For a few years now, music has been developing a new and innovative folk scene. With bands like Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers and Bon Iver emerging as fan favorites, making the old new and, occasionally, the new old, you might think there isn’t a whole lot left to do with folk, that the genre has been exhausted. That’s where Balto, a Portland indie folk band comes in and changes it all again. Though the band has only released one full-length LP and, more recently, a six-track EP, they have already left a big mark.
With a grit and rawness normally foreign to the banjo-polished folk genre, Balto has a unique sound derived from the mind of front man Dan Sheron, who found inspiration for the recent EP while spending time in Moscow, Russia. According to a statement by the band, “These are deliberate songs, introspective songs, songs that live in the Technicolor dream of memory.”
“A lot of the uniqueness of our sound comes from the rhythmic choices we make, as well as the way the different instrumental layers and melodies interact. Within the genre, I think we’re closer to rock’n’roll than traditional folk—less beauty, more grit—never for the sake of the aesthetic, but rather the expression of whatever emotion we’re trying to achieve,” says Sheron.
Luckily for all of us South Sounders, Balto recently began a 15-city tour of the West Coast. Between April 19 and May 9, the band will be hitting 15 cities in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho, and they will be playing at Le Voyeur in Olympia on April 25 the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma on April 27 during the Alder Arts Walk, an event committed to sharing and embracing the local arts and music scene. The six-piece band, with their unique sound and charismatic style, will be sure to leave listeners with a lasting impression. Free. April 27, Balto; University of Puget Sound.