Tag Archives: Daytrotter

The Western Den with Oshima Brothers

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Portland House of Music and Events, Portland, Maine

Every so often, I’ll make my way to a show knowing very little about both bands. This was one of those nights, and I am *so, so glad* I was in the room for this Oshima Brothers and The Western Den show. Color me impressed.

Dan made me dinner and then I made my way over to Portland House of Music and Events right before 8pm when the Oshima Brothers were scheduled to take the stage. I ran into two of my seniors from school who are both going with me to Costa Rica in April and we caught up about our February vacation plans before the show began. I was surprised by how many little kids were at the show with their families–most gathered together and sitting on the floor in a pile. The Oshima Brothers are from the Belfast area, and I suspect most of the folks in the room were their friends and family.

I was impressed with Sean and Jamie right away. They have a maturity and ease on stage that might come from years of practicing with your brother at home. Their songwriting, musicianship, and confidence on stage was compelling. Jamie was busy making most of the sound that night with pedals and foot percussion and a variety of instruments, too. Their harmonies are lush and Sean’s falsetto is lovely. 98.9 WCLZ is currently playing their newest single “Ellie.” I also enjoyed their excellent cover of The Bee Gees’ “How Deep is Your Love.” Sean was super enthusiastic about the Diriga Quartet who accompanied the brothers for a few songs and brought their songs to even greater life.

Sean and Jamie Oshima are the Oshima Brothers

The Oshima Brothers joined by the Diriga Quartet

This tired kiddo slept through most of the first set

The Western Den came together at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and their musicianship is dazzling. Co-led by Deni Hlavinka from Virginia on piano and Chris West from Bermuda on guitar–the two met online on a Berklee accepted students forum seven years ago–The Western Den also included three more musicians on drums, violin, and trumpet.

The Western Den with the Diriga Quartet

Deni talks the most on stage, and I appreciate musicians who give the audience context for the songs we hear live. She introduced “Company” as a song about “the temporary moment you’re with family and can appreciate the sacredness of that” featuring the fabulous Diriga Quartet, who Deni asked to join their band permanently. She introduced “xx” (named for the female chromosome) by telling us that she is named after her grandmother and feels like “there’s a power in belonging to where you’ve come from.”

The Western Den’s new album, A Light Left On, is stunning. It’s beautiful from start to finish–honest, vulnerable, layered, and just supremely listable. I’m only a few listens through and it’s mesmerizing and reveals itself a little more each time. It’s also absolutely impossible for me to pick a favorite song or two as their ethereal, airy, orchestrated folk/pop songs are 100% up my alley. Their Facebook page says this about the album–

“’A Light Left On’ weaves through struggles of love, purpose, self-actualization, and the ephemeral nature of all things. and through all of this, to hold on with all of your might to the glint of unwavering hope for the certainty of belonging and the unapologetic pursuit of what is waiting for you.

you are important. you are a vibrant and powerful being. you are the light left on. this is for you.”

Watch The Western Den’s Daytrotter session recorded earlier this month in Iowa and get to know this truly impressive band.




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Jeffrey Foucault with Caitlin Canty

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

I first caught Jeffrey Foucault sharing songs with Mark Erelli at One Longfellow Square back in December of 2011 and I was smitten. There’s something incredibly unassuming about him, so when he opened his mouth and these captivating, heartfelt, honest lyrics poured beautifully out of him, I was caught a little off guard. He is fantastic live—a true storyteller. He came back to OLS in May of 2012, and I grabbed a front row spot to soak in the show. At some point in the night he introduced his friend and fellow musician, Vermont’s Caitlin Canty. She was in Portland working on a new record, and he’d taken her out for dinner before the show. He said she owed him a song, and “invited” her to the stage to sing with him. She is the real deal, and I was really impressed with her gritty, yet airy voice. What I didn’t know at the time was that I’d witnessed (and documented) their first performance together. Now, a few years later, they’ve toured extensively together. I feel lucky to have witnessed them at the very beginning of their musical relationship. I also had the pleasure of chatting with Caitlin after that show back in 2012, and she has become a friend-in-music who I look forward to seeing whenever she’s in town.

My steadfast concert buddy Colin and I grabbed front row spots at One Longfellow Square to enjoy the show up close (obviously). We met Nicole, who was solo and sitting next to us in the front row. She was lovely—it’s always great to meet great folks at shows. Nicole lives in Madrid and runs a travel company, but was staying in Portland for a month and had picked this show to check out. I made her a list of musicians I thought she should know about, and as if on cue, my dear friend and talented Portland-based musician, Max Garcia Conover, sat down with us to enjoy the show. He was obviously on the list I’d made for Nicole.

Caitlin Canty took the stage, and was joined by Jeffrey Foucault, Billy Conway, and Jeremy Moses Curtis for the whole of her seven-song set. Their energy as a band is fantastic—these folks are definitely friends and their chemistry is apparent. I especially enjoyed “Southern Man,” “Get Up,” and Caitlin’s stunning cover of Neil Young’s “Unknown Legend.” Caitlin’s second full-length album, Reckless Skyline (produced by Jeffrey Foucault), is getting some of the attention it deserves, especially by NPR, who introduced “Get Up” as one of the “Songs We Love” early in 2015.

From left to right: Jeffrey Foucault, Caitlin Canty, and Billy Conway

From left to right: Jeffrey Foucault, Caitlin Canty, Billy Conway, and Jeremy Moses Curtis

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Jeffrey Foucault and the band (now including Caitlin) took the stage (again) after a quick break to play Jeffrey’s songs. They were also joined at some point by guitarist Mark Spencer. They played a bunch of tunes from Jeffrey’s October 2015 release, Salt As Wolves, which was apparently recorded in just three days in rural Minnesota. I especially enjoyed “Slow Talker” and “Heart to the Husk” in the beginning of their set. Jeffrey and Caitlin unplugged and stepped to the edge of the stage to play her song “Leaping Out” and a cover of “Drown in My Own Tears” together. They both had big smiles on their faces while they played and the positive energy was contagious.

Jeffrey and Caitlin unplugged

Jeffrey and Caitlin unplugged


The band wrapped up their set with the melancholy, lovely “Paradise” and then brought it up with “Left This Town.” We roared with applause and the band treated us to an encore—one of my (new) favorite Jeffrey Foucault songs, “Hurricane Lamp.” I listened to Jeffrey’s interview with David Greene on NPR’s Morning Edition, and he talked about thinking about a friend having a hard time fighting cancer when he wrote the song.

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You should definitely see Jeffrey Foucault and Caitlin Canty live if they come to town. Check out their Daytrotter session if you need a little extra urging. Thanks so much for a great night!




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