Wind & the Swell
Though raised in the small coastal town of Cambria, CA, Van Pierszalowski spent his summers on Kodiak Island in Alaska, where his father works as a commercial salmon fisherman. Every summer, Pierszalowski works on his father's boat, the Shawnee. The work is intense (20-hour days, week after week without touching land, no showers or toilets, stormy seas), but ultimately rewarding (beauty, inspiration, and money). Inspired by his time at sea, Pierszalowski began composing the songs on the Wind and the Swell during the summer of 2005, and named his band Port O'Brien after a now-abandoned cannery site where his parents met in the late '60s. The songs showcase the paradox between the band's ferocity and it's tenderness. The male and female vocal counterpoint and the urgent rushes of instrumentation mid-song meet with the gentle strum of acoustic guitars and wistful imagery of the sea. These songs present music as a document of experience, shot through with pathos, imagination, enthusiasm, and warmth. Over the past couple of years, Port O'Brien has evolved into a full four-piece band, and currently performsall around California. Onstage, their youthful vigor (the average age of the members is 21) complements their folkish sound in a way that feels exciting and new, as if Cap'n Jazz were translating a set of Will Oldham's most approachable material. With a flurry of online attention in the past couple of months, it's likely that a year from now the name Port O'Brien will be on the tips of everyone's tongue. For now, we can all be in on the secret and then proudly say we knew about them before anyone else.