Sonny “Smokin'” Hess has been playing guitar since the age of 8 and it wasn’t long after she started gigging. These days, she plays mostly as a trio with a drummer and bass. Lisa Mann is an award-winning bass guitarist originally from West Virginia who comes armed with several vocal styles.
I’ve been to several of their shows over the years and even though they have been gigging together for almost 20 years, this week was my first chance to see them share a stage. I was not disappointed. They got their Blues on, and shelled it out like crazy. If you missed it, don’t fret. (Pun intended.) They currently own the 4th Wednesday slot at McMenamin’s Grand Lodge in Forest Grove.
As part of the McMenamin’s Great Northwest Music Tour the Freak Mountain Ramblers returned to Grand Lodge for another stellar show. They have been with the tour from the beginning (at least 10 years) and are invited back every year. They showed us why Friday night as they parading their wide assortment of music ranging from classic pop & rock, modern pop and Rock, and (their specialties) country and swing (which they often combine). This has got to be the most versatile band in the Northwest. These guys know how to fill a dance floor and there are a lot more shows coming up on this tour so I hope you can make one. In the mean time, have a look at some photos from Friday night.
I’ve seen Oregon music hall-of-fame’r Jon Koonce play solo and with bands, but this was the most up-beat I’ve heard him. You see, he was scheduled to play with his quartet outdoors. Not expecting rain, what they had in their back pocket was a slough of rock-n-roll songs. Instead of trying to change it up, they went with their plan, at the garage door venue in the basement of McMenamin’s Grand Lodge. While the music was plenty loud, it was well mixed and I stayed for the whole show.
Jon always delivers a good show, even to a very small crowd (you could count the sets of ears on one hand). The Thursday night music is new this year at Grand Lodge, and it’s not well socialized. Jon and the boys played hard. The dueling guitar solos were outstanding!
Well, it was supposed to be an outdoor show last Thursday, but mother nature just didn’t cooperate. (In fact, this whole Spring has been either too hot or too wet, eh? I digress.) The good news about coming inside is we could enjoy the music in more comfortable surroundings. The bad news is Wil Kinky‘s big sound was a little overwhelming for the small room downstairs at the Grand Lodge. But, it didn’t matter – nobody went anywhere!
Wil was raised near Cornelius on Blueberry farm. He learned early on the value of hard work. He brings those values to his music. If you look at his show schedule, you’ll quickly realize this man isn’t idle much. That hard work and commitment to his craft really comes through. Most of Wil’s music during a show is original. He also tosses in several interesting covers from the Doobie Bros, Al Green and others.
Wil has mastered the art of making his guitar not sound like a guitar. I was amazed and the sounds he was able to create. None of it was noise for noise sake – all the effects were carefully crafted to paint the moods he intended. No doubt he will be playing near you soon. Be sure to check him out.
Originally from Vancouver, BC, Moses Barrett migrated to Portland and formed The Junebugs with drummer Kyle Owen and bassist Sean Vinson. It would appear requirement number 1 to being a member is wearing a beard! They describe their music as high-energy pop with Pacific Northwest folksy goodness. At times I felt like they were like a modern day Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. About a third of their musical selections were covers from the likes of Red Hot Chili Pepers, Neil Young, Paul Simon, Tom Petty and the Eagles. Their presentation is tight and the vocal harmonies are outstanding. During the show, Moses talked about his love for folk music, which this crowd at McMenamin’s Grand Lodge was eating like candy. Based on the reception, they will certainly be back. We recently reviewed their album, “Home To Me“, and have posted this Photo Album.