I did look into it, it turns out Rogue Valley is basically Chris Koza. The idea behind this band was that Koza would write and release full length albums, an album per season in 2010.
♥ Franz Nicolay
Stornoway came on stage very stiffly and muttering a fact that we already all knew: "this is possibly the coldest place we've ever been to". I didn't know any of their music, but from what I've read, they're becoming quite the star in the UK, having recently sold-out O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire in London. So we were very lucky to see this young band at such a small intimate venue.
Many of their songs are the folk/rock variety, two songs were sung without microphones (which works at the Cedar, but I'm not so sure at other noisy dive bar settings), and for the first time in my concert-going career, a dolly was played on stage. I felt the violin player was underused, he only played for a few songs and most of the time he just sat there on stage with his head staring at his shoes. The highlight of their set was a song about the River Thames called "On the Rocks", and also, their final song on the set, "The End of the Movie".
Since this was an album release show for Geese in the Flyway, the third "Fall" album in 2010, from Rogue Valley, it would make sense that they'd play music from their new album. I didn't expect that they basically play the entire album, from start to finish, with a couple of songs from their previous two other albums thrown in there at the encore.
I did not have their album, nor did I get a chance to listen to the album online, but listening to the album for the first time live, I can tell you that these songs are about experiences and places. I get the impression that the majority of these songs were written on tour, through places like "Somewhere in Massachusetts", "Grand Central Station", "Cape May", etc. Which, I also suspect were written on the East Coast.
In addition to hearing the entire album played live, they also had a movie playing in the background to accompanied each track. Each movie is different from each other, but it's mostly footage that the band shot in their travels.
Another surprise was hearing Linnea Mohn singing on some songs, particularly on the upbeat track "Centralia, PA", because I was expecting singer/songwriter Chris Koza to carry all the weight. The final song on the set was "Racecar Driver" from The Bookseller's House.
If you were interested in purchasing any of the three albums so far (Crater Lake, The Bookseller's House, and Geese in the Flyway), you can find details on their official website. Lara has agreed to review their third album, so expect to hear from Rogue Valley again in the future.
♥ Rogue Valley at Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis (11/26/10)