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


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!


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!

PROWUS – Portland Rock On With Us!

FI_PROWUSAs part of Portland Notes’ March feature on local youth in music, we have been searching out schools and non-profit organizations that work together to support the idea that our next generation of musicians is already here, ready to rock! Jen Tengs-Howard, rock mom and current president of PROWUS, was gracious enough to answer some questions about the organization, what the group offers to the community, and how we can help become part of the solution that plagues our youth musicians – how do they get schooled, and how do they get their music out to Portland and the world? I learned of PROWUS through my involvement with the Portland School of Rock, but the group offers grants to music students for music instruction at a number of local studios and schools.


PROWUS — Portland Rock on With Us — is a non-profit organization that provides grants for music students age 8 — 18 in the greater-Portland Metro area who are pursuing extra-curricular music education. Operated by a volunteer board who have connections to the music community, PROWUS builds their grant fund with proceeds from merchandise sales and fundraising events.


PROWUS started as a group of local mothers of youth musicians who saw a need for equity in music education. Music lessons and programs are expensive, and out of reach for many Portland families. Knowing and seeing the benefits of music in the lives of our children, we want to make those benefits available to all kids.


PROWUS supports local families in their efforts to pursue a well-rounded education in the arts for their children. With current levels of public-school funding, often the arts are the first to suffer, and parents must look outside of school for arts education. Oftentimes, this extracurricular instruction is financially out of reach for Portland-area families. It is our goal to assist in making music education accessible to all who want it.

We offer two kinds of grants: First, we offer a regular, bi-annual grant disbursement with application deadlines on May 1st and November 1st. These grants are available to any family in need of financial assistance for music education. The second type is for situations of hardship such as a death in the family, or loss of income to help students who are currently taking music instruction who would otherwise have to put music on hold. These grants are available at any time during the year.


Grant applications can be found at our website at If anyone needs assistance with completing the application process, we are happy to help. Questions can be sent to


Families submit a complete application prior to our deadline. Applications are evaluated by an independent panel of reviewers, outside the Portland youth music community. Results are submitted to the PROWUS Board, who votes on each application without knowledge of the personal information or identity of the applicant. Checks are then disbursed to the approved applicants in the name of their designated music program or instructor. In return for grant funding, the applicant’s family agrees to volunteer their time to give back to a PROWUS designated project or event.


Our focus this year is on increasing our reach. We need people to know that we are here, and have funds available to assist their students. Of course, we are always looking for business and organization partnerships to aid in our fundraising efforts.

Optimally, we are looking to increase our available funds and the number of students we serve, each year. Our goal is to increase at a rate of 30-40% year over year. I believe that with the wonderful, engaged Board we currently have, our goals are attainable, and that PROWUS will be able to really make a difference in the lives of many more Portland families! We also would love to increase the numbers in our ‘volunteer army’. If anyone is interested in helping PROWUSachieve our goals, they should contact us at


Seeing the accomplishments and joy experienced by our grant recipients. For many of our applicants, music is not just their hobby, it is their passion. Knowing that we have enabled them to continue on their journey is so rewarding to be a part of.


When my family moved to Portland 6 years ago, my daughter wanted to continue her education in percussion, but the program she wanted to participate in was out of our reach financially at that time. We were lucky enough to have assistance, and seeing the growth in both her craft and personal life through her participation in music… I wanted to give back. I want those experiences for all kids that want it. Helping with the the work of PROWUS allows me to do just that.

PROWUS-01For information on how YOU can help, take a peek at PROWUS, in addition to other for profit and non profit organizations such as Youth Music Project, School of Rock, Rock and Roll Camp for Girls, Ethos,and My Voice Music, are all actively involved in producing and/or promoting events that educate and support youth in local music! If you know of a local organization that supports local youth in music, please tell us, so that we can all work together! Thank you to Vortex Music Magazine for sharing their article: Music Matters: The State of Music Education, by Andrea Janda.

