Who: Kati Claborn (guitar, banjo, ukulele, vocals), Gabrielle Macrae (violin, vocals), Ryan Dobrowski (drums), Erik Clampitt (guitar, pedal steel, vocals), Luke Ydstie (bass, vocals).
Sounds like: A rootsy, Tusk-era Fleetwood Mac.
For fans of: The Civil Wars, Blind Pilot, George Jones, Tom Petty.
Why you care: When your entire band encompasses notable sidemen and women who’ve all been stockpiling tunes for a few years, ego isn’t going to be much of an issue. Hook and Anchor consists of three-sixths of Blind Pilot, with guitarist Erik Clampitt and violinist Gabrielle Macrae rounding out the quintet, and though the group centers on singer Kati Claborn, in terms of songwriting, it is a true democracy.
“I don’t think that any of us want to be full-time frontmen,” says bassist Luke Ydstie. “I’ve seen that happen and it’s just hard—though Kati is pretty good at it.”
While the band started as a one-off act assembled to play the San Francisco Bluegrass and Old-Time Festival in February, the five members soon found themselves booking gigs on the car ride home and looking into live tracking their forthcoming, self-titled debut. The Portland-via-Astoria band is deeply rooted in old-time music and early country. Macrae’s cross-tuned fiddle glides throughout the 12 tracks, set to clawhammer banjo and dense vocal harmonies that hover above twanged electric guitar and spare piano. Claborn penned many of the tracks over the course of several years, but three other songwriters contribute as well, often borrowing from and expanding on lyrics from traditional American numbers such as “Buffalo Gals” and Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times,” with a less male-centric twist.
“Many of the songs took on a whole new light in the studio,” Claborn says. “Everything through the filter of us as musicians and people is going to have a continuity. The songs feel like they belong together. We didn’t want to put limits—to say, ‘We’re not that kind of band.’”
SEE IT: Hook and Anchor plays Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with Cataldo and Barna Howard, on Friday, June 27. 9 pm. $8 advance, $10 day of show. 21+.