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!
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.