Photo taken from The Alder St. All-Stars Facebook.
Oregon has undoubtedly become a staple state in the breeding of West Coast couture music. Generating everything from hipster to hippie to rock n’ roll-type sonic proclivities, it’s the hub of a new age, eco-friendly artist, and a cultural diaspora for mix and match brands of music. The Alder Street All Stars are the latest standout band to arise from the state of free and conscious. A quintet of bluegrass and Americana players, they began performing merely as means of helping the community – making music for a fundraiser to prevent a friend from getting deported – and accordingly, progress became a backbone to the creation of the work.
“Radical politics, outlaw culture, and a passion for life are at the core of their work,” reads their bio, their primary aim being “a new and better world mafka.”
With the progressive mindset of fellow Northwesterners like Pearl Jam and The Decemberists, and the haunting intonations of Nirvana and Edward Sharpe, the Alder Street All Stars tap into sounds as far as wide as the Appalachian mountain region, singing melodies that lament love, nature, and the spin of the tides. Among their many interests, the band cites “beer, late nights, whiskey, wine, Hunter S. Thompson, self determination, and the dream of a better tomorrow.”
But, of course.
The Alder Street All Stars released their debut LP, Beer Made, in 2008 to highly positive reception. Check out “Booth Shot Lincoln” a fantastic ensemble piece bridging simple harmony with intrinsic music-making, and “Listen,” a hay-ride jam, perfect for summer days drinking Jack Daniels on a porch. They’re as plain as they are sensational, and as deep-rooted in music as they are in spreading an agenda. Considered “musical deconstructionists,” the band describes their sound to Ethos Magazine as “an inbred twice removed cousin of bluegrass from the concrete valley.” They list specific musical influences as Townes Van Zandt, Devil Makes Three, Bill Monroe, Bela Fleck, Willie and Waylon and the boys, and Michael Jackson.
In other interviews, they’ve gone so far as to dub themselves “thug-grass,” inspired by the organic culture of the fiddle and cello, along with the punk movement of the early ‘90s.
Yet despite the inherent talent and niche following, the Alder Street All Stars remain off the grid. For now at least. They’ve been rumored to be in works on a second album, and, after touring the country twice, they’ve accrued a devout following, ready and willing to pick up where they left off.
Check them out live and online.
And, as always, listen for their music on BTR.