Oracle Sisters Road Diary: ‘If We Have To Wear A Cowboy Hat To Get Into Heaven’

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Courtesy of Oracle Sisters

By The Oracle Sisters

The Paris-based trio Oracle Sisters today release their debut album Hydranism, (22Twenty) just as they finished playing their first U.S. dates, which created quite an industry buzz. They landed for their first show in North America on March 13 at New York City’s Baby’s All Right, where the room was packed, the sold-out venue perhaps not large enough for this highly-touted band made up of painter Lewis Lazar, mathematician Christopher Willatt and Finnish musician Julia Johansen.

Their weekend in New York was met with pouring rains and bone-chilling temperatures. Despite that, the trio exuded wonderment at the fact they were playing their first headline show in the city, and would soon be heading down to Austin to play SXSW.

Right before flying to Texas, Pollstar somehow got the Oracle Sisters to agree to keep a diary of their Austin sojourn. Here then, in a quasi steam-of-conscious manner, the trio chronicled their performances, late night hangs, inspirational music experiences and honky-tonks filled with dancing cowboy hats.

The band’s European tour kicks off next week and they return to the U.S. in June (full-tour dates below).

March 14

Flight New York JFK 

Flight to Austin took the A train, 3 hours of sleep rattling rails to rattlesnakes. The plane too like a laundry mat rattled above patches of desert & forest. Slept with the Moroccan hat over eyes. Most everyone on the plane was going to Austin for music. With no usual suspects, we were still buzzing from the sold-out show in NY the night before. Some in the band hadn’t slept at all.. spent the night in and out of bars waiting for the sun to rise. A magical unifying of worlds across oceans between past and present. Spent the first day in Austin sleeping on the outskirts of town. 

March 15

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Drawing courtesy of the Oracle Sisters

Working backward sitting in the parking lot of the broken spoke trying to piece together the explosion of pure sound, joy & dancing we witnessed inside. The sawdust barely hit the floor, Ian Stewart picking and bowing stirring virtuoso melodies from the roots of country, polka, shuffle and music from the bayou…he told me after his set he had toured Europe playing Hungarian, gypsy and classical violin. He was sensational. Looked somewhere between 25-30 years old. The atmosphere of the honky tonk was pure joy, pride and grace intermingled in dance. In a country too often divided along racial lines, everyone was equal and free under the cowboy hat. Black, white, young and old. I thought if we have to wear a cowboy hat to get in to heaven, I don’t mind. 

On the way home we met a musicologist cab driver from Jamaica…he blasted ‘no more tears’ by Ozzy Osborne on the highway. On the raised platform it felt like traveling through the air. Everyone in Austin has been welcoming and they know and love their music. Some seem to know ours. A woman in a store gave us a scorpion T-shirt recognizing the band and the song. Hats off to premium vintage. 

March 16

We woke up feeling hung over after the honky tonk. Made our way to film a porch session and had lunch at a diner round the corner. People are welcoming as all hell here. A fan called Abbey found out we were looking for a place to stay and lent us her house to sleep 5 of us and consequently went to stay with a friend. It’s a palace of peace with a porch that stretches into the branches of a tree. The time there is precious and we fall in love with her without having met her. She leaves flowers in every room. We drag ourselves to the Spotify lunch but all stick to ourselves and sit at a table eating radishes and carrots. We manage to catch The Lemon Twigs who were hypnotic…and the next band Jockstrap, 1 minute before they begin, an electric storm flashes overhead and the public is evacuated. We shuffle off to the nearest Honky Tonk: The White Horse. We see old friends from the night before at the Broken Spoke and proceed to dance the night away. Don is the man, and he shows us the basics before finding a blonde woman whom he holds in an endless embrace waiting for the band to strike up a song. A man gives us a dollar to play pool, a lot of people shuffle in and out, old friend and new. We twirl and spin until we’re tired on our feet. 

March 17

Wake up after singing songs all night in the house…old folk songs, Irish songs. 

