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July 26, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
There will be no shortage of rock, folk and beard hair when Blitzen Trapper comes to Columbia on July 31.
The Portland-based quintet has toured with other hirsute acts, such as Iron and Wine, Wilco and Fleet Foxes and has learned a lot about what goes into being a successful band. Lead vocalist Eric Earley says the group has learned to develop musically by observing these bands but has also found its own way to improve by experimenting with new sounds. Some bands get stuck in a genre and cannot deviate, and Earley is determined not to let this happen.
When: Tuesday, July 31, 8:30 p.m.
Earley cites influences such as the Wu Tang Clan, folk singer John Prine and heavy metal gods Judas Priest. This variety has started to emerge more in Blitzen Trapper’s latest album, American Goldwing, as the band spreads its “gold wings” to explore different sounds.
After its successful 2008 album, Furr, the band moved toward a heavier sound by incorporating more riffs and electric guitars than before when folk and acoustic instruments dominated its music.
The convergence of folk and acoustic with mainstream pop aided Blitzen Trapper’s early success and has made the genre more popular through the increase in radio time. Earley says the emergence of this type of music is due to listeners looking for a more natural sound. He says the benefit of folk music is that there are no electronic influences, so the tones are “very physical.”
Earley says the live show will progress from a lighter sound to a more rock ’n’ roll feel as he switches from keyboards to acoustic guitar and finally to electric guitar.
“I feel we’ve gotten so much better live,” Earley says. “I do what I want to do, and people seem to like the changes.”
Singer-songwriter Sarah Jaffe will open the show. Her latest album, The Body Wins, was released in April. Jaffe, a fan of Blitzen Trapper who owns several of its albums, appreciates the opportunity to tour with the group.
“They play their hearts out, and they’re very fun to watch live,” Jaffe says.
The fans have shown up in support, and the band has been particularly impressed by the turnouts at small-town shows, which have made for some of the best on the tour. Perhaps Columbia’s folk hipsters will come out in full force and help the band feel at home.