What is Westicana? I proposed this question to Josh Malm Tree of Redwood Son, who gave me a straightforward explanation. However, I could tell that much thought had gone into this new idea, and I had to explore the possibilities!
Westicana is a genre of music, an artist collective, and an approach to musical vitality. In terms of genre, Westicana is “Western Americana”, which Redwood Son has absolutely established a solid home for here in the Northwest. Touching on country and folk and holding true to the genre of Americana, Josh’s music has certainly communicated the spirit of the expansive west , since being named “Best New Artist” at the 2011 Portland Music Awards. Redwood Son’s songs are a lovely mix of vintage instrumental tones, timeless lyrics, and contemporary approach to folk music. Josh’s idea of Westicana as a genre is very open and inclusive. As the idea continues to build momentum, I believe that we will see a very generous palette of musical styles being incorporated by partners in the Westicana Collective.
There is a spirit of adventure and danger connected to the idea of the “Wild West.” I first think of tumbleweed, gunfights, and long dusty rides across endless miles of wide open prairies. Then, I am led to consider the ideas of freedom, independence, and enduring spirit that brought pioneers to leave the comforts of civilization and establish homes for themselves in a generally hostile environment. The land was often unforgiving, work was never ending, and the entire effort was a gigantic risk. Salvation and success came to those who bonded together to build community. These communities of adventurous individuals are our pioneers, our ancestors – they held on tightly to their desire for independence and creativity, while creating a safe environment for all members to share ideas, build families and grow together. This is the emotional idea behind the Westicana Collective – made tangible by a group of musicians and music lovers who work together to build community based around a love of storytelling through lyric and melody.
Josh’s mind is always working on new ideas, and he shared a few with me. Westicana plans include many cooperative efforts between bands we already know and love. The collective will collaborate on shows and recordings, bring musicians together to meet and explore new ideas together, and assist in spreading the word about emerging artists. His love of bringing like-hearted individuals together is being fulfilled with the Westicana Collective.
This week in Westicana: Tonight, April 11 – a live premier of a new video at Lake Theater and Cafe in Lake Oswego, 7PM. Wednesday, April 13 – Westicana Wednesdays at Wild Hare Saloon in Oregon City. Join Redwood son and guests for songs and stories at 7PM. And, the Redwood Son release party this Saturday, April 16 at Mississippi Studios! Playing with Jaime Wyatt, Rust on the Rails, and McDougall – entry to this show includes a copy of the new CD from Redwood Son, as well as a healthy dose of the wild, free, independent spirit that is Westicana! Join Portland Notes at Mississippi Studios, doors 8PM, show at 8:30. Crimson and Clover Media will be in attendance to document the event, and this release show is Kelly’s pick of the week for Vortex Music Magazine!