Jacob Westfall at McMenamins Kennedy School on 02-25-16

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Portland Notes stopped by McMenamins Kennedy School last night to catch Jacob Westfall‘s “Be Right Back” show. ​This is his last Portland show for a few months because he’s taking off for Nashville to hone his craft, do some networking, and see what’s next.

Jacob is a young man who seems much older and wiser than his chronological age, with a music background that started at the age of 7 when he began playing the piano influenced by his older sister’s music tastes. Actually, the entire Westfall family has varying degrees of musicality, and his father still plays guitar every day at home.

Jacob-Westfall-at-McMenamins-Kennedy-School-on-02-25-16-01Describing his music, Jacob says, “My music is a conversation with the audience—like I’m telling them a story.” He counts Ben Folds as one of his greatest influences and spent many an hour studying Folds’ albums and songwriting style. His soulful vocals have been compared to singers like Jeff Buckley and Sam Smith but with the character and songwriting style of John Mayer. With “more than a nod to Ed Sheeran,” Jacob’s solo performance is “animated by astute guitar and kinetic live looping.”

Jacob-Westfall-at-McMenamins-Kennedy-School-on-02-25-16-02Jacob’s musical talents are many. At 9, he wrote his first song, “Midnight Bloom,” about watching the Leonid Showers with his Mom, thinking that the stars looked like flowers. In 6th grade, he took up the sax, Grades 9 -11, trying to meet girls; he picked up the drums and bass guitar, and at 17, began playing guitar. It was at this time that his father gave him his prized Takamine which he plays to this day,

Jacob-Westfall-at-McMenamins-Kennedy-School-on-02-25-16-05Haley Johnsen, playing a solo acoustic set, opened the show. Family obligations prevented hearing her entire set, but having seen her many times, she put on a great show that was appreciated by the crowded room, and led to many album sales. Her lyrics speak of love found and love lost, feeling and overcoming pain, suffering and triumph. Haley was featured on American Idol in 2012, finishing in the top 24. After touring and coming home to perform locally, she gives back to the community by offering vocal and guitar lessons to children at the Lake Oswego School of Rock. Much like Jacob, she is in a transitionary stage, with open arms to receive that next direction for her music, while continuing to perform, and perfect her craft.

Jacob-Westfall-at-McMenamins-Kennedy-School-on-02-25-16-04Jacob played as a four piece band, joking that members; Dylan Sundstrom, Andrew Magnuson, and Mark Muusse are available for hire. He started off his set with “What If,” the title track off his latest album. His setlist included original material sprinkled with a few popular covers. His music touches on relationships gone bad, the need for love in this political climate, to an angry response to Kesha’s current trial against Dr. Luke in a #FreeKesha song. Playing many few favorites, “Second Chances,” a song that speaks to a romance, but could actually apply to getting a second chance at most anything in life, and the beautiful and heartfelt, “Lonely,” written for his lovely lady. Addressing a time when he was bullied as a child, is the anthemic, “Movin On.” With Andrew on Mandolin, and Dylan on upright Bass, the three performed a beautiful rendition of Lorde’s, “Royals.” Bringing Haley back onstage, the two of them performed a moving version of Elvis’, “Fools Rush In”, with the band joining them for the final chorus. This was the perfect song to end the set, but like all shows, the audience demanded an encore, so the finale was a rousing, “Blister in the Sun” by the Violent Femmes.

Jacob-Westfall-at-McMenamins-Kennedy-School-on-02-25-16-03In a recent conversation with Jacob, he reminisced about a time when his Dad told him that the latin roots of the word, enthusiasm, are God In Us, Jacob believes that no matter what “God” is to you, if you live your life with enthusiasm, you are going to be happy, and he strives to do just that. When you see a Jacob Westfall performance, you will get enthusiasm, passion, and honesty, along with a connection between this talented musician and his audience. He may be a young man, but he is an old soul in his convictions and talents. Portland wishes him a fond farewell, for now, because he will be back, and we will await his return with baited breath!

Size 85 High Tops – Fusion in many forms!

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Those of you who know me know that I have a passion for youth and music – put them together, and you have my attention! Thank you to Alex Steininger of In Music We Trust PR for bringing Size 85 High Tops to my attention! This youth-inspired and co-fronted band blew me away with the perfectly timed and blended vocals, original lyrics, variety, and precision production! Because their next show is an album release, Portland Notes wanted to just get the word out – Size 85 High Tops ROCK and will release their album Get Loose at a concert at McMenamins White Eagle Friday 2/26. I cannot wait to get them in for an interview, but until then I’d like to share a bit about them from their biography and album release notes. This father/daughter-led band is an inspiration to me, as it shows a multi-generational investment in the creative process.

