THE JUNEBUGS – “Home to Me” Album release 2/21/16

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HomeToMeAs someone who grew up listening to bluegrass, folk, gospel & true Americana music, the Junebugs have officially won over my heart. ‘Home To Me‘ is their latest release. Between the incredible harmonies & intricate layers of each instrument played on this album, it’s easy to hear the soul & honesty in each track. As a newborn fan of The Junebugs, and speaking to any other current/future fans of them, the best way I could describe them would be a cross between Neil Young & The Zac Brown Band. Frontman Moses Barrett delivers both soul & strength in his performance on the entirety of this record.

JuneBugsWhat captivated me the most from this record was their rendition of Foster The People‘s groundbreaking hit song “Pumped Up Kicks”. I loved this song many years ago, and this track has reignited all the feels I had all those years ago for this song, and then some. The title track “Home To Me” is an instant classic for The Junebugs. As soon as the guitar line at the beginning of the song begins, it’s hard not to feel the nostalgia & familiarity of growing up in The Great Northwest. The official release date on this album is February 21st at The Secret Society, which will be followed by numerous performances at venues such as Hotel Monaco & McMenamin’s Grand Lodge.

In anticipation of the upcoming release, Portland Radio Project’s Rob Rainwater will host The Junebugs for an interview regarding their most recent projects on Sunday 2/14 (Valentines day, lovebugs!).

FREE Marketing Help for Musicians – no “strings” attached!

Marketing-Meetup-on-01-24-16-00

Sunday, January 24 was an historic day for Portland musicians! J-Fell Presents, Vortex Magazine, mogo Portland Music Festival, and Portland Radio Project hosted a free musicians’ marketing meetup (“meetup” is to “seminar” as “sellout rock show” is to “recital”) where the local music community joined to ask questions about social media marketing, where to invest marketing dollars, timing, venue cooperation and more. Portland Notes was there to get the scoop!

Frank Rinaldi
Frank Rinaldi

The expert panel consisted of music marketing mentors who volunteered their time and expertise to help musicians help themselves. Mike Walker of McMenamins Pubs, Breweries, and Historic Hotels, Ned Failing from Pickathon, Revolution Hall, and Mississippi Studios and Frank Rinaldi of the Doug Fir Lounge and The Bite of Oregon were very candid with their expectations and their willingness to cooperate with a band’s marketing efforts. Jason Fellman of J-Fell Presents, Harefest. and mogo Portland Music Festival offered his advice from a promoter’s viewpoint, stressing professionalism and straight-up good musicianship. In fact, the general message from all panelists was, “Be Brilliant!” – a motto we may hear often from attendees over the next few months.

Jason Fellman
Jason Fellman

Mike Burling from PDX Spotlight and Chris Young from Vortex Music Magazine both stressed the importance of creating content – building assets that can be shared with venues and the general public. This content can come in many forms. Once it is shared, it is a contagious and powerful force to propel a band’s image. Portland Notes spoke regarding content, communication, and cross-promotion. Audience members openly described their personal experiences – successes and failures.

Ned Failing
Ned Failing

So much was shared in the meeting, that it is impossible to cover all the topics in a short article. We’ve gathered two snippets of panelist instruction regarding social media, which was definitely a hot topic of the day. For more information, follow the PDX Musicians’ Marketing page on Facebook. These seminars will be happening at regular intervals, and will cover a variety of topics related to successfully marketing a band or solo project.

Bands – the disadvantage of DIaY (Doing it ALL Yourself)

diyI’d like to offer up the idea that original bands largely are fighting a losing battle because they DON’T do all of the things that huge nationals do – and often get hated on for doing. In film and music it is extremely rare that you ever have someone who does it all. Division of labor exists in all creative industries. When original artists try to write their own material, record it themselves, promote it, develop stage presence and instrument proficiency all at the same time – they are trying to do something only a tiny handful of individuals have ever been able to do.

Why is it at a local level you never see bands buying/borrowing songs from local songwriters, or see dedicated songwriters and dedicated performers at all? Why are they handling all of their own marketing material creation and artwork? Doing their own bookings? Money usually is the answer, but that is no excuse. You wouldn’t open a business and then just neglect parts of it because you can’t afford to do it right. There is a cost of doing business and every industry including music has a financial barrier to entry.

Trying to do all of these things is like trying to open a restaurant with no experience, and then hiring no one to fill the key roles. The only way this can ever work for a band is if you happen to be formed around a group of guys who all happen to have perfectly overlapping skills… but few people ask during the band formation process “How are your cold calling skills? How are your web design and photo editing skills? How are your accounting skills? Can you write a hit song? Do you have the ‘it’ factor on stage? Are you a great studio engineer? Live sound engineer? Luthier? Amp technician? Costume designer? Facebook expert?”

No one asks any of these things when forming bands, so it ends up being a crap shoot of whether or not you just created a hapless jam band with no means of creating hit songs, packing shows, or even growing a following at all.

I submit what local music scenes need are better personal assessments by the people involved (we all suck at nearly every aspect of music production and have to admit it) and some kind of marketplace for assisting one another in the areas we are deficient (which again is nearly every area).

Haley Johnsen at The Horse Radish

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Growing up obsessed with finding the perfect harmonies, but shy and fearful about her ability to sing when a child, describes a significant conflict Haley Johnsen needed to resolve. You see, being the center of attention was both her worst nightmae and greatest dream. It was performing as a gymnast that gave her the confidence she needed to put herself out there. How fortunate we are she found that outlet. Since then, she made it all the way through to the top 24 of American Idol Season 11, and has written and recorded over 100 songs.

Haley-Johnsen-at-The-Horse-Radish-on-01-23-16-03Haley played an acoustic show previously at The Horse Radish in Carlton, Oregon, but this time brought her four-piece band with her. Three of those band members are also singer-songwriters, so for the first hour we heard a couple of songs from each of them. During the second hour Haley took to the stage by herself to play an acoustic set. (Consumer alert – Hearing her do “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” can cause spontaneous tearing.) The third hour, everyone was on stage and they pulled out all the stops.

Haley-Johnsen-at-The-Horse-Radish-on-01-23-16-07Haley Johnsen is passionate, powerful and humble. She recently released a 7-track EP “Through the Blue“, written by her and produced by Rob Daiker. This video is a live version of one of those tracks. Also, check out the other photos taken that evening.

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”

Sharing local artists with Portland and the world