River Whyless

River Whyless, Live Session #107

by oz on October 19, 2012

The last time I see River Whyless I was in Austin, Texas for SxSW 2012. It was a Wednesday afternoon, which is typically my favorite day of that week. I’ve just arrived in town with fresh legs and a grin on my face as I prepare to see a hundred bands and meet up with old friends. So on Wednesday, the various characters in our entourage all made the pedestrian quest from hotels to a wine bar called Uncorked – not your typical music venue.

Woody, Shirk, Safariman, my cousin Katy, and a college pal named Rocky all arrived, exchanged hugs, opted for craft brews instead of wine and sat down at a patio table outdoors to catch a set by River Whyless. It was a perfect setting for the North Carolina band as they greeted a small crowd of folks who had discovered their debut album, A Stone, A Leaf, An Unfound Door, but like us, had never seen them in person.

We were greeted with a soothing set of acoustic folk music highlighted by co-songwriters, Halli Anderson and Ryan O’Keefe. Halli’s violin gives each song a dreamy, ethereal quality while Ryan’s string plucking (with feather accent in his guitar) and percussion from Alex McWalters keep songs rooted in the ground. River Whyless have an earthly quality that went down perfectly with my organic IPA on that day.

It was at this set that we invited them in for a session. It was also at this set that I found my last chair to sit in for the week of SxSW.  You can visit the River Whyless BandCamp page to stream their debut album and buy it at the low price of name your own.

River Whyless – Band Introduction

Exclusive: River Whyless – Great Parades

Exclusive: River Whyless – Cedar Dream Pt. III

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River Whyless came to us via an email from one of their fans. She said, “If you have some time to take a listen you won’t be sorry.” No lofty band comparisons included and no hipster name-dropping – just a bold proclamation.

Not knowing if I was about to hear electronica, metal or some blend of the both, I took a listen and was immediately floored. Turns out they are a four piece from Boone, NC and they kick out an earnest, upbeat brand of Appalachian folk. The two main songwriters are Ryan O’Keefe and Halli Anderson and it says here that Halli is also a classically trained violin player and she isn’t afraid to put it to good use.

They have a sound familiar with other HearYa favorites such as Horse Feathers, Seryn and Wilderness of Manitoba. My favorite tune is “Stone,” a sprawling 7 minute plus tune that explores religious themes (or at least I think they do). It starts with a melody that would sound comfortable on a Fleet Foxes album and then at about three minutes, it breaks down with some spectacular and ominous violin playing before coming to a standstill. The guitar and banjo slowly pluck the song back to life with Anderson on vocals. Then the band builds into a climatic finish and ends with just the chorus and a feeling of peaceful satisfaction.

There is plenty more to like on A Stone, A Leaf, An Unfound Door. Great thing is you can go find out for yourself if you download it on bandcamp on the cheap or for free. In addition, those lucky enough to be in Austin will have the chance to catch them at SxSW. I have a feeling that you will be hearing much more of River Whyless .

River Whyless – Stone