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!
Pretend Sweethearts is a duo of singer/songwriters/multi-instrumentalists based in Atlanta who play a wide range of music from roots to blues to folk to country. Brianna Blackbird and Drew de Man met while studying music therapy here in Portland. In the course of writing songs together, releasing recordings and touring like crazy, they became “real” sweethearts. I have been a fan for a while and was glad to catch up with them for the first time last night at McMenamin’s Rock Creek Tavern. They were joined by their friend Rochelle Muzquiz handling the percussion duties.
Bri was born and raised in Portland, so this summer tour brings her back home. Drew is from Georgia forming his first band No River City in 2001, spending six years recording and touring. He is wildly talented on the guitar, she sings like a bird, and their mix of music will keep you engaged for hours. They’ve got a few more Northwest dates before they fly away, so check them out if you can.
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.
My friend Ivan Camacho and I served together for a few years on a church worship team. Knowing about my love for all kinds of music, he invited me to an “Insomnia Session”. The Insomnia Coffee Company is a wildly-popular, locally-owned coffee shop in Hillsboro. I’ve been there many times to hear a wide variety of music over the last several years.
Since 2014 this group meets every 1st and 3rd Thursdays at the Insomnia Coffee location at 53rd and Baseline in Hillsboro from 7-9 PM. The sessions originated from a need to provide an opportunity for local acoustic musicians to gather and share music together. There are a few similar group sessions in the metro area, this is the only one that’s been around for 2-1/2 years in the Hillsboro area.
The owners and staff of Insomnia have been very supportive of the group and the music they make. The group consists of musicians with various backgrounds, including school teachers, retired individuals, professional and amateur musicians, all with a passion for Celtic / Americana music.
The group is open to interested musicians to come and participate. They typically play reels, jigs and waltzes from The Portland Collections, vols 1-3. If you’re interested in bringing some music, they would love will give it a shot. You can reach Ivan at email@example.com and (503) 816-9857.