photos by Dan Muller
intro by Jim Beckmann with Christy Thacker
KEXP listeners are more than likely familiar with the country noir of Sera Cahoone. The Seattle-based singer and songwriter got her start playing drums in Denver, starting back when she was a child, and then later here in the Northwest with Band of Horses and before that, Carissa’s Wierd.
A few years ago, she emerged from the back of the stage to front her own project and traded in her drum kit for an acoustic guitar. Not really expecting much from the effort, Sera first sent a copy of her self-released self-titled debut to John Richards, hoping only for a bit of airplay on Audioasis, KEXP’s local artist show. But it was immediately obvious to John and other KEXP DJ’s that the album was destined for even more. In Sera’s voice, you can hear a bit of Gillian Welch, a bit of Patsy Cline and Lucinda Williams and Neko Case, and so on, just like in their voices you can hear further echoes of the past, but there’s a distinctive yearning in Sera’s that is as affective today as it would have been in the times of those she channels through the rootsy Americana of her songs. Listeners and fans recognized the timeless appeal of her songs also, and their positive reaction spurred Cahoone forward, to gather a band, perform regularly, and eventually record more songs. Her second album, and Sub Pop debut, Only As The Day Is Long, from last year topped critics’ lists and built a fuller and an even deeper longing. Today, she’s still playing with pedal steel guitarist Jason Kardong and stringed instrument wizard Jeff Fielder, who have appeared on both albums, and with bassist Jonas Haskins (formerly of Earth), and drummer Jason Merculief.
In the intimate confines of the KEXP Music Lounge, Cahoone, Kardong and Fielder immediately took us back to a time before electricity and when horses were the fastest (and only) means of travel. Cahoone’s started off the set simple and mellow, setting the mood for the rest of the show. Between her tired-old-soul voice, Fielder’s passionate strumming and Kardong string picking and bending skills the audience sat quiet and still with awe-filled eyes. It was the type of music that dually filled you with melancholy and hope. Halfway through, Cahoone graced us with the lovely “Only As the Day Is Long,” juggling her guitar and harmonica, all the while singing in between. They ended with the twangy tune, “You’re Not Broken,” which ideally should have been played under the stars in some small country wheat field.
Don’t miss Sera Cahoone and all four of her band mates when they perform the Starbucks Stage this evening at 5:00PM.