The Doug Fir Lounge hosts several country artists throughout the year, and the beginning of May was no different, when they hosted the incomparable Erika Wennerstrom, who for the last 15 years has been the voice of Heartless Bastards, and a supporting act, Texas crooner Josh T. Pearson.
Pearson started out the show with storytelling about life and love with comedy all rolled into a one-man psychedelic country act. He navigated the crowd like a Texas sheriff would a lineup, keeping the crowd buzzing with his quick one-liners and fingerpicking style. Playing songs from his hit records The Last of the Country Gentlemen and The Straight Hits, he made sure the crowd was primed and ready for what they were going to see. As the lights dimmed on the set and the house music went off, the energy began to build in excitement.
Erika Wennerstrom hit the stage with a soulful aura surrounding her and her band as they were about to take the crowd through a musical journey of self reflection, self love and cosmic energy, all explored on Wennerstrom's solo debut album, Sweet Unknown. When Wennerstrom hit the stage she took a minute to soak in the crowd. As her heavy guitar riff from her hit song “Twisted Highway” filled the room, the energy erupted. This tour is her first solo venture, but the crowd wouldn't have known the difference.
Wennerstrom did a wonderful job keeping some surprises under lock and key until the time was right to share them. While her solo material shined bright, she found ways to complement her solo set of self reflection and self love with songs like Heartless Bastards' “Had to Go,” where she let her band leave the stage for a few moments and brought on two talented fiddle players and Chris Funk of The Decemberists. The most moving part of the evening was her tribute to Townes Van Zandt, when she played her version of “Be Here to Love Me.”
As the night closed, Wennerstrom and her band heisted the crowd's emotions one last time by adding in Drive-By Truckers guitarist Patterson Hood to give the crowd a dose of her rock roots, playing The Rolling Stones classic “Paint it Black.”
From the first line of “Twisted Highway” to the last line of “Paint it Black,” Wennerstrom gave her fans a taste of what life's sweet unknowns are all about.