JOHN CRAIGIE Winter Tour 2023 * SOLD OUT
Visulite Theatre (16+ (Must have ID) - Under 16 with Parent Only)
Doors Open: 7:00 - Show Starts: 8:00
Portland, OR-based singer, songwriter, and producer John Craigie adapts moments of solitude into stories perfectly suited for old Americana fiction anthologies. Instead of leaving them on dog-eared pages, he projects them widescreen in flashes of simmering soul and folk eloquence. On his 2022 full-length album, Mermaid Salt, we witness revenge unfurled in flames, watch a landlocked mermaid’s escape, and fall asleep under a meteor shower.
After selling out shows consistently coast-to-coast and earning acclaim from Rolling Stone, Glide Magazine, No Depression, and many more, his unflinching honesty ties these ten tracks together.
The album comes from the solitude and loneliness of lockdown in the Northwest. Someone whose life was touring, traveling, and having lots of human interaction is faced with an undefinable amount of time without those things. So, he began writing new songs and envisioning an album that was different from his past records. The sound of everyone playing live in a room together was traded for the sound of song construction with an unknown amount of instruments and musicians—a quiet symphony.
Rather than steal away to a cabin or hole up in a house with friends, Craigie opted to set up shop at the OK Theater in Enterprise, OR with longtime collaborator Bart Budwig behind the board as engineer. A rotating cast of musicians shuffled in and out safely, distinguishing the process from the communal recording of previous releases. The core players included Justin Landis, Cooper Trail, and Nevada Sowle. Meanwhile, Shook Twins lent their signature vocal harmonies, Bevin Foley arranged, composed, and performed strings, and Ben Walden dropped in for guitar and violin plucking parts.
“Instruments were scattered around the theater and microphones placed in various spots,” he recalls. “It’s hard to say who all played what exactly.”
As such, the spirit in the room guided everyone. On “Distance,” warm piano glows alongside a glitchy beat as he softly laments, “I could lose you to the loneliness, vast and infinite.” Then, there’s “Helena.” A jazz-y bass line snakes through head-nodding percussion as he relays an incendiary parable of a mother and son in exile. He croons, “She said fire was how we’d make ‘em pay. As I ran across the fields, she would scream, ‘Light it up son’,” uplifted in a conflagration of Shook Twins’ harmonies. Strings echo in the background as his vocals quake front-and-center on “Street Mermaid.”
Elsewhere, the guitar-laden “Microdose” beguiles and bewitches with an intoxicating refrain dedicated to a time where he “Microdosed for months and months, dissolve my ego in the acid.” Everything culminates on the glassy beat-craft and glistening guitars of “Perseids” where he sings, “There’s always a new heart after the old heart. Maybe a new heart is enough.”
During this period, he explored the environment around him “from the Oregon coasts to the waterfalls” and read books about Levon Helm, Billie Holiday, and Ani DiFranco.
“I got time to silence all the noise and chaos of touring and look inward,” he observes.
Craigie had reached a series of watershed moments in tandem with Mermaid Salt. Beyond headlining venues such as The Fillmore and gracing the stage of Red Rocks Amphitheater, his 2020 offering Asterisk The Universe earned unanimous tastemaker applause. Rolling Stone noted, “tracks like ‘Don’t Deny’ and ‘Climb Up’ bridge a Sixties and Seventies songwriter vibe with the laid-back cool of Jack Johnson, an early supporter of Craigie,” while Glide Magazine hailed it as “one of his best records.” Perhaps, No Depression put it best, “For many weary and heavy- listeners hearted, the album might be exactly what they need.” Along the way, he generated over 40 million total streams and counting, speaking to his unassuming impact.
In the end, Craigie offers a sense of peace on Mermaid Salt.
GRACE ROWLAND (of The Deer)
Start Time: 8:00
Grace Rowland is the ebullient, ruminative singer for Austin cosmic indie folk band The Deer, who've built a devoted audience for their uninhibited music the old fashioned way: playing their hearts out, night after night. The band formed in the college town of San Marcos, Texas; half an hour south of Austin, where the members attended Texas State University and where Rowland lived on a farm. They cultivated a fervent presence in the Texas Hill Country, playing often at Kerrville Folk Festival and Old Settler's Music Festival, and collaborating with local staples like Bayonne's Roger Sellers and fellow festival act Elephant Revival. The Deer expanded to the national stage with extensive headlining and support slots for Big Thief and The Head and The Heart. Their label debut Do No Harm, released in 2019 on taste-making indie label Keeled Scales, marked a set of career breakthroughs, topping the KUTX chart and earning a nomination for the Austin Music Awards’ Album of the Year. When live music took a global pause during the COVID lockdown, The Deer had momentum to sort.
The five musicians took the energy historically reserved for tour into the studio, a pressure cooker not only for creativity, but newly, for existential contemplation. The result is two full albums, the first of which, The Beautiful Undead, was released September 9, 2022. It’s an ethereal collection reflecting on what it means to lose your sense of purpose. The Deer, amidst turbulent assessment, transformed a paralyzing void into an empowering surrender of ego—an exuberant submission to the immense unpredictability of existing.
Press photo attached. Credit David Johnson