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.
The Second White Eagle Youth Showcase this past Saturday was a huge success – thanks to all who came out to support youth music. Special thanks to Ole Latte Coffee, Stoller Family Estate Winery, School of Rock, John Guffey, and White Eagle Saloon for giving us the financial, staff, and equipment support to continue offering these great show.
Please join us next month, Sunday 6/26 for a double EP release from Niamh Music and Jamie Iwata with Pedestrian Death Gang
All photos were taken by Annette Johnson, You may contact us for her information.
The scene on a memorable Thursday night in April 2016 was intoxicating from start to finish – I was lucky enough to catch Jack Dwyer before he began his mid-week residency show at McMenamin’s Al’s Den. Then, I hopped on a bus down to Portland City Grill for their delicious Happy Hour and saw a rainbow flirting, then fully displayed, then doubled – all within an hour!
Grabbing my umbrella, I flew back to Al’s Den to catch Jack’s show…whew! Just made it! And then came Gordon Keepers and Elisabeth Pixley-Fink with their duo EP release: Heartwood! The rainbow paled in comparison to the natural beauty these two created with their perfectly blended vocals. The room literally vibrated when they gently slid from some chords into unison or vice versa. They sang as two people with one voice, one breathing pattern, one manner of phrasing. Perfectly in tune in every way!
Elisabeth and Gordon opened up with her singing alone over his bass playing. The contrast between her pure high tones and the deep resonance of the bass completely silenced the rest of the room. Then, they quickly moved into more animated pieces, adding drums and mandolin, inviting the audience to stomp, clap and dance along. Staying true to folk roots, Heartwood reflects the spirit and ambience of Portland, Oregon, and the Northwest. Every song on the CD references something we can all relate to: naturally occurring tangibles like water and dust, or natural feelings we’ve all had. The music is in and of the Great Northwest, with songs that reference even specific intersections in Portland. The song “Burnside and 17th” was about a spot within very easy walking distance of where we sat to hear them perform it!
The songs are based upon themes we can all identify with – coming from a variety of emotional birthplaces. Gorgeous vocals blend beautifully with classic instrument choices. The EP was engineered by Evan Mersky at Red Lantern Studio in Portland. Joined by string genius Jack Dwyer on electric guitar and mandolin, and Sam Weiss on fiddle, the combination is absolutely stunning.
What a lovely night – I wasn’t expecting to hear anyone other than Jack and his band. Gordon and Elisabeth’s Heartwood was a treat, and I’m so happy that I was able to hear this fresh project! You can find the band online at Facebook or on Gordon’s homepage. Look for the new Heartwood CD, available for pre-order on Earthwork Music’s website.
We were incredibly impressed by the performances on Saturday at the White Eagle Local Youth Music Showcase! Many thanks to our sponsors, supporters, hosts, bands, and all the fantastic audience members who showed their appreciation and encouragement! Please enjoy the photos taken during the show. Feel free to add your comments!