Long time duo, all around awesome folks, and DIY stalwarts, Shellshag continue to breathe fresh air into their lo-fi, poppy bursts. If you're not in the know, John and Jennifer have been playing together since (at the very least) 1997. Their records and shows have provided us with an intimate glimpse into their relationship. Each song is steeped in playful honesty, which really translates in their live performances as they face one another, singing into self-constructed "Y" shaped microphone stand. Their dialog is transparent in their harmonies, and live it takes on a jubilant nature all its own. They continually build on each other, crafting an infectious energy that hasn't dwindled after all these years. John's guitar and odd baritone voice pair perfectly with Jennifer's belts of sleigh bells, snares, and enthusiastic vocals.
There's something about two pieces that always makes me smile. Sure there's less pretense and the music is boiled down to its most essential components, but it also allows for more space for personalities to take hold of the music and erases the boundaries between music and musician. Shellshag erases it further, merging their personal lives into their songs and performances. Maybe it's because they've been living it for almost two decades now, but there's an immediate hook to their songs that matches so well to the humble and quirky duo. Their songs play out all the aspects of a relationship -- the good and bad, the cheerful and somber, the dedicated and flippant moments that make it all worth it. It's a simple formula, but one that lies underneath all of our lives. Remember why you smile. Smile often with as many people as you can.
It's been a bit since Shellshag played Missoula, but we're super excited that they pulled off a yeoman-like effort to play Total Fest this year. Who knows, maybe we can talk them into playing a baseball game with us on Sunday -- provided we all don't just sit at the river.