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

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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

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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

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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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Mermaid in China at Kelly’s Olympian – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Kelly’s Olympian hosted an eclectic line up on their celebratory night, featuring Lee Allstar’s EP release, Bleach Blonde Dudes and Mermaid in China – drawing a diverse audience, and exposing us all to some new music – Mermaid in China opened the night with some fantastic layered instrumentals and hauntingly constructed vocal arrangements. With influences like The Beatles, Tame Impala,Ween, and Pink Floyd, you can anticipate some complicated chord structures and demanding vocals – Mermaid in China pulled it off well. I think you’ll be blown away by one of Adam Corkery’s answers in the following interview. The formation of the band is unique in my experience. Here is a link to their self-titled EP, available for free download on soundcloud. “The Vast Divide” is first song on the EP.

You all are very precise when performing live – how did you perfect translating that highly produced sound from studio to stage?

Mermaid-in-China-at-Kellys-Olympian-04An excess of music gear and tap dancing! I think we all strive to replicate our studio recordings when we perform, which is impossible to execute with four people (with drummer). But we still have fun trying! (BTW the tap dancing is a reference to operating effects pedals with our feet).

What’s the writing process like? Do you write together, does one person lead? Do you chart first or jam?

Mermaid-in-China-at-Kellys-Olympian-03Our creative process seems to be continuously evolving. Some songs are more collaborative than others. I think we’re starting to figure out that each song needs a leader for executive decisions, otherwise a riff or idea will never develop into something more complete and focused. Sometimes during band practice we’ll be noodling and a cool idea might materialize, but it seems like in order for that idea to become an actual song one person needs to take the helm. Songwriting for us is largely a solitary activity. I think the most collaborative steps in the process occur during the recording of a song.

As far as charting or jamming first, it sort of depends. I know Ryan sometimes notates first. I think it helps him work out voicings and harmonies. I’d have to say that for the most part we are playing an instrument and/or singing during the writing process.

What’s on your personal playlist today, Adam? What are Nick, Ryan, and Chris into?

Mermaid-in-China-at-Kellys-Olympian-02We’ve all of course got our own musical tastes, some of which overlap. Adam has been a longtime Ween and Pink Floyd fan. Ryan like Beach Boys and Jacco Gardner. Chris’s old favorites include Radiohead and Elliott Smith. Nick is a Ryan Adams fan. Stuff we all like: The Beatles, Tame Impala, Temples, The Strokes, MGMT, Radiation City, Beach House, Air, The Flaming Lips, Gorillaz, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Grizzly Bear, Vulfpeck…

What inspires you to keep working as a band?

I suspect each of our answers might differ somewhat, but I think we are all still in a band together because we have become close friends who simply enjoy playing and making music together. We share a passion for the art form, and I think working as a band helps keep us sane!

How did the band form? Are you all brothers, best friends, or have you bonded over the music?

One word: Craigslist! I believe Adam responded to a seeking-bandmates post by Ryan in 2009. In 2010 the duo responded to a Craigslist post by Chris, who was looking to join a band as a bassist or guitarist. In 2013 the then trio discovered drummer Nick via Craigslist.

How did you come up with your band name?

Mermaid-in-China-at-Kellys-Olympian-01Sadly, it’s not an interesting story. For some time we kept an ever-growing laundry list of potential band names. We wanted something that wasn’t taken, or at least something that would show no results when searched on the internet. We liked the way Mermaid in China rolled of the tongue. It’s a name you usually don’t need to restate when someone asks what your band’s called. So many band names require you to repeat yourself!

StageWorks Ink presents Three Amigos starting 3/31/16!

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I have been enjoying a new trend in entertainment lately. With creative presentations ranging from Hecklevision at Hollywood Theatre, where the audience texts on-screen comedy punchlines to B-films – to Steve Coker’s brilliant musical comedic interpretations of cult flicks, Portland audiences are being treated to comedy that always hits the funny bone. With his past successes, Flash Ah-Ahhhh!, Xana-RedU, Electric Dreams, Adventures of Dex Dixon and Varsity Cheerleaders, Steve Coker’s StageWorks Ink production company continues to expose audiences to what he calls “the fringe on fringe theater” with his new production, “Three Amigos

StageWorks-Ink-presents-Three-Amigos-04For anyone who hasn’t seen the 1986 Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short cult classic, this is a chance to experience proven comedy live! With a screenplay written by Randy Newman and Lorne Michaels, the original flick offers a heartwarming story based on a hilarious misunderstanding that goes too far. The film inspired me personally – I have a wooden statue named “El Guapo” and I know all the words to “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” Steve Coker adds his own brand of evocative humor to the already solid story, creating a presentation that is customized for a live audience. Coker’s comedic musical interpretation of the fabulously quaint Three Amigos opens Thursday 3/31, and runs TH, F, S through April . Tickets are available online.

