COTTON JONES, THE PARSON RED HEADS, SILVER THREAD TRIO
Saturday, June 6
Caroline Isaacs, Laura Kepner-Adney and Gabrielle Pietrangelo of local act Silver Thread Trio have voices that give their words wings. While they've composed a few songs from scratch, they specialize in breathing new life into century-old folk/Americana songs by writing meticulous arrangements that capture the best of what each of these women has to offer.
They added more instruments to provide texture in this performance, but harmonizing was their pillar, as evidenced by the silence of awestruck onlookers. The ubiquitous Sean Rogers contributed rhythms on his upright bass; a washboard with brushes and a glockenspiel added soft touches that complemented the Silver Thread Trio's seamless harmonies. They occupy a precious place in Tucson's music scene, where delicate, seasoned voices and an attention to detail triumph over blaring guitars and accompanying feedback.
Los Angeles' Parson Red Heads consist of four (and sometimes five) shaggy guitarists, along with a drummer. Each member wore white, and their breezy, mellow musical style felt a great deal like floating away on the nearest cloud. The well-played pedal steel added a layer that made me think of a Southern jam band on morphine.
Harmonizing beautifully in three, four and even five parts, they hearken back to the days of Crosby, Stills and Nash, albeit with less political bite. Case in point was the catchy sing-along tune "Got It All," off of their 2008 EP Owl and Timber. The Parson Red Heads provided the sonic backdrop for a lovely evening out on the town, even if you caught yourself chatting up friends instead of focusing on the stage. They could've used more time to showcase individual talents, but the final jam at the tail end of their set was priceless.
Headliners Cotton Jones added another layer of vintage-sounding, chilled-out rock 'n' roll with guitars, drums and an organ. Whitney McGraw and songwriter Michael Nau rounded out a terrific night of harmonizing with their contrasting sweet and gritty voices. "Blood Red Sentimental Blues," from their newest release, Paranoid Cocoon, is a song that they claimed once started a brawl at another venue. It showed off their dreamy, poignant sound and led me to the following conclusion: Cotton Jones should be required listening for those about to fall in love.