It’s too bad country music radio is so bad these days. Like Kim Kardashian, country is a thing I want to love but can’t. And much like Kim, modern country has abandoned classic looks and sounds in favor of garish pop sights and milquetoast sounds we can all agree on. By “we” and “all” I mean ladies who work at the bank and dudes who drive water haulers in North Dakota’s oil patch. Those people are trapped behind a desk or a wheel all day, yet they are not the ones complaining about the state of modern country tuneage. I guess music really can turn people into zombies, just like my high school principal Dick Krominga said, rest his soul.
Fortunately, Coeur d’Alene’s Sam Platts and the Kootenai Three don’t give a honk or a toot about fitting into office background soundtracks. They play traditional country music anchored by Platts’ steel guitar and baritone voice. The group’s sound is reminiscent of longtime Texas troubadour Dale Watson. The songs are slow and lack the repetitive bumper sticker slogan choruses of your Toby Keiths and Blake Sheltons. Unlike “The Voice’s” Shelton, Platts manages to keep his vocal hiccups from sounding like a sea monster swallowing a school of clown fish. On tracks like “You Can’t Dance with Memories” and “If Given Half the Chance” the slide sings and wails and Platts quietly emotes in what amounts to a deep-throated whisper. It’s the kind of music that one might sip whiskey to while leaning over the kitchen sink on a melancholy winter evening, the kind people used to dance to in grange halls on Saturday nights. If you listen to Sam Platts and the Kootenai Three closely, you can hear the dancers’ feet shuffling across the floor.Sam Platts and Kootenai Three, with locals P.D. Lear and Ryan Bundy play the VFW, 245 W. Main St. $4. —Jason McMackin