Penny and Sparrow w/ Lowland Hum
Columbia City Theater, Seattle, WA

Folk singer/songwriters Penny and Sparrow have a distinct style—acoustic, talented storytellers, low-key and quiet—but with a twist. Seattle’s Columbia City Theater played the perfect backdrop for them and their unusually rowdy crowd.

Opening the show was husband/wife duo Lowland Hum. Comprised of Lauren and Daniel Goans, they immediately drew the crowd in with affable and accessible personalities. They took questions from the audience, spun anecdotes, and genuinely had a good time. Their music was stripped down and raw. With just a keyboard, acoustic guitar, and a drum on occasion, they sounded like the quintessential Americana duo. Harmonious vocals and tender emotion ran through their music, with some improvisation from time to time as well. It was an unexpectedly festive opening for what, on paper, looked like a calm show.

The crowd was in a tizzy before Penny and Sparrow came on the stage and erupted when Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke came out. Touring in support of their latest album, Wendigo, their sound was simple, with just an acoustic guitar and the heavy stomps of Baxter. Baxter was an imposing figure, built like a linebacker with a glorious mustache, who can be delicate with his booming voice.

Beginning with a couple of ballads, Baxter lamented, “We usually cannot see the crowd, but on this night I can see into your souls, time to get real with some darker ballads.” After the darker ballads, he sang the song that he performed at Jahnke’s wedding. A sweet, soaring tune, it was reaching its emotional apex when an aggressive bartender opened a can of beer with fervor which absolutely broke the duo into laughter; one of many humorous moments throughout the emotional set.

The best parts of their set (besides their banter) were when Baxter stepped away from the microphone without losing a step or volume with his heavy voice. You could see and hear the raw quality of his vocal approach. Jahnke complimented him with softer vocals and tender guitar. The highlight came when the low-key duo took on the classic Whitney Houston hit, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” With high kicks and falsettos, they got the crowd dancing at a folk rock show.

The musicians gave the crowd many memorable moments to take with them. Modern touring singer/songwriters are new-age bards, sweeping into town to tell stories for the audience to pass on. This was that kind of night.

Review and photos by Phillip Johnson

Penny and Sparrow

Lowland Hum