The following bio segments are taken verbatim from the band’s Facebook and record release press kit: music is available on Bandcamp.

Size 85 High Tops are an art-rock band from Portland, OR led by daughter-father duo Myra and Jesse Keyes; together with multi-instrumentalist Scott Van Schoick, the High Tops play and record in various combinations with contributions from Joel Bocek (Bubble Cats), Paul Brainard (Richmond Fontaine), Kyleen King (Heartless Bastards), David Gerow (Sneakin’ Out), Victor Nash (Point Juncture, WA), and Jenny Conlee (the Decemberists), among many others. Their music is a fusion of forms: classic rock, power pop, folk, jazz, prog, and country merge with grunge, neo-psychedelia, and an imaginative style of songwriting to yield a vibrant modern Northwest sound.

“I write a lot of the time with her in mind. She gives me unlimited options and I’ll use her to sing a line I might initially hear played on guitar, horn, strings, whatever,” says Jesse Keyes about his ten year old daughter, Myra Keyes. “And she loves being in the band, frankly. We wouldn’t include her if she wasn’t having a ball. She named us, it’s her band, and she’s the muse.”

Jesse Keyes is the songwriter for Portland, Oregon-based Size 85 High Tops, which he fronts with his daughter.

“She’s such a big part of the whole thing organically that it was a no-brainer,” he says of adding Myra to the band. “She’s the reason I’m even back in music again at all. I was more or less content to work my job and hammer away at unpublished novels all those years until she came along and started singing like that.”

The result is Size 85 High Tops’ second album, Get Lose, a fourteen track collection of songs that span the gamut and vibrantly meld classic rock, power-pop, psych-folk, prog, and country into a sound the band has dubbed “Hightopsian.”

Keyes, who was born and bred in rural, small-town Wisconsin, moved to Portland with his prolific, yet short-lived obscure art-rock band Pan, which quickly dissolved. He then soon found himself married and returning to college to focus on his technical writing, leaving music behind.

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Soon thereafter he began digging ditches and decommissioning oil tanks to supplement the family income. Then, following a ten year hiatus from music, over a long run of hard labor, Keyes met artist and multi-instrumentalist Scott Van Schoick and the two become fast friends, sharing a love of music history and an affinity for their Midwestern heritage as well as for the possibilities of a new-old kind of music in the Northwest.

“So I started buying vinyl again and discovering, with Myra this time, a lot of music I had missed the first time around. We listened to a lot of Wings, Carpenters, Lovin’ Spoonful, Beach Boys, Beatles, Cat Stevens, Mamas and Papas, Donovan – stuff that kids naturally gravitate toward because it’s playful and innocent and melodic and creative and colorful and often very sophisticated,” Keyes says of his return to music. “One thing led to another and pretty soon I was buying a cheap guitar again and starting over. Because she was so much fun to sing with. She had a knack and a love for music and she was just so inspiring.”

Size 85 High Tops released their debut, a self-titled covers album in 2012 for family and friends. But, before that project was even wrapped up, Keyes was well into writing songs for what would become Get Loose.

“The old songwriting bug had been zapped alive again,” he laughs. The result was Keyes had written two double albums and had music for two more albums as well.

With Van Schoick’s knack for arrangement and production, along with his skills on the drums, piano, and trombone, Keyes, Myra, and Van Schoick entered Victor Nash’s studio in early 2014 to begin recording Get Loose, enlisting the help of local musical heavyweights such as Paul Brainard (Richmond Fontaine), Kyleen King (Swansea, My Morning Jacket, Heartless Bastards), Joel Bocek (Bubble Cats), Jenny Conlee (The Decemberists), and David Gerow (Sneakin’ Out), among many others, to flesh out Keyes’ songs.

Of the studio experience, Keyes says that the record came out exactly how he heard it in his head. The highlights for him, without hesitation, is every song.

“Every song seems to have its own little transcendent moment – some are a bit more dramatic and others are subtle, but I guess those for me are highlights. There are also very clever piano phrasings – often just two or three notes, but they’re the right notes – all over the album. Little instants that make me remember all the work that went into certain transitions and sections that were tricky to develop. I like what we achieved vocally on ‘Hills.’ The macabre organ coming after the bridge on ‘Grackles.’ Very visual, evocative moments for me. Myra’s ‘alive’ vocal in ‘Laid.’ Kyleen’s incredible tone on ‘Madrona.’ Joel’s melancholic guitar on ‘Store.’ Other things that make me smile and remember laughing in the studio. Victor and Scotty and I shared a lot of laughs. God we laughed.”

