Tractor

  • Today & Tonight: Citizen Cope In-Store at Easy Street, Black Prairie at the Tractor

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    Citizen Cope. Easy Street Records, 20 Mercer St., 691-3279. 3 p.m. Free. All ages. One morning last year, I was getting coffee at Starbucks in South Lake Union when I spotted a tall man with a familiar-looking dreadlocked ponytail. I eyed him suspiciously. "What's your name?" He shyly avoided my eyes and mumbled, "Clarence." "Are you Citizen Cope?" Clarence smiled at me. "Yes, I am." Unassuming, yet confident - Citizen Cope's music has always struck me in a similar way. His songs have got to be bold, mixing as they do the soul of bluesy rock-and-roll and the edge and rawness of hip hop. The RainWater LP is Cope's latest record and the first to be released on his own label. It's a change in business plan, but the music sounds much the same - "Healing Hands," the first single, is part love song ("What's a pocket full of gold without a woman that you could hold?"), part political treatise mourning a history of corruption, and all thrumming rhythms and smoky vocals. Citizen Cope has been playing a three-night stint at the Showbox from April 1-3 (the 2nd and 3rd sold out), but if you can squeeze into Easy Street's in-store, it's free and much more intimate. ERIN K. THOMPSON

    Black Prairie, with Mimicking Birds. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9:30 p.m. $12. If you've ever wondered what the Decemberists would sound like without Colin Meloy - if all the nasally vocals and songs about pirates are just too much for you to handle - then you'll be surprised at the style and sound of Black Prairie. The band boasts three Decemberists--Jenny Conlee, Nate Query,and Chris Funk--and two other Portland musicians, but bears little resemblance to Meloy's lush ballads. Black Prairie's songs are primarily instrumental; they sound like an ambient country jug band with a fondness for slide guitar. There's no orchestral storytelling here - the few songs with vocals on Black Prairie's upcoming full length are old traditionals like "Red Rocking Chair." Conlee's vocals on that track are downright fantastic. She slurs her words in a sultry way, making lyrics like, "Ain't got no use for your red rocking chair/ Ain't got a baby now," sound sexy instead of sad. Black Prairie refuses to be condemned by their other band's sins. PAIGE RICHMOND

     
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