Review: River Whyless at The Grey Eagle

If you enjoy three-part harmonies, talented violinists, drum kits with kitchen pots, a bass player who occasionally plays the harmonium and the kind of lead guitarist who weaves a feather between between his frets, I sincerely hope you were at the River Whyless show at The Grey Eagle on Saturday. (If not, the next best thing might be watching this video of the band’s song “Pigeon Feathers.”)

A friend commented that in an ideal world, he would be watching River Whyless perform in a sunny meadow on an autumn afternoon. I totally get what he was saying. Close your eyes, and the Asheville band’s woodsy, Baroque-folk sound takes you to a sunlit, pine-scented, falling-leaves sort of place. Though I’d say the Grey Eagle wasn’t a bad spot for the well-loved locals to perform, either. The band is currently touring in the region, with future stops in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Carborro, N.C.

In addition to the obligatory (but never boring) relationship songs, the band is known for its pop-infused, nature-inspired tunes. They even played a new song about guitarist and vocalist Ryan O’Keefe’s childhood memories of tapping trees for maple syrup. And with the four musicians’ easy chemistry and laid-back stage personas, they happen to be just the kind of people you want to throw on a flannel shirt and eat pancakes with.

The band ended the night by coming off-stage and performing acoustic renditions of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe,” and Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” with audience members joining in on the choruses — a sweet way to end a feel-good and overall impressive show.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the opening act — the Durham-based, guitar-driven Americana band Loamlands, who are definitely worth a listen.

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About Lea McLellan
Lea McLellan is a freelance writer who likes to write stories about music, art, food, wellness and interesting locals doing interesting things.

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