Katie Carroll: The Yawpers are not a bit tamed
Steamboat Springs — The Yawpers will fit right in on a Saturday night in Steamboat Springs during high season: Loud. Straightforward. American. I’m guaranteeing your bar tab will be minimal on Saturday, because the Yawpers are so infectious, you won’t need any happy hour Genesee to get you moving.
The Americana rock ‘n’ roll band calls themselves “brazen,” and honestly, there’s not a better word to describe them. While Nate Cook and Jesse Parmet strum their guitars into a frenzy, Noah Shomberg plays his heart out on the drums. Their sound is similar to Deer Tick or the Blackfoot Gypsies (if you’re not sure who those bands are, you’ve got some Pandora stations to create) with an acoustic energy that at times is overwhelming, other times disarming and always completely earnest.
That sincerity comes from a true dedication to words. Their name, The Yawpers, proclaims a solidarity with one of America’s most famous individualists: Walt Whitman. “I too am not a bit tamed/I too am untranslatable/I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”
These inspirational two lines come from “Song of Myself,” one of Whitman’s most well-known poems, and can it hardly be a coincidence that musicians happen to identify with a poem so lyrical it is named as a song?
The Yawpers’ devotion to language comes through in the track “Distant Lover,” where they actually, reverently yawp through the chorus, “Bartleby the Womanizer,” a clear allusion to Melville’s most infamous nine-to-fiver and the mention of David Foster Wallace in “America.” Rock ‘n’ rollers with an affinity for literature? I dare to say so.
Despite their erudite lyric inspirations, like the Whitman line says, the Yawpers are not a bit tamed. Take a quick perusal of their Facebook page, and you’ll find cigarettes, booze, bare chests and an AR-15 and .357 Magnum. In fact, their Merry Christmas status update reads: “I didn’t mean to kill nobody. I just meant to shoot the sonofabitch in the head and two times in the chest. Him dying was between him and the Lord.” – RL Burnside Merry Christmas!
Their single “Rock Bottom” is about a man who’s hit the bottom of the barrel on a bender, “Well look out man I’ve been drunk for two days straight,” and in “Savage Blue,” they sing about hitting town like a wrecking ball. Indeed, they’ve turned the depressed “Bartleby” into a womanizer (explicit lyrics, too). They have fulfilled the hedonist element of Whitman, too, coaxed towards the “vapor and the dusk.”
Regardless of your love for rock, roll, Americana and yawping, I can guarantee that The Yawpers will give you a performance that you won’t want to miss.
Find The Yawpers at 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 3rd at Schmiggity’s, 821 Lincoln Ave. There’s a $5 cover.
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It was a love story that brought Jason Erwin to Steamboat Springs from Nashville, Tennessee.