Growing up obsessed with finding the perfect harmonies, but shy and fearful about her ability to sing when a child, describes a significant conflict Haley Johnsen needed to resolve. You see, being the center of attention was both her worst nightmae and greatest dream. It was performing as a gymnast that gave her the confidence she needed to put herself out there. How fortunate we are she found that outlet. Since then, she made it all the way through to the top 24 of American Idol Season 11, and has written and recorded over 100 songs.
Haley played an acoustic show previously at The Horse Radish in Carlton, Oregon, but this time brought her four-piece band with her. Three of those band members are also singer-songwriters, so for the first hour we heard a couple of songs from each of them. During the second hour Haley took to the stage by herself to play an acoustic set. (Consumer alert – Hearing her do “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” can cause spontaneous tearing.) The third hour, everyone was on stage and they pulled out all the stops.
Haley Johnsen is passionate, powerful and humble. She recently released a 7-track EP “Through the Blue“, written by her and produced by Rob Daiker. This video is a live version of one of those tracks. Also, check out the other photos taken that evening.
Tyler Stenson has enjoyed a Wednesday night residency at the 45th Street Pub, which is coming to a close on January 27th. These are very intimate sessions where he encourages requests, questions and comments. He likes it when a concert can be two-way communication. As you can tell from the video clip below, he is very open about his temper sometmes getting the best of him, especially with those he loves the most.
One of Tyler’s greatest influences is Counting Crows. So much so that he’s assembled a 7-piece band for a Counting Crows Tribute, Saturday, January 30 at 8 PM at the Star Theater. After each member worked independently for a while, they had their first group rehearsal the night before. There were some kinks, but they easily worked themselves out. Tyler vowed not pick up an instrument all evening, opting instead to concentrate on delivering top-notch vocals. Get your tickets soon!
Known as The French Troubadour, Paris-native Eric John Kaiser fell in love with a girl and followed her to Portland in 2006. He played a lot of shows before the migration, and a good deal more since. He logs nearly 10,000 miles annually, taking his Parisian Americana to the world. He’s spent plenty of time in the studio as well, releasing four albums: “L’ODyssée”, “French Troubadour”, “Dehors c’est l’Amérique” (Outside, it’s America) & Idaho, and three EPs: “Portland Rendez-Vous”, “1+1=Freedom”, “Le Pari (The Bet)”, “Paris, Portland, Niamey”.
Eric has made the trip from Portland to Forest Grove at least every other month for the last 6 years or so to play the Urban Decanter. On Saturday he brought with him three guitars, his guitar amp, looping pedal and classic Shure microphone. He set up right next to the door and greeted everyone who came and left, calling most of them by name. Most of this songs were his own, with covers sprinkled in, often sung in French. Nothing like playing “Name that tune” in a foreign language. “Country Roads” and “Polson Prison Blues” were two examples.
Eric’s latest single is “Idaho” which he wrote while he was there.
And be sure to check out the photos from the event.
Her bio describes her as a traveler, a dreamer, and a banjo player who sprouts alfalfa beans in mason jars in the back of her tour van and counts the days until she returns home to her house boat to write songs on her banjo through the rainy afternoons.
I can take Bluegrass music only in small doses, and I’m not crazy about the banjo, but for some reason, I love hearing Kendl work! This is the third time I’ve heard her, the first two times with Palmer T. Lee, her partner in the duo The Lowest Pair.
Have a look at the photos I took, and check this video.
Jack McMahon has been around a long time. He’s a joy to experience on stage because he is right at home there. It’s like he’s invited you into his living room to hang out for a few hours. He started in New York’s Greenwich Village, and opened for such acts as Bruce Springsteen and Steely Dan. You’ll find him at large festivals and small venues all around town — and I suggest you do.
I took a few photos that evening, shortly before Christmas.
Oregonian music critic John Wendeborn called Jack “…one of the best on the west coast…”, and that’s why The Cowboy Angels recorded Jack’s song “When The Rain Came Down”. Hear Jack’s version as I did: