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.
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”.
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!
Jonathan Moore lives and breathes music. He is a songwriter who plays drums, guitar, bass, keyboards and sings lead and harmony vocals. Multi-instrumentalists like Moore don’t need a band, they can create their sonic vision, record and produce as a solo effort, and then look for bandmates for the live show. Ironically, having all those skills doesn’t necessarily yield fast results.
Jonathan has been working on his current project, Streetcar Conductors, for four years. The project includes 30 songs from all throughout Jonathan’s musical life, from the 90’s to the present. He is a musical craftsman who is in no rush to release anything that is less than perfect.
Recently Jonathan found his ideal musical complement in multi-instrumentalist and singer, Carmen Charters. Until just a few months ago, he had been recording his current album almost completely by himself, but Carmen came along and is transforming it into an exceptional collaboration. Carmen plays keyboard, electric guitar, sings lead and harmony, and also writes her own songs.
I was fortunate enough to catch Jonathan and Carmen at the Waypost in North Portland. With its excellent sound system and intimate atmosphere, the Waypost is a wonderful venue for small acts. The video linked here is their performance of the first song Carmen ever wrote, and is just one example of this winsome duo’s talent. Streetcar Conductors released a single last year, and is planning to release a full length album next year, guaranteed to be worth the wait.
The Noted is a five-piece Portland band who write and perform music about love, Life and you.
Daniel Work – Songwriter, piano, synths, guitar, and vocals
Angela Baldino – Vocals, keyboards, and percussion
Jeff Koch – Electric and acoustic guitars
John Dwyer – Bass and vocals
Mike Snyder – Drums and percussion (not performing this night)
A fact of “life” recently is the apparent outpouring of hate on many city streets around the nation, including Portland. A recent press release from The Noted says:
We do love trees, but… “Too Many Trees” was written in response to the senseless, random shootings happening all too often. We hope our song’s reflection on life and ultimate upbeat message of empowerment resonates with all those whose souls are gentle and kind. If this song speaks to you, please share it with your friends and family.
Upon receipt of the song, we started playing it immediately on our radio stream. We also got a chance to video the band playing the song at McMenamins Grand Lodge recently.
It’s high time we took back the streets
it’s past time you realize
and in truth we’re all a bit strange
just maybe we’re lonely
It’s high time we took back the streets
It is time for love
Don’t be afraid
don’t be afraid to give your love away
to show your love
Too many trees filled with sad memories
So many dreams blown away like a leaf
Nowhere to run, no where to hide
Too many trees, maybe too many guns
Please take my hand, and make me laugh
so I can love outside, and be okay with just being me.