The Local Strangers: The Power of Music

I haven’t had the chance to blog about music in the last couple of months due to the business of life. But a chance musical encounter this weekend made me realize I needed to squeeze in time for quick post.

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I spent this past weekend working as an adult sponsor at a Unitarian Universalist youth conference, held down at Camp Cispus, just South of Mt. Rainier. I attend these conferences about twice a year-they are both exhausting and uplifting. This “con” was no exception. And a key highlight for me from the weekend was a 45-minute live concert by the self-described “soulful Americana” Seattle band, The Local Strangers. This band, led by equally engaging vocalists Aubrey and Matt, put out a very solid album last year called Left for Better. I had heard a couple of the songs off of the album online, and in particular had enjoyed the album opener, Mr. Blackberry, but had been hesitant to rush out to see them live. But, clearly, our paths were meant to cross.

Music critics have long written about hearing live music vs. listening to a band on record-something special that can’t be reproduced on record can often occur in a live setting. And that definitely was the case this past Saturday in a small building in the woods of SW Washington. I found seeing the Local Strangers in a live setting to be an exhilarating experience. Not only did they flesh out the songs from their record in a more dynamic way, but the band’s engagement with each other and the audience was…well, refreshing. With humor, frankness, emotional honesty, and a raucous sound, they pulled a whole room full of youth away from other fun activities outside (swing dancing! ultimate frisbee! hair dying!) into that room to dance, sing along, hug, and to be enlivened with the power of music. Sounds schmaltzy-but it’s true. Music has an indescribable powerful quality to it that can deeply enhance the experience of being human.

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Photo courtesy Matt Hart.

Not only were attendees treated to more raucous versions of album tracks like Uptown and Devil and a Stiff Drink, but the band shared some exciting new songs they are prepping for their next studio album, which I thought reflected a deeper, more nuanced, and fuller sound compared to their earlier material. After the show, both Matt and Aubrey stayed after to talk with the youth in a Q&A about their experiences in the music business. They couldn’t have been more approachable or friendly.

You can download several of their releases over on their bandcamp page. I highly encourage that you do so-you’d be supporting a band filled with genuinely nice, creative people who have a bright musical future ahead of them.

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