It seems everyone wants to move to Portland these days, myself included. Though I’ve never been, I’ve heard great things, like the fact that it boasts ubiquitous high-quality coffee (and innovations like this that go along with it), tasty microbreweries, a burgeoning food scene, and is also green, bike-friendly, and conveniently poised for outdoor adventure. (Not to mention it is home to House Spirits Distillery, which produces one of the best whiskies I’ve ever tasted.) In short, it’s like a smaller, rainier, cheaper version of San Francisco. In addition to all this, the music scene up there is solid, as evidenced, yet again, by a band I just discovered: Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside. Originally from Asheville, North Carolina, it sounds like Sallie and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to moving to that Oregon city, according to this Future Sounds interview: “I moved to Portland on a whim. I heard a lot of great things and thought it would be a great place to live, and it is.” (I did the same thing when moving from Boston to SF two and a half years ago, and it’s worked out splendidly.)
She met her current bandmates there—Ford Tennis (drums), Tyler Tornfelt (upright bass), Jeff Munger (lead guitar), who comprise the “Sound Outside” portion of the band; Sallie sings, plays rhythm guitar, and writes the songs. After playing smaller venues in the Portland area for the past couple of years, Sallie and co. recently went on tour opening for fellow North Carolinans The Avett Brothers. The band released their first EP, Not an Animal, last May, and a full-length album is in the works. Though I am partial to lower female voices (being in possession of one myself, in addition to spending my formative years suffering adolescent and teenage angst on a steady diet of Fiona Apple), I do occasionally make an exception, and this time it’s for Sallie. Among her influences, Ford lists Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, both of whom are evident enough in her vocal delivery. However, Ford goes beyond simple copycat techniques; she really takes ownership of her voice, and her music effectively blends vintage and modern persuasions. To see for yourself, Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside play with Eilen Jewell tonight at Hotel Utah.
Who: Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside
What: Not an Animal EP
Where: Portland, Oregon
Why: “I’m definitely not on the prowl / I’ve just got big eyes like a baby owl.”