He took the name of his Pennsylvania hometown. He sings blues songs in a raspy holler. He calls his woman "mama." And, despite being a white guy in his 20s, Langhorne Slim somehow manages to do these things without sounding like a total asshole.
It's no act. Slim and his band, the War Eagles, have had their share of hard knocks. It was bassist Paul Defiglia's upright that was infamously smashed in Houston during an October '06 melee between tourmates Two Gallants and a police officer. And when Slim and the Eagles played a show at Lewis & Clark College last year, they had some slight car trouble—let's just say the tour van rolled off one of the campus pathways and ended up dangling over a small precipice.
Slim's Engine EP came out over a year ago and was recorded as an audition for V2 Records. He passed the test with flying colors, and the label liked the session enough to release it on its own, while Slim and the Eagles went back to the studio to record an album with pianist/co-producer Sam Kassirer. Things were looking promising until the North American branch of V2 took a nosedive and went under. Fortunately, the self-titled album is coming out this April on Kemado Records, a label usually known for stoner-metal bands like Danava and the Sword. This may seem an ill-fitting home for Slim's rootsy acoustic tunes, but as he explains, "It's good to be an outsider."
He likely won't be one for long. Slim's songs crouch, pounce, and manage the impossible task of making folk music danceable. They fit comfortably alongside anything from bluegrass, the outsider folk of former tourmates the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, and even the retro-psyche of his new labelmates Dungen. As a result, he doesn't feel obligated to any particular genre. Says Slim, "The only tradition I feel I'm holding up is writing music."
Langhorne Slim is also performing on Fri Jan 25 at Edgefield (2126 SW Halsey, Troutdale), and Sun Jan 27 at the Crystal Ballroom (1332 W Burnside)