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Shook Twins bring eclectic folk sounds to the Bing

The Shook Twins will perform Saturday night at the Bing.
The Shook Twins will perform Saturday night at the Bing.

There are a lot of quirky things about the Shook Twins and their music. Anyone who has been swept away by one of their instrumentals knows this. There’s the amazing synchrony that defines every song they play, and the tension they are able to master with each interchange between the five artists. There’s the sense of balance that they always seem to command between convention and the offbeat charismatic beauty in the stories they tell with their songs.

There’s the fact that as hard as one tries, it’s almost impossible to attach a label to their music. Quirky folk, folk-pop, they are just temporary labels on the way to referencing the indescribable.

But the most intriguing thing about Katelyn and Laurie Shook is their connection with place and identity. The fact that three Inland Northwest cities as diverse in musical direction as in geography have all claimed the twins as their own is testament to their universal appeal.

It makes sense that Sandpoint would claim them because that’s where they were born and raised, where they cut their teeth and found the roots that would define who they would eventually become as musicians.

Bonners Ferry owes its new music hall just as much to the Shook Twins’ yearly return as to local hunger for good entertainment. So it’s no surprise that it also sees the twins as an iconic part of its identity. Any town that is so committed to keeping the pair coming back that it transforms a part of its historic legacy into the acoustically rich Pearl Theater clearly appreciates engaging music.

But coming home for the holidays means reuniting with fans in the Spokane area as well. After all, lots of local bands have played the circuit in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene and never made it to the Bing. Twice.

This Saturday, as their fans welcome the now Portland-based Shook Twins back to the Bing Crosby Theater for what hopefully becomes another annual local tradition, listeners will be in for a treat. There will still be that foot-tapping Shook allure that is a part of every performance. Anna Tivel (Anna and the Underbelly) and her soul-stirring lyrics will be also be showcased along with the engaging rhythms of Kyle Volkman and pulse of their newest band member Niko Daoussis.

But this time the Shooks will be opening with something new: the band Morning Ritual.

The Morning Ritual collaboration with Ben Darwish and others is a departure from the Shooks’ lyric-centered melodies, but the pieces don’t stray far from what has always captivated Shook fans.

“It’s way more intricate instrumentally,” Laurie Shook said. “Ben Darwish, William Seji Marsh and Russ Kleiner are all amazing, trained and bona fide musicians with strong jazz, R&B and folk influences. It’s a challenge to sing the parts that Darwish has written. It’s quite sound-scapey and unique.”

The collaboration has already had a stirring effect on their music.

“Learning these Morning Ritual songs has affected the creation of our harmony lines. We are thinking more like composers, perhaps,” Laurie Shook said, “and really starting to see how parts fit together and blend as a whole.”

This is the first of what the twins hope will be a series of performances with Morning Ritual. With two new songs and another video on the way, their newest collaboration is further proof that there really aren’t any limits to the Shook Twins’ versatility.