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From the Country Standard Time Archives

The Piners prove better unplugged

Culver Saloon, Culver City, Cal., April 1, 2000

By Dan MacIntosh

CULVER CITY, CA - Although they came all the way from Portland, Maine, The Piners had no trouble fitting into the sparse crowd at this Los Angeles Americana hotspot, offering up songs from their self-titled indie debut.

Adding to their audience troubles was the fact that the most of this crowd was comprised of a group of women in the corner having a bachelorette party. Not exactly the type of attentive, music-loving audience one would prefer.

All obstacles aside, though, The Piners still gave it their all. The group's greatest asset is their vocals because they sing really well together. Lead vocals alternate between Boo Cowie (that's a girl, by the way) and bassist Pip Walter, but their songs (such as the train song "Steam Train") truly get up to speed when the every member's voice is in the mix.

But The Piners could sound even better because the electrified element of the concert setting buries some of the more subtle charms of the group's debut. Many of these songs just sound better within a kinder gentler acoustic setting.

Still, the added benefit of having Brantley Kearns along on fiddle (no good LA show seems to be without him these days) did give many of theirs songs a little extra pop. Especially when he reprised his role on a few Dwight Yoakam tunes ("Honky Tonk Man" "Hold On To God").

Enjoy their CD, and wait for their next local unplugged date.