Portland Notes discovers the finest Coffee, Beer, and Doughnuts in Portland!


What do you do on a rainy, windy Springtime Saturday in Portland? Why, you put on the plaid and take it to Culmination Brewing Company for the sold-out, “2nd Annual Baker’s Dozen Coffee Beer and Doughnut Festival.”

Second-Annual-Bakers-Dozen-02This awesome festival stirs together the three things Portland does best: coffee, beer, and doughnuts. In a city with as many coffee roasters as there are craft brewers, the marriage of the two brews is a natural pairing. Tie that in with doughnuts, and you have a trifecta of mouth watering goodness!  Admission was capped at 400, and believe it or not, all 400 tickets were sold two days before the event. We know Portlanders love their craft brews, coffee, and doughnuts so it was probably no surprise that this event would sell out. Paid admission included a well designed souvenir beer glass, 4-oz samples of all 13 coffee beers, as well as samples of all 13 doughnuts.  New this year, was the Doughnut Decoration Station for kids and non-kids alike.  For just $2, you could design your own doughnut and know that your donation went to Friends of the Children, an organization that provides commitment assistance to at-risk youth. If doughnuts weren’t your thing, Culmination’s chef, Carter B. Owen, came up with a few breakfast sandwiches that looked delicious.

Second-Annual-Bakers-Dozen-15There were a couple doughnut offerings that had an added element of fire to them. Both Donut Byte Labs and Donut-O-Rama, employed the fire torch to craft their doughnuts. Donut Byte Labs’, “French Toast” was three layers of melted sugar and flame toasted cinnamon, topped off with their, made from scratch, cream cheese icing. Donut-O-Rama’s, “Crème Brulee” was a donut hole, rolled in a thick sugar coating, then torched to get that familiar crème brulee crust. Tonalli’s Donuts & Cream had a chocolate banana doughnut where the banana was mixed into the batter, which made for a pleasant, light banana flavor. Instead of maple on this buttermilk bar, it was topped with a generous amount of chocolate. For the chocolate lover, Coco Donuts had the “Hole in the Dark” which was a chocolate cake donut hole with espresso then rolled in cocoa. Pip’s Mobile brought out their cart to make their “Honey  & Sea Salt” on site for the duration of the event. This delicate offering featured local raw honey and pink himalayan sea salt.

Second-Annual-Bakers-Dozen-05There was also what is believed to be the world’sfirst Collaboration Doughnut. Collaboration beers–that is, beers made by two or more brewers–aren’t new so they thought it would be fun to come up with a doughnut collaboration between the roaster, the brewer, and the baker. With ideas coming from Penny from Delicious Donuts, Marissa from Coco Donuts, Victor from Tonalli’s Donuts & Cream, Dieter from Donut Byte Labs, and the actual baker himself, Steve from Staccato Gelato, they crafted an old-fashioned buttermilk doughnut made with Culmination Chocolate Stout, Ole Coffee espresso to make a Vietnamese coffee glaze, then topped with candied bacon bits. Bacon seems to be a popular ingredient on doughnuts these days so the line was long for this tasty treat.

Second-Annual-Bakers-Dozen-07Of course, the event wasn’t just about sampling delicious doughnuts; there were also 13 specially crafted beers to partake. It’s easier sampling 13 food items in an afternoon then it is sampling 13 beers, so many were missed. At the recommendations of many, we started with something a little different, the “Caffe” from Stung Fermented. This was a partnership with Caffe Umbria to take their cold brewed coffee and infuse it into a sparkling mead. The result was a gluten-free mead that was crisp, fragrant, and flavorful. Next was the “Napoleonic” from Labrewatory featuring Coava Coffee’s Santa Luzia from Brazil. This Imperial Brown Ale was brewed specifically for this event and gets its inspiration from the famous French coffee. It had notes of caramel, and toffee with an earthiness that nicely toned down the sweetness. “Double Stack” was a nice breakfast stout from Great Notion Brewing featuring coffee from Clutch Coffee. This stout was aged with a “ridiculous” amount of Vermont maple syrup; however, it did not have a strong sweet finish. The coffee and maple syrup balance was just right. The finale was “Black House” from Modern Times Beer using their own coffee with beans from Ethiopia and Sumatra. This oatmeal stout bursts with coffee aroma and flavor. Modern Times is one of the only breweries in the world to roast their own coffee. This stout had a delicious chocolate espresso bean finish that was the perfect choice to finish out the day.

