Category Archives: Notable Performances

Show reports

Secret Drum Band Evokes Nature and Humanity

Have you heard the soundscapes of nature? The buzzing and clicking of insects in a meadow. The wind through the forest punctuated by the sound of wood cracking. Or the cacophony of birds chirping in spring. Or even the human polyrhythms of respiration and heart beat and the deeper pulsation of autonomic rhythms that we are scarcely aware of.

It’s hard to imagine, but these are the sounds and rhythms that Secret Drum Band, a percussion ensemble featuring five drummers and two ambient musicians, evokes. Their compositions are often written in response to soundscapes, address environmental issues, and are inspired by specific physical locations in nature. The Secret Drum Band website describes their latest eight track album, Dynamics, as “inspired by the Mojave Desert, logging sites in Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon, and Hawai’i, where band founder, Lisa Schonberg’s, entomology work has helped the native Hylaeus bees attain endangered species status.”

The songs are carefully composed and performed by an all-star group of percussionists. It is a pleasure to hear the creativity and discipline when such masters of their craft come together. Recently the band played two sets at the Portland Art Museum as part of the Miller Family Free Day. It was an amazing setting for the sonic experience, with the band setting up facing each other in the middle of a large airy exhibit space, and encircled by a magical all-ages audience.

Learn more about Secret Drum Band on their website, check out a Portland Mercury interview, and follow them on facebook. Their next gig is March 15 at Holocene, but you can catch bandmates, Lisa Schonberg and Heather Treadway, at Mississippi Studios with another rhythm oriented band, Explode into Color, on Dec 30 and 31.


Secret Drum Band (Seth Lorinczi, Ali Clarys, Anthony Brisson, Allan Wilson, Sara Lund, Zanny Geffel, and Lisa Schonberg) perform their song “Robert Plants” at the Portland Art Museum.

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The Cabin Project Creates Symphonic Comfort

The Cabin Project consists of five women playing conventional instruments in an unconventional way. The band played at Alberta Street Pub last weekend, putting on a mesmerizing set full of layers and contrasts. Their music would seem appropriate in the comfort of a rustic hideout in the woods, as their names suggests, and also in the grandeur of a concert hall. The viola and 5 string violin played with distortion, reverb, and delay, along with spacious and dynamic percussion, and gorgeous vocals create an orchestral and modern feel. Their sound is unique, yet familiar to those who are fans of Bon Iver, The National, and Warpaint.


The Cabin Project with Katie Sawicki on guitar and vocals, Zanny Geffel on drums and vocals, Kelly Clifton on bass, Rebekah Hanson on viola, and Jean Mastaler on 5 string violin.

The Cabin Project puts on a stunning performance. Check them out next on Dec 22 at Turn, Turn, Turn, and learn more about them on their website and facebook.

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Laryssa Birdseye Makes the World a Better Place

Laryssa Birdseye might be Portland’s most compelling singer-songwriter. Last weekend at Kelly’s Olympian she and her all-star band delivered a memorable performance that reflected their natural connection with each other and with the audience. Laryssa’s voice was brilliant, but her keen sense of awareness, introspection, sense of humor, and sincerity were what made the show even more special.

Between songs she talked about her recent breakup, proclaiming that she has no luck in love, which is ironic given her incredible talent, intelligence, and warmth. She also talked about the topic of suicide- saying something that seems obvious, but is never talked about- that everyone on this planet has probably contemplated suicide at one point in time or another. In another truly intimate moment, she talked about a recent audition and the struggles of being an artist, and then debuted a brand new song called “Famous”.


Laryssa Birdseye debuting “Famous” with Agyei Marshall on guitar, Sean Kenny on drums, and Matt Brewster on bass.

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Laryssa Birdseye and her band make the world a better place. Learn more about her on Portland Notes and listen to her new album on Bandcamp, Spotify, etc. Check out Layrssa’s website and follow her on Facebook. Her next gig is at the Local Celebrity on Dec 6.

Feeling Cooler with Kool Stuff Katie

Kool Stuff Katie is one of Portland’s iconic power pop bands. The duo consists of Shane Blem on guitar, Saren Oliver on drums, and both of them on vocals. Shane’s guitar tones and riffs are reminiscent of Cheap Trick. Saren’s drumming provides reliable pop beats. Great songs, tight harmonies, and iresistible pop hooks make them one of Portland’s best pop acts.

Kool Stuff Katie recently played a set at the new Know, which relocated from Alberta Street to the Hollywood District earlier this year. The new venue retains the original punk rock spirit and serves up excellent and affordable drinks to a wide range of clientel that somewhat resemble characters on London’s Kings Road in the mid-1970s.

KSK played many of their reliable hits, and also debuted several great new songs that make for a greatly anticipated third album. Check out them out live, on Spotify, Bandcamp, and everywhere that you access music.

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The duo has several excellent professionally produced videos on YouTube. “Cars”, in particular, is one of my favorites. The song resonates, especially on the brink of the upcoming holiday travel season. It’s easy to sing along to the words and dream about going somewhere where there are no cars, no people, and no noise…

Crystal Lariza at McMenamins Grand Lodge

At the heart of the band Corner, is Crystal Lariza. Even before the band was formed in 2012 by employees of the Portland Grill, she and her sister Angela played as an indie duo for years around portland as The Lariza Sisters, and still do. Every once in a while Crystal will grab her guitar and fly solo, which was the case on Sunday, November 5th at McMenamins Grand Lodge.

Every good singer/songwriter as a good-love-gone-bad song, and Crystal is no exception. It’s called “Goodman”. Enjoy!

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