Music was a forbidden fruit in the Shook household. River Shook, who tours as Sarah Shook, didn’t follow your typical path toward listening to cool music. There were no early bouts of listening to classic rock radio as a preteen, no teenage digging into an older sibling’s record collection to discover Black Sabbath or Black Flag, no forays into left of the dial, college radio.
“I was not allowed to listen to anything but worship music, or classical music, until my mid-teens,” Shook said. “But then I still wasn’t allowed, I just started to.”
That changed in Shook’s mid-20s, thus influencing the sound of rock band Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, and the indie-rock side project Mightmare.
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers with Mightmare will perform Tuesday at Animas City Theatre. The night will feature an opening set of Shook and Mightmare set, followed by Shook & the Disarmers.
By the time they were 22, Shook had been married, had a kid, been divorced; it was then that Shook met someone whose record collection opened up a new world.
“I had never listened to vinyl, and this person had a record collection that was not expansive, but it was really dense. Just the classics: Buck Owens, Roger Miller, Hank senior, Charlie Pride, Wanda Jackson, Kitty Wells. And it would be a few years later that I started getting my hands on classic, real punk stuff like The Germs, Sex Pistols, Adverts, The Saints, and I feel like the first time I heard real country and the first time I heard real punk, both times it had this real similar feeling of like a homecoming,” Shook said. “It was if my brain lit up, it was like this makes sense to me. I love this, this is home.”
If you go
WHAT: Sarah Shook and the Disarmers with Mightmare.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday.
WHERE: Animas City Theatre, 128 E. College Drive.
MORE INFORMATION: Visit www.animascitytheatre.com.
“Home” set the pace for Shook and band The Disarmers, who since 2013 has dropped four records of twang- and punk-influenced rock ’n’ roll. It’s gritty, underproduced and unpolished, and a damn near perfect union of country and garage rock.
While The Disarmers has been Shook’s main musical outlet, they weren’t enough. Mightmare is the indie-rock side project that came along right as the pandemic started gearing up. Shook, realizing that they could be off the road for awhile, took advantage of the downtime, and started working on a record that wasn’t punk, or county.
“The Disarmers tour about 150 days a year, so being home indefinitely was kind of a game changer, it was a little daunting,” Shook said. “But I just figured I have free time that I never have, so if I don’t use this wisely I’m an idiot.”
For now, Shook is finding happy ground between being part of two bands. The Disarmers will continue to do the punk and twang thing, while Mightmare will fill her indie-rock fix. It’s plenty to keep Shook busy, who will continue to keep bringing her music to anywhere that will have them.
“We just knocked out two singles in two days. We did everything ourselves. We’ve got a single dropping in June, and another single in the fall, and its looking like we’re going to drop another full length in early 2024; and that’s just Mightmare. I’m still writing for the Disarmers, and hopefully we’re going to release a Disarmers single this year as well,” Shook said. “I feel like we’ve picked up some really good momentum and we have a such a good crew of people in both bands right now, just solid musicianship and solid human beings and I feel like now is the time to really push and see how far we can take this thing.”
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.