Second-Annual-Bakers-Dozen-22You might think that a 400 capacity event would have long lines, and unhappy people, but this one was quite the opposite. People were jovial, interested in what they were tasting, asking questions of the vendors, enjoying the live music, and company of their friends. I am sure those that missed out by not getting a ticket before it sold out will be the first to buy next year. Judging from the popularity of this one, I would say there will be another. We might be a health conscious city, but Portland does love their beer, coffee, and doughnuts!

You can read more about this event’s offerings and history from BrewPublic,  and Portland Notes’, Kelly Jones.

YONDER BLUE – Hey Love, Hold On


Country music has long held a fascination for me – it seems so simple, to tell a story in song…but it’s harder than it looks (or sounds). The ingredients of a song: the lyrics, melody, harmonies, instrumentation, flow, and dynamics – they all tell a part of the story. When combined, the end result is dramatically more than the sum of the individual parts. Yonder Blue has really grasped the idea of honest and heartfelt storytelling in a way that is very appealing. Terri Lynn Davis and her band have thought through the stories from introduction to plot and conclusion. Terri shared part of her musical story with Portland Notes this week, and we are thrilled to share it with you. If you love country, Yonder Blue’s music will resonate with you. If you haven’t found country that connects with you yet – this might be the day your life changes! True words about life, love, and loss paired with musical skill and attention to detail have blossomed into an album that is simply precious.

Blue-Yonder-Hey-Love-Hold-On-03For me, there is a fine balance between honesty and poetry in songwriting. Being true to one’s soul and inspiration is key to writing songs that make a difference in people’s lives, but sometimes saying something directly is too harsh or cold. It’s overwhelmingly beautiful when a metaphor can be powerful, yet hit home in a sensitive, respectful way. Terri Lynn’s writing pays absolute respect to her life experience, with a dedication to simple chord structure and truth in storytelling. With that solid base, Yonder Blue can explore rich harmonies and instrumental layers that build into the lovely embellishment we all love to hear from good storytellers.

Blue-Yonder-Hey-Love-Hold-On-01Terri’s background is diverse – she’s always loved music, but Yonder Blue is a new project birthed from a lifetime of paying attention to detail, learning lessons through work and musical trials, and being open to partnering with like-minded individuals. In the audio interview, Terri gives credit to a number of people throughout her life who have influenced her musically, personally, and professionally. Yonder Blue is composed of musicians who are very active in the Portland music community – with experience in booking, marketing, producing, writing, and performing. This level of expertise and experience again gives the band a stable and solid foundation, on which they can build and expand their project.

Yonder Blue owes great thanks to Kevin Hahn, who not only produced the album, but also introduced Terri to her fellow vocalists Michele Linn and Katie Lou Ellen. Terri also is extremely grateful for the encouragement of Matthew Higgins, as well as the skill of Andy MacMillan on lead guitar and Paul Prato on bass.

Blue-Yonder-Hey-Love-Hold-On-02Yonder Blue’s upcoming show on March 19, is greatly anticipated by friends and fans of Terri and her past work. The band has purposely released just two of the songs in advance : the title track, “Hey Love, Hold On” and “Little Grace”. The Laurelthirst show ticket will include a free copy of the entire album, in addition to experiencing the full band live! Yonder Blue plays alongside Ryan Rebo, and Jawbone Flats. The night looks to be amazing, with plenty of great conversation, catching up with old friends, and meeting new ones. This is quality work, with good intent, and presented with great love and care. We hope to see you there!


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