Country Lips: Porch Music for the Beer Olympics
J. Clifford Photography
Country Lips are a country-streaked Seattle nine-piece family-like band. They didn’t really mean to be a band, but they’ve been together for nearly two years now. They’re composed of a combination of bands—the Raggedy Anns and Doctor Doctor. They’re more just friends who wanted to play country music, who were getting shitty on a Friday night and decided to form Country Lips. Their songs sit well, stitched and lilted with happily tinkered keys and dusky bourboned acoustics. It’s wandering, jangled porch music, drifting steadily along like stretched-cotton cirrus clouds. Music to enjoy, not to overthink—music that touches on Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and the Stones’ strummier numbers. It’s twangy and fitting for listening to in a field or in a truck bed full of hay.
In no particular order, Country Lips are bassist Austin Jacobsen, Jonah Byrne on fiddle/violin, Trevor Pendras and Hamilton Boyce on electric guitar, vocalist Sarah Brown, Alex Leake on acoustic guitar, Thomas Beecham on mandolin/harmonica, Kenny Aramaki on keys, and drummer Miles Burnett—and most of them sing.
Country Lips just played the Beer Olympics in Port Gamble on the Kitsap Peninsula. A muddy, stained, overnight concert/situation. Contestants competed in various events—tug-of-war, potato-sack races, among others—with full beers in hand. Then someone ate mushrooms and ran around all night with no pants or underpants on. Alex Leake spoke. His pants were on.
Talk about the Beer Olympics, please.
The Beer Olympics were great. We went with low expectations, because none of us really knew what we were getting into. It pretty much started as soon as we showed up, which was around 4:00 p.m. The people in charge divided everyone into four groups, and the games began.
What were the events? How did it relate to beer?
There were five or six events. First we did a tug-of-war, with full beers in hand. Everything is done with full beers. Next we had the putting a pool cue between your thighs and docking it with a toilet paper roll between someone else’s thighs event. Both of these events were dominated by the Country Lips’ Saturated Hearts team. Then there was some beer chugging, some popping balloons in sexual positions, and potato-sack races. Also, each team had a keg, and the team to finish its keg first got extra points.
How many people vomited?
There was vomiting, nothing to write home about, though. It was all taken in stride, very professionally, by the contestants. I definitely had to expel a decent amount of foam in order to keep the pace up.
Who was running around with no pants or underpants on? What happened there?
After the show, there was some fungi involved and I ended up destroying our fiddle player’s pants for reasons that are unimportant in this sphere. So I relinquished my own pants to Jonah in apology, and then I got my own underwear ripped to shreds by somebody entirely uninvolved. I spent the greater part of the night like this—roaming the forest with fellow Olympians. I ended up muddy, bloody, and naked except for a shirt. Then I slept in the back of someone’s Lexus.
Perfect. Talk more about the popping balloons in sexual positions event.
The last four or five balloons from each team always popped in a flurry of aggression that can rarely be observed outside of captivity. I took one in the ear.
Have you ever watched the Olympic synchronized springboard diving? It’s a fucking joke. That’s not a sport; that’s art. I hate sports where it’s like “The judge from Canada gives all 10s, but the judge from Finland gives a 5.5.” You know why the judge from Canada gave a 10? Because the person competing is fucking from Canada. Shocker. God, that pisses me off.
I totally feel you. Sports have got to be judged on something simple. Like a ball going through a hole or in a net.
How did the Country Lips show go at the Beer Olympics? I’m sure y’all were sharp.
The show was pretty exciting. It happened about half an hour after the Olympics ended. We played on a porch and plugged into a generator on the back of a truck, and most of the audience was also on the porch, so it was a big fun country mess like it should have been.
Who wrote your song “Betty Lou”?
Our friend Alain wrote that during his brief stint in the band as our rhythm acoustic guitarist. He wrote a few really great songs for us, then he left the band and went on a several month vow of silence. He ended up quitting music altogether and started teaching sailing lessons to kids.