Photo by Peter Blanchard
It’s easy to take for granted what a rich music scene we have here in the Pacific Northwest! I recently had a friend visiting from out of state and was reminded of how spoiled I am with several awesome shows to choose from any of night of the week, the opportunity to bump into my favorite local bands down the street at my favorite coffee house and just how many truly talented artists call this city home.
That being said, there are plenty of experimental, weird music collectives and amateur bands out there playing shows. Plenty. Thankfully there are bands like The Builders and the Butchers with a distinguished Portland pedigree to keep us on our toes. They’ve been praised by everything from the Weekly to NPR to Paste and have toured with Man Man, Portugal. The Man, Loch Lamond, The Portland Cello Project, The Cave Singers and more.
Formed in Portland in 2005 with all members having migrated down from Alaska, the Builders and the Butchers have steadily grown momentum from their humble roots playing on the streets of PDX to packed shows at the Aladdin and Wonder to playing shows around the world. Usually described as Folk Rock or Americana Indie Rock, the Builders and Butchers have experimented their way into their own unique genre and live performances. Originally focusing on acoustic instruments, the band has “slowly plugged their instruments in” and explored new ways of deconstructing the traditional rock drum instrumentation by having one member on the snare and another on the kick.
Additionally, the Builders and Butchers have played dozens of shows with the Portland Cello Project, another awesome music collective who are always finding fun new ways to perform live music to great audiences. In 2010 the band signed with Badman Recording Co. and released “Dead Reckoning” in February 2011. The band worked with Adam Selzer (She & Him, The Decemberists) to infuse their live performance energy with the traditional “dead room” sound of a recording studio. To achieve the warm, live performance feel of “Dead Reckoning,” they used minimal overdubs and did live takes in the style of 1950′s and 60′s recordings.
To celebrate the release of “Dead Reckoning” the band did a Portland Busking Tour with stops every hour on February 25th 2011 at great PDX locations like Trade Up Music, The Rebuilding Center, Jackpot Records on Hawthorne, Powell’s, VooDoo Doughnuts, the Doug Fir patio, culminating at their live in-store at Music Millennium. Here’s a video of their journey:
Though they run with part of the same circle as The Decemberists, don’t be quick to lump the two together. In a recent interview frontman Ryan Sollee admitted the band being called “the punk band of roots music” with a more stripped-down vibe than other bands in the PDX indie scene.
For the Builders and the Butchers, what it all comes down to in the end is the connectivity between the audience and the music, the audience and each other. Themes of absolute good and evil, addiction, religion and 1930′s America are present in the songs off “Dead Reckoning” with a hope of progressing forward through these dark times together.
Catch The Builders and the Butchers at the Hawthorne Theatre on February 3rd. Tickets are just $13 on-sale now through Cascade Tickets. Grab some friends together for a great night of raucous, impassioned live music!
And if you’re down for some more folk rock, stompin’ blues – check out The 4onthefloor on January 26th also at the Hawthorne! The band features not one, but FOUR bass drums in their rich rhythm section and the group keeps getting praise for their Delta-blues and Americana sound which “makes the listener both nostalgic and ready to drink”…and have a fun night of stompin’, singin’, clappin’ and drinkin’!