Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Driftwood Singers

"Pearl Charles and I met two years ago through a mutual friend who knew that we both loved country music and how rare that was in Los Angeles," says Kris Hutson, one half of The Driftwood Singers, a Los Angeles based duo who will bring their unique brand of traditional Americana to The Boobie Trap on Tuesday night.

"The day we met we both went back to my place and tried to sing some songs together and realized that our voices blended together well so we got to work immediately," Hutson continues.
What they got to work on was crafting a sound so traditional that it might sound foreign to modern ears. Made up of nothing more than two voices, a clumsily strummed acoustic guitar and an autoharp, their music has been described as "old timey", reminiscent of the dustbowl era, and, by the band itself as, the "stripped down kind of folk that one might have heard on front porches in the south in the 1930s", all of which work as fine descriptions for their sound. But the funny thing is that though the band is well schooled in the music of the past (they do a stirring version of the classic "Knoxville Girl"), they play original music. And their music is both basic and complicated, ancient and hyper modern. It seems to say "OK, so we've gone this far with rock and roll and everything, but what if we went the wrong way. Let's look back and see if maybe we missed something."

But that's what I say about every band I like, right? My babbling aside, Hutson has a more coherant description:

"Though we might occasionally throw some cover songs in the mix, we primarily play original songs which often comes as a surprise to people because we like to write songs that draw from all genres of American music. You can come to see the Driftwood Singers play and hear songs that might draw from Stax era soul songs and others that might draw from 40's honky tonk music."

Their debut EP "LOOK!" was recorded at home on a hand held cassette recorder. An unconventional choice, of course, but one that seems perfect for the duo. As Hutson explains:

"Most 'legitimate' recording studios are dark rooms with no windows. When we tried to do our EP in one of these studios, it seemed like everything just fell flat. There was no urgency or life in our performances because we were in an enclosed space that seemed so far away from any of the places and circumstances that the songs dealt with. We ultimately ended up simplifying our recording process so much that we started using a handheld cassette recorder with just a built in microphone. The fact that we were in our own living room, where the songs were written, without a bunch of microphones in our faces, freed us up to focus more on the performance of each song."

I wanted to ask Mr Hutson several more questions, but The Driftwood Singers are currently on tour, heading south from the appearance at the North by Northeast Music and Film Festival in Toronto to Topeka on Tuesday, June 29th. Hopefully they're not travelling by horse and buggy because it should be a great show.

Get "LOOK!"
The Driftwood Singers dot com
The Trap