If you are planning to hit the town for First Thursday gallery happenings and boutique sales on May 1, try capping off the night by heading to the Bouquet for an evening of classic grassroots country with The Starlings. The Seattle-based group is on tour following the release of their new album, Marveling the While. It's a safe bet that even if you are not a country fan, you'll enjoy the heartfelt nature of this music.
The Starlings' list of instruments include some essentials of classic country music—guitar, banjo, fiddle, harmonica—as well as drums and bass, necessities for a good contemporary sound. Lead vocals are shared by Joy Mills and Tom Parker, both of whom have voices made for songs about railcars and heartache. Mills' sound is reminiscent of the honey-rich vocals of Neko Case, and Parker's smooth tenor voice recalls a young John Denver. When the two harmonize, the notes tug at your heartstrings.
The title of the album comes from a line Mills read in the John Steinbeck novel Cannery Row. In the CD liner notes, she explains that the notion of "marveling the while" evoked "a sense of steady wonderment" in her, and the nostalgic and sentimental lyrics of this album play well to this notion. It seems fitting, too, that the title should come from a Steinbeck book, as the stories told in The Starlings' songs seem lifted from a time of railroads and prairies.
The Starlings with Adam Nigel, 8 p.m., $2. The Bouquet, 1010 Main St., 208-345-6605.