I know you cheated on me, but I cheated on myself…

largeActually, having suggested that Sturgill Simpson’s band could handle themselves in a knifefight, I got to thinking of another bunch of ne’er-do-wells we saw later that night who really did look rather chilling…

Strand of Oaks

Timothy Showalter is a larger-than-life shaggy character, festooned in tattoos who goes by the name of Strand of Oaks. He was another artist I knew nothing about but was keen to see on the Green Man sayso. Occupying the late-night last up spot on the Walled Garden stage, I thought it’d be good, and so it was.

He’d bought a band with him that was made up of a rather tense but skillful second guitarist who looked like he might’ve been brought up at CBGBs; an uncomplicated and possibly mute drummer and a Metallica-style bassist who although he sported the routinely-mocked (in our house at least) “hipster beard”, actually looked as if he might have bodies to his name. (I kept my opinions on hipster beards to myself, thankyou…)

At first listen, Strand of Oaks sounded like they might just be a rather routine crude but effective rock band but once you got past this, and Showalter’s intense lyrics and delivery started to fix themselves in your mind, it became an absorbing and exciting set. He sounded at times like one of his heroes, Jason Molina, and indeed his tribute to Molina, “JM”, was particularly spellbinding, and not a little moving.

He’s a pretty engaging soul though, and (you get the feeling) an emotionally naked person with lyrics that don’t leave a lot unsaid. His most recent record, last year’s Heal, is some sort of dark night of the soul experience about which he’s said:

“The record is called HEAL, but it’s not a soft, gentle healing, it’s like scream therapy, a command, because I ripped out my subconscious, looked through it, and saw the worst parts. And that’s how I got better.”

It was also gratifying to see that he’s one of those “polite American” types who seem genuinely thrilled to be out there performing in front of a group of like-minded souls. The graveyard slot was perfect for him and his troupe, and it also allowed him to do an encore, despite his genuinely shot-to-pieces voice. An intense, if unexpected, pleasure late at night…

Goshen ‘97

Heal

JM

Sterling

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