All posts by Kelly Jones

Avalanche Lily – EP Release May 27 at Valentine’s!

I’ve been introduced to each member of Avalanche Lily separately over the past few years. Not surprising, since each member is also part of at least one other local band that I follow. I was so honored to have Cyndy, Ramune and Drew sit down with me to talk about their combined project and the upcoming EP release this Saturday at Valentine’s. They’ll be playing with Shed Incorporated and Vibrissae at the intimate venue, where the band is at eye level with the audience. In the audio interview, the band talks about show strategy, the visualization of the music, and a completely unique writing/compilation process.

Avalanche Lily is what I would call an intentional band. Cyndy calls herself a “collector of songs”. She’s responsible for bringing songs that she’s heard and loved in her travels. She finds that Avalanche Lily challenges her to take these songs and adapt them for this band, sweeter and softer and with room for all three members to add their vocal textures. Ramune also writes and brings songs to the band, again – knowing that there is a feeling, perhaps even more than a sound, they are looking for. This is sometimes achieved with the addition of unusual instruments or by Drew bringing subtlety, dynamics and variety to the percussion. The band is excited about the depth of the music flowing organically from the members.

The sound of the EP is designed to create a casual and relaxed emotional response. Meant to invite the listener to just relax and enjoy the sound, while feeling comfortable and cozy and leaving the opting to tuck in for a deeper experience if desired. Creating this simplicity and accessibility in the studio was also intentional. It was a choice to keep the sound free of unnecessary layers and modifications. Avalanche Lily will give you the same experience live as in the recording – a feeling of being welcomed and accepted as a friend. I loved Drew’s visual description of the music. He actually sees and projects color as he drums. After listening to the EP only a few times, I could sense that there was indeed a visual element to the way the music comes together.

 A Conversation with Kelly Jones

Check out the interview, listen to a sample of the music, and join us at Valentine’s on May 27 for a change to hear Avalanche Lily play through the EP. Cyndy is creating some exclusive and very limited handmade merchandise that I cannot wait to get my hands on! This band has a vision, and they make their vision accessible to all of us. They describe themselves as “salty and sweet.” I would add “savory and a little bit addictive.” Music is also available on their website and on CDBaby for advance listening.

Avalanche Lily’s “Astronaut”

The Shrike – Heavy hitters with heart!

You know – oftentimes when I sit down with a band, I’ll admit I have already made many assumptions based on their sound or what I’ve seen on stage. I’m generally fairly accurate, but I’m also almost always surprised by something that comes up in conversation. Darren Linder of The Shrike was kind enough to sit down with me at Portland Cider House, and completely blow my mind in the best possible way. This extremely hard hitting band from Portland, Oregon is a group of friends who exemplify outstanding business skills, dedicate themselves to causes they believe in, and are developing an ever-growing friendship based fan group. Check out the audio interview for a nice look into the band, courtesy of Linder.

The Shrike has been playing as a band for about three years now, and have just released their second group of songs, an EP entitled Chase the Sun. The collection features aggressive female vocals by Jamie Lynn Summerfield, who also destroys faces with her intensity on the electric violin. I saw the band at the Portland Pride Kickoff party last year, and the band moves so much on stage that I had only a few photos where someone’s limbs weren’t completely blurred out by speed. Forget about getting a drummer pic! The songs range from pensive to confrontational, but all have the deep intensity and attention to dynamics that is characteristic of the band. The album, produced at Kevin Hahn’s Opal Studio, is a perfect portrayal of their attention to detail with sound.

Linder shared with me the origins of the band, as well as where they are now – a band that formed organically, by friends who would hang out at festivals, listen to the same music, and experiment with creating what they love. Now, he finds himself filling the role of booker, press agent and more. The entire band is focused on self-management, perhaps because it is composed of members who have success in their additional careers. Experience in life has caused the band to recognize what works and what doesn’t. What works for The Shrike? Sharing their music. Check out the blogs that have written about them. Watch their fan base grow at each event. They are on the move, and in the right direction!

The Craw (guitars), Roya Hellbender (bass), Darren Linder (drums) and Jamie Lynn Summerfield (vox and electric violin) compose this band on the rise. Chase the Sun, the new EP will be shared at an event March 31 at Analog Cafe. Kill Frankie opens, and The Slants (Band Who Shall NOT Be Named) release their new CD. The event will be epic, to say the least! Enjoy the interview and music, and hope to see you there!


Have a listen to Chase the Sun!

Kelly’s conversation with Darren Linder

Joel Swensen – Changes, Transitions, and the Responsibility of an Artist

Joel Swensen says, “I like the way words sound…” He uses words to paint a scene or a picture for the listener. The intent is not literal, but Swensen’s songs come from a place of deep emotion and allow his audience to get lost in the entire experience rather than a particular phrase or poetic structure. Using descriptive visuals and referencing specific people in his life, he invites us to feel, rather than listen to the music.

