MUSIC BOX: Sub Pop songstress in Pinedale

By on October 8, 2014
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Sera Cahoone will perform in Pinedale on Friday.

Originally a drummer who had been writing songs on guitar since high school, 39-year-old Sera Cahoone is an anomaly in the singer-songwriter world. The Sub Pop artist migrated from Colorado to Seattle in 1998 to open a snowboard/skateboard shop but quickly transitioned into the music scene. She played drums with several bands including Carrisa’s Weird, singer-songwriter Patrick Park, and on Band of Horses’ seminal debut, Everything All the Time. Cahoone released her solo, self-titled debut in 2006 followed by her Sub Pop debut, 2008’s Only As The Day Is Long.

Cahoone’s sound falls closest to indie-folk with ample breathing room and a patient, broad-stroke approach to song delivery. Her introspective, emotionally open lyrics are important modes of expression for the self-admitted introvert. Words are her transport. There’s a sweetness to her laidback, melodious approach in which the vocal itself contains all of the surprise. It’s through this instrument, her voice, that she maintains a stout independence among her contemporaries. Being a drummer at heart, Cahoone’s writing process doesn’t come as a surprise, though it isn’t commonplace either.

“I guess it’s the drummer in me, but I always hear rhythm first,” Cahoone told Uprooted Music Revue. “I’ll write a guitar part with that in mind and immediately go to my drums to find something that fits. I write a lot of songs sitting at my drum kit with a guitar on my lap.”

“Lyrics are last for me. I tend to know what the song is about in my head, a feeling or an emotion. But it can take a while to get that into words. I find it helps me to have the song structured a bit before I really feel what the lyrics will be. The mountains are always an inspiration for me. Getting away from home, going on road trips, driving cross country.”

In 2012, Cahoone released Deer Creek Canyon, which ruminates on the gravitational pull of home. Titled for the Colorado canyon near Littleton where she came of age and where her mother still lives, Deer Creek Canyon delves deeper and presents her voice in a stronger context than on past albums. Where her previous efforts explored the complicated throes of dark emotions, this album is more richly textured. She co-produced the 12-track set with Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Vetiver).

“Deer Creek Canyon has always been a very special place to me,” Cahoone said. “The minute I drive up Deer Creek Canyon everything clears away. I can think again. Whenever I was having those high school blues I would just drive all around. It’s actually the first place I ever got high (sorry mom). [Writing for this album], I was going through a pretty big Mississippi John Hurt phase. I wrote about three songs on this record fingerpicking, which I was pretty awful at but I was determined so I kept at it. So thank you, John Hurt!”

In the past year, Cahoone has toured with Band of Horses as well as Joe Pug. For the upcoming show in Pinedale, Cahoone will be accompanied by Jason Kardong (pedal steel/guitar) and Tomo Nakayama (piano/guitar).

Pinedale Fine Arts Council presents Sera Cahoone, 7 p.m. on Friday at the Pinedale Auditorium. $7 to $15 advance, $9 to $17 door. PinedaleFineArts.com, 307-367-7322.

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About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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