Tag Archives: McMenamins Al’s Den

McMenamin’s Al’s Den Presents: Ashleigh Flynn’s Songwriter Extravaganza!

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Another fantastic choice for the artist residency program at Al’s Den! All week long, from Sunday night through Saturday night, Portland audiences have the chance to hang out and drink beer with musicians of depth and substance- it’s the true essence of community in music. Thank you McMenamins!

Ashleigh-Flynn-at-Als-Den-April-2016-03This program has featured artists from many musical backgrounds, but tends to focus on local flavor, with an emphasis on storytelling and sharing. It’s always a nice surprise to learn what a musician will do when given a week to tell their story! Who will they include…and how? With Portland Notes focusing on local women in the music scene this month, I had to catch an interview with Ashleigh Flynn. This brave woman was biking all day in 80 degree weather – then walked into Al’s Den, set up her own sound system, grabbed a margarita, and proceeded to tell me about her residency, even as the audience filed in. I adore her openness and accessibility – to allow the fans to be included in every part of the evening’s process was generous and delightful.

Ashleigh-Flynn-at-Als-Den-April-2016-02I was so thrilled that Ashleigh Flynn utilized this week’s residency to present what she called a Songwriter Extravaganza featuring some talented local singer/songwriters. Every night, a different guest and a different collaborative song! Monday night’s guest was Nicole Potulsky – watching the interaction between these two filled my heart with joy. Nicole: “When do you want me to go on – 8-9?” Ashleigh: “Sure – or 8:10-8:55…” (Laughter) This week, Ashleigh invited Kathryn Claire to join her on the night of her CD release. The Low Arc of the Sun will be available through Ashleigh’s website and on Soundcloud.. She also hosts Lewi Longmire, Kory Quinn, Virginia Cohen, The Ukeladies, Anita Lee Elliott, Annalisa Tornfelt, and Kate O’Brien! All shows are free, 7-10 PM.

Ashleigh-Flynn-at-Als-Den-April-2016-07In our audio interview (below), Ashleigh and I gush over the value of live performance. Seeing Ashleigh live is an experience to be treasured. Her songs tell deeply emotional stories, and her connection with the audience is constant. Sharp, clever, but warmly motivated humor eased the transitions between emotionally charged songs. Her album was recorded live at Secret Society, and ties deeply to Portland. You can check out a few of her new songs in advance on Soundcloud. Please enjoy the photos and interview, and check out Ashleigh’s website for the new CD and upcoming shows!


Jack Dwyer’s Residency at Al’s Den – Community and CD Releases!

Jack-Dwyer-at-Als-Den-April-2016-FII’ve always been a huge fan and supporter of the famous weekly artist residency at McMenamin’s Al’s Den! The idea dates back to an old history with travelling musicians. No one night stands! Audiences want to get to know the artist by hearing their stories, and learning what motivates them to share their most intimate moments in such a vulnerable way with poetry and melody. McMenamins is THE place to be for local musicians, always a comfortable setting with good hearty food and drinks, attentive service, and a ready audience who are prepared to partake of the music being offered.

Jack-Dwyer-at-Als-Den-April-2016-02Traditionally, the residency at Al’s Den spotlights one artist, who invites his or her various musical friends as guests on each night. This allows Portland a week-long vacation with the host and little musical interludes with visitors each night, keeping the tone consistent, but exciting. Jack Dwyer took a slightly different route, because of his extensive community connections and ties to the cultural roots of his musical genres. Jack has had a long love of folk and bluegrass music – which has a long tradition, based around community, family, and project collaboration. Jack is involved in many Portland bands, in addition to teaching students how to play a variety of stringed instruments at Lewis and Clark College. He’s met other musicians along the way who inspired and encouraged him, joined on many projects, and connected people to play together in events such as this residency.

Jack-Dwyer-at-Als-Den-April-2016-03For this particular week, Jack Dwyer had an ingenious plan. “We have 7 nights to play – let’s invite bands who are releasing albums and showcase their work!” I love this generous, thoughtful, and totally practical spirit! Tuesday marked the CD release for The Brother Cousins, made up of Bobby Winstead, Sam Weiss and Jack Dwyer Thursday night was the Heartwood release – we will be reviewing their CD on Portland Notes this week. Elisabeth Pixley-Fink and Gordon Keepers make up that impressive duo. Friday night features The Rose City Sessions release show with Jack Dwyer, Billy Failing, Sam Weiss, Gordon Keepers, and Bobby Winstead. The closing night on Saturday will highlight Jack’s newest CD Mama’s On the Dance Floor with album art by Noah Cotter. The Jack Dwyer Band will be joined by The Chicken Hill Bandits (Mindy Dwyer, Bill Dwyer, & Eric Prust), Showcasing community in the true sense of the word, Jack has brought family and friends together on stage this week to create an inviting atmosphere. The audience is stomping their feet, clapping their hands, singing along, and adding to the enjoyment of the concerts.

Jack-Dwyer-at-Als-Den-April-2016-01Jack started out in music as a child, playing along with family at community events in his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. He has brought that feeling of family and community with him throughout his musical journey. It comes full circle in this week’s residency at Al’s Den. Jack wants to contribute to the canon of music in his genre. I believe he has and will, but he’s also nurturing the ideas that birthed folk and bluegrass music: family and community connect and grow through sharing story and music together. Please enjoy the interview with Jack Dwyer, a special preview of an advance song “The Mushroom Hunters” from the album Live in Portland, as well as links to his music on Bandcamp and his home page.

