Live Review: Whiskey Wednesday with Western Centuries at Landmark Saloon

The Big Three: Western Centruies featuring (l to r) Jim Miller, Cahalen Morrison and Ethan Lawton on the tiny stage at Landmark Saloon in Portland.

Western Centuries
Live at Landmark Saloon
Portland, OR, USA
1-10-17

By Phil Favorite

When it comes to West Coast country bands, it doesn’t get much better than Western Centuries — the five-piece, Seattle-based unit featuring three distinct singer-songwriters and a harmony sound all their own.

So when Western Centuries loaded into the tiny Landmark Saloon for a couple of intimate sets of high quality Honky Tonk, the Whiskey Wednesday regulars knew they were in for a treat. The place packed quickly but there was just enough room for the dancing crowd to shake and spin, just a step or two from the band and arm’s length from the tip jar.

With singers Jim Miller, Cahalen Morrison and Ethan Lawton sharing the spotlight, the band famously rotated instruments and kept it loose. Lawton and Morrison switched back and forth from fronting the band to playing drums, and Morrison and Miller swapped duties on lead guitar, with one plucking a clean telecaster while the other strummed a rich acoustic.

Describing Western Centuries sound as straight Honky Tonk would be misleading. It’s easy to identify influences from across the Americana spectrum — R&B, country, soul, folk and cajun music all color the sound.

The band played favorites from their excellent 2016 record “Weight of the World,” but much of the first set drew from their upcoming album, “Songs From The Deluge,” due out April 6 on Free Dirt Records. The sweat and smiles pouring from the dance floor all night told the rest of the story.

Late last year,Western Centuries premiered four of the songs from the new album n KEXP’s Swinging Doors program, hosted by DJ Don Slack. For a taste of what this band is all about, check out live versions of “Wild Birds,” “Wild You Run,” “How Many More Miles To Babylon” and “Three Swallows” in the video below.

Learn more about Western Centuries and their upcoming album release at Free Dirt’s Western Centuries page.