Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters, Live From the Blue Moon
By Tyler Morgenstern, Contributing Writer
After more than a year of wading through the muck and mire of pandemic-induced isolation, many are pining for the return of live music, suddenly nostalgic for the bustle of a crowded barroom and the once minor, now major thrill of staying up past 10 PM. Of course, with the vaccine rollout marching on and summer and fall tour announcements coming almost daily, it feels as though we may be on the cusp of returning to the venues we love most. But until we’ve fully rounded the corner, Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters are here to scratch all those stubborn show-going itches.
With their new album, Live From the Blue Moon, recorded at the Oregon Country Fair in the summer of 2019, this Portland-based, six-woman rock-roots combo crashes into late stage pandemic malaise with raucous abandon. Across twelve energetic tracks, Flynn & The Riveters seamlessly blend honky tonk country, roots rock, wash-bucket folk, and even a smattering of zydeco, courtesy of Jenny Conlee’s spirited accordion playing. It’s jangly, raspy, and a little rough around the edges, loose-limbed and ambling in all the best ways.
Live From the Blue Moon will be available on May 18th, but Flynn wanted Country Queer readers to get a taste in advance, with an exclusive track, “The Sound of Bells.” (At bottom.)
As a solo artist, Flynn is known for leaving it all on the stage during her live performances. That same unbridled energy rattles through each of the twelve tracks that comprise this latest collection, from the set-opening “How the West Was Won”—a stomp-along tale of a young woman striking out on her own, nothing to her name but a horse and a gun—to a countrified cover of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “American Girl.” Along the way, Flynn & The Riveters (so named in tribute to Rosie, that most iconic of riveters) leave plenty of room for improvisation and play, going so far as to transform Randy Newman’s “Big Hat, No Cattle” into an eight-minute country swing jam session, featuring blistering solos from Conlee on accordion and Nancy Luca on electric guitar.
But beyond the obvious energy and skill that each member of this talented sixsome brings to the stage, what makes Live From the Blue Moon such a salve for these times is, unsurprisingly, its liveness. Listen closely: under the shaggy wash of guitar, drum, and accordion, you’re sure to catch plenty of hoots, hollers, and laughter—the delightfully, perfectly unpolished traces of a band riffing on one another’s talents, feeding off the energy of the crowd, and letting things roll as they will. It’s a potent reminder of what’s most precious about live performance; a tribute to all the little things a livestream can never quite capture, to the grit and grain that vanishes under the blue glow of a digital screen. At the end of a year that, for many, has been extremely quiet and very still, Live From the Blue Moon is a much-needed, rough hewn love letter to being a little too loud and stomping a little too hard, and to listening with your whole body.