Swensen states that he is most often connected to his writing by the heaviness of darkness, pain, and empathy. He stands out as an artist because his music reflects not only his feelings, but the needs, challenges and fears of the people in his life. We were honored to have him play live in the Portland Notes Studio, sharing the stories of the friends who inspire him. Listening to him speak, we can see that Swensen’s tone is brightening.

From a song that discusses death and hot anger to a tune called “Moonbeam Kitties”, Joel Swensen is exploring his responsibility as an artist. Understanding that ,in this current climate, we might need encouragement, he has been carefully considering his live show song selections to be on the lighter side. Swensen is not necessarily feeling more positive about the world – he is just feeling like he needs to identify and propose some alternatives to simply giving up.

Please enjoy these live recordings, and the interview with Joel Swensen. He’s also looking forward to a show to introduce some of these new songs. He’ll be playing February 26 at the White Eagle Saloon with House of Angels at their album release show. Until the show, you can take a listen to Joel Swensen at http://joel-swensen.com

Death By Thumb – Students who Rock!

The band name brings to mind an epic cage fight, where two steroid-enhanced caped and masked wrestlers shove their way into a small metal box, locking their meaty fingers together before gritting their teeth and having an epic thumb war! However, the band is not about hand violence, or any such silliness…they play real rock and roll music, they have a dedicated fan base and they are all under 18 years old! Death By Thumb specializes in playing the songs you love to hear, covering rock classics with energy, and sharing their excitement and gratitude for the music that guides their lives.

The band formed from relationships created at Ethos Music Center, where front person Cada has repeatedly displayed her courage and willingness to step up and represent the band. It’s been a journey for her to adjust to playing with a band that was already established before she joined. As the band grows, the members are all learning how to communicate. Henry, Mike, Rick and Adrien shared how they have all grown with the addition of Cada as the game-changer. They are now beginning to write original music, with a solid base of classical musical training and a genuine love of a wide range of music.

Death By Thumb has been a fantastic group of ambassadors for Ethos Music Center, often headlining fundraiser events, and always speaking about their thankfulness for being offered the opportunity to make music together. You can catch them at an all ages youth showcase this weekend at the White Eagle Saloon, as well as at the Mogo Music Festival – where they’ll be featured on March 4, along with Boxing Day Band and Niamh.

The Colin Trio – Perfect blend of Blues, Soul and Jazz

Now here, folks, is a band that’s easy on the ears! With soulful lyrics and tone, blues melodies, and lovely jazz chords, The Colin Trio delivers a sound that is both relaxing and engaging. I was drawn to their music immediately with the first few phrases of “Diggin For Gold”, the first track on the 2016 Tightening the Wire album. Colin Hogan’s vocals have the kind of honest raw delivery that reveals natural born talent and a personality that’s willing to share pain, struggle, and pointed observation. Matt Ramsdell, on drums and percussion, carries the dynamics and tempo exactly where it needs to go – while keeping a careful eye on his music partners.. Brian Link plays bass with precision and humor, adding lightness and energy to the trio’s collaborative efforts.

In the interview, it’s impossible to miss the friendship and closeness of these three band mates. They listen to other local bands together, and mention a few that they are following, including The Resolectrics, Denim Wedding, Karyn Ann, and Stephanie Sceiza. Because they are all active in so many local projects, the three have to constantly check their calendars to make sure the entire band is available. The story of the band formation is too good to miss – irony, nostalgia, and coincidence are key to the plot. I think my favorite part of the interview is when Hogan tells of the point at which she knew she would be playing music for life. All three members were doing everything they could to consume and absorb music well before they get into most venues.

The band stood out to me right away – I know you’ll understand why when you listen. There’s an organic nature to the production which allows the listener to hear subtle nuances. It just somehow seems very honest and open, which is exactly what connects me to an artist. One main goal they hold dear is to let the music guide the journey and carry them along. Nothing is hidden here – Hogan sails from her low to high range, embracing the change in tone and volume. I hear the passion coming through every note. Ramsdell is extremely attentive to her cues, and you can actually tell that Link is smiling while playing the bass…this is a group of friends who love playing music together. That tends to result in a cohesive sound and a great live show.

The Colin trio released their album Tightening the Wire in January 2016, and have been playing local shows to share it. Their next two events that I’m planning to attend are the January 11 Local Roots Live Series show at Alberta Street Pub, and the Mogo Music Festival on March 3-4. They’ll be playing Mogofest’s Folk Festival night with Karyn Ann, Corner and Santiam at White Eagle Saloon. To find out more about the band, please enjoy the interview and check out the song link. You can purchase their music on Bandcamp, ITunes and CD Baby.