Rob Rainwater and Michele Van Kleef are both popular, local, singer-songwriters. One evening last year, they were both booked for the same show! Instead of flipping for it, they decided to make it a duo songwriters-in-the-round kind of thing. That is when they discovered they both have a great love for singer-songwriter music of the 1960s and 70s. Not long after, the Whiskey Darlings was born and they instantly began crafting original music with the same vibe that brought them together.
When I heard that they were booked to play a Valentine’s eve show at McMenamin’s Grand Lodge, I wasted no time getting it on my calendar. This was the perfect show to take my wife to. The room was full when we got there, so we sat in the overflow section. Normally, the dinner crowd leaves when the music starts, and the music lovers stream in. This night, nobody left! I have never seen this room as full and as quiet. The overflow section just grew.
Michele and Rob did mostly original tunes with some covers tossed in. Simon and Garfunkel is providing much of their listening enjoyment and inspiration these days. And, of course, since it was Valentine’s weekend, they rolled out some lovely, sappy songs for us as well. The Whiskey Darlings are playing several McMenamins venues in February and March, before the Spring and Summer festivals begin, which they will frequent. If you’re looking for sweet downhome acoustic music with guitars, mandolin and stunning harmonies, be sure to look these guys up!
I love this couple. They are talented, funny, entertaining and inspirational. I’m talking about Matt and Jenny Behnke, the married duo that fronts Skybound Blue. They gave up careers to take jobs so they had time to make music. This is a sacrifice similar to a couple deciding there is more value in one of them staying home to manage the house and be there for the kids, than having extra things or a more-comfortable retirement. As they were going through the decision-making process, they both heard – ya gotta go to know.
Much of their music is about taking risks, facing the adversities, craving the adventure and seizing the moment. You should always write-what-you-know, so from these guys you will hear songs about selling everything and sailing the Caribbean, surviving cancer, and raising a family. When you attend one of their shows, you will not only hear great music, skillfully delivered, but also great stories in and around the songs.
I had the pleasure of catching a hometown show for them at Hotel Oregon in McMinnville Friday evening. They played the Cellar Bar, a very intimate venue, which was packed mostly with people who had seen them before. Their sets are mostly original songs, with a few covers sprinkled in. Of course, on the Friday leading into Valentine’s Day, they put a few mushy songs out there too.
Over the weekend, they packed up their camper and are headed South in search of real sunshine and the woods. When they return in a month or so, look them up and get yourself a chair in front of their stage. You will be glad you did.
After 30 years of gigging, and with over 4000 shows under his belt, Norman Sylvester (aka The Boogie Cat of the Northwest) was inducted into the Oregon Music Hall Of Fame on October 8, 2011. The award didn’t give him a reason to retire, though, quite the opposite. He is still out a lot, sometimes multiple times a week!
In addition to being treated to some of the best Rockin’ Blues you’ve ever heard, he will also dazzle you with some of the fanciest threads you’ve ever seen. With Norman, there’s always an excuse to throw a party. On Saturday, February 6th, it was Marti Gras at Prime Time Sports Bar in Forest Grove, complete with masks and beads. In addition to his guitar, he brought a drummer, keyboardist, trumpeter, saxophonist, and his daughter Leanne on vocals. This band had people on their feet starting with the first song, and every one there after. While that made shooting some video a challenge, check this out to get a good taste of what a Norman Sylvester show is like, and a reason to catch one soon!
Portland Notes’ own Kelly Jones appears on Rob Rainwater’s “Songs From the Source” to discuss the new website, and how to efficiently use media to organize a record release. She’ll share a few songs that are influences in her life right now, and talk about a few local artists that are inspiring her. “Songs From the Source”, heard on Portland Radio Project, introduces listeners to Rob’s favorite tunes and music events around Portland. Kelly will join Rob on Sunday afternoon (February 7) from 2-2:30.
Update! Portland Radio Project posted an article and a podcast of the interview. Check it out here!
Kelly is a lover of all things musical. Born with a pitchpipe in her hand, Kelly has been singing and playing music since childhood. As an adult, she turned her attention towards supporting and encouraging musicians in their complicated artistic paths. Kelly thrives on the positive and unifying energy and synergy that are the foundations of music and musicianship. With experience in performance, merchandising, marketing, management, and media, Kelly actively seeks to find local bands and musicians who are wanting to reach out to a larger audience.
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 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 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.