Tag Archives: Alberta Street Pub

The Colin Trio – Perfect blend of Blues, Soul and Jazz

Now here, folks, is a band that’s easy on the ears! With soulful lyrics and tone, blues melodies, and lovely jazz chords, The Colin Trio delivers a sound that is both relaxing and engaging. I was drawn to their music immediately with the first few phrases of “Diggin For Gold”, the first track on the 2016 Tightening the Wire album. Colin Hogan’s vocals have the kind of honest raw delivery that reveals natural born talent and a personality that’s willing to share pain, struggle, and pointed observation. Matt Ramsdell, on drums and percussion, carries the dynamics and tempo exactly where it needs to go – while keeping a careful eye on his music partners.. Brian Link plays bass with precision and humor, adding lightness and energy to the trio’s collaborative efforts.

In the interview, it’s impossible to miss the friendship and closeness of these three band mates. They listen to other local bands together, and mention a few that they are following, including The Resolectrics, Denim Wedding, Karyn Ann, and Stephanie Sceiza. Because they are all active in so many local projects, the three have to constantly check their calendars to make sure the entire band is available. The story of the band formation is too good to miss – irony, nostalgia, and coincidence are key to the plot. I think my favorite part of the interview is when Hogan tells of the point at which she knew she would be playing music for life. All three members were doing everything they could to consume and absorb music well before they get into most venues.

The band stood out to me right away – I know you’ll understand why when you listen. There’s an organic nature to the production which allows the listener to hear subtle nuances. It just somehow seems very honest and open, which is exactly what connects me to an artist. One main goal they hold dear is to let the music guide the journey and carry them along. Nothing is hidden here – Hogan sails from her low to high range, embracing the change in tone and volume. I hear the passion coming through every note. Ramsdell is extremely attentive to her cues, and you can actually tell that Link is smiling while playing the bass…this is a group of friends who love playing music together. That tends to result in a cohesive sound and a great live show.

The Colin trio released their album Tightening the Wire in January 2016, and have been playing local shows to share it. Their next two events that I’m planning to attend are the January 11 Local Roots Live Series show at Alberta Street Pub, and the Mogo Music Festival on March 3-4. They’ll be playing Mogofest’s Folk Festival night with Karyn Ann, Corner and Santiam at White Eagle Saloon. To find out more about the band, please enjoy the interview and check out the song link. You can purchase their music on Bandcamp, ITunes and CD Baby.

Luminous Heart – Musical Friends you’ll want to meet!

The snow has put a lovely glow on the city, but it has impeded many a personal appointment lately! Thanks to Jamie Corff and Val Blaha for being willing to do a remote interview to introduce us to the new duo Luminous Heart.and their debut album Possibility. You can catch Luminous Heart at the Next Local Roots live series show this coming Wednesday, January 11. I am loving how they answered these questions together. This duo is a solid pair of friends with a heart for connecting to the audience.

PN: How did you two meet?

Jamie: I signed up to take guitar lessons from Val. Eventually, as I became more comfortable with the guitar, I co-founded a different duo, Awaken Jane, and I began to bring the songs that we wrote or were working on to Val for my lessons. She apparently liked them and one day she asked if we wanted a bass player, as she wanted to have more opportunity to play bass. I was kind of a Val fan-girl at the time, and jumped at the chance to make music with her. It was fun, but before we got a chance to really get out there as a band, our friend had to drop out due to family commitments. So after awhile, we morphed into Luminous Heart.

Val: I was really impressed by Jamie as a student… she was a natural, and also just a great person to spend time with!

PN: You are both lifetime musicians – when do you first remember knowing this is what you would want to do?

Jamie: My dad was a musician. He played rhythm guitar and sang in several different hair metal bands when I was growing up. I loved watching them practice. I only got to see him perform every once in awhile because he usually played in bars. He was a very entertaining performer and I idolized him. Though performing made me nervous for a long time, I always wanted to be just like him.

Val: I’ve wanted to sing as long as I could remember. I was an only child, and would spend hours in my room singing along with records from at least 8 years old. And I performed as a classical pianist from a very young age. But it took until I was in my 30s before I really found my voice and my confidence to stand up and sing on a regular basis. And now that I’ve been writing songs for about 10 years, it’s my favorite thing to do… each new song feels like a new child!

PN: What’s the first song that connected with you as a child?

