Sierra Ferrell has had a helluva year. Since releasing her debut album Long Time Coming in 2021 and landing on numerous best-of lists (including Glide’s), the West Virginia-born artist has been playing one sold out show after another while also being invited to share the stage at prestigious gatherings like the Grand Ole Opry. Perhaps surprisingly, Ferrell’s blend of country, bluegrass, soul, and old timey music has connected with fans eager for any semblance of authenticity. On Monday, March 7th, Ferrell’s devoted followers gathered to see her play a long sold-out show the Aladdin Theater in Portland, Oregon.
Following a set of brotherly harmonizing from the duo known as Nick Shoulders, Ferrell and her band took the stage to a roar of hoots, hollers, and applause. With just one full-length album under her belt, Ferrell would basically play Long Time Coming in its entirety, starting with the old-timey honky tonk number “Give It Time” that included a healthy dose of fiddle from Josie Toney. In between calls of “I love you” from the audience, Ferrell would lean into her country-influenced material like “Bells of Every Chapel,” “In Dreams,” and “Whispering Waltz.” She definitely loves a good waltz and would play others during the night, including the ode to her home state “West Virginia Waltz,” later in the set. “Silver Dollar” would prove to be one of the livelier numbers of the show that showcased Ferrell’s gorgeously radiant vocals, which can shift from sweet and homey to soulful and commanding.
Ferrell and her band cast a magnetic presence over the crowd as they charmed their way through the set. Though her bandmates are certainly a talented bunch, adding a south of the border flare to the new tune “Why Haven’t You Loved Me Yet” and taking the occasion mandolin or fiddle solo, it was those vocals that shined on songs like the quaint and heartwarming “At The End of the Rainbow,” the sweeping and poignant “Made Like That,” and a solo acoustic take on “The Garden” that segued into her having to shush the crowd while she laid down some foot-stomping fiddle playing. Other favorites, like the full group harmonizer “Lighthouse Song” and the quiet and bluesy “Jeremiah,” would also pop up towards the end of the set.
Encoring with a handful of country music covers, Ferrell and her band reminded the audience of where their roots lie. Her fans were enraptured throughout the performance, hanging on every line and responding to Ferrell’s off-the-cuff quips with boisterous laughter. Given the reaction, one might have thought this hippie-hipster crowd was discovering country and bluegrass music for the first time. But for Ferrell, with a voice and presence that undoubtedly lifts people up, this performance felt like a Long Time Coming.
All photos by Greg Homolka.