Category Archives: Noteworthy News

Articles

YOUTH MUSIC PROJECT – MAKING MUSIC ACCESSIBLE

Youth-Music-Project-Making-Music-Accessible-FI

Youth-Music-Project-Making-Music-Accessible-01In our efforts to bring attention to the struggles of local youth finding places to hear and play live music, Portland Notes came across an organization that gave us a good deal hope – Youth Music Project! This group has proven that our country recognizes the importance of music as part of education, that the community has an overwhelmingly positive response to the idea of an all-inclusive music program, and that students are dedicated to pursuing and excelling when given an opportunity. Youth Music Project is providing access to all students, regardless of income – and that is extremely encouraging for the future of our next generation of local musicians!

Youth-Music-Project-Making-Music-Accessible-02Youth Music Project offers group and private classes in guitar, drums, bass, violin, ukulele, piano, and vocals for kids, teens, and adults. They provide access to top quality musical instruments for those who cannot afford them. They believe strongly that all students should have equal access to music instruction, so that each student can shine, free of any judgment or burden. Youth Music Project offers free tuition for students whose family income qualifies them for the school free/reduced lunch program. Even toddlers and preschoolers ages 1-5 can receive financial aid for the awesome pre-K music classes!

The following quotes are taken from the Youth Music Project Webpage, as the founders of the project have taken the time to describe their organization very well:

Youth-Music-Project-Making-Music-Accessible-03“Youth Music Project is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that offers Music lessons, instrument use (We have kid-sized instruments too!), and provides students with sophisticated, state-of-the-art performance and sound recording opportunities. Financial Aid for group lessons is available as well as free instrument rental for students who qualify for the free/reduced school lunch program.”

Youth-Music-Project-Making-Music-Accessible-04“Youth Music Project’s mission is to provide outstanding rock, pop, and country music education for youth by offering low cost lessons, free instrument use, and exceptional performance opportunities. Friday, April 15 is the next Teen Open Mic night. Open Mic nights are free and open to the public. Performers age 13-20 play and sing covers or original songs. It’s a really fun night. Free raffle tickets are given to everyone for prizes such as instruments, accessories and concert tickets. This month they gave away some beautiful leather Gibson guitar straps, Carlos Santana designer hat, and tickets to Ellie Goulding!

YMP students perform around the community and will be seen this summer at various fairs, festivals, farmer’s markets and other events.

Youth-Music-Project-Making-Music-Accessible-05Cynthia O’Brien, Outreach Coordinator, was so kind as to give me a tour of the beautiful, well-equipped facility in West Linn, which boasts a number of studios, tailored to such uses as recording, group drum sectionals, band rehearsals, individual lessons, and a rock star quality performance venue. The project also offers regular open mic nights and karaoke, and is completely welcoming to the entire community.

Youth-Music-Project-Making-Music-Accessible-06How can you help? You may donate to the non-profit organization on their website. You may volunteer, or refer a student to the program. Youth Music Project’s goal is to make music accessible to all youth in our community – thank you for looking to the future!

Mogo Music Festival – Relive the moment!

mogo-festival-2016-FI

Okay, so not everyone will be able to remember where they were on November 20 and 21, 2015…but I know I remember! Portland’s first mogo Music Festival was taking over Dante’s Portland and the Star Theater. I was on stage introducing some fantastic new local artists and some well-loved veterans. It was a weekend to remember, and hopefully to be repeated!

mogo-festival-2016-02Jason Fellman, of J-Fell presents, is well-known for his unparalleled influence on the Northwest cover and tribute band scenes. But Jason is a true fan of original music as well, being a songwriter himself. He was able to easily put together two nights of local original artists at two venues, creating a nice flow between acts, and keeping the weekend affordable. The idea was to introduce Portland audiences to 20 original local bands across a variety of musical genres, drawing listeners together, opening minds, and building bonds of friendship and musicianship that would help to propel these bands and fans throughout the following years.

