Andy Harrison explores possibilities at Clark’s Bistro and Pub

Andy Harrison is a prolific songwriter with 18 CD releases to his name so far. While his music is certainly entertaining, he wants it to be transformational to those who hear it, helping people find lasting happiness in their lives. You won’t hear songs about good-love-gone-bad from Andy, but songs about possibilities for a better future. I have captured a good example at Clark’s Bistro and Pub from Friday, October 26.

Link to video

I’ve been personally stalking Andy for ten years now. My first journal entry about him was when he played the Venetian in Hillsboro on October 24, 2008. He was doing mostly covers there, including a rousing rendition of Stayin’ Alive! I have enjoyed watching Andy morph into a fine singer/songwriter and motivational speaker. Of course, he would tell the possibilities for tomorrow are without limits.

Sketches from Noggin Festival 2018

I was lucky enough to catch some live music on Saturday, October 20th at Noggin Fest, a two day multi-media, multi-disciplinary festival benefitting local art and science education non-profit NW Noggin. In addition to a stellar music line-up, the festival featured neuroscience lectures, an art auction, science workshops, and raffles. I got a chance to do some sketches of long-standing Portland bands, When We Met and Human Ottoman.

When We Met is a duo that performs effusive, punkish power pop anthems with Melissa Dorres on bass and Brian Casey on guitar. Both members sing and are also accompanied by an arsenal of samples and drum programming, which gives them a surprisingly big sound for such a small group. The two also bounce around stage, creating an engaging and electrifying performance.

Human Ottoman is a band I have seen in a few times and with slightly different instrumental configurations, though they’ve always had the common thread of Grayson Fiske on Vibraphone, Susan Lucia on drums, an inventive, jazz fusion inspired sound, and an affable, humorous stage presence. This evening, they were joined by a new electric bass player who effortlessly created tight jazz/funk grooves with Lucia while Fiske delivered experimental vibraphone sounds that answered the question: what if Lionel Hampton had a sweet, sweet pedal board and was also in outer space?

A triple bill at Eastside Bar and Grill

The Dizzies are a self described alt rock band that came down from Olympia Washington to rock the Eastside Bar and Grill last week, on a great bill with creative bands. Playing a set of longer groovy songs with plenty of room to jam out, they toed a fantastic line between Blind Melon, Led Zeppelin and Mr Bungle. There wasn’t much room for applause because this band pretty much steamrolled through their whole set, song after song, maybe only taking a break once or twice to very earnestly thank the intimate crowd for watching them play during their tour. They started off a show of three piece bands, each taking on a different path on rock and roll. You can check them out HERE.

Link to video

Labido Cornucopia was up next, choosing to ditch the bass guitar in favor of two killer guitar players backed by a good, strong drummer. I might be dating myself here, but one of the first things I thought when I looked these folks up on the internet was that they reminded me of the band that both featured in the theme song and existed in the world of classic Nickelodeon show “Pete & Pete”. Now don’t get me wrong, that isn’t speaking to any immaturity of the band I was watching: despite Polaris being on a teen episodic adventure show, they were an amazing band in the 90’s. Labido Cornucopia got the energy of the crowd up with their unison shout-singing vocals, punk rhythms, and good humor. All three members were really great at their instruments, but what really got to me was all of the chances that the lead vocalist took with their vocals. Ranging from a punk shout to a theatrical falsetto and everything in between, you never knew quite what was coming next, and it was that tension and drama that really kept me engaged with the set. They were pretty mathy with their instrumentals, but not quite “noodly”, which was a breath of fresh air, like some love child between The Pixies and Coheed and Cambria. It was amazing to see a band just unabashedly be themselves! You can check out their music HERE.

Link to video

Last up in the night was The Carotids, which took another turn in instrumentation by having the lead vocalist sit behind the drumset. These folks just brought the pure, unfiltered and raw punk energy, with almost a bit of a hardcore metal edge thrown in for good measure. One thing that really tied all of these bands together was that they all seemed to have a really good time performing, nobody took themselves too seriously, and it made the show that much more enjoyable. The Carotids wrecked what was left of the Eastside Bar and Grill with their power chord driven rock and roll, and you can catch their music HERE.

Link to video

Brother Not Brother at McMenamins Grand Lodge

Brother Not Brother (formerly Hammerhead) is an indie folk-rock band made up of Tyler Robinson and Andrew Harrison, who have been rocking the Portland music scene since 2015. In addition to their dualing-guitar thing, Andrew (on the left) has a tambourine on a foot pedal while Tyler (on the right) has a bass drum, allowing them to build songs big, then suddenly bring them down, which they do to a T. The other amazing thing about these guys, though related, is the wide range of moods they can create, and their ability to adapt to where they are performing. Saturday, October 13, at the Garage Door inside McMenamins Grand Lodge, they had a quiet, attentive audience. Their music sets were created for them.

My favorite song from the set was “Modern-Day Astronaut”, but I chose to show you “Death Of Eden” in the video because it demonstrates the many moods they can create, even in a short, five-minute time span.

Link to video

PDX Pop Now Several Months Later

I got to see a few acts I had never seen live before at this past summer’s PDX Pop Now festival. It was a quintessential PDX Pop Now experience with hot sun beating down on a multi-generational crowd, musicians in slightly self-conscious athletic wear battling each other in a match of Rigsketball, and the soothing scent of food cart burritos wafting through the air. It was also a quintessential PDX Pop Now experience, because it featured transformative performances from local artists and little kids schooling all us jaded adults on how to interpretive dance our hearts out.

I first caught Bryson Cone, a psychedelic/dream pop act with a perfect combination of catchy, inventive songwriting and lush, expansive arrangements. The band also featured members of prestigious local bands Cat Hoch and Reptaliens and everyone onstage had an undeniable chemistry.

Next Moorea Masa and the Mood effortlessly blended folk and R & B elements with a super tight but also highly emotive set. Most notable were the stellar vocals from both Masa herself and her backup singers, who at one point stilled the crowd with a stirring a cappella number.

Finally, I witnessed a performance by experimental electronic musician Omari Jazz. He lists his hometown on his Facebook page as The Chronosynclastic Infundibulum. This seems appropriate for someone whose beats and soundscapes have the ability to make the listener feel unfettered by the constructs of time and space. The music undulated in mass of interwoven polyrhythms and novel timbres. It was at once a party and a meditation as the crowd bobbed and swayed and, I assume, let their minds drift into space for a while.

Sharing local artists with Portland and the world