Here is a conversation with Steve Coker, who was kind enough to give us some insight into how he selects and produces these comedic gems.

What inspired you to produce a live performance of The Three Amigos?

StageWorks-Ink-presents-Three-Amigos-03In 2013 I accidentally started a theatre company while putting together a “reading” of one of my screenplays, “Varsity Cheerleader Werewolves from Outer Space” a comedy set in the 80s and playing on the comedic tropes of that time period. When the audience responded so enthusiastically, I knew we had an opportunity to present some of my favorite guilty pleasures… cult and iconic films of the 80’s presented as musical theatre. The first one was “Flash Ah-Ahhh!!” and the concept succeeded so well that the die was set and we started to look for movies that had the potential to do as well as “Flash.” Brian Koch, one of the actors in Flash, and I had a conversation about “Three Amigos” and realized that the silly nature of the script was perfect for a live production. After producing “Electric Dreams” and “Xana-Redu” I was looking for something a little different musically… “Three Amigos” gave us the opportunity to do a hilarious script and depart from our usual electronica and rock sound tracks and do a singing cowboy musical.

Will this be another fantastic musical comedy like “Flash…aaaahhh”?

Yes, musical comedy is really what I am interested in presenting now. It will be a departure from the Queen music of “Flash” as we are doing a lot of older country and western music in this production. Since it takes place in Mexico and in the time period that Hollywood was making all those singing cowboy movies it seemed more appropriate that we have a soundtrack that includes Gene Autry, Patsy Cline, Merle Haggard and, of course, the several songs written by Chevy Chase and Randy Newman that already exist in the film version.

Are you writing the script, music, choreographing, etc? Who is collaborating on this artistic endeavor?

StageWorks-Ink-presents-Three-Amigos-01I am adapting the script, directing the show and choosing the music, but the script really is just the jumping off point as we always play around and look for comedic opportunities during the rehearsal process. Usually what we end up with is very different than where we start. As for Choreography, this time we are using a local dance company called TriptheDark. Corinn Dewaard and Stephanie Seaman are the team that is making us line-dance and kick-ball-change through the show. They were the creative team that made “Xana-Redu” such a stunning dance show last September. Marychris Mass is our costumer… and I have brought on James Liptak as our Musical Director… Jim is Portland’s best kept secret where musical direction is concerned. He led us successfully through the amazing ELO and ONJ music of “Xana-Redu.” Rounding out the team of musicians are my long-time music collaborator, KJ McElrath and “Flash Ah-Ahhh!!” band leader, Zach Holden, on guitar.
Our cast includes: Sean Ryan Lamb, myself and Kylie Jenifer Rose as The Amigos…
And featuring; Maria DeLorenzo, Krystal Fields, Tim Giugni, Landy Hite, Dug Martell, Brian Koch, Christie Quinn and Bill Holznagel (who also builds our puppets)

Who or what is the “El Guapo” in your life?

For me, my El Guapo, is the fact that I have so much creative energy, drive, and ambition that I’d like to be creating 24-7… but the reality is, we have to make a living, so I also have to have a day job. Not complaining, but Id rater be producing my shows.

This story, through laughter and silliness, actually has an inspiring and encouraging message. Are you in it just for the laughs, or is there meaning in this production for you?

StageWorks-Ink-presents-Three-Amigos-02Honestly, I don’t look too far into the meanings in these shows. They are really made for pure entertainment value. I actually have when companies try to insert some sort of heavy-handed message into their shows… I’ve been emotionally hijacked several times the past season and it always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Now of course there is always some sort of redemptive message ina script/story… for “Flash” it was a message that together we can accomplish peace. For “Xana-Redu” it was that dreams can come true if you believe… and for “Three Amigos” I suppose it is that you can overcome adversity with perseverance and a sense of community… but honestly, I never play for those moments, they just exist under the surface. And in fact, I never play for a laugh either… we always play every situation straight… If we do our job right and tell the truth in each performance, those things will take care of themselves.

The cast looks to be having fun – have there been any remarkable memorable moments so far?

It’s still pretty early into the process, but I can tell you that when we were rehearsing music the other day, I had a moment of clarity… As we were working through the harmonies on the song “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” there was a moment when our voices blended so well, that I knew the show was going to work! I had a similar experience with “Flash” so I am encouraged by that.

For more information on Steve Coker and StageWorks Ink, please visit the website. The comedy just keeps coming!

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