DC 9

LIVE: Mount Moriah w/Blessed Feathers @ DC 9 - 3/27/13

All photos by Kevin Hill (kevin@chunkyglasses.com)

On Wednesday night, North Carolina-based Mount Moriah took the stage of a sold out DC9 with “Swannanoa,” a compelling rocker with a deceptively quiet start that’s perhaps a perfect introduction to the band.  Like many of the night’s selections, the framework of the song shows off the traditional country beauty of singer/guitarist Heather McEntire’s voice, and proves why

Mount Moriah’s music performed live is an inviting and engaging blend of rock and twang.

The twang derives from the guitar and McEntire’s voice -- lending a touch of sadness and regret to the lyrics, her voice aches of sorrow, heartbreak or longing on the slower songs, while delivering strength and resolve to faster-paced numbers.  

Even through lyrics than can be dark and heavy, the band proved comfortable and approachable. When McEntire asked if anyone was from North Carolina, it was clear that quite a few tarheel ex-pats had made their way to the club. After that exchange the tone for the performance was set, turning it into a seeming casual affair in front of friends.  When someone yelled, “Where’s your beard?” McEntire replied with “My beer?,” looking around her feet. After a bit more back-and-forth revealed the misunderstanding, she drew a lock of hair across her chin, thus joining her bandmates In their beardiness and laughing along with everyone else.

TO DO LIST: Mount Moriah TONIGHT @ DC 9

The last time Mount Moriah played in DC (opening for Mirah at the Rock and Roll Hotel), guitarist/vocalist Heather McEntire couldn’t contain her enthusiasm, telling the sold-out crowd “this is the best show ever.”

A lot has happened to the trio out of Chapel Hill since then, most notably the release of their stellar sophomore album Miracle Temple. McEntire’s voice calls to mind Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris as much as ever, but Miracle Temple is leaps and bounds past the band’s self-titled debut. It’s easy – almost too easy – to label Mount Moriah’s music alt-country, but the term doesn’t do them justice. It is, instead, music of the cloth it’s cut from; McEntire spent her early career with an indie rock outfit called Bellafea, while guitarist Jenks Miller spent his time in the infinitely more psychedelic (and “Southern” sounding) Horseback. When the two met at (where else?) a record store, the worlds collided.

While Mount Moriah is a subtle, brooding record with flashes of beautiful anger (“Lament” is a highlight), Miracle Temple is a crisp, confident burst of energy and twang that’s perfect for throwing the windows open and bopping around the house. Or, in this case, bopping around DC9. It’s the opposite of a sophomore slump, and the songs are wonderful when performed live.

Opening act Blessed Feathers, made up of Donivan Berube and Jacquelyn Beaupre, hails from West Bend, Wisconsin but are already well traveled; their 2012 EP Peaceful Beasts in an Ocean of Weeds is a wonderful five song travelogue. The slow-burning Western Massachusetts anthem “Holyoke/Springfield” may be the highlight (though they likely won’t make any friends in the area they describe as “living in the asshole of a shit castle.”)

Both bands are fresh off numerous well-reviewed shows at SXSW; don’t miss your chance to see them in your own backyard.