Colter Wall

Colter Wall

Kacy & Clayton

May 9 2019 · Thu

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$20 Advance / $22 Day of Show / $39 Seated

Colter Wall
Colter Wall
After two years of relentless touring, Colter Wall wanted to make an album about home.
Drawing on the stories of Saskatchewan, Canada, the young songwriter’s corner of the world
takes shape throughout his second full-length album, Songs of the Plains. Produced by Dave
Cobb in Nashville’s Studio A, the project combines striking original folk songs, well-chosen
outside cuts, and a couple of traditional songs that reflect his roots growing up in the small city
of Swift Current.
“One thing I’ve noticed over the last few years, in the United States and playing in Europe, is
that people all over the world really don’t know much about Canada at all,” he says. “When you
talk about Saskatchewan, people really have no idea. Part of it is because there are so few
people there. It’s an empty place—it makes sense that people don’t know much about it. But
that’s my home, so naturally I’m passionate about it. With this record, I really wanted people to
look at our Western heritage and our culture.”
Indeed, Wall captures the spaciousness of the Canadian plains by relying on minimal production
and his resonant baritone, which he’s strengthened into a mighty instrument in its own right. It’s
a deep and knowing voice you wouldn’t expect of a man who’s not yet 24 years old.
Songs of the Plains begins with “Plain to See Plainsman,” a sincere portrait of a man whose
rural heritage follows him into the greater world. As Wall lists the kinds of people he meets on
the road – beautiful women, bikers, junkies, hippies—it’s easy to imagine the autobiographical
component. The darkly comical “Saskatchewan in 1881” recalls a stubborn encounter between
a Toronto businessman and a steadfast farmer who cultivates the province’s land. And although
Wall racked up a body count on his prior album, this time he stops just short of killing the title
character in “John Beyers (Camaro Song),” which he says is inspired by true events.
Evoking the most remote reaches of the plains, “Wild Dogs” sounds like a cinematic Colter Wall
composition, but he actually first heard the song in Little Rock, Arkansas. Wall had just finished
soundcheck in the fried chicken restaurant where he had a gig, when his buddy Ron Helm
(nephew of Levon Helm) dropped in with Billy Don Burns, an esteemed songwriter who’s had
cuts with many of the country legends of the 1970s. Burns wanted to pitch a few songs, and
since the restaurant didn’t have a green room, Wall crawled into Burns’ backseat to listen. He found himself captivated by “Wild Dogs,” which has a minor-chord progression, no rhyme
scheme, and the unique perspective of being told from the dog’s point of view.
As a folk singer, Wall places equal importance on crafting songs as well as carrying older songs
into the present day. “To me, a folk singer is somebody who sings folk songs—and it’s also
someone who is writing their own music, while taking something from traditional folk songs. It’s
somebody who sings those songs and is aware of passing down the traditions, whether it’s from
their own version of the song or taking those old tunes and reinventing them.”
That sense of tradition is part of the reason he recorded Canadian folk hero Wilf Carter’s
“Calgary Round-Up,” a snapshot of the iconic Calgary Stampede. Wall considers that annual
event a cornerstone of Western Canadian culture because it pulls in families from the whole
region. Besides that, he says, “I wanted to have a rodeo song and that one seemed to be
perfect.”
To make it his own, he put a Western Swing feel to it and brought in steel guitarist Lloyd Green
and harmonica player Mickey Raphael. The Songs of the Plains sessions also featured Chris
Powell on drums and Jason Simpson on bass, with Colter and Cobb sharing acoustic guitar
duty.
Through his favorite folk singer, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Wall discovered “Night Herding Song.”
Because the song was a cappella, and because Wall doesn’t wear headphones when he
records, he couldn’t nail down the campfire vibe inside the sprawling Studio A. So, for this track
only, he went to Dave Cobb’s house, started a fire in the outdoor fireplace, and recorded it on
the spot. The immediacy of his voice is unmistakable.
Wall says he spent the last three or four years trying to get better as a singer. By putting in the
work, his range is now far more dynamic and expressive. He describes the vocal development
as “less gravel, without losing the baritone that I’ve developed over the years.”
Meanwhile, Wall’s ability as a songwriter is especially clear in the second half of Songs of the
Plains. “Wild Bill Hickok” distills that legendary gunfighter’s epic life and death into less than
three minutes. Asked about inspiration for the song, Wall cites the HBO series Deadwood, as
well as Tex Ritter’s “Sam Bass” from the cowboy singer’s 1960 album, Blood on the Saddle.
While “The Trains Are Gone” laments the loss of an era, “Thinkin’ on a Woman” hints at a
heartbreak as a truck driver concocts a lethal combination of whiskey, wine, and a mountain
road. Wall turns far more introspective on “Manitoba Man,” a devastating song he wrote about a
dark period in his life. The desperation in that track quickly gives way to the outrageous
traditional song, “Tying Knots in the Devil’s Tail,” featuring verses from Blake Berglund and Corb
Lund, spoons by Chris Powell, and a weird bottle of tequila by Dave Cobb.
“I went into the studio and knew exactly the story I wanted to tell,” Colter says of Songs of the
Plains. “That made it easier on a sonic level and a musical level, to be able to tell Dave that it’s
a record about my home. That changes it at the roots level because it’s like having a mission
statement, saying, ‘All right, let’s make a Western album.’”
Kacy & Clayton
Kacy & Clayton
The music of Kacy and Clayton exists outside of time, and burgeons with beautiful contradictions. It’s psychedelic and traditional, contemporary and vintage, melancholic and joyous. All at once, it showcases a slightly psych-folk sound of Linda Perhacs, Fleet Foxes, and First Aid Kit; rare country blues records and English folk tunes; and 1920s disaster songs and murder ballads. Their songs often are sugar-coated pills, tales of murderous jealousy, dilapidated graveyards, and infanticide, all delivered with Kacy Anderson’s sweet, lithe voice, and Clayton Linthicum’s hypnotic fingerpicking.

Their latest album, Strange Country, strays away from straightforward folk, delivering a sound that pairs Laurel Canyon vibes with Dustbowl-era drama. And for the duo, the subject matter is literally close to home. They’re second cousins who have grown up in the Wood Mountain Uplands, an isolated region of southern Saskatchewan. It is ranch country, very remote, with a landscape punctuated with hills, 12 miles from the Montana border. Neighbors were scarce, and their school bus ride was a long drive into town. “Where we come from it’s kind of a step behind society,” Kacy, 19, says, “We had a lot of time to take in our surroundings. Characters are still very strong.”

They learned music by picking up rare vinyl at record stores — the closest, the 21-year-old Clayton says, was five hours away — and Kacy troweled through Wikipedia to discover long-forgotten bands and musicians. But even Internet was unreliable in their area. The remoteness of their town required many hours in the car, so the long trips became educational moments. “I found out about Doc Watson and The Carter Family from a tape that my grandpa had in his car,” Clayton says, “and I found out about Hank Snow and Bob Wills from a neighbor who came up on 1940s and ‘50s country music.”

Clayton would experiment with instruments scattered in his great-uncle Carl’s basement, occasionally performing with Kacy and her sisters (Carl’s grandchildren). There wasn’t much of a conventional music scene where they lived. However, Kacy & Clayton spent most of their Sunday evenings at the seniors home performing with and for local geriatrics. To rehearse, the two cousins living six miles apart often illegally drove to each other’s houses before they had driver’s licenses.
Venue Information:
The Ardmore Music Hall
23 East Lancaster Ave
Ardmore, PA, 19003
http://www.ardmoremusic.com