Durham country artist Heather (H.C.) McEntire played Barboza on February 24th, accompanied by a trio of drums, bass, and guitar. Her tour supportsed her January 2018 solo debut, LIONHEART. McEntire (also of Mount Moriah) had been backing indie-folk artist Angel Olsen recently—you might remember her as the animated harmonizing vocalist with the tambourine at Olsen’s sold-out 2017 show at the Neptune Theatre.
McEntire stepped onstage wearing a fitted Western shirt and cowboy boots with an adorably messy pixie mullet. She continued to suck on a cough drop nonchalantly as she launched into the first tune, “One Great Thunder.” McEntire is a skilled guitarist, and her voice is pretty with an emotional rawness and a soft Appalachian twang. Her stage presence is shy, but with an intensity that hints at her past in feminist punk.
The 12-tune set included several songs from LIONHEART, along with Mount Moriah tunes “Davis Square,” “Miracle Temple Holiness,” and “Precita,” and the Led Zeppelin cover “Houses of the Holy.” In a humorous moment, McEntire paused to report, “I just had an out-of-body experience. I was at home in my soft pants writing this tune…and now I’m here.”
McEntire’s rural Southern roots and identity as an out gay woman blended throughout her lyrics. In particular, her gospel-inspired tune “A Lamb, A Dove” (“I have found heaven / In a woman’s touch / Come to me now / I’ll make you blush”) revealed a voice that has been rarely heard in country music.
The show was underattended because of the coinciding Academy Awards, but those who made it out were treated to a very personal evening. McEntire repeatedly thanked the audience, who appreciatively shouted “F*ck the Oscars!” She was warm and approachable, standing at the back of the venue during the opening set and greeting fans at the merch table afterward. Los Angeles singer–songwriter Susy Sun opened with a solo set on keys and vocals. The former Seattleite had family and friends in the audience, who nudged her to share the stories behind