Do you know Loch Lomond?
There was a great moment at Pickathon last year. It was early, I was groggy – maybe 1pm on Sunday – and the sound board crashed. Onstage were eight people who had been prepared to plug in their guitars, fiddles and keyboards. There was some murmuring and sound guys walking back and forth futzing with wires and cords. Finally, after about 20 minutes, Richie Young stepped in front of the microphones and led his band into a full set of completely unplugged music. The crowd pulled closer, everyone leaned in together.
Of course it helped that Richie and his band Loch Lomond had evolved in the Portland music scene with the initial intention of performing entirely unplugged as frequently as possible. They were equipped for the kind of improvisation that makes a large band audible to a large audience outdoors on a hillside. From their big all-voices-on-deck choral arrangements to the point where Richie ripped a sheet of paper as a bit of percussion, it was one of those performances where we all knew if we turned our eyes or ears elsewhere for even a second, we’d miss something.
Loch Lomond has since toured with fellow Portlanders the Decemberists and have become a little more well-known. Being so in and of our Northwest music scene, though, it’s hard for me to say how well-known they are out there in the great wide world.
I’m getting ready to head to Sasquatch in a couple of weeks (anyone else going?) and have been re-acquainting myself with the line-up, which brought me back to Loch Lomond this morning. I’ll give you a video below but, for those of you who can’t watch video on your work computer, don’t have sound, or have a slow connection, I can only say Loch Lomond makes peculiar music. Young gave me the phrase “chamber folk” when I asked for an explanation. Whatever that is.
It’s definitely more complicated than a lot of the bluegrass, old timey music, and roots rock you typically hear somewhere like Pickathon, although they play traditional instruments. To me, it sounds quintessentially Portland. I can hear where folks like Young, Laura Gibson, Laura Veirs, the Decemberists, all come from a similar set of influences and intention. (Incidentally, members of Loch Lomond played on Gibson’s Beasts of Seasons disc, produced by Veirs’ boyfriend and producer Tucker Martine. The similarities between Portland’s most notable emerging artists are as much about their frequent collaboration with each other as anything.)
At any rate, here’s the video:
What do you think?