Review By Zach Frimmel – Photos By Kiersten Holine

It’s not everyday in Seattle that you get to watch musicians who can effortlessly give you the experience of a darkly romantic evening under porch-lit stars while being serenaded by European-tinged lullabies. Luckily, a North Carolina-based band like the Bowerbirds finds time to make a jaunt across the country to grace listeners with such soothing and sophisticated nocturnes. Keep in mind, this is a band that made Justin Vernon rethink his pursuit of music because he was so blown away when he first saw them live a few years ago.

Hold that feeling. Strand of Oaks went on right before Bowerbirds. I actually saw them at The Moore when they were on tour with The Tallest Man on Earth a month ago. Normally Strand of Oaks is at least a two-piece but for some reason the stoner-joker guitarist didn’t have his drummer behind him. So Showalter loudly sung his electric folk heart out while he kept the crowd alive with witticisms about how all of his songs are either about space, the Pope, or watching too much Netflix. And although he never seemed to open his eyes when he talked, he certainly opened up to the crowd with his melancholia.

Once Tim finished his gags and grizzly ballads, Bowerbirds took stage at 11 o’clock. Now recall that Justin Vernon feeling again. Phil Moore – the handsome frontman and guitarist for the band – initiated the set with beautiful fingerstyle on his classical guitar, which is unarguably one of the most defining qualities about the band’s unique style. The composition and chord progressions that he writes puts them in a whole other league of musicianship. Similarly, Beth Tacular – co-leader with Phil – aptly held down stage left with her vibrant vocal harmonies, accordion riffs, plus a full and mini Korg setup. The cellist added more elegance to the mix as she bowed her classical instrument fervently; and to tie them all together, the drummer allowed the band to march to the beat of a different drum. All in all, the night went well as the Florence-esque busking of the Bowerbirds aroused quite the elation.

The Bowerbirds just recorded their third full-length album entitled The Clearing. If their music has such a significant impression on Justin Vernon then who knows what kind of an influence they’ll have on the music world down the road.



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