Winterhaven: A Pleasant Surprise


Being an opening band can be frustrating: the crowd has not yet arrived and most audiences chatter throughout your performance—that is, if they’re not outside smoking or getting a drink at the bar. I’ll admit, even I sometimes don’t give due deference to the openers, which can be a big mistake!

At Paschal Coeur’s finale show last weekend, I was delighted to hear Winterhaven, a Portland country/rock band that knocked my socks off. “This Heart Will Burn Right Out” was prefaced by lead singer Hoyt Emerson telling us about his ‘Texas tuxedo,’ which was pretty impressively cheesy. Then Winterhaven burst into a knee-slapping great song, complete with tambourine and an energetic guitar solo from Hoyt. The blending of Hoyt’s cowboyesque vocals with Ezza Rose’s harmonies was beautiful, making me feel like I was at a good ol’ fashioned hoedown- and not in a horrifying way. The show was truly enjoyable from start to finish.

Winterhaven has the perfect blend of country and pop to appeal to all kinds of people. Mix that with the astounding level of talent that every member contributes, and you’ve got some awesome Americana music for the new millennium.

Check out the video below of “River,” a song that Hoyt says he wrote for his son, to see more of his crazy onstage antics!

So, Winterhaven has taught me never to ignore an opening band. You may just discover a gem of a band, like I did.