Portland Tonight, USA in the Next Few Months: Meet Kasey Anderson

Kasey Anderson in Portland, in person: Tonight, Feb 25: Music Millennium, 6 pm, Berbati’s 9 pm.

UPDATE: Check out Ryan White’s terrific feature on Kasey in today’s Oregonian. I would have linked to it here but it’s either not on OregonLive, or else I couldn’t find it despite looking for minutes on end, which means even if it is on Oregonlive, it might as well not be. Buy the Oregonian; it’s a great story.

I’m listening to this song right now called “I Was A Photograph (Blake’s Song),” the lead single from “Nowhere Nights,” the most recent album by Kasey Anderson, a Portland boy who has spent the last decade or so developing into one of those striking American voices; a whole new combination of folk, country, rock ‘n’ roll and all those lit/philosophy/social studies classes we took. We all know that stuff, but how many of us shrugged off the dates and facts and liner notes and actually felt the emotional impact of what they were absorbing?

All I can tell you is that Kasey has this “I Was a Photograph” tune (‘Photograph’ download, for free) about that poor kid in Iraq, the handsome guy with a filthy face and a (somewhat ironically) clean, white cigarette in his mouth, made a hero in the papers for a day or so, which made so little sense to him in the context of the horrors he’d seen and had been made to commit that returning to the warmth of home and family – the stuff of humanity – was the thing that eventually did him in.

“I was numb back then, boy/I ain’t even numb no more…” 

It’s a fictional version of the guy’s life, but don’t think it’s not true. Maybe more true than anything the real media reported on the war during its glorious/hellish heyday.

It’s not all grim in Kasey’s world, he’s got so many other stories to tell – so many fun house reflections of the sweet, slinky and perpetually soggy world we’ve all lived in out here.

“So he’s standin’ neath the window reading lovesick poems/Like somebody died and made ‘im Leonard Cohen. . .”

That’s “Hometown Boys,” which also contains the memorable observation, vis-a-vis growing up, that “Sooner or later our blood runs cold/And fuckin’ up starts gettin’ real old. . .” 

These are great songs; real songs; the stuff of life and art and the existence you feel in your bones even when you can’t see it through your eyes. You can hear it in Kasey’s records, though. And you can hear him do it live tonight in Portland (he’ll be back for another show or two in the next few weeks too), at SXSW in the next few weeks and all over the USA in then next few months. Check him out. Someday you’ll be able to tell your friends that you actually saw him back when he was playing clubs.

Here are details on his Tour.

Here you can stream half a dozen of his songs for free on his site’s Music page.