mogo-festival-2016-03The promotion of this new event was novel – 10 weeks of radio promotion with in-depth band interviews, learning the influences of the music, and playing brand new music on Portland Radio Project’s Rock Block Show. Kelly Jones, Luke Neill, Teri Briggs, and Paul Lankow interviewed, photographed, and wrote articles for the bands – discovering new favorites along the journey, and finding out that mogo meant more than just a chance to play for large audiences – mogo was the embodiment of community among Portland musicians.

mogo-festival-2016-01Join us on Portland’s Playlist on Portland Radio Project this week, as we explore the successes and opportunities presented by this new local music festival. We will recap the adventure, and hear some of the exciting music that was premiered. Gene Rowan, from Acorn Sound Production House, also joins the discussion to talk about his favorite mogo moments. Show airs live Wednesday night, 7-9 PM 3/9/16 on www.prp.fm.

LOCAL YOUTH MUSIC SHOWCASE ANNOUNCED! 4/9/2016 at McMenamins White Eagle Saloon!

Youth-Music-Showcase-2016-FI

Imagine being 16 years old, dying to learn about how to play live music and express yourself through original songs you’ve been working on since you were 12…you’ve gotten your friends together, begged your parents to soundproof the guest room and let you set up a drum kit…you get up early and do homework so that you can rehearse your music after school. You’re a responsible student, with respectful friends who clean up after themselves. Your parents think you’re pretty awesome and want to support your musical endeavor. This all sounds great – so where’s the issue?

Youth-Music-Showcase-2016-06Youth-Music-Showcase-2016-01Where can you go? A few local venues are stepping up here and there, but it’s a challenge to see a show, much less play a show in Portland. Most of our fantastic local music venues are 21+ only, and it’s completely understandable. A bar makes money by selling alcohol. A bar gets shut down by mishandling an all-ages crowd. The risks of allowing students to see or play live music at a bar are many, which discourage most venues from taking a chance on even the best of our young musicians.

Youth-Music-Showcase-2016-05A few venues have stepped up to show their support of our next generation of local artists – S.M.A.R.T. Collective is dedicated to youth shows. Youth Music Project in West Linn teaches classes and hosts all-ages jams, karaoke, and showcases. School of Rock Portland and School of Rock Lake Oswego hold classes, shows, and showcases regularly. But young musicians are desperate for more opportunities to show what they’ve created…enter McMenamins! The White Eagle has graciously offered to host a fantastic event, and are in full enthusiastic support of our first line up of local youth musicians!

Youth-Music-Showcase-2016-04I’ve personally attended all-ages concerts at McMenamin’s Mission Theater, Crystal Ballroom, Edgefield, and The White Eagle – they are doing their best to create ways to highlight young artists. The venues are not usually open to students for evening shows, so be sure to double check before planning your evening, of course – as most shows cater to 21+ crowds exclusively. However – we are really impressed, because the White Eagle has really come forward to offer a great opportunity to young musicians at the upcoming Saturday, April 9, Local Youth Music Showcase! With the support of our wonderful local sponsors, we hope to create an ongoing series of events that will prove the value and viability of supporting local youth in music.

Youth-Music-Showcase-2016-03Rock signs, fist bumps, and shout outs to all those who have helped in planning this premiere event: Premier Motorsports, Stefanie Fisher Real Estate, Ole Latte, SkateTracks Radio, PDX Spotlight, Vortex Music Magazine, Sounds of PDX, Teri’s Tunes PDX, School of Rock USA, and McMenamins! We are so excited to hear these bands! School of Rock House Band will be joined by 4 Day Moon, Black Sand, Pedestrian Death Gang, Jack Mortensen Music, and Michael Hermes.  Come join us for good music, good food, and above all – good friends! Check out the band links for info and some music!

Youth-Music-Showcase-2016-02McMenamins White Eagle Local Youth Music Showcase #1 happens this April 9, Saturday 12-2:30, doors at 11:30. Tickets available online at www.cascadetickets.com or at the door. $10 adults, $5 students, and free to age 5 and under – good fun for all!

 

Size 85 High Tops – Fusion in many forms!

Size-85-High-Tops-FI

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.

Size-85-High-Tops-02

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.”

Size-85-High-Tops-01

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

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.