REVIEW: Sallie Ford, The D-Rays and Samantha Crain at The Union

Posted on:

< < Back to

Plenty of roots-rock, surf-rock, retro-rock and just plain old rock was on display last night at The Union when Portland, Ore., retro-revivalist group Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside held court with support acts Samantha Crain and The D-Rays.

Ramseur Records artist Samantha Crain opened the night after performing an earlier show at Central Venue, just a few blocks away. The Oklahoma native played some of her best-known originals, with only her voice and guitar to carry the tunes.

Those familiar with Crain’s music know that her vocals are a force to be reckoned with. She manages to sing in a tone that is both singular and rich: A sound that she can truly claim as all her own.

Warmly received by The Union's audience, the timbre of Crain's voice, matched with her melodic, fingerpicked electric guitar, made for a vague, mysterious and full atmosphere–quite a feat for a single performer.

Crain also performed a number of accesible, straightfoward tunes on her acoustic guitar that were driven by quick strumming. During one of the songs, Crain actually managed to rip her shirt while playing. When she announced that fact to the crowd, someone yelled, "Was it worth it?"

"Yes, it was worth it," she replied.

Following Crain's set, The D-Rays took over, drawing the crowd closer to the stage with their surf/garage songs.

The group performed some new cuts from of their upcoming release, including a song titled "Blaze Of The Athens Sky" which revved up the crowd, including one man who climbed on the house speakers, refreshment in hand.

Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside closed out the night with short tunes that resembled The Sex Pistols in form, but The Ventures, The Crystals, Jimmy Reed and Link Ray in tone and attitude.

Ford even looked the part, as she stood onstage like a blast from the past in her horn-rimmed glasses and mustard yellow cardigan. Her baby blue Fender Jaguar with blood-red pickguard didn’t hurt either.

Just moments before Ford and her band ripped into their first song, the congregation at the back of The Union finally shuffled forward to the front of the stage. It suddenly became apparent that the show was well-attended, and that Ford can draw quite a loyal crowd.

Sallie Ford's sound is a melting pot of genres. Swing-style bass and drums drove the tunes, and guitars flitted between growly Link Wray tones and pristine reverb-laden surf-rock solos.

Ford’s cutting vocals could best be compared to the late Amy Winehouse, specifically in the way she dictates her phrases and adds an extra 'curl' to her words.

The group performed songs from their debut LP Dirty Radio, as well as new material from their upcoming album, slated for release in January 2013.

By the end of the night, the big beat-surf rock-blues-soul-swing-punk-rockabilly had spurred several Union crowd members to start swing dancing with each other, with the rest of the crowd was content to tap toes and nod heads to the high energy output of this up-and-coming retro-revivalist group.