Youth-Music-Project-Making-Music-Accessible-01In our efforts to bring attention to the struggles of local youth finding places to hear and play live music, Portland Notes came across an organization that gave us a good deal hope – Youth Music Project! This group has proven that our country recognizes the importance of music as part of education, that the community has an overwhelmingly positive response to the idea of an all-inclusive music program, and that students are dedicated to pursuing and excelling when given an opportunity. Youth Music Project is providing access to all students, regardless of income – and that is extremely encouraging for the future of our next generation of local musicians!

Youth-Music-Project-Making-Music-Accessible-02Youth Music Project offers group and private classes in guitar, drums, bass, violin, ukulele, piano, and vocals for kids, teens, and adults. They provide access to top quality musical instruments for those who cannot afford them. They believe strongly that all students should have equal access to music instruction, so that each student can shine, free of any judgment or burden. Youth Music Project offers free tuition for students whose family income qualifies them for the school free/reduced lunch program. Even toddlers and preschoolers ages 1-5 can receive financial aid for the awesome pre-K music classes!

The following quotes are taken from the Youth Music Project Webpage, as the founders of the project have taken the time to describe their organization very well:

Youth-Music-Project-Making-Music-Accessible-03“Youth Music Project is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that offers Music lessons, instrument use (We have kid-sized instruments too!), and provides students with sophisticated, state-of-the-art performance and sound recording opportunities. Financial Aid for group lessons is available as well as free instrument rental for students who qualify for the free/reduced school lunch program.”

Youth-Music-Project-Making-Music-Accessible-04“Youth Music Project’s mission is to provide outstanding rock, pop, and country music education for youth by offering low cost lessons, free instrument use, and exceptional performance opportunities. Friday, April 15 is the next Teen Open Mic night. Open Mic nights are free and open to the public. Performers age 13-20 play and sing covers or original songs. It’s a really fun night. Free raffle tickets are given to everyone for prizes such as instruments, accessories and concert tickets. This month they gave away some beautiful leather Gibson guitar straps, Carlos Santana designer hat, and tickets to Ellie Goulding!

YMP students perform around the community and will be seen this summer at various fairs, festivals, farmer’s markets and other events.

Youth-Music-Project-Making-Music-Accessible-05Cynthia O’Brien, Outreach Coordinator, was so kind as to give me a tour of the beautiful, well-equipped facility in West Linn, which boasts a number of studios, tailored to such uses as recording, group drum sectionals, band rehearsals, individual lessons, and a rock star quality performance venue. The project also offers regular open mic nights and karaoke, and is completely welcoming to the entire community.

Youth-Music-Project-Making-Music-Accessible-06How can you help? You may donate to the non-profit organization on their website. You may volunteer, or refer a student to the program. Youth Music Project’s goal is to make music accessible to all youth in our community – thank you for looking to the future!

Tommy Alexander – Old News is Good News!


Tommy Alexander has just released a new album entitled Old News. Portland Notes says, “It’s good news to us!” The classic folk lyrics combined with interesting instrumental voicings have resulted in a sound that appeals to folk traditionalists and new style seekers alike. Tommy’s return to Portland with his album release at the Goodfoot on Wednesday night was a success after an exciting tour. The concert with the Harmed Brothers and Taylor Kingman was only $1 – providing an all-access pass to experiencing the excitement of the release celebration!

Tommy-Alexander-Old-News-is-Good-News-01We asked Tommy a few questions about his recent tour and the new album. For more Information and links to videos from Tommy Alexander’s Old News, check out the album review in Vortex Music Magazine! Please enjoy the link to Old News in its entirety, available on Bandcamp!

I’m very interested in Jenke, your artist collective. What led you to form this collaboration?

Tommy-Alexander-Old-News-is-Good-News-04It started at a small idea of collaboration between friends. I was living in Burlington, Vermont working to get into the music scene. I figured it would be fun to present the shows at a series, “Jenke Presents”. This idea grew and grew, until eventually we had 1400 square foot studio and 100 or more donation-based classes a month plus fundraisers and musical events – we released almost 20 albums in 4 years. Truly this was not my plan when I started Jenke, but it was very fun seeing it grow and grow.

Your lyrics seem to be based from personal experience – it that the case? Does Old News really reflect old news for you, or does this represent your current state of mind?

Tommy-Alexander-Old-News-is-Good-News-03Yes. generally my lyrics can be very relatable to my life and current experience. The process is very therapeutic. In the case of ‘Old News’, the tune was inspired by my own break up with an ex-lover. Inspiration for me comes from all over for sure.  Stillness and movement have their place in the process. I travel quite a bit these days and the creative juices have really been flowing. Happily, I’ve already got the next album written and ready to record.

