Whenever I cover a mainstream country show, I always see a handful of folks spill into the aisles to dance along, but it never lasts long. The arena-rock stylings of top-40 country pop just aren’t that conducive to dancing.
Maybe that’s why folks have long made the Little Red Hen the place to go in Seattle for those who want to hear traditional country music and stretch their legs on the dance floor. It was certainly the case Thursday night when Portland honky-tonkers Copper and Coal took the urban roadhouse’s tiny stage.
From the moment that Leslie Beia and Carra Barratt Stasney started singing “Long Story Short,” their original tune detailing a cheating lover’s lies, the dance floor was packed with an impressive array of older folks and plenty of young dancers as well.
Other standouts such as “Dreamin’ Ain’t Waltzin’” and “I Love A Gambler” did the trick as well. It was the rare show where to get a good view of the band, you had to be out on the hardwood.
And why not? The music was too good to not at least dance on your bar stool, as I was doing until a kind older gentleman insisted I take his wife onto the dance floor. She was forgiving as my two left feet clunked their way through Stasney’s sweet “Kentucky Blue,” which achieved the rarity of sounding new and old simultaneously.
Beia and Stasney have the perfect voices to compliment each other. They sing delicate harmonies and sound like they’ve been singing together for a lot longer than about a year and a half. In fact, the only time the show lulled just slightly was when they took turns taking a break from singing to hit the dance floor. With just one voice, something was missing.
In between sets, I joined Beia outside and she told me that she’s a grad student and Stasney is a teacher. Neither of them have any aspirations to make music their profession; the band is just a side project because they love the style of music so much and love playing together.
There aren’t many side projects that sound this good. There also aren’t many people who live in rural areas but find they have to move to Portland, Ore., of all places to start a country band, but Beia said it was only after moving to the Rose City that she was able to get involved with the right project.
Stasney, the main songwriter, said that now that the band has made their traditional country album she’d like to do something a little more experimental in terms of themes while still maintaining the band’s established sound. In the meantime, she’s already written some pretty terrific songs to revel in.