A Drummer Downsizes

Sera Cahoone's not messing around.

Horses, horses, horses! After a summer of yammering about the greatness of Sub Pop's boy band du jour (Band of Horses, if we must say it), it's time we turned our attention to the woman who'll be owning the fall: BoH collaborator and singer-songwriter Sera Cahoone. Cahoone, who played drums on BoH's Everything all the Time and kept the beat for much-missed Carissa's Wierd, as well as Panda and Angel, is now downsizing from years of collaborating with others. Having toured the U.S. twice with L.A. songwriter Patrick Park, the talented percussionist has since stepped out from behind the kit as a strongly compelling songwriter in her own right. Her self- titled full-length appeared this February, disarming and charming listeners with its melancholy old-country vibe and lo-fi indie aesthetic. After working on her friends' musical projects for so long, getting assistance on her own—from friends Jay Kardong, Jeff Fielder, Eric Himes, and Sarah Standard, and Mat Brooke (both of Carissa's Wierd)—was a pleasant experience for Cahoone. "I feel that the songs are more my babies, you know?" she says. "When I'm writing, it's way more personal, and it's exciting to see what happens to the songs." Cahoone began her music-making life on the drums, participating in barroom blues jams as a young teenager. "My mom took me—we weren't expecting much; a lot of my family was there," she relates. "It was an open jam night, and they made me get up. It was really scary, but we'd go more often and it helped me gain confidence." After high school, she began teaching herself the guitar, which she admits took longer to get comfortable with. Making a transition from governing the backbone of a song to its lyrical and melodic heart is one that would make anybody nervous. "That has been really hard, actually," Cahoone says. "I feel much better these days, but at first I was definitely insecure. My words are pretty depressing. I'm sure people think I'm this totally depressed girl, but I'm a pretty happy person—for some reason, those are the songs that come out of me." Blame it on Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard (Cahoone can't get enough of his 1967 album, I'm a Lonesome Fugitive), along with other old country greats who suddenly spoke to her in recent years. Following their traditions, Cahoone sings of heartbreak and longing, with the resilient resignation of someone who isn't a victim. The heroines of her songs are sad but stubborn—you get the feeling they won't be putting up with the same shit for too long. Neither does the hero in R.E.O. Speedwagon's "Take it on the Run," which Cahoone has covered to concertgoers' delight this summer. She's slowly having the spotlight turned her way, so does she still get nervous before shows? "One drink of vodka does the trick. I try not to do more than that, otherwise I sometimes talk too much," she says. Since she's clearly found her songwriting voice, it's doubtful anyone will be asking her to stop. rshimp@seattleweekly.com

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