The songs have traditional folk elements, for sure. But, there are some instrumental sounds and production techniques that are extremely modern. What led you in that direction?

Tommy-Alexander-Old-News-is-Good-News-02Working with Mike Coykendall opened up all those doors with ease. He and I are on the same page in every regard of where the sound should go. I’ve always been very into different genres of music, from hip hop to punk rock. Growing up in southern California, I was constantly hearing new sounds and new beats. I don’t want to be confined to any specific genre because truly I like them all. It is much more fun for me that way, and the band agrees.

How have your fans reacted to the new sound?

The reaction has been really incredible. FUN FUN FUN! The music drives and moves with a nice story to tell. People are listening and dancing. Folks have been loving it, and I’ve been loving it too. We’re really just beginning to scratch the surface here.

Amelia – Debut EP Available, Analog Show 3/22!!!!


As a female musician, nothing gets me more energized than witnessing women who take over the stage and powerfully deliver a message to a stunned audience! It’s ever so much better when the message is delivered clearly, and pointedly, without shame or fear. Amelia has approached the Portland music arena with confidence in their intent, their skill, and their ability to communicate – listen to these lyrics: “The road to discovery is not an easy one, but it’s worth it to me to be myself…” “The worst thing we could ever do is give up the right to be who we choose…” I love to hear these words presented with passion and drive, urged forward by highly energetic guitar and intensely fierce drums. Amelia is a band that says what they mean and means what they say!

Amelia-The-Truth-Is-03With Jenn Elizabeth on Vocals/Guitar and Tessa Breitbach on Drums, the pair of musicians creates a strong, hardcore sound that is amazingly full and strong for just two people, Perhaps it’s the passion, so obvious in the sweat that flies from Tessa’s face as she hits the cymbals, or in the raw growls that come from Jenn during an intense chorus – or maybe it’s the pure honesty of the lyrics – two women become a force to be reckoned with. They have just released a new video “The Truth Is

Amelia-The-Truth-Is-01The most striking thing to me about the EP is the excellent production quality – the music relies on forcefulness, power, and volume. It is a very difficult task to take music that is so intensely delivered live and record it in a way that carries the same power. To ensure that their music was as aggressive in recordings as it is live, the duo turned to producer Josh Schroeder in March 2015. They began a tour in October, and will end up here in Portland at Analog Cafe March 22, 2016, along with Panoramic and Fighting Casper.

Amelia-The-Truth-Is-02You may research more about Amelia, the band, on their Facebook page, and you may access their EP on Soundcloud. If you want to be encouraged to embrace yourself and recognize the value of individuality, come see Amelia live at Analog on 3/22!

The Hillsboro Symphony Winter Concert


In my real life, I don’t pay much attention to classical music, symphonies or Shakespeare. For the most part, I just don’t understand them. So, it would naturally follow that the last place for me to be was the Hillsboro High School Theater on Friday, March 18th, for the Hillsboro Symphony‘s celebration of Shakespeare. The truth is, I was looking forward to the show for weeks because I knew I would hear great music, and learn a thing or two along the way.

The Hillsboro Symphony is a group of local musicians and support people who enthusiastically give of their time and talents in order to share their love of music with the community. Most of the members are older, as you would expect, but as I looked over the group, I saw several student musicians as well. Bravo!

When you attend a performance (and I hope you do) you will see pretty much what you would expect. What you might not expect is the performance beginning with a something familiar like Greensleeves, then to be taken on a journey of what else a full orchestra can do. Along the way, conductor Sharon Northe (now in her 13th year) will turn around, grab a microphone and explain why the next selection is significant, or maybe something special to listen for during the piece.

The Spring concert is just around the corner – Friday, May 6th. In addition to the music and presentation being accessible, so are the tickets. Just $10 for adults, $8 for youth and seniors and kids under 12 are free. Tickets are available at the door or in advance online or at MIR Music in downtown Hillsboro. Make plans to be there!

Yonder Blue CD Release at Laurelthirst


As reported in an article published March 15, the country band Yonder Blue was having a CD release a few days later. Portland Notes was thrilled to in attendance last night (Saturday, March 19) at The Lauerthirst Public House. One of the things that made this evening special is your $10 at the door not only get you *in* to see the show, it got you *out* with the “Hey Love, Hold On” CD in your hand!

Yonder Blue is a trio of singers fronted by Terri Lynn with background vocals by Michele Linn & Katie Lou Ellen. Last night they were backed by the band Tin Silver (who recently enjoyed a CD release of their own!) The room was full of loyal Yonder Blue fans and they were treated to a great show.







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