Tag Archives: Singer-songwriter

McMenamin’s Al’s Den Presents: Ashleigh Flynn’s Songwriter Extravaganza!

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Another fantastic choice for the artist residency program at Al’s Den! All week long, from Sunday night through Saturday night, Portland audiences have the chance to hang out and drink beer with musicians of depth and substance- it’s the true essence of community in music. Thank you McMenamins!

Ashleigh-Flynn-at-Als-Den-April-2016-03This program has featured artists from many musical backgrounds, but tends to focus on local flavor, with an emphasis on storytelling and sharing. It’s always a nice surprise to learn what a musician will do when given a week to tell their story! Who will they include…and how? With Portland Notes focusing on local women in the music scene this month, I had to catch an interview with Ashleigh Flynn. This brave woman was biking all day in 80 degree weather – then walked into Al’s Den, set up her own sound system, grabbed a margarita, and proceeded to tell me about her residency, even as the audience filed in. I adore her openness and accessibility – to allow the fans to be included in every part of the evening’s process was generous and delightful.

Ashleigh-Flynn-at-Als-Den-April-2016-02I was so thrilled that Ashleigh Flynn utilized this week’s residency to present what she called a Songwriter Extravaganza featuring some talented local singer/songwriters. Every night, a different guest and a different collaborative song! Monday night’s guest was Nicole Potulsky – watching the interaction between these two filled my heart with joy. Nicole: “When do you want me to go on – 8-9?” Ashleigh: “Sure – or 8:10-8:55…” (Laughter) This week, Ashleigh invited Kathryn Claire to join her on the night of her CD release. The Low Arc of the Sun will be available through Ashleigh’s website and on Soundcloud.. She also hosts Lewi Longmire, Kory Quinn, Virginia Cohen, The Ukeladies, Anita Lee Elliott, Annalisa Tornfelt, and Kate O’Brien! All shows are free, 7-10 PM.

Ashleigh-Flynn-at-Als-Den-April-2016-07In our audio interview (below), Ashleigh and I gush over the value of live performance. Seeing Ashleigh live is an experience to be treasured. Her songs tell deeply emotional stories, and her connection with the audience is constant. Sharp, clever, but warmly motivated humor eased the transitions between emotionally charged songs. Her album was recorded live at Secret Society, and ties deeply to Portland. You can check out a few of her new songs in advance on Soundcloud. Please enjoy the photos and interview, and check out Ashleigh’s website for the new CD and upcoming shows!


The Whiskey Darlings at Grand Lodge on 02-13-16

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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.

The-Wiskey-Darlings-at-Grand-Lodge-on-02-13-16-01When 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.

The-Wiskey-Darlings-at-Grand-Lodge-on-02-13-16-02Michele 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!

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.

Chris Robley – The Great Make-Believer

Chris-Robley-at-McMenamin's-Al's-Den-on-01-20-16-08It’s the name of his soon-to-be-released album, but it’s also an idea that Chris Robley expresses through music. A musical artist is a Make-Believer, a pretender if you will…playing a part in order to communicate emotion and experience through lyrics, melody, instrumentation, and performance. Chris, in his week-long residency at McMenamin’s Al’s Den, became very “real” to Portland, as he shared more than his music with the audience. He shared his story and his life, even his friends with a very enthusiastic and energetic group of devoted fans.

Chris-Robley-at-McMenamin's-Al's-Den-on-01-20-16-04Chris’ work with his band The Fear of Heights is well-known and appreciated for the many layers of instruments with an eerie, haunting sound that accompanies some of the purest vocals I’ve ever heard. His new project is more of an intimate conversation with listeners – each new song has a personal message. He’s a poet, intensely metaphorical, so the songs are not autobiographical – but they are overflowing with situational wisdom. I am always drawn to songs that expose the truth that “love is difficult” and “relationships are important.” I heard this message repeated in Robley’s lyrics and his stories. He is striving to let the message come through in the music, unhindered by anything extra that might distract or take away from the melodic conversation he is having with a listener. His acoustic presentation was enchanting, as he alternated his original songs with some very familiar and traditional tunes.

Chris-Robley-at-McMenamin's-Al's-Den-on-01-20-16-15The new album, available to the public very soon, was produced at a friend’s beach house – completely live and in the  moment. Chris was looking for the emotional intensity that comes from a group of mates experiencing music together, and syncing as they work. It’s a completely new approach for Chris, for this, his first album release in over five years. From the reaction of the audience, which was extremely positive and encouraging, he is reaching people with the new material.

In this interview, Chris touches on his move “from Portland to Portland”, his upcoming album release, and the bandmates he is so thrilled to see again – big thanks to Chris Robley and his Wednesday night guest, Little Professor, for allowing us to share the experience!

A notable conversation with Chris Robley featuring “Tonight You Belong To Me” recorded live at Al’s Den, and “Eden” from the album “The Great Make Believer”

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!