Report: Ha Ha Tonka Live in Portland

With openers Someone Still Loves You
Boris Yeltsin in tow, the Americana combo served
up the twang at Portland, Oregon’s
Studios on Dec. 6.


By Tim Hinely

Both of these
bands originally hail from Springfield,
Missouri and had
apparently met in their formative years and have been friends and occasional
touring partners ever since. In Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin you’ve
got three of the most normal looking dudes ever to grace a college campus, plus
a rhythm guitarist who looks like he walked out a  Kyuss video. Their pop sound is both generic
and completely unique, sometimes both qualities popping up in the same song,
and they wowed the enthusiastic crowd (apparently full of folks from Missouri ?!?) with a 
handful of cuts from their latest record, the odds and sods collection Tape Club.


I missed Ha Ha
Tonka on their last swing through town earlier this year and I must say I was
bummed. Their latest record, Death of a
is a terrific collection of homespun Americana
and on this evening they brought their A-game. Vocalist/guitarist Brian Roberts
pours his heart and soul into the tunes but not without a looseness, bouncing
around the stage the whole time, while the others guys follow his lead. Ace
cuts like “Westward Bound,” Death of a Decade,” Usual Suspects’ and “Lonely
Fortunes” were coupled with older tunes like “St Nick on the Fourth in a Fervor,”
“Hangman,” “Caney
Mountain” and plenty
more.  At three records in, these guys
play like seasoned pros. They’ve earned their keep (and if the drummer’s name
really is Lennon Bone, well, that
only ups their stock in my book).






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