Local Wire

Lonesome Shack

Lonesome Shack may be based in Seattle, but you'd be forgiven for mistaking the band's Alive Records debut, More Primitive, for a mid-'70s recording from Mississippi's fertile Hill Country blues scene, owing much of its elegant boogie to the droning styles of R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, and Fred McDowell. But the band's geographical obfuscation goes deeper: Guitarist and singer Ben Todd studied those Southern sounds in a tiny hand-built shack on the side of his travel trailer near the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico. "That's where I started getting into blues and boogie music heavily," Todd says. "I think just being in a rural area, where it was pretty quiet most of the time . . . just being out on the land, that music felt right out there." Eventually leaving the New Mexican wilderness, Todd found himself in Phoenix, where he attended the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery while work shopping his blues at Valley spots like Carly's Bistro, the Trunk Space, Rhythm Room, and Yucca Tap Room before heading to the Pacific Northwest, where Lonesome Shack bloomed. With bassist Luke Bergman and drummer Kristian Garrard at his side, Todd's songs forgo the bombastic indie blues currently in vogue, instead favoring sparse grooves and reverb-soaked vocals. It's raw but not rudimentary. "I wasn't thinking of [primitive] as a descriptor of the whole style," Todd says. "It's more about a desire to get to a really basic practice. Working with my hands, and simplifying things. I think that reflects in my songwriting."