All posts by Paul Lankow

Mick Schafer brings it home to Clark’s Bistro and Pub

Mick Schafer grew up singing in the church, and starting at age 20, has been on a long and fascinating musical road. Fortunately for us, this local, accessible, music legend lands at Clark’s Bistro & Pub in Hillsboro once a month or so. Mick’s work has been compared to “a mash up of Los Lobos, Lyle Lovett, and Elvis Costello with a gravelly soulful voice all his own. He mixes roots with love and loss to deliver an inspired connection with his audience and their life experience.” His eclectic album One Silken Scarf was released in 2017, which I encourage you to check out.

Mick is remarkably open about both his successes and failures in life, which can be seen in his on-stage banter and his music. In this video clip, he talks and sings about his romantic life, which has been pretty messy over the years. Since the same is true for most of us, this is how Mick brings it right home.

Link to video

JT Wise plays McMenamins Grand Lodge

When a band plays a combination of origials and covers, you get to learn a lot about them. What I learned recently about the the JT Wise Band is they have a lot of heart and talent. This quartet, made up of JT Wise on electric guitar, Margaret Wise on bass, Jim Stein on rhythm/slide guitar and Ken Woodside on drums, play Rock and Americana music by Townes Van Zant, Gram Parsons, Richard Thompson, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, and Lucinda Williams. Probibly their biggest influence is The Grateful Dead, and you’ll likely hear one of those tunes in each set. While I’m not a huge Dead fan, this quartet captures that vibe better than anyone else I’ve heard, causing me to appreciate why their are so many Dead-heads out there!

It didn’t take long for this quartet to grow and captivate the basement venue of McMenamins Grand Lodge. Margaret is the songwriter, and in this clip, she describes how she came to write “Portland”.

Link to video

The Colin Trio at McMenamins Grand Lodge

The Colin Trio is songwriter Colin Hogan on vocals, guitar, and piano; Brian Link on bass; and Matt Ramsdell on drums and percussion. The Trio combines jazzy, country blues with Southern soul, led by Colin’s sultry vocals. In early December, they played the middle set of the evening, as a guest of Tara Valarde, who enjoys a once-a-month residency at The Grand Lodge, and often has guests in tow. The trio’s music is being played on the radio stream, and Colin was interviewed by Kelly Jones in early 2017.

This being Colin’s first visit to The Grand Lodge, there were a couple of things she didn’t know. First, the “Garage Door” location actually *has* a garage door. Knowing this would have made trekking in the gear much easier for her and the band. Second, there is an outdoor soaking pool down the hall, so it is commonplace to see people wandering about in white bath robes. With those wandering robes in mind, let’s join The Colin Trio on stage doing “Simple Sweet Something”.

Link to video

Don’t Tell Mary rocks the Tigardville Station

Don't Tell MaryIf you are looking for an excuse to get out on the dance floor to some in-your-face Rock & Roll and driving Blues, then you need to seek out Don’t Tell Mary, a local full-throttle rock cover band. Drawing from their collective roots in folk, heavy metal, classic rock, grunge, and blues, this band can put together a set of music that will make you feel like a kid again. Singer-songwriter Jennifer Swick-Birkland and vocalist Beth Britton front the band with veteran players Jeff Birkland on lead guitar, Bart Kilpatrick on bass, and Mike Miller on drums.

With a name like Don’t Tell Mary, you know there’s got to be a story. However, until Mary is told, we will never know what it is, beyond Mary being Jennifer’s best friend. Saturday night, November 3rd, at the Tigardville Station Pub & Grill, I heard a set of music originally done by The Beatles, KT Tunstall, Stevie Wonder, Rolling Stones, The Romantics, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Talking Heads, Tracy Chapman and Led Zeppelin. In the midst of all that, they tossed in this little gem Jennifer wrote for her daughter called Little Girl.

Link to video

Pretty Gritty plays a busy Rock Creek Tavern on a Monday!

Pretty Gritty is a Portland-based Rootsy-Americana duo formed 8 years ago in Maryland. Before moving to Portland in 2014, they sold their self-produced and self-titled CD (2012) and the River EP (2013) at shows. They were followed by the release of the Lonely Road EP in 2016 and the Full length CD Seven Year Itch in March 2018.

Sarah and Blane enjoyed a month-long Monday-evening residency at McMenamins Rock Creek Tavern in October. I was lucky enough to grab a bar stool on their final evening. They were pleased to see the larger-than-usual turnout that evening. I understand that they are already booked again for next October. Nothing like planning ahead!

There is nothing flashy or superficial about these guys. Every song in the set I heard, had a purpose and a message (which was overwhelmingly positive). No string of good-love-gone-bad songs from these two. The set was made up of about half and half originals and covers, which I like since you can learn a lot about an artist from their treatment of familiar songs, as well as their own.

So, join me at the bar for a few minutes and have a listen to “You And Me”.

Link to video