FEBRUARY IS A DARK month here in the Pacific Northwest. The days are short, the rain seems relentless, and the sky is usually just a striation in shades of gray. This February, however, we can switch off our sunlamps for a bit and head to a number of venues around our dreary region to bask in the sun-drenched rock 'n' roll of the Parson Red Heads.
The native Oregonians (only two of whom might incite gingerphobia) moved to Los Angeles four years ago but have decided to make the long haul along Interstate 5, past the dusty plains of California's Central Valley, and up through the knotty pines to play three month-long residencies between Eugene and Seattle.
"We figured that residencies would be a good way to get up and expose ourselves to a new audience pretty quickly," explains Evan Way, songwriter/guitarist for the Red Heads. The concept certainly worked out for them in Los Angeles, where residencies are a mainstay for the music community. Upon their arrival in the city, the band notched regular gigs, eventually building up their fanbase and becoming a favorite live act among the discerning showgoers on the Sunset Strip.
It's not difficult to enjoy the Parson Red Heads. Their music feels free, like a pre-Manson Family canyon commune in the '60s. Their last full-length, King Giraffe, is chockfull of buttery bright guitar tones and Byrds-esque harmonies, to the point where you may wonder if the ghost of Gram Parsons isn't hovering above and singing along.
Here in Portland, you can catch them on the next three Mondays at White Eagle Saloon. This week (February 8), they will have opening act Marty Marquis (of Blitzen Trapper), plus Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck (R.E.M.). The Red Heads will be playing old songs, older covers, and even some unreleased tunes from their latest record, due out in the spring. So, lay off your daily dosage of vitamin D, pause your rainy-day playlist, and go bask in the ginger glow of the Parson Red Heads; your body and soul will thank you.