McMenamin’s Grand Lodge threw a 94th birthday party for itself Saturday by having live music all day, sometimes in more than one location. One of those locations was outdoors, under tents in the sometimes-driving rain. After reading their bio, I was looking forward to checking out The My oh Mys (soon to change their name to The Faints).
This 6-piece band (with the recent addition of a background singer) is made up of former members of bands like The Decemberists, Jive Talking Robots, Triclops Organ Trio, Rob Stroup & the Blame, The Minus 5, Curtis Salgado, The ForReals, Jeremy Wilson, Dr. Theopolis, and Redray Frazier. The strong pedigree shows as there music is tight, melody-driven rock with 4-part harmonies that is easy to listen to but not predictable. When they broke out a ballad, they were *so* gorgeous I just melted, not an easy feat in 50-degree temps with the wind blowing through.
In the Spring of 2013, they released their first album “A Howl Against the Wind“. They return to the studio soon to begin work on their second. They treated us to some first-time-performed titles. I’m here to tell you this is going to be a great album! In the mean time, their next show is Thursday, March 17, 8PM at Doug Fir.
Jackalope Saints describe their sound as “folk music fashioned to bluegrass and hammered to the floorboards of forgotten barns, winding through overgrown valleys where ailing giants sleep their lives away”. They played McMenamin’s Grand Lodge Saturday night with the full band, less the drummer who sprained his foot the day before.
The amazing thing about this band is the wide variety of sounds they can produce. In their musicial arsenal they have an acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, drums, harmonica, mandolin, banjo, violin and trumpet. (In fact, with the use of the trumpet, I also heard a definate latin feel to some of their songs.) This variety of sounds takes us to their name. According to legend, the mythical jackalope (looking like a jack rabbit with antelope horns) can mimic any sound. Given enough time, I believe these guys could too.
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!