The beautiful thing about music is its versatility. A song can be a story, a dance party or a soapbox for the band; a couple of minutes mixed with various instruments to communicate a smorgasbord of ideas. Nobody understands this better than the members of Blackbird Raum. By fusing harmonizing vocals singing allegorical lyrics with accordions, banjos, washboards, mandolins, a washtub bass and even saw blades, the quintet creates pure, fast-paced Americana. The origins of the ensemble started around 2003, when accordion player Zack and banjoist Caspian met while drifting on the open highway and bonded over their similar anarchist ideology and love of punk music. “A lot of the music we’re playing is about a time in our life when we were traveling around riding trains and squatting,” Caspian explains. “We couldn’t play traditional punk, so we took random instruments and taught ourselves how to play them.” The founding duo went on to play streets and house parties wherever they went, later adding Mars on mandolin/saw, David on washtub bass, and a then 15-year-old named K.C. on washboard. Since then, Blackbird Raum has continued traveling the dusty roads, playing for anyone who will listen, whether it’s a huge show like the Northwest Folklife Festival or passers-by on Pacific Avenue. Last year saw the release of their second full-length, Under the Starling Host, a compilation of songs channeling ideas of environmentalism, community and fighting for your beliefs. Taking their name from the Hermetic demon, Raum (a crow that adopts human form in order to steal from the rich), with antiquated instruments in hand, these vagabonds create something entirely new out of the ancient. “I feel there’s truth to us calling this demon when we play,” says K.C. “Our music promotes ‘out with the old and in with the reality,’” Zack chimes in. “There’s more to this world than what our society has to offer. The truth is out there.”
INFO: West Coast tour kickoff show on May 21 TBA. Myspace.com/blackbirdraum.