One of the most delightful things about summer in Portland is enjoying free live music outside on the Doug Fir patio on Sunday afternoons. Bevelers haven’t played out in a year, so seeing them play in the Pickin’ on Sundays series was a rare treat. The duo, Lee Aulson and Adria Ivanitsky, are integral to Portland’s music scene. Lee has been a booker for several music venues and hosted a singer songwriter showcase at Vivace coffeehouse for many years, which even featured Taylor John Williams before he reached fame on the Voice. More recently, Lee and Adria have separately formed new projects, Lee and the Bees and Cool Schmool, though they still enjoy playing together.
During their patio set, they each took turns playing a single guitar, playing simple tunes and singing beautiful harmonies. Adria claims that anyone can go on tour with two chord songs like they did, but that’s because the chords are just the backdrop for their beautiful harmonies. In fact, this live acapella performance of their song, Icebergs, proves that guitar chords are entirely optional.
From her bio we learn that Kris Deelane is making a loud noise in the Portland Rock scene. She sings, she plays guitar, she writes songs. Lots of songs. From a deep place, a raw place. A truly fearless composer, she is willing to stare down her demons and reach within to get to the purest of emotions.
Even playing solo at the Garage Door at McMenamins Grand Lodge, her loudness and intensity came through. But don’t think that’s her only dimension. Some of the best ballads come from the hardest rockers, and that is certainly true of Kris as well.
Here’s a song she likes to do with her 10-piece Motown Soul band, especially at happy hour events around the city. While you make your plans to catch a show, enjoy this video of “Corroded Angels”.
Originally from Charleston, SC, singer/songwriter Livy Conner has set up camp here in Portland. All the ingredients are there – solid, clever, and touching songwriting, a clear and beautiful voice, a passion for her art, and the joy of leading an on-stage team to deliver the goods.
I had the opportunity to meet Livy recently as she played the Garage Door at McMenamins Grand Lodge. I was immediately struck at how “together” this band was. They made everything look effortless. Free-flowing ballads never flow freely without a great deal of effort, concentration and rehearsal. With her on stage were Will McKay on Lead Guitar, Luke Smith on bass and Keegan Leonberg on drums.
Livy has released two collections of songs so far. The full album “Mind Of Your Own” in 2013, and the “Sleepy EP” in 2015. Here is one of those stunning ballads – Kind Blue Eyes.
WORTH is the music project of Portland-based singer-songwriter Christopher Worth. WORTH has become known for his unique style of bohemian blues hop which he developed as a street performer traveling across the US and Europe. His songs are timeless and real and are tied together by the power and purity of his voice. On stage, he takes charge and let’s it go in whatever direction that seems right at the moment.
Over the weekend, Christopher was kind enough to come to my neighborhood. I have to admit that I’ve never heard music with a single guitar/vocalist and a sax before. It was amazing (as you’ll hear).
It was one of those *very* warm summer days we’ve been having, and during one of the first songs, Christopher wanted us to encourage the staff to get some fans for the band. Instead of waiting for the song to end, he just made up a new verse, and let his wishes be known. Since he was playing the Garage Door at McMenamins Grand Lodge, the solution was simple – open up the big door. Right after that, he played this lovely love song.
When listening to The Lower 48 it’s impossible not to be stunned by their beautiful harmonies. It’s no surprise to learn that this 60’s influenced pop band started out as bona fide folk singers. Their first album, Everywhere to Go, from 2009 reflects a simple acoustic band with impeccable three part harmonies. Since then, the Lower 48 have turned their harmonies away from folk and towards psychedelic pop. The result is simply brilliant.
The Lower 48 list the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band as a specific influence, as well as the Kinks, but in my mind I think the closest comparison might be the early 90’s also-from-Minneapolis band, Trip Shakespeare’s album, Lulu. All three multi-instrumentalists and vocalists, Sarah, Ben, and Nick, have lived in Portland for eight years, but they still play most of their gigs while on tour. Their stage show is a must see.
Check out this live clip of The Lower 48 performing their song, Rabbit Hole, recorded at Alberta Street Pub on August 12, 2017. You can pick up their most recent album, Hot Fool, through on-line streaming, CD, and vinyl, and catch their upcoming gig at Rontom’s on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, Sept 3, 2017.