These dudes are wicked talented: Or, how I went from obliviousness to fandom in the span of 24 hours.
Not one to front, because as we all know, you don’t gotta lie to kick it, I will be honest and say right at the start that on the afternoon before this concert, I had never even heard of these lads. A friend of mine called and asked if I wanted to go see them the next night, and once she mentioned that it was at the Olympic, I was in. The fact that she is excellent company didn’t hurt either, and I was able to recruit a couple of other friends to tag along. Heading to this show spontaneously was a very good decision, turns out. I spent the morning of the show exploring their catalogue, which includes three studio albums. While the first two are fine, and may grow on me with repeated listens, their latest (2017’s Gray), is a solid piece of folk/Americana goodness. However, it pales in comparison to seeing their live show.
Tyler and Nick Talbott are incredibly talented and humble guys who deserve – and will likely receive, if they keep at it – their big break. Born and raised in Nebraska, you can hear that Midwest twang and earnestness in their songwriting, even though they are now posted up in Portland. **Side note: Every American musician either has moved or is planning to move to Portland. That is documented: It feels true, and I just said it on the internet.** They have no band, but they make plenty of beautiful sound on their own. Tyler’s voice is incredible and had the mostly female audience swooning, while Nick’s deep baritone was much rougher on the ears but a great compliment and stole the show on their rendition of “Folsom Prison Blues”. While Nick stuck to his acoustic guitar and kick drum all night, Tyler switched between three different guitars and a mandolin. The three tracks that incorporated the mandolin were definitely highlights for yours truly.
The set included five covers, all done very well and each given just a slight tweak from the original: “House of the Rising Sun” done in the Bob Dylan style, Neil Young’s “Old Man”, The Man In Black’s “Folsom Prison Blues”, Ray LaMontagne’s “Jolene”, and the classic “Ain’t No Sunshine” by the underappreciated Bill Withers. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed each of these, and I of course was especially pleased to see them respectfully covering my main man’s homage to his ranch hand.
As far as the Talbott originals are concerned: two thumbs up. The single off of their latest record, “We Got Love”, was beautiful and garnered a loud reaction from the crowd. Their explanation of “Deadman Pass” and how they used to introduce it as a ghost town off of I-84 near Pendleton until a fan informed them that it is not a town, but merely a rest stop in the middle of nowhere, was pretty funny stuff.
They even responded to a drunk heckler yelling for them to play an older track called “Rock Steady” by playing that very song upon completing the one they were doing. Their last Boise appearance was playing Tom Grainey’s in front of about twenty people and they were grateful for the improved venue and turnout, and seemed to be genuinely happy to be playing for us. They threw in a happy birthday song for a young gal in the audience and basically won the hearts of the ~100 people in attendance.
We had the chance to speak with Tyler a bit after the set and I ever-so-smoothly asked if my friend could have their handwritten setlist. He informed us that he had already promised it to someone, but proceeded to hand-write another one for her to take, complete with a very sweet note thanking us for discovering them, going out to see them, and bringing friends along. Classy stuff, and yet another reason why shows at small venues like Olympic or Neurolux are personal favorites.
House of the Rising Sun*
Free As a Bird (Joe Cocker-Feelin’ Alright outro)
We Got Love
Old Man (Neil Young cover)
Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash cover)
Jolene (Ray LaMontagne cover)
Playing With Matches
Ain’t No Sunshine (Bill Withers cover)
It Ain’t Easy
Don’t Let Me Go
*Tyler on mandolin
Spotify playlist link: