Category Archives: Notable Performances

Show reports

The Whiskey Darlings at Grand Lodge on 02-13-16

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Rob Rainwater and Michele Van Kleef are both popular, local, singer-songwriters. One evening last year, they were both booked for the same show! Instead of flipping for it, they decided to make it a duo songwriters-in-the-round kind of thing. That is when they discovered they both have a great love for singer-songwriter music of the 1960s and 70s. Not long after, the Whiskey Darlings was born and they instantly began crafting original music with the same vibe that brought them together.

The-Wiskey-Darlings-at-Grand-Lodge-on-02-13-16-01When I heard that they were booked to play a Valentine’s eve show at McMenamin’s Grand Lodge, I wasted no time getting it on my calendar. This was the perfect show to take my wife to. The room was full when we got there, so we sat in the overflow section. Normally, the dinner crowd leaves when the music starts, and the music lovers stream in. This night, nobody left! I have never seen this room as full and as quiet. The overflow section just grew.

The-Wiskey-Darlings-at-Grand-Lodge-on-02-13-16-02Michele and Rob did mostly original tunes with some covers tossed in. Simon and Garfunkel is providing much of their listening enjoyment and inspiration these days. And, of course, since it was Valentine’s weekend, they rolled out some lovely, sappy songs for us as well. The Whiskey Darlings are playing several McMenamins venues in February and March, before the Spring and Summer festivals begin, which they will frequent. If you’re looking for sweet downhome acoustic music with guitars, mandolin and stunning harmonies, be sure to look these guys up!

Skybound Blue at Hotel Oregon on 02-12-16

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I love this couple. They are talented, funny, entertaining and inspirational. I’m talking about Matt and Jenny Behnke, the married duo that fronts Skybound Blue. They gave up careers to take jobs so they had time to make music. This is a sacrifice similar to a couple deciding there is more value in one of them staying home to manage the house and be there for the kids, than having extra things or a more-comfortable retirement. As they were going through the decision-making process, they both heard – ya gotta go to know.

Skybound-Blue-at-Hotel-Oregon-on-02-12-16-01Much of their music is about taking risks, facing the adversities, craving the adventure and seizing the moment. You should always write-what-you-know, so from these guys you will hear songs about selling everything and sailing the Caribbean, surviving cancer, and raising a family. When you attend one of their shows, you will not only hear great music, skillfully delivered, but also great stories in and around the songs.

Skybound-Blue-at-Hotel-Oregon-on-02-12-16-03I had the pleasure of catching a hometown show for them at Hotel Oregon in McMinnville Friday evening. They played the Cellar Bar, a very intimate venue, which was packed mostly with people who had seen them before. Their sets are mostly original songs, with a few covers sprinkled in. Of course, on the Friday leading into Valentine’s Day, they put a few mushy songs out there too.

Over the weekend, they packed up their camper and are headed South in search of real sunshine and the woods. When they return in a month or so, look them up and get yourself a chair in front of their stage. You will be glad you did.

Norman Sylvester at Prime Time on 02-06-16

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After 30 years of gigging, and with over 4000 shows under his belt, Norman Sylvester (aka The Boogie Cat of the Northwest) was inducted into the Oregon Music Hall Of Fame on October 8, 2011. The award didn’t give him a reason to retire, though, quite the opposite. He is still out a lot, sometimes multiple times a week!

Norman-Sylvester-at-Prime-Time-on-02-06-16-01In addition to being treated to some of the best Rockin’ Blues you’ve ever heard, he will also dazzle you with some of the fanciest threads you’ve ever seen. With Norman, there’s always an excuse to throw a party. On Saturday, February 6th, it was Marti Gras at Prime Time Sports Bar in Forest Grove, complete with masks and beads. In addition to his guitar, he brought a drummer, keyboardist, trumpeter, saxophonist, and his daughter Leanne on vocals. This band had people on their feet starting with the first song, and every one there after. While that made shooting some video a challenge, check this out to get a good taste of what a Norman Sylvester show is like, and a reason to catch one soon!

Tyler Stenson; A special tribute to the Counting Crows

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Star Theater was the place to be Saturday night because Tyler Stenson drew a packed house for his tribute show in homage to the band he gives credit to for his music styling. A listening party at a friend’s 14 years ago forever changed his songwriting approach. He counts himself as the love child of Josh Ritter and the Counting Crows, but Adam Duritz and Counting Crows came first. Without them, he might have ended up a country musician but instead he has forged his path along what he calls, “Elegant Folk.”

Tyler-Stenson's-Counting-Crows-Tribute-on-01-30-16-18Not only is Tyler a talented musician with a gift for vivid storytelling, he is also a savvy engineer of social media and through this has developed a massive group of devoted fans, often tagged, #TeamTyler. He is always looking for new and creative ways to reach an audience so in an effort to start off the New Year with something different, he decided to put his own music aside for one night in order to play the music of his all-time biggest influence. Thus, the Counting Crows Tribute Concert featuring Tyler and the Black-Winged Birds was conceived. The Black-Winged Birds, was comprised of members from his former Wyoming band, Lander, as well as other local musicians he has shared a stage with at times; Corey Kintzi, Matt Putnam, Ken Hess, Arcellus Sykes, Erin Adkisson, Jean-Pierre Garau, Peter Rodocker, and Ravi Gadad.

Tyler-Stenson's-Counting-Crows-Tribute-on-01-30-16-14His set list covered CC’s Greatest Hits from “August and Everything After,” “Recovering the Satellites,” “This Desert Life,” and “Hard Candy,” 1993-2002. Starting off with “Round Here,” the audience was instantly engaged by singing along to words they knew well. Portland certainly has a fondness for its tribute bands and it’s not hard to realize why when you go to a show like this one that is full of tight musicianship that does the name band justice. You could tell from the smile on their faces that performing this music was one of pure joy, with each artist putting their all into their role.

Tyler-Stenson's-Counting-Crows-Tribute-on-01-30-16-27Watching Tyler onstage throughout the night was like seeing the young Tyler that was smitten by his mentor Adam Duritz and band. His ear to ear grin never left his face, and his entire being was thrown into this performance. At one point leading up to the show, Adam Duritz retweeted Tyler’s tweet, endorsing the show. It was recorded live, so hopefully, Adam will get to watch it and see that Tyler did him well.

Tyler-Stenson's-Counting-Crows-Tribute-on-01-30-16-03It is often a guessing game to see how many will come out on any given night, and that was certainly the case here. Any fears of a small crowd were quickly put to rest as the theater filled to just under capacity. From the first bars of music to the very last note, the entire audience was captivated. Sometimes one can go to a show and feel that magic is in the making, and Saturday’s show was definitely one of those times. It didn’t take long to realize the night was a success, and one that bears repeating. Fortunately, for all those Tyler Stenson fans, we will be rewarded with another.

Find a bunch of pictures of this special evening in the Portland Notes Photo Album.

Haley Johnsen at The Horse Radish

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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-Johnsen-at-The-Horse-Radish-on-01-23-16-03Haley 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-at-The-Horse-Radish-on-01-23-16-07Haley 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.