Sunday, July 21, 2013

Underground Music Showcase. Part One. The Whicker and Pine.

UMS. Underground Music Showcase. Four days long. A lot of bands. A lot of venues. A lot of people. It was fun, and unfortunately it is over. Today we wandered on over to see The Whicker and Pine at Illegal Pete's. It was the second time I had seen them live, and they are wonderful live. They had added a few members and a few instruments since the first time I saw them perform. That first time is also when I got the opportunity to sit it on down to pick their brilliant brains.
Stolen from their fb. From right to left, Anna, Phil, Jon, JD.

Now, I promise I didn't spell the name wrong. Swearsies! The Whicker and Pine is newly one of my favorite band names of all time. Jon Johnson, lead singer/guitarist (if the name looks familiar, then good memory, because he is also in Ian Mahan-Neef's band), explained the meaning to me when we sat down TWO months ago (oh the shame!) after the band's delightful performance at the Hi-Dive.We went into the basement and I sat in a plush 70's yellow chair across from Jon, JD Raab (another Mahan-Neef member), Phil Miller, and the very lovely Anna Brawner on the probably equally vintage couch. Joe Tafoya, is the drummer but he was currently out on tour with Ashtree. Getting back to the point (yes, there was one), the first question I asked was about the name of the band, "Why is there an 'h' in whicker?" I asked because I tend to do minimal  research beyond a facebook page look about before an interview, #don'tjudeme. Jon immediately bounced jovially, thrilled to finally get to explain:
 "Hahaha! I'm so glad you asked that! I've never gotten to explain this outside of the website... So it comes down to the band, and the title and what it means. I started out in Seattle, originally, I moved here three years ago. I had a solo project called Jon Johnson, that's my name, and I wanted to record two separate EPs -- the first called "The Whicker" and the second called "The Pine." Whicker with an "h" is actually an equestrian term, it's in the dictionary you can find it, but what horses do when they're around a family member or someone they are familiar with is they whine or they whicker." 
 I responded with, "Oh! Like a cat chuffs!" because during story time with The Whicker and Pine my brain reverted to a show I had watch recently about cats, big and small, wild and domestic. The animal expert brought a large cat on, explaining to the viewers at home that chuffing back at cats makes them more likely to trust you because that's a sound they make to say, "Hey man, what's up?" to each other or to say,"I'm a happy kitty!"

Anyway, Jon went on to expound on his thought that the whicker part of the name represents the familiarity one would have in a relationship and the pine represents the longing. Which I love. So no, they aren't the "Whicker furniture and pine tree band," as Jon said. Go ahead and lol. I know I still am. Jon decided that making those two EPs would be way too much work as a solo, and not liking the division of the thoughts (although I think it's sort of awesome), and after moving to Denver, Jon made the decision to start a band called The Whicker and Pine.

Santa Monica // Live at the Hi dive (5/20/13) from the whicker and pine on Vimeo.

The band draws their inspirations from Augustana and Barcelona. They describe their music, and their image, as Americana. With that hint of country, Anna and Jon's harmonies and lyrics that bring to mind romances of generations that perhaps we have forgotten - I would agree. When asked what they want their audience to experience when they are up there jamming away, Anna replied with, "I want people to be so lost in our music that they feel free to do whatever they want to do. I just want them to want to move." Which I thought was such an honest answer. I believe they were mostly successful that night. I saw a bunch of booties shaking close to the stage. Jon's answer to the question was equally honest, he said, "I listen to lyrics so much. That's how I know it's a good record, the lyrics of what they're saying, and how they're saying it, and the harmonies and melodies going on. I really want people to hear what I'm saying. Maybe it's selfish but I want people to remark, 'Oh, that's a really cool turn of phrase.' Otherwise we're just people with faces, and tambourines and high heels." The only person who wears high heels is Anna, I feel I should clarify.

Building off of what Jon said, JD went on to say that he would like for people to apply ownership to their music, "I want couples to say, 'That's our song.' That's what I always strive for -- something that people can tie themselves too. I've always wanted to be on a make-out playlist" Which brings me to my favorite part of the conversation, aside from encouraging Anna to wear heels more frequently (thank goodness I'm a lady or that'd be creepy), and that was Jon's additional thought that he adhered to JD's wish for The Whicker and Pine's music. The thought was that JD's wish would be every band's goal, "On a Tuesday afternoon, if you're sitting in a Starbucks, if somebody asks you, 'Ma'am, what's your favorite song right  now?' For her to say your band [in response], how incredible would that be?" He continued explaining that their band has done things that a normal person would consider "making it" but if I were to walk up to someone in Denver and ask about The Whicker and Pine, they would have no idea who that is. This continued to be a tangent on the band wishing for people to fully engulf themselves in the show and not sit at the bar talking about their lives, just to live freely for those three hours. That tangent went on to Jon's lyrics and that they are easy to relate to. Best tangent ever.

  Ode // Live at the Hi Dive (5/20/13) from the whicker and pine on Vimeo.

If you're wondering what is coming up next for the band, they will be releasing an LP (full length album) soonish. Day jobs, kids and wifeys tend to slow things down but they passionately spoke of wanting to put out something that people could get a real taste of what the band sounds like. You know I'm on board. I will list tour and/or show dates here when I have them!

My closing thoughts are these:

1.  Denver and the rest of the world, meet The Whicker and Pine. I don't know what the issue is but you should be making out to "Santa Monica" by now.
2.  I think this band is one of my favorites to see live. They just have that thing. If you think I'm biased, Nick (husband) couldn't stop talking about the show today. We went home and listened more while eating tacos.
3.  We could all use that touch of good old fashioned Americana music these days. Aren't you tired of hearing the same ol' same ol'? I know I'm a little burnt on the thumpa, thumpa.


Don't keep your music inside. Rap with you later.


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