TK & The Holy Know-Nothings – Tickets – Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR – May 23rd, 2019

TK & The Holy Know-Nothings

PDX songwriter Taylor Kingman's twangy, psychedelic "doom boogie" act releasing new LP, Arguably OK

TK & The Holy Know-Nothings

Izaak Opatz

Thu, May 23, 2019

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

$12 ADV / $14 DOS

This event is 21 and over

Mostly Standing / Limited Balcony Seating

TK & The Holy Know-Nothings
TK & The Holy Know-Nothings
For the past several years, there’s a good chance you’d find TK & The Holy Know-Nothings songwriter and lead vocalist Taylor Kingman onstage at the LaurelThirst. Portland’s oldest independent venue has long been a lifeblood for artists like Kingman. It’s a sort of misfit stronghold–a sanctuary for the same kind of spirit that sustained local punk legends Dead Moon and outsider folk hero Michael Hurley. Rejecting the influence of fleeting scenes, foodies and encroaching developers; it’s stayed in tune with its muddy patrons who’ve carved out lives as blue collar artists for generations. It’s here that Kingman earned the respect of his community.

Ask around and you’ll quickly uncover Kingman’s reputation as the kind of songwriter who makes other songwriters jealous, even angry. Still, those same artists line up to play with him. It’s more than his exceptional songwriting that draws them in, though. It’s his creativity, tenacity, and disarming honesty. It’s led him to play with both Portland legends and newcomers, starting myriad projects to explore different concepts and styles, and making the sort of honest music that stands starkly against the backdrop of a city quickly fading under the lacquer of gentrification.

TK & The Holy Know-Nothings is perhaps Kingman’s most beloved project. Affectionately dubbed “psychedelic doom boogie,” the group was born out of Kingman’s desire to create a loose, groove-heavy bar band that never sacrifices the importance of good, honest songwriting. Doing so required pulling together a supergroup of local friends, neighbors, and fellow LaurelThirst royalty, including drummer Tyler Thompson and multi-instrumentalists Jay Cobb Anderson (lead guitar, harmonica), Lewi Longmire (bass, guitar, pedal steel, flugelhorn) and Sydney Nash (keys, bass, slide guitar, cornet). It’s a band of deeply contrasting styles buoyed by a sincere and palpable mutual trust–one that allows them to find and lose the groove with the same ease. They build graceful, spaced-out landscapes around Kingman’s storytelling–his voice ragged and broken one moment and raging the next–only to deconstruct them through a fit of manic and often dissonant rabbit holes. This is irreverent rock and roll, tempered and deepened by the sacred mystery of western country.

Western country isn’t southern country. It’s a sound as rough-hewn and alluring as the western landscapes it comes from. Its heroes are outsiders on a path set by a stubborn devotion to the truth of things, no matter how dirty or tender. Its misfit poetry is addled by influence, scarred by hard luck, and haunted by the eternally drifting, lonesome heart of a cowboy. Its sound is accessible and human in its pure honesty, but it’s one that’s too big to be tamed. Ultimately, it belongs to the great darkness you’ll only find in the wild, open expanse of the West.

Following this lineage on their debut album Arguably OK, TK & The Holy Know-Nothings cites Doug Sahm, The Holy Modal Rounders, The Flatlanders, Dan Reeder, and Jeffrey Frederick & the Clamtones as strong influences. For Kingman, though, it’s Terry Allen’s 1979 art country gem Lubbock (on everything) that’s most affected his songwriting. Like Allen, Kingman writes with delicacy about indelicate things. The songs on Arguably OK are about dead ends, addiction, self-sabotaged relationships, drug trips gone bad (or good? or both?), and, above all, holding out for the real thing. His lyrics are tightly crafted and profoundly paradoxical; simultaneously self-deprecating and unapologetic, clever and crass, irreverent and tender; and sometimes riotously funny. Each song takes you somewhere unexpected, every phrase crafted with the same signature combination of dirtbag revelry and haltingly poignant poetry. He brings all of himself to these songs–the honest, unglorified truth.

Arguably OK came together swiftly on the heels of Kingman’s stark 2017 solo debut Wannabe. The morning after Wannabe’s release party, the band left Portland and drove across the state to the prairies of northeast Oregon to make a very different album. Arguably OK was recorded in three days in Enterprise, a quiet cowboy town at the foot of the snow-capped Wallowa Mountains. It was made live, with no overdubs, on stage at the historic OK Theatre, where most of their budget was spent on keeping the heat on. Built in 1918, the theater is a striking testament to the old west. After putting their name on the old marquee, TK & The Holy Know-Nothings went to work. Engineered on the fly by Thompson with the help of old buddy and local theater resident Bart Budwig, the band recorded the entire album by way of whole set run-throughs, stopping only at the end of each day to kick back in the theater’s seats and listen through its speakers. After the final night of recording, the band played a few songs at The Range Rider, the oldest of Enterprise’s two bars. At midnight, what felt like the whole town followed them back to the theater for one more run-through. It’s the locals’ raucous approval that can be heard on the track “Good Stuff.”

It’s no surprise TK & The Holy Know-Nothings found an audience so easily that night. Arguably OK is as wild and expansive as the eastern Oregon landscape; and its songs are as complex and idiosyncratic as the sort of outsiders who find family in bars like The Range Rider and LaurelThirst.
Izaak Opatz
Izaak Opatz
I – indecisive
Z – zaney
A – artistic
A – avocado
K – kewl
O – optimistic
P – particular
A – available
T – talented
Z – zebra

Izaak Opatz is a mountain man (from Montana)! He works in National Parks, cutting trails through the woods, probably wearing a vest or a funny hat and crapping in holes in the ground that he digs with an antique little folding shovel (maybe). He’ll go weeks on end without seeing another single person. When he does finally wander into town, he usually brings with him a pack-mule-donkey-satchel-thing, chock full of songs about women that he’s been dreaming of, places where he used to be happy, situations he screwed up… really dipping into a well of memories that’s probably better left alone.

His songs teeter on the edge of sentimental-songwriter’y-sad-n-lonely crap. This is a very tough area for a songwriter to inhabit. Mainly because it’s so easy to get lumped in the with the rest of the middle aged losers down at the Applebee’s open mic (next to the airport). BUT IZAAK DOES IT SO WELL that you actually start making plans to visit Montana and you tell the wife you love her. Maybe you order hiking boots on Zappo’s right that moment. You even make little changes like fast-forwarding through the commercials again - you touch your finger to your lips and think “I wonder why I stopped doing that”. His songs have got you and you don’t want to be let go. And If you’re anything like me, you want to be a part of what he’s got going on, simply because it’s so damn good.

My favorite lyrics are Izaak’s. My favorite melodies are Izaak’s and even writing this bio is getting me amped to go blast his music in my garage - just begging someone, ANYONE to come tell me to turn it down. I’ll be right here, machete in hand, ready to force anyone to listen.

See him live, just once, and you may notice yourself imagining your life at home with your very own Izaak, living in the basement, teaching your wife and children how to tie knots…. He’s part of the family now. If he sticks around a night or two, you may feel compelled to offer up your prettiest daughter’s hand in marriage. But take warning, dear readers, if you turn your back on him for even one minute, he’ll probably wander back up the mountain and give up whatever it is you offer, no matter how sweet the sitch or pretty the daughter. He’s got his own agenda and it’s frustrating but also so admirable. My advice is to catch him whenever and however you can and celebrate this sensitive mountain man while he’s around. ~Jonny Fritz