Thursday, Aug. 4
OK, so her latest album is called July Flame and it's>"/>
Tractor Tavern Thursday, Aug. 4
Laura Veirs and the Hall of Flames
Thursday, Aug. 4
OK, so her latest album is called July Flame and it's the first week in August, but who's counting? And even though ex-Seattlite/current Portlander Laura Veirs released her seventh record in January, the titular reference is fitting since the album is the perfect soundtrack to a warm July night, even if the flame in question is a type of pear that cured her writer's block and not the month in which the album is deliciously consumed.
As Veirs took the stage Thursday night at the Tractor, she told the crowd the gig would be part of her lecture series, and though she was kidding, she was definitely chatty during her set, providing the stories behind many of her songs, joking with her bandmates--a second guitarist and a violist/keyboardist--and generally providing a laid-back atmosphere during her show. Perhaps some of her warmth was courtesy of her comfort with the venue. "I cut my teeth at this joint," she said of her first gig at the Tractor, in which she was so eager to perform that she started her 8 o'clock show at 7:45. "I've come a long way."
Veirs is one of the most thoughtful folkies of her generation, and hearing the stories behind some of her songs added a layer of emotional depth to already powerful material. "Up the River," she explained, was about a friend who was serving time for murdering the drug dealer who had turned him on to heroin. "Whiskey ate big holes in Billy's head," she sang. "Summer's day he shot Spud Murphy dead."
Dressed in a blue baby-doll dress, cowboy boots, and cat-eye glasses, Veirs played 20-ish songs from her various releases, including several highlights from Flame, like "Wide-Eyed, Legless," "I Can See Your Tracks," and "Carol Kaye," about the famed bass player "She can really play it, she can really lay it down," Veirs sings, before name-dropping a few favorite tracks that the bass whiz played on. Other set highlights included "Wasps of Rain" from the Two Beers Veirs EP, "Spelunking" from 2005's Year of Meteors, and "Chimney Sweeping Man," which Veirs said she has never played live before. The singer/songwriter also previewed a song from November's forthcoming Laura Veirs Sings Folk Songs for Children, which, given Veirs' new mom status, makes perfect sense.
After an hour-plus set, Veirs did a short encore which included "Spike Driver Blues" by Mississippi John Hurt. "Check him out on YouTube," she said, before thanking the audience and heading to the merch table, sending her fans out into the hot August night with July Flame on their minds.
Tour tip: In hopes of packing light, Veirs confessed she always packs just a single stage outfit for a tour. "Just don't smell it at the end," she joked.
BTW: During a one-question Q&A session, Veirs revealed that the titular lake in her song "Lake Swimming" is Lake Washington.