Posts Tagged ‘Cahalen Morrison & Eli West’

My favorite Sisters Folk Festival discovery: Cahalen Morrison & Eli West

Friday, September 9th, 2011

I’ve spent a lot of the past couple weeks listening to artists playing the 2011 Sisters Folk Festival, and I believe this is the deepest pool of talent ever at the event. You can find all our coverage by clicking here.

But I want to draw your attention to one act in particular. Cahalen Morrison & Eli West are a duo from Seattle. They play old-time music for modern times, and they are terrific. Here’s what I wrote in today’s paper:

Making old-time music in the 21st century is a slippery slope.

There’s a fine line, see, between playing compelling music that reverently recalls a long-gone era and grabbing a banjo, affecting a nasal twang and hamming it up in a bowler hat.

Cahalen Morrison & Eli West belong firmly in the former camp. The Seattle duo began touring just over a year ago, yet their first album, “The Holy Coming of the Storm,” sounds like the product of years spent perfecting songs, tightening arrangements, honing harmonies and tuning into each other’s musical souls.

Morrison and West use a fleet of stringed things to make old-growth roots music, where bluegrass, folk and country intertwine. Listen to the songs at and note the rhythmic eccentricities of “On God’s Rocky Shore,” the vibrant, timeless picking of “Over There,” or the duo’s unconventional way with melody on “Lost Lovin’ Gal.”

Turns out playing old-time music isn’t so daunting when you have songs and chops like this. Morrison and West are, to quote bluegrass legend Tim O’Brien, “making music that the world needs.”

You have three opportunities to catch these guys over the next couple of days — one tonight, two Saturday — and I would strongly encourage you to do so:

9:15-10 tonight, Angeline’s Bakery
6-6:45 p.m. Saturday, Depot Cafe
8:45-9:45 p.m. Saturday, Bronco Billy’s

Here’s some video of Morrison and West performing to give you a taste of what they do! (There are more here.)

This week in GO! Magazine’s music section

Friday, September 9th, 2011


As far as the Central Oregon music scene goes, one of the biggest weekends of the year is here as the Sisters Folk Festival takes over that little town 20 or so miles up U.S. Highway 20.

Today’s GO! Magazine in The Bulletin has everything you need to know, including ticket info / full schedule / venue map and short pieces on some of the lineup’s highlights: Steve Forbert, Anais Mitchell, Joe Pug and Cahalen Morrison & Eli West.

Plus, an interview with roots-rock legend and one of the coolest cats around, Dave Alvin! Here’s an excerpt:

“I like to play as much as possible,” he said. “To me, playing music live is what I love.”

He continued: “My heroes were all about playing live. The old blues singers: Big Joe Turner, Lightning Hopkins, people like that, (they) played till they died. And people conjecture about why Bob Dylan is always touring and it’s like, well, what else are you supposed to do? When you’re playing live and you get that (interaction) with the audience, that is my religion. That’s my church.”

Which would make Alvin’s songbook the hymnal. Long a master fusionist of rock, country, rockabilly, Tex-Mex and blues music, Alvin’s new album “Eleven Eleven” crackles with an energy untapped on his previous, more acoustically inclined records.

I hope you’ll click here and read the whole thing.

Elsewhere in the music section, we’ve got stories on tonight’s mighty fine Finn Riggins / Tartufi show at The Astro Lounge and a piece on why Joan Osborne is more than just “One of Us.”