We play San Jose at 3 p.m., Ian Stewart, the formative fiddle player, joins us for the show.  Everyone was happy. The show went swimmingly with some crescendos here and there. We daydream around town til 8 p.m. when we play Esther Follie’s. We rushed the setup with little change over time, but the room filled and the show went well. We walked around downtown, heart-strings pulling, and ended the night seeing Pearl & the Oyster. 

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Courtesy of the Oracle Sisters

March 18

We wake up in the tree house… peeling ourselves from the bed we roll out into a breakfast of toast with peanut butter and banana slices discussing the day ahead. 

It is decided that Ian will join again and play the fiddle. 

We go to the show at the international day stage in the afternoon. The show goes down well it seems for a matinée event in a steel hanger… we make some new friends and take advantage of the free coffee at hand while milling about remarking how cold the air is all of a sudden. 

Next…to a true Texan BBQ house with Pearl and the Oyster and meet our match…and from there I roll back into bed for a nap. Chris goes on a stroll around town and is given a free guitar by D’angelico via Brooklyn Bowl. I salute him…he says he got me a harmonica. It’s all hazy to me. Simon who joins us on bass on this tour is a laugh a minute and a Mozart on the bass. Sleep falls heavy.

We wake up and slowly make our way to the mythical Sam’s Town Point via the Broken Spoke..maybe the best night in Austin. We meet a new family of friends from New Orleans…some of the best artists we saw that week: Sabine McCalla, Casey Jane from the Lostines and Mr. Sam & the People People. The night ends with Ramsay the bar owner playing a deep bayou JJ Cale-infused blues set..everyone is musically spectacular.. dancing and twirling around with the Texas Two Step. Cowboy hats bobbing. Pool table clanging. Electric lights flashing. 

March 19

Last day in Austin. Look out over the muddy river, the trees by the creeks bending and clasping for the air of the ages. The long strip with the boot shops and souvenirs, the smell of candles and soap on a bed of concrete. The flashing neon signs over the pizza parlor. A last jaunt at the Mexican restaurant. Ian the fiddler gives us a ride in his truck over the hill. 

Go to Sam’s Town Point a last time, but it’s not the same. The Nude Party is playing but we want to be wrapped up in a bundle and sleep… and so we are… on two airplanes: one to New York and the next to Paris in time to make it for a show we have to play on arrival.

Oracle Sisters 2023 tour dates
4/18 – YES Basement – Manchester, UK
4/19 – Nice n’ Sleazy – Glasgow, UK
4/20 – The Cumberland Arms – Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
4/21 – London Oslo – London, UK
4/22 – Rough Trade East – London, UK
4/23 – Bitterzoet – Amsterdam, Netherlands
4/25 – Café de la Danse – Paris, France
4/27 – c/o Pop Festival – Cologne, Germany
4/28 – Molotow Skybar – Hamburg, Germany
4/29 – Badehaus – Berlin, Germany
5/02 – Botanique, Rotonde – Brussels, Belgium
5/02 – Les Nuits Botanique 2023 – Brussels, Belgium
5/25 – Théâtre Corona – Montreal, QC
5/28 – Empire Live – Albany, NY
5/30 – Wescott Theater – Syracuse, NY
6/01 – Mr Smalls Theater – Pittsburgh, PA
6/02 – Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA
6/05 – The Anthem – Washington, DC
6/06 – The National – Richmond, VA
6/08 – Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC
6/09 – The Orange Peel – Asheville, NC
6/11 – The Mill & Mine – Knoxville, TN
6/14 – Jannus Live – St Petersburg, FL
6/17 – Zydeco – Birmingham, AL
6/18 – The Eastern – Atlanta, GA
6/19 – Mercury Ballroom – Louisville, KY
9/13 – Bar le Ritz PDB – Montreal, QC
9/14 – The Garrison – Toronto, ON
9/17 – DC9 Nightclub – Washington, DC
9/22 – Turf Club – St. Paul, MN
9/23 – Shubas Tavern – Chicago, IL
9/25 – Sunset Tavern – Seattle, WA
9/28 – Rickshaw Stop – San Francisco, CA
9/29 – The Roxy Theatre – West Hollywood, CA