This is the sound of “high desert ghost music,” the prescription followed by members of the Boise band Sun Blood Stories. A live performance by the group is more than just a set list, it’s a convergence of sound, sight and emotion in the tradition of the concept album.
“We’ve been told it’s like a modern day opera, which is kind of cool,” said Amber Pollard, who sings and plays slide guitar in the band. Other members are Ben Kirby, vocals and guitar; Nik Kososik, bass; Judy Claffey, viola; and Jon Fust, drums.
Sun Blood Stories will headline Inland 360’s second annual Capital Street Dock Concert Saturday. The free, all-ages outdoor event features local and regional musicians and food and drink vendors from 4 to 10 p.m. downtown on stage at the Lewiston Tribune’s loading dock.
Named for the color of the Boise sky during summer forest fires, Sun Blood Stories is carving a niche for itself in the Northwest music scene. This year, the group was prominent at southeast Idaho’s indie music confabs, Ranch Fest and Treefort. In June, they had the honor of being the only out-of-town band booked for the Big Building Bash in Seattle, Pollard said. After the Dock Concert, the group heads to Denver for the Underground Music Showcase, Colorado’s premier indie fest now in its 15th year.
Sun Blood Stories began four years ago, with Kirby playing solo. The group went through a couple of different lineups before finding its groove a year ago, he said. In June, the band released “Twilight Midnight Morning,” which includes 10 songs plus a bonus track.
“It’s the first album we’ve released that we’re really happy with and feel represents the sound we want,” Kirby said.
The album is available digitally and on CD and cassette, which many indie bands are returning to, Kirby said.
“They’re cheap to make and they’re kind of a cool medium. The tape distortion makes it sound different. We really like tapes. … It’s pretty common. It’s definitely making a resurgence.”
The group has also ventured into creating music videos on YouTube, heading into the mountains to set the scene for the song “NighTremor,” where a masked man stalks an unsuspecting woman in the forest.
Videos are “a good way to visually help interpret our music for people that are listening and don’t like it but really don’t know where it’s coming from,” Pollard said. “It’s heavily based off of our nightmares and the kind of stuff we think about or dream about.”
With influences that range from Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin to doom metal and psych pop, the band also draws inspiration from Idaho’s mountains and wide open spaces, Kirby said, adding that Boise is a great place for bands.
“It seems to be at a nice size now, where there’s cool new bands all the time and enough attention on the city where people outside of Boise are hearing of Boise bands,” Kirby said. “That’s not always been the case.”
“It’s a super supportive scene,” Pollard agreed. “Pretty much all the bands in the scene are helping each other create something as a whole, rather than competing with each other for attention. Everybody works together to make sure it’s a comfortable place to create together, whether the bands are from here or not.”
Saturday, July 18, the band will perform “Twilight Midnight Morning” in its entirety, as one long song with each set blending into the next. While this allows emotions to ebb and flow uninterrupted, it makes it nearly impossible to work in new material.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” Pollard said. The songs are so tightly woven together that to interrupt the flow is like, “the end of the Jenga game when you pull that one brick out.”
If You Go
What: Second annual Capital Street Dock Concert
When: 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 16
Where: 505 Capital St., Lewiston
Of Note: Bring a lawn chair for seating. The event includes a beer and wine garden and food and merchandise vendors. There will be an after party with music at Brock’s, 504 Main St.