How’s this for organic: Samantha Parton, Frazey Ford and Trish Klein met at a tree-planting camp in the early 1990s.
“We had a lot in common and knew a lot of the same singer-songwriters. It was love at first sight,” said Parton, who, it should be noted, is a huge fan of Freakwater. “Catherine Irwin is probably second in line to Neil Young as far as my favorite songwriter.”
Years after that first meeting, Parton befriended Jolie Holland, who would eventually become a solo trailblazer in her own right, and formed The Be Good Tanyas in the small yet fertile rock scene of Vancouver, B.C. Holland named the band after the song written by a Obo Martin, a friend of Holland’s from San Francisco.
Holland went on to pursue a solo career, while the three women moved along as a trio and lost no ground. The Tanyas’ newest album, 2006’s Hello Love, boasts strange and haunting covers of Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” Neil Young’s “For the Turnstiles” and Mississippi John Hurt’s “Nobody Cares for Me.”
The trio trades up instruments often, weaving a well-developed foundation of mandolin, banjo and upright bass, but without overwriting or stifling their work with unnecessary arrangements.
“We come together on the fact that we like things to be pretty spontaneous,” said Parton, who bought her first mandolin for $120. “We like to do things as sparsely as possible, not add too much to the mix, make it beautiful, make it simple and not clutter it up.”
The Times of London, Rolling Stone, “World Café” host David Dye and Pitchfork have raved about Hello Love’s naked charm. Ford, described as the Mick Jagger of the group, even did a cameo on Showtime’s “The L-Word.”
The Be Good Tanyas perform at the Clifton Center next Wednesday. Tom Roznowski opens the show. A writer for print, radio and television, Roznowski has been described by Billboard magazine as “part zoot suit, part Mark Twain, with a grasp of Americana both wry and sensitive.”
The concert is the first of the Clifton Center Series sponsored by First Capital Bank of Kentucky, in conjunction with eight underwriters.
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The Be Good Tanyas,
Wednesday, June 13
2117 Payne St.
$17 (adv.), $20 (door);