Interview with Kelly Jones

Jack Dwyer Band – The Mushroom Hunters

The Intriguing Laryssa Birdseye at McMenamins’ Al’s Den with Will Kinky on February 16

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Yes! It’s her real name! Yes – she’s coming up with all sorts of fun puns for her new band name, “Birdseye Blind” being the one that made me laugh the hardest…Laryssa is a character you cannot help but love. She’s bright, funny, hopeful, and introspective. She has a sexy, smoky singing voice that comes across as intensely emotional. When talking, Laryssa is genuinely sharing energy with her audience, laughing and telling stories that naturally draw people in to listen more closely.

Laryssa-Birdseye-at-Als-Den-on-02-16-16-01I met Laryssa at a bowling party last year – she was so energetic and hopeful about the music community in Portland – looking forward to making connections and being part of building a spirit of cooperation and support system for local artists. Her positivity and enthusiasm led to her being an emcee at last November’s Mogo Music Festival, where she helped to introduce many outstanding local bands, such as Redcast, Bart Hafeman, Haley Johnsen, Mosby, Jordan Harris, Harper, Emotitron, Goldfoot, Berahmand, and ADDverse Effects on the Star Theater stage.

Laryssa-Birdseye-at-Als-Den-on-02-16-16-02Laryssa has been performing around town lately – and I was lucky to catch her at Valentine’s last week. Heather Hanson, host of Portland Radio Project’s “The Bus Stop” and creator of Super Groovy Cosmic Bus Entertainment, put together a fun, light-hearted bill of artists including Improv Logic, Matt Varga, and Craig Irby, Jr. Laryssa closed out the night with some beautifully moving covers and striking originals with her new band. Vincent Jaime of ADDverse Effects and Matt Brewster, formerly of Ancient Sol, are great additions to Laryssa’s guitar and vocals. The resulting sound is full, warm, and inviting. Click on the link to listen.

Laryssa-Birdseye-at-Als-Den-on-02-16-16-03Following is an interview with Laryssa Birdseye – you can catch her next at Plew’s Brews on Saturday, February 13, and at McMenamin’s Al’s Den on Tuesday, February 16, where she will be a guest of resident Will Kinky! Great opportunity to meet Will and Laryssa, as the venue is intimate and they have nowhere to hide! 7-10 PM, FREE show!


Is your band new? How long have you been together?

I’ve been writing songs for nearly ten years now, and have finally gotten around to putting them in the public eye. Both Vincent Jaime (of Addverse Effects) and Matt Brewster (formerly of Ancient Sol) are good friends of mine, and we just came together a few months ago to add additional layers to my music. They’re a great team to work with, and I’m really enjoying where we’re taking these songs.

What projects are you currently working on?

Currently, I’m working on a single with Randal Wyatt of speaker minds–something I’m very excited about, as I really admire him as an artist and as a leader in the Portland music community.

Most excitingly, I’m working with the multi-talented, badass human of a producer, Jeanot Rolland, on my first record ever. It’s a culmination of ten years of writing, and we’ve just finished up the demo. I can’t wait to show the world what we’ve been working on. I’m lucky enough to work with him, and I would highly recommend him to other artists looking for a solid producer.

What are your goals this year – musically or personally?

My goals this year include getting this record out, putting out videos, focusing on the music above all, and to keep grinding at what it is I love most in this world. Music is such a terrific unifier. I hope to impact people with my music in a positive way. I just want to reach out and touch some hearts and souls.

Chris Robley – The Great Make-Believer

Chris-Robley-at-McMenamin's-Al's-Den-on-01-20-16-08It’s the name of his soon-to-be-released album, but it’s also an idea that Chris Robley expresses through music. A musical artist is a Make-Believer, a pretender if you will…playing a part in order to communicate emotion and experience through lyrics, melody, instrumentation, and performance. Chris, in his week-long residency at McMenamin’s Al’s Den, became very “real” to Portland, as he shared more than his music with the audience. He shared his story and his life, even his friends with a very enthusiastic and energetic group of devoted fans.

Chris-Robley-at-McMenamin's-Al's-Den-on-01-20-16-04Chris’ work with his band The Fear of Heights is well-known and appreciated for the many layers of instruments with an eerie, haunting sound that accompanies some of the purest vocals I’ve ever heard. His new project is more of an intimate conversation with listeners – each new song has a personal message. He’s a poet, intensely metaphorical, so the songs are not autobiographical – but they are overflowing with situational wisdom. I am always drawn to songs that expose the truth that “love is difficult” and “relationships are important.” I heard this message repeated in Robley’s lyrics and his stories. He is striving to let the message come through in the music, unhindered by anything extra that might distract or take away from the melodic conversation he is having with a listener. His acoustic presentation was enchanting, as he alternated his original songs with some very familiar and traditional tunes.

Chris-Robley-at-McMenamin's-Al's-Den-on-01-20-16-15The new album, available to the public very soon, was produced at a friend’s beach house – completely live and in the  moment. Chris was looking for the emotional intensity that comes from a group of mates experiencing music together, and syncing as they work. It’s a completely new approach for Chris, for this, his first album release in over five years. From the reaction of the audience, which was extremely positive and encouraging, he is reaching people with the new material.

In this interview, Chris touches on his move “from Portland to Portland”, his upcoming album release, and the bandmates he is so thrilled to see again – big thanks to Chris Robley and his Wednesday night guest, Little Professor, for allowing us to share the experience!

A notable conversation with Chris Robley featuring “Tonight You Belong To Me” recorded live at Al’s Den, and “Eden” from the album “The Great Make Believer”