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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment November 24, 2015

6/4/2013 2:30:00 PM
'Dirty Bluegrass' band to play Belfry

Portland's well-regarded Sassparilla band will play The Belfry on Saturday night, June 8.

Sassparilla has been referred to as indie-roots, punk-Americana, and punk-roots. Though it is the subtleties and folk-pop leanings of their latest, The Darndest Thing, that find this five-piece band slowing things down a bit - and growing up musically.

Comprised of Kevin "Gus" Blackwell (vocals, cigar box guitar, national resonator guitar), the father and son combo of Ross "Dagger" Macdonald (harmonica) and Colin "Sweet Pea" Macdonald (washtub bass), Naima (vocals, accordian, washboard), and Justin Burkhart (drums), Sassparilla offers one of the most entertaining, sweaty live shows in the Pacific Northwest - complete with dancing, sing-along numbers, and plenty of good times.

Their debut, 2007's Debilitated Constitution, delivered raw and edgy country-blues mixed with ragtime traditions, while 2008's follow-up Rumpus found the band creating punk-infused, blood-jug holler music. In 2010 the band released Ramshackle, praised by critics and fans alike as "insurgent blues," an unruly concoction of country-blues and punk sensibilities.

And now, with The Darndest Thing, they deliver a record that gives fans a new side of the band, centered on the structure of the song and the lyrics more so than the party groove and liveliness of their earlier recordings.

Trading in influences such as Old Crow Medicine Show, The Black Keys, Tom Waits, R.L. Burnside, and The Devil Makes Three for Grant Lee Phillips and Joe Henry with The Darndest Thing, the band's latest offering is a testament to their diversity and continued growth as a band.

"Every record we've done is a little different than the record before it," comments Blackwell, the band's primary songwriter. "They're all metaphors for what's happening in my life. So, the early records were good-time roots-punk records. Then death happened, a friend passed away, and other life stuff happened. I had to face the reality that I'm an adult now. Stuff I wasn't used to. And, so The Darndest Thing reflects that."

The Belfry is located at 302 W. Main Ave. Showtime is 8 p.m.

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