Jamie: My sister and I were obsessed with the album “Brigade” by Heart. We would parade around in our room and lip sync to every song.

Val: Probably “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar. Also, the entire Grease soundtrack.

Jamie: oh yeah! The Grease soundtrack, of course!!!

PN: What’s the first album you bought, or the first show you stood in line for?

Jamie: It’s too embarrassing to answer the first question, but the first concert I stood in line for was Staind, the summer of 2001 at the Salt Lake City Palace. I was 18 years old. I grew up in rural Wyoming, so I didn’t have many opportunities to go to concerts until after I graduated high school. Being there gave me an incredible sense of freedom…even though I felt like I was going to pass out from being in the middle of a huge, hot, sweaty pit!

Val: I grew up near Los Angeles, and my dad would take me to shows, or drop me off with friends. I remember being ridiculously excited to see Duran Duran in 1983 or so.

PN: Did your families expose you to music, lessons, etc?

Jamie: Both of my parents were into music. I never got any formal training, but I played flute in symphonic, concert and jazz bands, as well as sang in many choirs in school.

Val: I started piano lessons when I was 6, and was playing Mozart sonatas by age 11. I performed a lot as a child, although to tell the truth, I resented it somewhat. I had to get up early every morning and practice an hour before school started. And I missed out on some activities with my friends (like Outdoor School) because I had performances. Now I’m glad I put in all that time though! My dad also exposed me to a lot of 50’s music… he’d quiz me on recognition of singers like Bobby Darin, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, etc.

PN: You seem very community oriented and purposeful in your writing – what, if any, is the message of your latest album?

Jamie: I think it’s safe to say that we’re very community oriented in our individual lives, and we both have many causes that we are devoted to and that have shaped us. “Possibility” has messages of hope, renewal, and recognition of the undeniable cycles of life.

Val: Yes, and also a message of hope and independence for women… not being bound to gender or societal roles. The lyrics for the title song were inspired by a wonderful children’s book called “Rooftoppers” by Katherine Rundell.

PN: You also seem to have a really devoted fan base – it’s not just the music – you seem very accessible as a duo, and you seem like actual friends – is that true? Would you be friends if you didn’t play together?

Jamie: We are dear friends, indeed. I’m super grateful for Val’s friendship and love making music with her. Even if we weren’t a duo, I’m certain we would be friends, because we have a lot of the same ideals and philosophies, and we run in the same circles in Yamhill County. However, I don’t think we’d be as good of friends as we are. There is something special about creating music with someone; it bonds you together in a very deep way.

Val: Aw! I’m so grateful also for Jamie’s friendship. This is my first time being in a musical collaboration with another woman (apart from my brief time with Awaken Jane), and I absolutely love it and adore working with Jamie in particular! We get along wonderfully, and when we’re working we are able to communicate very well, which is so important if you’re going to progress and move in the same direction musically.

It’s also nice to be making music in Yamhill county… we both feel very connected to so many people here, and we’re very thankful for the support that our friends and fans have given us.

PN: What are your goals in the next few years?

Jamie: We want to continue improving our performances. We want to bring more instruments into our songs and find different ways to be compelling for our audiences. We also want to write and record more music, and continue to play shows. Maybe it’s not that specific, but we are trying to keep ourselves open to opportunities. Who knows what may come?

Val: Writing more music (especially together!) and reaching a wider audience. It would be great to start playing some festivals as well. We’re definitely hoping to play new venues, both in Portland and beyond, around the northwest and California. We think our music is especially well-suited for house concerts, given the emphasis on the lyrics, so in the near term, we’d love to start doing more of those. We’d also love to get some of our songs into movies or tv, so we hope to make connections that help with that, and raise funds to do some more recording.

Jamie: Yep, Val sums it all up perfectly!

Now that you’ve gotten inside the hearts and minds of these creative women, check out their music at CD Baby, ReverbNation, Bandcamp or on their website. Corff and Blaha do a terrific job keeping current with their social media and gig updates as well. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and get current news about their activities on their website. To see them live, check out the gig schedule. I’m so excited to see them play next week, January 11, at Alberta Street Pub with the Local Roots Live Series. Hope to see you there too!

Internal State plays Local Roots September 14 – get your Pop Punk on!

