Band names don’t usually refer to the art of songwriting itself, but that’s exactly what Hook & Anchor does. “It kind of refers to the things a good song needs,” says Kati Claborn, singer and guitarist for the band (she also plays banjo and uke).
Claborn, along with Ryan Dobrowski (drummer) and Luke Ydstie (bassist, vocalist), was formally in Portland indie-folk group Blind Pilot. Hook & Anchor formed at the San Francisco Bluegrass and Old-Time Festival in 2012, when Claborn’s longtime friend Erik Clampitt, who now plays guitar and pedal steel for Hook & Anchor, asked her to play. Claborn had been writing songs so she joined up with Clampitt, her former Blind Pilot band mates and singer and violinist Gabrielle Macrae, and Hook & Anchor was born.
The band released a debut in July, and the album tone ranges from songs soaked with string instruments and multi-part harmonies in “Concerning Spectral Pinching” to catchy bass riffs and smooth vocals in “Famously Easy.” At times, you can hear a clear similarity to Blind Pilot, but the band is distinctly more Americana.
“I’ve been a performer longer, but I have a deep appreciation for songwriting,” she says. “I just didn’t really feel the need [to write songs] because there’s so many amazing songs out there.” In Eugene, the band will perform songs from Fleetwood Mac’s legendary Rumours, in addition to a set of originals. Claborn, who studied music in college, explains that traditional American music is more about learning older songs than writing your own.
“It’s a really good learning process when you learn a song; you get to know those songwriters.”
Hook & Anchor plays 9 pm Thursday, Dec. 11, at Sam Bond’s; $6. They play again 8:30 pm Friday, Dec. 12, at Axe & Fiddle; free. 21-plus.