It's a story that retells itself every summer on the whitewater of the Northwest. A southern boy is drawn to Idaho, Oregon or Washington by the mystical pull of the state's mountains and legendary rivers. Boise musician Jonathan Warren followed this tale. And while guiding on the Tieton River in Washington last summer, he heard his father was gravely ill back in Tennessee. Warren planned to drive back to be with his father, but the next day, Warren smashed his finger in a river accident, requiring massive surgery and laying him up for weeks, torturing him with endless days of nothingness.
Dealing with an ailing father and the lost days of recovery inspired the words and music of Warren's album Tieton. Warren describes his music as "progressive psychobilly folk grass" and the amalgamation of those influences are audible--except maybe bluegrass; there's no banjo or fiddle. On the EP, Warren includes four songs from the full-length. "Dig a Ditch," is an upbeat, swinging Americana style song. Following is the progressively folky "Car Key," a stripped-down melodic song with a female voice echoing Warren's words, all highlighted by a reminiscent sounding harmonica. And then Warren jumps into an acoustic blues stomp of a song called "Tread Lightly." The lyrics thread a common folk theme of treading softly over graves and giving your shirt for it. The album is polished off by "Natalie," another mellow tune, the words addressing a girl and sharing lessons learned.
The effects of Warren's travails are audible in his song lyrics. They depict a narrator struggling through a moment in life. With the exception of "Car Key," Warren throws a compelling verse or two but then repeats that verse throughout the course of the song. I hear the story, but I want to live in the moment for longer and experience more of the vivid life that Warren is portraying. But, the musical style makes for good whiskey drinkin', porch-stompin' music or a mellow background sound while lying on the couch with a book.
Warren and his band, The Billy Goats, are all over Boise this summer, certainly not willing to lose another summer. They've played every imaginable place in Boise: Pengilly's, Terrapin Station, Sockeye and the Boise City Public Market, and they open for LoCura at Alive After Five Wednesday, Aug. 19.
Warren has mulled over the hard times of his recent past and he's sharing his realizations in the words and music of Tieton. It's the kind of music that encourages bellying up to the bar with a beer and hearing what Warren has to say.