Tara Velarde is a young lady who’s been on my radar for a couple of years as she’s played McMenamins Grand Lodge many times. She went to college at Pacific University in Forest Grove, just up the road, so she’s quite at home here at the Garage Door. Tara can wear a lot of hats – singer, songwriter, teacher, actress, poet, (I could go on), and she brings it all to every show. She’s got some mighty talented musicians in tow as well, including Joe Deardorff (drums), Steph Landtiser (keys/backing vocals), and James Pierce (guitar).
Check the Portland Notes Calendar for an upcoming show, and listen to our radio stream as we’re playing lots of her music. A week ago, I captured a song we’re not playing and I hope you enjoy.
Described as a “A world class finger-style guitarist and lap slide player” by Downbeat Magazine is Mary Flower. She’s won awards, is internationally known, and played to a room full of people hanging on every note Sunday evening at McMenamin’s Grand Lodge. With the help of Spud Siegel on mandolin, she played the title track from her most recent album.
From her bio, we learn this about Rebecca McDade: This twenty-one year old Scottish singer-songwriter has been making music on both sides of the Atlantic for as long as anyone who knows her can remember. Her childhood was spent jumping back and forward between Scotland, Ireland, and Oregon, and with music always as a constant, this young musician has been able to craft songs which reflect all the corners of the globe where she has called home.
She was kind enough to swing by Primrose and Tumbleweeds over the weekend with her guitar. I enjoyed as she took the time to talk about the origins of the songs she played, including those she didn’t write. In addition to be a gifted songwriter and talented musician, she has a wonderful sense of humor. I managed to capture a little of that, along with some music, in this video (shot in a very dark room!). Enjoy!
A band so unique – they’re in a genre all their own! Castletown has appropriately coined the term “AmeriCeltic” – and that is exactly who they are. A band who combines classical skill with the ancient Celtic folk tradition of gifted storytelling…then takes their American rock and roll roots and creates a sound that is fresh, exciting, and completely danceable. The music creates an atmosphere of celebration and community – no wonder audiences all over the Northwest are asking Castletown back again and again!
I was so grateful to be able to meet the entire Castletown group right as they began to prepare to pack for their “Reelin’ Down the Coast” Tour.. Having just come back from gigs in Seattle and Tacoma, the band was moved and encouraged by the audience responses they had received – it looks like Celtic joy is spreading from their voices and hands to our hearts and minds! This band is all about relationships – within the band, with their audiences, the venues, and with the history of the stories they are portraying through songs.
I loved this audio interview – you can hear how much these band mates enjoy each other’s company. You can also tell how well they work together – politely recognizing who is the appropriate member to answer a question, and giving credit to each other where it is due. Each player is a vital part of the group, and also active in other ways within the Portland music community. Robert Richter plays guitar and sings, but he also professionally manages the band and is an active supporter and promoter of all local music. Fiddle player and vocalist Katie Lubiens is a violin instructor extraordinaire at Kennedy Violins . Bass player Willi Jaam and drummer Casey McBride have another amazing project of their own, an instrumental duo of epic precision – check out their band Anchors of Ascension.
This AmeriCeltic music is impossible to describe with mere words – there are elements of emotion and movement deeply embedded in the composition, brought to life with the instruments and vocals. I highly recommend seeing them live, as the visual aspects of their performance speak so strongly to the core and origins of the Celtic tradition. The lovely red-haired Katie Lubiens choreographs her fiddle playing and dancing, and has drastically evolved the band with her classical improvisation – two elements that you don’t normally find together in music. The band gives great credit to Katie for bringing the buzz!
Listen to the audio interview to learn the origins and development of the Castletown band, and as always – get an insight into their musical influences and writing style. Each member is a lovable character, and the combination of their personalities and skills has created a sound that is energetic, vibrant, and uniquely their own. Follow them on Facebook, and give them a like to send them off on their November tour! To listen to their recorded live music, you can check out their webpage or Reverbnation.
Santiam is a familiar name in the Northwest, for a number of reasons – you’ve seen the green beans, you’ve heard of the Native American tribe, and you may have visited the river. But the important question is: Have you heard this band? Santiam is a versatile, creative group of musicians who are establishing a place in Northwest history with their unique combination of influences. Having just released an EP, they continue to write new songs, and are dedicated to writing in and about their lives and experiences in the beautiful and ever-changing Northwest. This is their home, and they want to establish a name and a musical presence for themselves here among their friends and neighbors.
When people come together to make music, it is often because of interest or training in similar types of music. Maybe they meet in a guitar class, at an open mic, or at a concert. The common ground is a good launching point for efficient songwriting and easy communication between bandmates. But…what happens when each member of your band comes from a different musical experience? Santiam is the story of how beautiful that journey can be – when destiny brings varied backgrounds and common passion together! I had to find out how these three very different musicians were able to find each other and know that they would fit well together – listen to the interview for the story. It’s a good example for all musicians about getting out into the community and exploring new genres of music.
Santiam has just released their new EP, appropriately a representation of many styles, with each song on the 3 track release highlighting a different member’s writing process. Jen Deale (keys/vocals) says that her influences come from jazz and pop – influences which are clearly heard in the lovely blended vocals and relatable lyrics on the EP. Jen’s voice really blew me away – she’s such a sweet and gentle person when describing her songwriting process, but get her singing, and she is totally in control of the entire room! She’s got depth and richness to her voice that allows her to pull off some soulful wailing as well as lighter pop vocals. Patrick Tumpane (guitar/vocals) says he grew up loving KISS, but tended to be attracted to indie rock as an adult musician. The songs also reflect that indie spirit, as well as a definite homage to Northwest folk. Drummer and vocalist Chris Spicer comes from a basis of “good classic rock”, which drive the dynamic nature of the music. The three say that the writing process is very supportive and open, certainly a collaborative style that pays respect to the roots and influences of all the band members..
Seeing Santiam live is an experience to remember – the band is friendly and lovable, gathering devoted fans and creating venue relationships that guarantee a repeat invite. The energy on stage radiates in waves through the dancing audience. Regardless of whether they are recreating a cover song, or presenting a fabulous original, there is an underlying feeling of camaraderie on stage that flows into the audience and just makes you want the happy vibe to last all night! The band is full of appreciation for the local music scene, and has so much praise for active local groups such as Cedar Teeth, Pretty Gritty, Dirty Revival, and the Jackelope Saints. They are making musical friends all over town with their good intent and energy.
You can catch Santiam in Seattle at The Sunset Tavern on Saturday, July 23. Other upcoming events are listed on their website and Facebook page. In the meantime, check out the new EP on bandcamp to get a sense of their versatility. Every song Santiam performs reflects each member’s common love of good, heartfelt music, while giving a nice variety of substance. After their visit to Seattle, I hear (shhh….) that they will be at the Laurelthirst on August 20! Firmly rooted in the Northwest – I hope you will love them as we do!