For all the fringe, Western flair and Loretta-Lynn inflection, Jenny Don’t — of Jenny Don’t and The Spurs — is a punk rocker at heart.
“No matter how hard we try, we can’t disguise ourselves,” she tells EW over the phone from her Portland home. The same goes for her backing band The Spurs, comprised of Wipers drummer Sam Henry, Pierced Arrows bassist Kelly Halliburton and Adios Amigos guitarist JT Halmfilst.
That they’ve nailed the sound of classic country, right down to the slide guitar solos and heartbroken lyrics, shouldn’t come as a total surprise. As Don’t explains, there’s more overlap between classic country and punk than one might think.
“It’s just fun. Everyone drinking beer, hanging out, a very interactive, easy-going environment, people can get weird if they like,” Don’t says of the band. “That punk background — beer-sprayed basements — and we can bring that kind of attitude to it, but being in a country band gives them a chance to enjoy the music in this totally different way.”
Jenny grew up singing along to Patsy Cline and Ernest Tubb while performing at rodeos in her native Bellingham, Washington. After years playing in rock bands including Don’t and Ladies of the Night, she called up some Portland musicians to form The Spurs. What roped both Don’t and band mates back into the genre was a chance to expand their musical chops.
“We’re getting to do a lot of things stylistically that we’ve been restricted from doing,” Halliburton says. “You can do things like bring in a harp player, or a slide guy — the sky’s the limit.” That freedom is all over The Spurs self-titled debut, especially on the duet “Ladybird,” which features vocals from Portland punk godfather Jerry A. of Poison Idea.
This exploration also expands to the band’s touring, which has included some less-than-traditional venues for the band. “We play everything from retirement homes to weird little bars on the coast,” Don’t says.
Jenny Don’t and The Spurs play 8:30 pm Friday, Dec. 11, at Axe & Fiddle, Cottage Grove; FREE. The band plays again 9 pm Saturday, Dec. 12, at Old Nick’s, 211 Washington St.; $5. — J.D. Swerzenski