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Awestruck by all the players and their performances, Keyes says he’s very proud of Get Loose and happy the way everything turned out.

“It speaks to the players and to our engineer that they could read the material so well and bring the final realization so close to our vision. In some ways it shattered my expectations and in many ways it really did just nail it. I recorded a little demo on my eight-track with guitar and vocals that I gave to everyone before rehearsals, and listening back you can hear all the potentialities and ways for the songs to go – an infinite number of directions and possibilities, really. But I always feel like there’s one optimum way, and if you can find the trail and keep your balance, you only follow a song to its logical conclusion. That goes for both writing and recording. It’s very intuitive and you shouldn’t over-think it.”

He continues, “One of our mottos was ‘new songs, old sounds,’ so we used a lot of vintage amps and pedals and old phasers, lots of verb. ‘Space and grit’ was another one. I think it’s a good guitar album because of Joel’s playing and because of the variety of acoustic sounds we were able to dial up. You’d think I was playing a bunch of different high-end guitars but it’s just my cheap old Epiphone jumbo with strings that should’ve been changed years ago. People get so caught up on gear and sound that they lose sight of what matters: good songs and good playing.”

That is exactly what you’ll find on Get Loose, a tight collection of fourteen songs that vary in style and sound, all woven together with common patterns and textures.

“It’s an album born out of life, loss, land, work, and family. Mostly it’s a love letter to my girls,” admits Keyes. “It’s emotional and confessional and there was an explicit attempt to get the best artistically out of my own synesthesia – to build an album of songs in all twelve keys corresponding individually to colors, and then to manipulate that color wheel in a way that might produce a rich and satisfying listening experience: to essentially ‘paint’ an album.”

Upcoming Shows:
Friday, Feb 26, White Eagle (album release)
Saturday, Mar 12, Analog Cafe (all-ages)
Wednesday, Apr 20, Panic Room

Baker’s Dozen Coffee Beer and Doughnut Festival – Great Notion Brewing

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The Baker’s Dozen Coffee Beer and Doughnut Festival is coming March 12! A new coffee beer, Double Stack will be revealed along with 12 other magnificent coffee beer combinations (not to mention doughnut creations) at this unique event. An all-ages affair, this festival has music, decadent doughnuts, coffee beers, and a donut decorating station for the kids! Tickets are available online. Working closely with Clutch Coffee Roasters, Great Notion Brewing is continuing their commitment to culinary creativity!

Great-Notion-Brewing-03A brand new endeavor, immersed in the rich history of the Pacific Northwest, Great Notion Brewing pays homage to their roots in name and action. Drawing from Ken Kasey’s famed novel Sometimes a great notion, the founders of this emerging brewery have carefully honored everything we value as Portlanders – respect for nature, dedication to the origins of their craft, sustainability, community, and fine craftsmanship. Having only been open since January 2016, Paul, Andy, and James are jumping right into the game by opening up a warm and inviting brewery and restaurant in the historic Alberta district, as well as participating in the upcoming coffee beer and doughnut festival.

Great-Notion-Brewing-04Very ambitious, these three partners – but they know exactly what they are doing. Perhaps their most impressive accomplishment to date (and remember, they’ve only been open for about a month…) are the New England style fruit-toned IPA’s “Juice Box Double IPA” and “Juice Jr. Session IPA.” Customers are commenting that even non-IPA fans are thoroughly enjoying the mellow taste. The food menu is also outstanding – Chef Ryan O’Connor has created a menu that includes local produce in some very comforting dishes.

Great-Notion-Brewing-01Relationships matter to these men – exactly what makes a local business stand out in Portland! Being family men, Paul, James, and Andy want to make their restaurant accessible and inviting to local families, they want to serve the local Vernon community by participating in P.T.A. events and donating to their local schools, and they want to make sure they treat their employees well. In the podcast, the men talk about how they met, what inspired their collaboration, and how they have actively partnered with other community breweries and businesses to create a rapidly growing and exciting home for their crafted beers. Great Notion Brewing is a welcome addition to Portland’s proud local business community.

