Cherry Blossom Family Delivery - Plan B Saloon
Cherry Blossom Family Delivery at Cap Hansen's
Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
Every other Tuesday at Cap Hansen’s (depending on the moon) the Cherry Blossom Family Delivery convenes to perform some of the finest music in town. This is one of those events that is so good you don’t want anyone else to know about it. I wandered in on accident about a year ago, homesick for nowhere and wanting to hear music that would go well with tequila. Spencer Willhoft and the rest of the Cherry Blossom Family Delivery were right on the beam song after song – singing like drunks in a midnight choir – ranging from Hank Williams through John Prine to Neil Young, Beck and a few diamond originals. It was slow and lonely and aching and perfect. The audience, mostly fellow musicians, sang along, danced and drank to every song. It was beautiful. I made it a point to go back when I could.
After what seemed like more than a month of Tuesdays, I made it back to Cap’s last week. This iteration of the Family (Spencer, Kevin, LP, Rich, Casey and Mike ) delivered the broke-down lonely music that I had been missing. I got there just after the beginning of the second set amidst a plaintive rendition of the Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” They followed not long after with a typically minimal version of the Stones’ “Angie,” owning it in their own way. A few songs later came John Prine’s “A Town This Size” – a signature song for the Cherry Blossoms – that will hereafter always be linked to Bellingham for me. “In a town this size, there's no place to hide / Everywhere you go you meet someone you know / You can't steal a kiss in a place like this / How the rumors do fly in a town this size.” Everyone in the bar singing happily along.
I am always reminded of Jimmie Dale Gilmore when I hear Spencer sing, of flat lonesome Western landscapes, ghost towns and the ache for meaning. Hank Williams, AM radio and long drives through the country at night haunt the music. All their songs are slowed down, lyrics sung on the back-beat, almost lazy but demonstrating a deep and familiar intimacy with each song. At times, it seems everything is going to fall apart into a musical chaos but then recovers with the grace of drunken clown on the high-wire. After a while, you realize the deliberation in the seeming stumbles, in the ease of approach, is the result of talented musicianship.
The evening ends, as if often does with the Blossoms, with an immaculate trio of songs: Hank Williams’ “Angel of Death,” Gram Parsons’ “Sin City” and Mike Davis’ “Cocaine.” Those three alone, performed in their inimitable style, should be enough to warrant anyone who has never seen them to make it a point to seek them out. Sitting there in the back of Cap’s with a bowl of stale popcorn, drinking Corona, shots of tequila, hearing the echoes of those last lines:
It seems like this whole town's insane
On the thirty-first floor your gold plated door
Won't keep out the Lord's burning rain
It is a beautiful night in Bellingham.
The Cherry Blossom Family Delivery will play this Thursday, October 6th at the Blue Horse with The Smoke Brothers, Stephen Ray Leslie, Country Messengers as part of the Ham Country Revival. And, of course, every other Tuesday at Cap’s.