by Brenda Hillegas
As I was leaving the first night of NonComm at World Cafe Live last week, Sallie Ford and her band The Sound Outside were warming up. A few people were at the bar, a few sitting to the side of the stage. This was the perfect time to fill World Cafe’s upstairs lounge with Ford’s strong, stop-in-your-tracks voice. The rest of the crowd, downstairs checking out the final songs from Phoenix, were going to be treated to a great show when it became Ford’s turn to entertain them. I snapped a couple pictures, listened to a few lyrics and then silently cursed the Septa train for not running late enough for me to hear Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside.
From a previous review That Mag did of Sallie Ford’s most recent and electrifying show in Philadelphia, it was necessary to have a chance to speak with her. So a few days earlier, I was able to ask Ford a few questions. NonComm is an industry-only gathering of people involved in the music business. Lots of artists play short sets, enough to grab your attention and feel the need to find out more.
“We’ll be playing a lot of our new album but it doesn’t make a huge difference to me whether it’s industry people or not. We just rock out,” says Ford of her plans for the show.
And rock she certainly does. Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside is a rock-based band from Portland, Oregon. The group has been described as rockabilly and raw with the capability of channeling vintage- a 1950s rock-and-roll sound. Ford hails from a very talented family with a puppeteer Hobey Ford as her father and her musical mother who performs and teaches. Ford has two sisters, one who has a love for musical theatre and another who loves to tap dance. As a child, Ford studied violin- a bit of a stretch from what the rest of her family are into.
“Two of our family friends’ kids were learning Suzuki method [violin] and that’s what interested me. I really like the Suzuki method because it teaches music by ear,” explains Ford. “I like the intuitive nature of it over the theory nature in classical training. I don’t really play violin anymore but enjoy playing the electric guitar and playing around with the pedals and effects.”
With the violin respectfully pushed aside, Ford worked as a waitress in Portland for a bit and eventually met a trio of Alaskan fishermen- Tyler Tornfelt, Ford Tennis and Jeff Munger. With her guitar and vocal cords, a few guys with instruments and some local clubs, Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside was formed. Ford herself has been compared to the voices of Ella Fitzgerald, Tom Waits and Billie Holiday. Even Snoop Dogg (I mean, Snoop Lion) has been mentioned when describing Ford’s vocals. The entire band has a wide range of musical tastes which help shape their sound.
“One time, our producer said the band sounded like the Modern Lovers. I think that we have a unique sound because everyone likes different kinds of music. Jeff loves The Band. Tyler gets into some hip hop and Ford frequently blasts Aphex Twin in his headphones,” says Ford.
Right now, Ford and her band are gearing up for an exciting summer. They’ll be doing another music video shortly and looking forward to performing at some festivals in North America. Ford mentions Pickathon Indie Roots Music Festival in Oregon and Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival in Seattle, both this August. There’s also the Americana Music and Art Festival where the band is headlining and Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival just to name a few.
Though some gals might groan at the idea of touring exclusively with a group of guys all summer long, Ford doesn’t mind the company of men in this case. “I grew up with two sisters so it’s kind of refreshing to be around guys all the time,” says Ford. “In general, I get along better with guys. I enjoy jokes that might be in bad taste.”
And speaking of another type of taste, Ford is looking forward to the band’s tour of Europe which kicks off today at a festival in Saint Brieuc. “I plan to eat a lot of cheese. My favorites are Roquefort, Saint-Marcelin and Chevre. And red wine is always a must with cheese. White wine with mussels. I’ve got a lot of friends in Paris and can’t wait to hang out with them. Most of the tour downtime will be surrounding food. Looking forward to the tapas in Spain.”
After her food induced coma subsides and all the Europe shows are played, Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside will be back in the States for all of those festival gigs. The closest she’ll get to us this time around is New York City. It’s worth the drive and a short one, too, considering we’re talking about a girl who is headed all the way to Europe for some wine and cheese. Maybe bring her a bottle when you see her, she definitely deserves one.