Category Archives: Notable Performances

Show reports

Tyler Stenson; A special tribute to the Counting Crows

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Star Theater was the place to be Saturday night because Tyler Stenson drew a packed house for his tribute show in homage to the band he gives credit to for his music styling. A listening party at a friend’s 14 years ago forever changed his songwriting approach. He counts himself as the love child of Josh Ritter and the Counting Crows, but Adam Duritz and Counting Crows came first. Without them, he might have ended up a country musician but instead he has forged his path along what he calls, “Elegant Folk.”

Tyler-Stenson's-Counting-Crows-Tribute-on-01-30-16-18Not only is Tyler a talented musician with a gift for vivid storytelling, he is also a savvy engineer of social media and through this has developed a massive group of devoted fans, often tagged, #TeamTyler. He is always looking for new and creative ways to reach an audience so in an effort to start off the New Year with something different, he decided to put his own music aside for one night in order to play the music of his all-time biggest influence. Thus, the Counting Crows Tribute Concert featuring Tyler and the Black-Winged Birds was conceived. The Black-Winged Birds, was comprised of members from his former Wyoming band, Lander, as well as other local musicians he has shared a stage with at times; Corey Kintzi, Matt Putnam, Ken Hess, Arcellus Sykes, Erin Adkisson, Jean-Pierre Garau, Peter Rodocker, and Ravi Gadad.

Tyler-Stenson's-Counting-Crows-Tribute-on-01-30-16-14His set list covered CC’s Greatest Hits from “August and Everything After,” “Recovering the Satellites,” “This Desert Life,” and “Hard Candy,” 1993-2002. Starting off with “Round Here,” the audience was instantly engaged by singing along to words they knew well. Portland certainly has a fondness for its tribute bands and it’s not hard to realize why when you go to a show like this one that is full of tight musicianship that does the name band justice. You could tell from the smile on their faces that performing this music was one of pure joy, with each artist putting their all into their role.

Tyler-Stenson's-Counting-Crows-Tribute-on-01-30-16-27Watching Tyler onstage throughout the night was like seeing the young Tyler that was smitten by his mentor Adam Duritz and band. His ear to ear grin never left his face, and his entire being was thrown into this performance. At one point leading up to the show, Adam Duritz retweeted Tyler’s tweet, endorsing the show. It was recorded live, so hopefully, Adam will get to watch it and see that Tyler did him well.

Tyler-Stenson's-Counting-Crows-Tribute-on-01-30-16-03It is often a guessing game to see how many will come out on any given night, and that was certainly the case here. Any fears of a small crowd were quickly put to rest as the theater filled to just under capacity. From the first bars of music to the very last note, the entire audience was captivated. Sometimes one can go to a show and feel that magic is in the making, and Saturday’s show was definitely one of those times. It didn’t take long to realize the night was a success, and one that bears repeating. Fortunately, for all those Tyler Stenson fans, we will be rewarded with another.

Find a bunch of pictures of this special evening in the Portland Notes Photo Album.

Haley Johnsen at The Horse Radish

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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-Johnsen-at-The-Horse-Radish-on-01-23-16-03Haley 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-at-The-Horse-Radish-on-01-23-16-07Haley 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.

Tyler Stenson at 45th Street Pub

Tyler-Stenson-at-45th-Street-Pub-on-01-20-16-01Tyler Stenson has enjoyed a Wednesday night residency at the 45th Street Pub, which is coming to a close on January 27th. These are very intimate sessions where he encourages requests, questions and comments. He likes it when a concert can be two-way communication. As you can tell from the video clip below, he is very open about his temper sometmes getting the best of him, especially with those he loves the most.

Tyler-Stenson-at-45th-Street-Pub-on-01-20-16-02One of Tyler’s greatest influences is Counting Crows. So much so that he’s assembled a 7-piece band for a Counting Crows Tribute, Saturday, January 30 at 8 PM at the Star Theater. After each member worked independently for a while, they had their first group rehearsal the night before. There were some kinks, but they easily worked themselves out. Tyler vowed not pick up an instrument all evening, opting instead to concentrate on delivering top-notch vocals. Get your tickets soon!

Eric John Kaiser at Urban Decanter

Eric John Kaiser at Urban Decanter on 01-16-16 #01Known as The French Troubadour, Paris-native Eric John Kaiser fell in love with a girl and followed her to Portland in 2006. He played a lot of shows before the migration, and a good deal more since. He logs nearly 10,000 miles annually, taking his Parisian Americana to the world. He’s spent plenty of time in the studio as well, releasing four albums: “L’ODyssée”, “French Troubadour”, “Dehors c’est l’Amérique” (Outside, it’s America) & Idaho, and three EPs: “Portland Rendez-Vous”, “1+1=Freedom”, “Le Pari (The Bet)”, “Paris, Portland, Niamey”.

Eric John Kaiser at Urban Decanter on 01-16-16 #06Eric has made the trip from Portland to Forest Grove at least every other month for the last 6 years or so to play the Urban Decanter. On Saturday he brought with him three guitars, his guitar amp, looping pedal and classic Shure microphone. He set up right next to the door and greeted everyone who came and left, calling most of them by name. Most of this songs were his own, with covers sprinkled in, often sung in French. Nothing like playing “Name that tune” in a foreign language. “Country Roads” and “Polson Prison Blues” were two examples.

Eric’s latest single is “Idaho” which he wrote while he was there.

And be sure to check out the photos from the event.

Kendl Winter & Eli West at Grand Lodge

Kendl Winter & Eli West at Grand Lodge on 1-8-16 #11Her bio describes her as a traveler, a dreamer, and a banjo player who sprouts alfalfa beans in mason jars in the back of her tour van and counts the days until she returns home to her house boat to write songs on her banjo through the rainy afternoons.

There is nothing fancy or pretentious about Kendl Winter.

I can take Bluegrass music only in small doses, and I’m not crazy about the banjo, but for some reason, I love hearing Kendl work! This is the third time I’ve heard her, the first two times with Palmer T. Lee, her partner in the duo The Lowest Pair.

Have a look at the photos I took, and check this video.