Great-Notion-Brewing-04To introduce themselves officially to the community, Great Notion Brewing is hosting a “Grand Beer Release” party on March 5 from 12PM – 11PM. Beer reveais, family friendly activities, brewery tours, samples of chef O’Connor’s food,, and more! A beer festival style event, tickets will be $10 and include a Great Notion Brewing collector’s glass and 4 beer/drink tickets

Great-Notion-Brewing-02Having an interview in an operational brewery means that phones are ringing, dishes are being washed, carts are being pushed back and forth from the kitchen, and cars are driving by outside. That’s part of what makes this interview so special – it’s a look into what motivates and inspires craftsmen to bring art and practical research together – prepare to enjoy some very technical terminology mixed with an obvious love for what these men have united to do. Portland Notes thanks Brian Yaeger and Steven Shomler for introducing us to this impressive new brewery.

When We Met – “Lift Off”

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When We Met band members Bryan and Melissa are getting very busy very quickly! Portland Notes managed to catch the dynamic duo between gigs and rehearsals for a quick email interview. When We Met has just released a new single “Lift Off” – and they’ve included a link to a free download in this very article! These two artists are a blast to talk to – with varied musical influences, humility, and a fantastic sense of humor, they offer a full band experience! Locals in fact and at heart, this couple will surprise you with their audio power!


Congratulations on a stellar week! You just had a gig on Friday 1/29, you were featured on Robert Richter’s Local Roots show, AND your song “Things We Talked About” was just played at a Blazer game for thousands of fans! How are you feeling right now? Is it overwhelming to have all these eyes and ears on you?

When-We-Met-02Bryan: This is all FANTASTIC!! …we’re “walking on sunshine” Kelly. It’s not so much of an overwhelming feeling, it’s awesome! We had such a great show at The Firkin Tavern! It’s one of our favorite dive bars to play at. I ran sound for all the bands, including our own sound. I’m a team player and a music lover myself, so I want all the bands on the bill to sound incredible. When there’s no “sound person”, I’m always the one to step in and get things setup. I’ll lay out everything ahead of time, troubleshoot any problems, adjust levels and EQ. I got a lot of props on how great everything sounded! We are really grateful for all the support we’ve had throughout our short music career. Including all the radio support from Radio Hot Tub, 94.7 NRK, KPSU, Anarchy Radio and recently being played on Robert Richter’s Local Roots show! We are thankful, humbled, and honored. Hearing our song at the Blazer game was absolutely unbelievable! It kinda blew my mind… I wasn’t expecting it at all. I immediately took a picture of the big Moda screen that had our band name and name of the song being played and sent it to Melissa. Such a cool thing to happen while watching the game with my little nephew Joey!

Melissa: Yes, we work really hard and it is neat when you see it pay off! I’m super happy and grateful.

Alternative electro-rock, eh? What bands would you say have been your greatest influences?

Melissa: I have been very passionate about a lot music. But I feel like when I discovered the “Indie” genre, bands such as Modest Mouse and Pinback, I was the most inspired to make music myself.

When-We-Met-01Bryan: I’ve taken in inspiration from all types of music genres, ever since I can remember. If we go back to when I started playing music in my first band in high school, I would say Alternative Rock from the 90’s: Nirvana, Radiohead, NIN & Smashing Pumpkins. There were also local Portland bands around that time like Heatmiser (Elliott Smith), King Black Acid & Everclear that I all got to see live at La Luna. I also enjoyed bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Dead Kennedys, NOFX, Beck, Jane’s Addiction, TOOL, Red Hot Chili Peppers, G n R, Led Zeppelin & The Beatles.

How DID you two meet, and how do you work so well together?

Melissa: We met at a rock show at The Wonder Ballroom. With that being said we encourage single folks to come out to our shows, it’s a great way to make a connection!! We work well together because we respect each other as people and artists. Bryan is my biggest cheerleader and I hope he can say the same for me!

Bryan: So lucky we met When We Met…LOL ~And YES, we make a great team! From singing Sesame Street songs to “You are my sunshine”, to PUNK Rock, our musical tastes are constantly evolving and inspiring everywhere between and beyond. Melissa and I split up much of our duties and team up on things as well.

I love your blog – you don’t just talk about your gigs, you address music issues and talk about your emotional experiences through the journey that is When We Met. What topics can we expect to see?

Melissa: Thank you! I was apprehensive to make that page public and do get a little nervous when I make entries. But sometimes I just feel like sharing. The blog tends to be my thing, but I like to include Bryan. Typically I will read my entry to him for any feedback. We like our content to be a collaboration. The next couple entry’s are focused on the use of the term “female bass player” and my project I started at one point about bass with a focus on women.

Bryan: Collaborations are always the best…More blogs for the readers and other bloggers soon to come!

How do you describe your music – what kinds of things would you expect an audience to FEEL, to THINK about while you play?

