The Heroines of Folk

Last Sunday was folk night at The Earl where the feminine charm of Laura Veirs, The Watson Twins and L. Alex Guy of Led by Sea came together to lend the night a particular girl power character. These women of indie folk rock offered up the specific beauty of their craft — fragile vocals, heartfelt lyrics, skilled musicianship and believability.

These ladies aren’t ones for the simple gimmicks of pop stars, the deceptive novelties we see pandered on MTV and in the mainstream to belie the truth of the emptiness of the hit maker. That night we got a realness — the genuine nature of a girl and her guitar or in L. Alex Guy’s case, a girl and her violin. Unencumbered.

That was that vibe of the evening. Pure and credible with a stripped down to the bone honesty. Not many can do that as effectively as Laura Veirs. The petite singer/songwriter from Portland, Oregon has a decade long career of making masterfully understated folk music. She brought an excerpt from her rich musical archive to the stage that evening — 17 songs from her earliest work to the new record July Flame. There wasn’t much in the way of adornment besides the sweet softness of her voice over acoustic melodies.

The little flamboyance there was in the music came from her guitarist Karl Brau through his crafty guitar solo flourishes. L. Alex Guy also lent her voice, violin and keyboard to the set which added another layer to the sound. There was no percussion on this set and in fact none of the bands employed drums. Veirs cruised through her repertoire, interrupted briefly by jokes from the band and her signature dry humor. It was a sleepy folk set and as it got late into the night the crowd was lulled into a quiet reverie.

Laura’s subdued set was proceeded by a more upbeat performance by The Watson Twins. The identical twin sisters, Chandra and Leigh Watson, originally from Kentucky and now residing in Los Angeles have carved out a niche as alt-country crooners. Their entry into the music scene was in 2006 with Rabbit Fur which was a collaboration with indie starling Jenny Lewis. The twins hit the stage with mischievous smirks on their faces and playfully engaged the crowd with their sarcastic humor.

The band moved to the front of the stage leaving their mics behind and performed an intimate rendition of “Give Me A Chance”. The soulful “Southern Manners” was another highlight of their set with it’s emotive and sexy vocals beckoning ‘Be my lover and my man’.

The opener for the evening was the talented multi-instrumentalist L. Alex Guy of Led By Sea. She was solo with her violin and carefully arranged audio loops – beats and melodies that she activated with foot pedals with uncanny timing on top of which she layered on her violin harmonies.

Her angelic voice was the perfect conduit for her personal lyrics which she sang loud and clear. It was intimate as she sang about heartbreak and silly but not less painful mishaps like her crashing into a BMW with her bicycle. The simple and bare bones set up made it at once personal and approachable and at the same time disarmingly brilliant.


Give Me a Chance – Watson Twins

L. Alex Guy

Laura Veirs Set List
Carol Kaye
Ether Sings
Sun is King
Life is Good
July Flame
When You Give Your Heart
Where Are You Driving?
John Henry Lives
Song My Friend Taught Me
Wide Open
Make Something Good
I Can See Your Tracks
Through December

Watson Twins Set List

Calling Out
How am I
Brave One
Just Like Heaven
Give me a Chance
Southern Manners
Ain’t no SLW
Tell Me Why
You and Me

Leave a Reply