I first stumbled upon Portland’s The Builders and the Butchers by accident during a particularly frustrating evening spent trying to navigate 2007′s MusicFest NorthWest. MFNW is a well-intentioned local festival that hasn’t quite figured out how big it wants to be, or rather, how to manage how big it’s become.
After getting shut out of multiple shows over multiple evenings and hoofing it through much of downtown Portland with our (now over-priced) wristbands, we ended up at local hole-in-the-wall Slabtown for a modest line up including Anders Parker and the as-yet-unheard-of local act The Builders and The Butchers.
Within the first 60 seconds of this show, I was hooked. The Builders are intense and infectious and definitely not what you’d expect from a handful of boys from Alaska. All the words I could use — gothic, bluesy, old timey –seem somehow imperfect and inadequate. I usually just refer to this as “swamp music”.Their live sets are something to behold, with multiple percussionists and a range of traditional instruments in play, but their albums do a better-than-respectable job of capturing their intensity and spirit.
Check out my favorite track from their 2007 self-titled release and some newer material from this year’s afternoon KEXP-sponsored MFNW. (And please note that you may not bring your cocktail with you to all-ages MFNW shows at the Doug Fir.)