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First It Was Love, Then Came The Band 

Blackberry Bushes are a bramble of tradition and local flavor

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Nearly a decade ago, in 2006, Jakob Breitbach was playing fiddle in a band in Olympia, Washington. He often bumped into Jes Raymond, who sang in another band. "We fell in love in 2006," remembers Raymond. Yet it wasn't until three years later until Breitbach joined her band. "We've been touring together since," she says.

Perfect for a (post) Valentine's Day show, right?

And, as in love, as in a band mate: "I think to make a band work, it sounds cliché, but everyone has to be generous, generous with their time and energy and creativity. When everyone is giving to each other like that, you can get past yourselves and actually make music."

The result is a versatility and flexibility to their songs—part bluegrass, part Dolly Parton Country & Western, part Bela Fleck roots. Likewise, the members of the Blackberry Bushes draw from traditional and studied backgrounds in music—fiddler Breitbach graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a degree in jazz violin, bass player Forrest Marowitz went to Colorado College and studied music—but, more than anything, Raymond attributes a lot to what they draw from their Puget Sound home, and the stewing pot of musical sensibilities there; yes, based on traditional sensibilities, but mixed in with the garage-punk and indie that are such trademarks of nearby Seattle and Portland.

Often at the lead is Raymond's voice—who ticks off country and western female vocalists as her talismans. But really more than anything, it is clever storytelling that sets the tone. In their song "Mermaid," the music slows and her voice takes on an appropriately demure and dreamy contemplation. While "I Am A Woman" has more a Loretta Lynn punch, and moves at a good clip.

The Blackberry Bushes

7 pm. Wednesday, Feb. 18

McMenamins Old St Francis, 700 NW Bond St.

Free

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