Category Archives: Notable Performances

Show reports

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!

Link to video

Robert Wynia at McMenamins Grand Lodge

With an acclaimed history as the front-man and creative force behind the band Floater, Robert Wynia‘s work has been called “the nearest American thing to perfection” and “hard to define, yet easy to listen to again and again.” His second full length solo album, titled Brave the Strange, explores change, loss, and new beginnings, all with a luscious backdrop of warm strings, vintage keyboards, and rich, melodious vocals. Robert is currently on tour supporting this album and I was able to shoe-horn myself into the Bob’s Bar lounge at the McMenamins Grand Lodge Garage Door last week to check it out.

On the video, percussionist Mark Powers starts things out with the brushes, and Rich Lander goes to town on the mandolin on 1,000 Miles. Enjoy.

Link to video

Castletown at Grand Lodge

From their bio we learn: Castletown is comprised of a unique collection of talented musicians whose varying musical backgrounds blend together to create a sound unlike any other Celtic band around. With flavors of blues, jazz, rock ‘n roll, and even classical, Castletown’s style of AmeriCeltic music has something to offer every listener. More information is available on their Facebook page and this Portland Notes article Kelly Jones posted last year.

Last Saturday was as far away from St. Patrick’s day as we can get, so McMenamins Grand Lodge decided to have a “Half Way to St. Patrick’s Day” celebration and invited several Celtic bands out. The weather was perfect and this was a great excuse to gather on the lawn, wear something green, and hit the dance floor. I wasn’t planning on shooting any video, but Castletown was so captivating, I grabbed my phone and captured one of their new songs for you. From the Fired up Folklore CD released this year, here is “Jerusalem Ridge / The Gale”.

Link to video

We Three at Grand Lodge

We Three consists of siblings (two brothers and a sister) from McMinnville who say they live in the moment, and their music tells their story. They are pictured above in chronological order. This is important information should you catch a live show as they often give prizes to people who can guess. (I expect a cut if you win.) Joshua Humlie is the oldest who plays percussion, including keyboards. Bethany Blanchard is in the middle playing a 5-string bass. Manuel Humlie is the youngest on the guitar. They all sing and participate in the on-stage chatter throughout the show.

There is something special about watching siblings work. Since they obviously know each other very well, all the pieces just fit. Being a geek, I couldn’t help but notice how well they use technology. Little things like employing in-ear (instead of on-stage) monitors so the mix is consistent throughout the room. Even though McMenamins Grand Lodge provides a sound system, this band opted to use their own, making for a great deal more work.

In the video clip, We Three performs their song Timeless. Manuel introduces us to his friend, Larry the loop. If you don’t know what a loop is, you’re about to find out!

Link to video