WEB EXCLUSIVE: Morning Ritual at the Green Frog in December 11
Morning Ritual will be bringing their sonic form of storytelling to the Green Frog on December 11. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the Green Frog Acoustic Tavern, 1015 N. State St.
Pressing the snooze button a few times, brushing the crust of your eyes, making coffee, taking a shower, getting dressed: this is the typical morning ritual that many people go through on a daily basis. Morning rituals are a way for people to re-acclimate themselves to the daily grind after spending hours away in la-la land. It’s a way to put your feet on the ground, even if your head is still in the clouds.
The music of Portland’s Morning Ritual provides the perfect soundtrack for these kinds of moments. Whether the sun is rising or the rain is falling, the slow-jams of Morning Ritual are dreamy, yet rooted in real talent, expressed through a mashed-up mix of morning-friendly genres like jazz, r&b, folk and indie rock.
The man behind the music is prolific Portland keyboardist and composer Ben Darwish, and the voices behind the music are identical twins Laurie and Katelyn Shook (better known as the Shook Twins.) Guitarist William Seiji Marsh and drummer Russ Klein make up the rest of the band. Guitarist William Seiji Marsh and drummer Russ Klein make up the rest of the band.
Darwish said the idea for the project came to him while doing a one-year residency at Caldera Arts, where he came up with about half of the album’s material. It was at that point that he started thinking about collaborators for the project.
“I knew right away that I wanted to female singers for the music I was coming up with,” Darwish said. “I had been hanging out with the Shook Twins, and we had jammed many times before, but there was no way I thought they would be into it.”
He said the main reason he didn’t think they would dig it was because of their busy schedules (the band tours constantly) or if it was to their musical liking, as it does stray far from the twins’ folksy roots. Yet, they did dig it and the album “The Clear Blue Pearl” came together quite quickly after that.
“It was great once we got started with recording,” Darwish said. “I think of [The Shook Twins] as two different voices, but they can also be one singular voice. I mean, they have pretty much the same exact vocal chords, so it was a totally different experience for me and totally different from what I expected in the beginning.”
Morning Ritual’s first-album “The Clear Blue Pearl” is a lush concept album, a term Darwish does not shy away from. The album tells the story of a man and his wife struggling to survive through a drought. The drought forces the two of them to strike out on their own and search for a rumored aquifer located underground. They find the aquifer and then discover that it may not have been all it was cracked up to be.
“I knew, once I started writing the music, that I wanted it to be a concept album,” Darwish said. “At first, I had no idea what the story was going to turn out to be, but I knew I wanted to tell a story that would span an album’s worth of songs.”
During their live performance at the Green Frog on December 11, Darwish said they will play the whole album, and a few new songs that they have recently recorded. He said he plans on having the new songs also be part of another concept album that the band will work on in the future.
“For me, the concept album is interesting because of the way it transfers to the live setting,” he said. “The music seems to come from a different space when performed that way. The whole concept album thing is also interesting to me because it draws people in and keep them listening. In the era of the single, it is tough for a musician to get a person to listen to a whole song, let alone an album, so the concept is a way for me to try and draw people in and keep them listening through the whole thing.”