When-We-Met-02Bryan: Our music is mixture of natural and electronic elements. It’s a touch of earth, water, fire, wind blended with the cosmic storms and spacial frequencies. We tend to appeal to a wide audience. From little kids to teenage lovers… To young & old Punk Rockers to a group of elderlies known as “The Greys”. We make music to dance to, music to sing to, music to love to, music to rock and trip out to. And music that could soundtrack your souls. WWM writes about real life and imaginary stories. One song might mean many different things to many different people. Music is so powerful how it can impact our lives and set the moods of our adventures.

Melissa: Well said, Bryan. As far as live performances go, I try to give out fun, good energy and hope to receive it back. I really love playing, and hope that it translates into something that connects with people.

What’s next for When We Met? I hear you have a show at the Roseland? Do you have any ideas who you might play with? Who do you most want to play with in Portland?

Melissa: We want to play with Hustle and Drone and Modest Mouse!!

When-We-Met-03Bryan: We just finished recording, mixing, and mastering our new song “Lift Off” in the studio. Just submitted it to PDX POP NOW! Hoping it will get voted to make the compilation and perform live at their festival this year. Fingers crossed! Not sure who we’re playing with at The Roseland Theater yet. Only one other band is being selected to play at this amazing art event. We’d like to play with anyone who’s likeminded, respectful, fun, creative, serious, team player and real with no egos, just confidence and talent and a little humor 🙂 We are starting to record a full length album.


Download their new single here: http://www.whenwemet.band/lift-off

They have 3 shows coming up:

Wednesday, March 9 @ 7:00 PM – ALBERTA STREET PUB
1036 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR
Robert Richter’s “Local Roots” show… Broadcast on KMUZ-FM 100.7 in Salem!

Wednesday, March 30 @ 7:00 PM – ROSELAND THEATER
10 NW 6th Ave , Portland, OR Presented by RAW Artists!
TICKETS: http://www.rawartists.org/whenwemet

Saturday, May 7 @ 8:00 PM – DANTE’S
350 W Burnside, Portland, Oregon
ANARCHY RADIO’s 4 year Anniversary Party!

More Info on these shows can be found on their website’s show page: http://whenwemet.band/shows

Baker’s Dozen Coffee Beer and Doughnut Festival – Delicious Donuts!

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I am so excited about the chance to eat doughnuts and drink coffee beers that I can barely wait for Saturday, March 12! The Baker’s Dozen Coffee Beer and Doughnut Festival is a chance to sample 13 coffee beers and 13 doughnuts in one day, while enjoying music and a brand new Decoration Station for the children! Hosted by Brian Yaeger Presents and Culmination Brewing, this event is bound to please – dough nut miss it! This year’s Decoration Station is hosted by our feature artist of the day – Delicious Donuts!

Delicious-Donuts-05We were able to pull Penny out of the Delicious Donuts kitchen to have a brief chat about their participation in the upcoming scrumptious event, taste test a few items, take some photos, and get to know the owners, Penny and Boun – who treat everyone like family. I think that’s what impressed me the most about this couple – love of family and our local community is the key ingredient in every single donut, breakfast burrito, and coffee drink – you can taste the love! Penny and Boun have been in their Grand Avenue location since 2005, and have had many of the same loyal customers since day 1! The customers who arrived while I was munching my chocolate covered old-fashioned donut were all greeted by name. Penny graciously gave a shout out to several local businesses who support the shop, as well as delivery services that will drop off the tasty treats. The interview below is short, but very sweet, as Penny is an enchanting and delightful host.

Delicious-Donuts-03Delicious Donuts has a loyal following, and they give back to their customers with amazing specials every day of the week! This great relationship between Penny, Boun, and their neighborhood led Delicious Donuts to want to reach out even more into the community and help to build a spirit of giving, charity, and kindness. Penny discovered Dollar for Portland, a local organization that assists families in paying medical bills…one dollar at a time. Penny and Boun believe, along with Dollar for Portland, that one person giving even a small amount can make a difference when people come together with good intent and purpose. With this in mind, Delicious Donuts has offered to have Dollar for Portland take over their shop on Monday, February 22 in a special event! Anyone who signs up to participate in the Dollar for Portland program (only $1 per month donation) will receive a free donut! Party is at Delicious Donuts, 12 SE Grand.

Delicious-Donuts-01Sharing a taste of Delicious Donuts’ apple fritter, along with the other bakers in the Baker’s Dozen Coffee Beer and Doughnut Festival will be a delight! Meeting all the people behind this creative community event will also be delicious! For tickets, a list of all participants, and more about the event, please visit the Baker’s Dozen Coffee Beer and Doughnut Festival website.

 

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