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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Ford steals show from Thao’s standard but powerful set

Sallie Ford led her band onstage last night at the Majestic Theatre.
She was dressed like Forrest Gump’s mother: cat eye glasses and a somewhat
unflattering sweater-dress with leggings underneath. Her hair, just above her
slumped shoulders, curled tight right from the roots and hung straight down.

Thao led her group on after Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside finished their
set. The audience met her with excited applause that put a playful smile on her face.
Her dress, cut above the knees, gave her freedom to romp around stage: rocking a
guitar solo one minute and just jumping around the next. During her entire set, she exuded confidence and poise.

It would seem the two groups, especially their two prominent
frontwomen, would be at odds playing the same show. Sallie Ford’s band members
were down-on-their-luck Alaskan fisherman trying to make a living in Portland,
Ore. It’s hard to imagine the group upstaging Thao & The Get Down Stay
Down, a much older and more acclaimed group, especially with Thao’s well-known
stage presence and musical ability.


Yet Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside gave Thao & The Get Down Stay Down a run for their money.

Ford’s voice can be compared to that of greats like Ella
Fitzgerald and Tom Waits. While it may not have such a prolific sound, her
voice certainly sounds like Billie Holiday’s voice, with a splash of dorky white
female singing a little more from her nose than her lungs. Like Holiday, her
voice has a certain bite, yet it remains beautiful and distinctive.

Combined with her group’s rockabilly style reminiscent of early
rock and roll, Ford managed to get many of the 40- and 50-somethings in
the crowd to dance. She joined in, too, standing in place, waving her arms
and bending her knees. By the end of her set, Ford’s voice started giving out,
like Thao’s voice did: a testament to the force behind her performance.

Thao started her set with some of her heavier songs, riffing
on fretted instruments ranging from a banjo to a makeshift slide guitar. In
studio recordings, Thao’s folk influences always manage to shine through her
tracks regardless of content. While some of it gets lost in the noise of a live
performance, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down’s ability to fluctuate between
various musical styles ensures an entertaining performance from start to

Someone watching Thao for the first time last night might
have thought she was giving the performance of her life. With animated facial
expressions representing the full emotional spectrum, Thao seemed set on
singing at the top of her lungs whenever appropriate. Moreover, she showed no
hesitation in demonstrating her musical ability, especially during an extended
jam on her slide guitar.

But, for anyone who had seen Thao before, her behavior last
night was simply a performance fans of Thao & The Get Down Stay Down have
come to expect. Between Thao’s stage personality and the unique musical style
of The Get Down Stay Down, it’s easy to see why the Majestic drew a sizable crowd last night.

For the encore, both bands played a cover on stage. Thao and
Ford alternated between lead vocals and backup. Even when Ford was lead, Thao
still somewhat crowded her out of the microphone. It didn’t appear intentional but rather the natural result of the women’s respective stage personalities.
The encore was the perfect finish to the night, demonstrating how Thao and
Ford, despite all of their differences, both produced impressive and
soul-filled performances.

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