Internal-State-plays-Local-Roots-FI

Danny Moffat, the extremely patient and adaptable front man from Internal State (one of my new favorite bands), met me at The White Eagle Saloon on 8/27 for one of the craziest interviews I’ve ever done! I don’t know what I was thinking – Portland Notes was hosting a youth event, and I thought we’d be able to find a quiet place to chat before load in. Quiet? Not so much, but as you’ll hear in the audio interview, Danny did a great job staying on track despite the multiple interruptions! Well done!

The band is busy recording and performing. Internal State just completed a great gig with PAC NW Fest this week, playing along some more fantastic local bands – they shared the Kelly’s Olympian stage with Foxy Lemon, Bubble Cats, The Hoons, and Keeper Keeper. Next month, look for the PAC NW compilation CD featuring a new tune from Internal State. You can also listen to a PAC NW podcast featuring Internal State.

Internal-State-plays-Local-Roots-02Internal State’s sound is exactly what Portland is craving right now – intense instrumentation, with fun noodly experimentation, light pure vocals, and lyrics that are relatable and completely easy to understand – audibly and intellectually. Talking to Danny, I can see that he is genuinely interested in making that connection with an audience – no listener left behind!!!!

Internal-State-plays-Local-Roots-01I can’t wait to hear them live again – and there is a fabulous opportunity coming this month! On Wednesday, September 14, Local Roots Live Series at Alberta Street Pub features Internal State, along with a few more of my local picks. The Local Roots Show is unique – it’s a live show, recorded for radio, which means an interactive audience experience, and lots of energy! Kool Stuff Katie, Yonder Blue, and Santiam are also playing! I’ve heard each of these bands live, and the chance to see them all in one night is almost too good to be true. Admission is a mere $7 at the door. If you’d like to learn about the bands – Portland Notes has written articles on all of them!

Come join us for a night of incredible music – all of it danceworthy! This event is a great chance to hang out with local musicians, make some professional connections, and be an integral part of a live recording. I’ll see you there!

Elke Robitaille releases new album 6/18 – In the End

Elke-Robitaille-releases-new-album-FI
Photo by Mercy McNab

I was able to catch Elke Robitaille for a moment, while she was doing some preparation for her upcoming CD release – in this exclusive Q&A with the singer-songwriter, we learn about the inspiration behind the soon-to-be-unveiled project. Good songwriters speak expressively from the heart, and she is an outstanding example, sharing a glimpse into her musical maturation and writing process. Robitaille celebrates the public release of In the End at Alberta Street Pub on Saturday. June 18, at 6PM.

Kelly: Country, gospel, and folk music are generally born from authentic experiences – would you say this rings true for you? Do you have an example of a story?

Elke: I would definitely agree. These styles of music typically feature a strong storytelling element that comes from a place of honesty and simplicity. As a songwriter, my lyrics have always allowed me to write about authentic experiences in a poetic way. On my new album, (In The End) many of the songs share a common thread in terms of story and experience. I found myself in a place where I was very much reflecting on life and death. Not to sound morbid, but I was simply intrigued by how fleeting life can be. It wasn’t about any specific death that I experienced first-hand, but more so about reflecting on my own life, the specific stages I’ve gone through, and growing older. The concept actually helped me to curate the songs I wanted on the album, and the order of the tracks was carefully selected to tell an arcing story from start to finish.

Elke-Robitaille-releases-new-album-02Kelly: Was your childhood filled with music – did your family play together?

Elke: Yes, I had a very musical childhood. I grew up in small coastal town in British Columbia, Canada. It was a very isolated little community, but it had a large art and music scene. My parents saw that I had a love for music at a young age, so they enrolled me in voice lessons, guitar lessons, and community choir at the local Academy of Music. My dad also played guitar and sang at home all the time. I would strum along with him and we’d sing Willie Nelson, Woody Guthrie, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and The Beatles (to name a few!) I think this is where I developed such a love for folk music and the storytelling that goes along with it!

Kelly: When did you know that you had found your voice to translate experiences into songs to share?

Elke: That’s a great question. I always loved to sing, but I didn’t really find my voice until I was 17. That’s how old I was when I started writing my own songs. I actually recorded and released my first full-length studio album at 18. I wrote songs about first-love and breakups, and it was a great way for me to gain confidence in translating my experiences into songs. However, to say that I really “found my voice” would be premature. Over the years, I’ve cultivated my sound, and I’m constantly finding new genres and artists that inspire me to grow and change in different ways. In terms of style, I started out very folk-based, but my songwriting has started to lean more comfortably towards bluegrass and alt-country. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I feel like I’m constantly striving to find my voice and translate it into songs that are genuine and heartfelt.

