On paper, The Parson Red Heads sound like they stepped straight out of the 1960s. Husband and wife Evan and Brette Marie Way man the helm of this harmony-rich folk rock outfit. They’re young, in love, and — you guessed it — blessed with luscious strawberry manes. They also sing sweet-as-candy songs about growing up, living free, and finding happiness, oftentimes with an acoustic guitar and harmonica in tow.
But before you draw too many hippie-dippie comparisons, take a listen, because these Oregonians are the real deal. When the band stopped through town last fall as part of the annual New Noise Music Festival, they enraptured a slim Sunday-night crowd with their spot-on harmonies, infectious energy, and cheery dispositions. But they also put a rocking contemporary touch on their campfire-ready anthems, conjuring images of both a Jesus Movement family band and a technically tight indie ensemble.
Last August, the Ways, alongside drummer Sam Fowles and bassist Charlie Hester, released Yearling, the band’s second and stunning full-length album. In a recent phone interview, Evan coolly delivered a bit of Yearling’s backstory and ongoing growth. “Playing these songs live for people really helped reinvigorate them for us, just because we were watching people hear them for the first time.”
And since the album’s release, The Parson Red Heads have had plenty of opportunities to do just that. In the last six months, they’ve toured alongside both Fruit Bats and Viva Voce. This week, they take to the stage at SOhO as part of a month-long tour with Blitzen Trapper. “I think we’ve improved a lot as a live band,” noted Evan. “We toured almost three-and-a-half months without a break [last year], and we learned our strengths.”
Fittingly, the group’s laid-back — and hippie-approved — mindset has also helped them grow. “Half the reason we started the band was to have fun and not hold ourselves to anything too serious,” Evan explained. “It was always about having the people you loved involved. We’re a family of friends before we’re a band.”
The Parson Red Heads play SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) on Friday, March 9, with Blitzen Trapper. Call 962-7776 or visit clubmercy.com for tickets.