Elke-Robitaille-releases-new-album-01
Photo by Mercy McNab

Kelly: Are you inspired to create a new album when there’s a big change in your life, or are you always composing?

Elke: Both! I’m always composing, but that doesn’t mean that every song is album worthy. Sometimes I’ll write a song, perform it once, and decide it’s not quite what I had in mind. But it’s a great exercise. I do get inspired to create an album when something big happens in life, or if I’m just really focused on a particular theme. That’s essentially what happened with the new album, “In The End.” As I mentioned earlier, I recognized a theme of life and death in a lot of the songs that I was writing, and that’s what got things rolling for a new album.

Kelly: How do you find your accompanying vocalists and instrumentalists? Are there several of you who work on each other’s albums?

Elke: I am very lucky to work with such incredible musicians. Some of us have been working together for many years. In fact, my husband is my bass player (JP Downer) – we have been playing music professionally together for 12 years. We met when we were attending Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, CA and we’ve been playing together ever since. The drummer on our album (Beak Wing) is also a musician we met while living in LA. He recorded drums on our last album as well (Flowers In The City, 2009.) Other than that, I like to stay very connected and involved in the local Portland music scene, and that is really how I find amazingly talented musicians to play and collaborate with.

Kelly: Who is your favorite storyteller?

Elke: It’s hard to name just one. I’ve always been a fan of Ani Difranco‘s songwriting and storytelling. I’ve been influenced and inspired by many different storytellers, but one thing Ani taught me through her songwriting was how to be honest and vulnerable with my words, and that is something I’ll always keep with me.

A remarkable woman with an honest heart – you can check out Elke Robitaille tunes on her website, and catch her live at the release party this June 18. The new tunes can also be purchased on CDBaby.

Elke Robitaille – That Devil

Music Marketing with Robert Richter

Music-Marketing-with-Robert-Richter-FI

Tomorrow night, June 8, offers an amazing opportunity for Portland musicians and music fans alike! Local musician/manager/marketer/media expert Robert Richter hosts 2 music-related events at the Alberta Street Pub. I was able to catch a quick interview with him – catching some creative marketing ideas drawn from his professional experience and his personal story with his current band Castletown. Every listener will take different advice to heart, I am sure – in the interview, Richter touches on seemingly lighthearted subjects ranging from throwing a good party to wardrobe choices…but he also talks about the three things that every successful entrepreneur must possess… (intrigued?) His best advice, of course: be at the Alberta Street Pub tomorrow night 5:30 until we shut the place down!

Music-Marketing-with-Robert-Richter-03From 5:30-6:45, Richter will deliver his informational seminar about the best methods to get booked in Summer festivals. The seminar cost is $5, and includes the lecture, Q&A, an informational handout, and the chance to network with fellow musicians and industry personnel. Robert Richter and Kelly Jones will be creating an email list so that attendees will remain updated on new festival information. When I attended the last festival booking seminar, I was surprised at how little I understood about the vast differences between festivals and local venue shows.

Music-Marketing-with-Robert-Richter-01At 7:00, Local Roots, Music from Northwest Artists, presents the Late Spring/Summer Songwriter Showcase. Door is also $5. This session of the popular live series features Adam Sweeney, Radio Stranger with Woody Moran and Kelly Brightwell, Chris Stewart, Annie Corbett, Andrew Goncalves, Laryssa Birdseye, and Jason Henderson Amare. Every month, Richter presents a new group of local original artists to Portland at the Alberta Street Pub. The live concerts, in addition to his weekly Sunday evening radio show on KMUZ Community Radio 88.5FM and 100.7FM, allow a wide range of listeners access to our fabulous local music scene. Richter hosts artist interviews, maintains a locals only playlist, creates podcasts, and a yearly compilation CD. This community investment is a delight to musicians, industry professionals and the local media. We, at Portland Notes, cannot wait to have access to the Local Roots music – what a great way to showcase our Northwest talent!

Music-Marketing-with-Robert-Richter-02I always enjoy a conversation with Robert Richter – he’s not afraid to share the secrets of his success with all of us. With that in mind, join us tomorrow with your questions about festival booking at 5:30, then stay and be one of the first to see the next team of local singer-songwriters who will be on the front lines of music in the coming months.