It has been fun to watch Tara Velarde change and grow as a musician these past 5+ years. After graduating with a BA in Music Education from Pacific University at Forest Grove in 2013, Tara wasted no time forming a band and playing out. That band was The Tara Novellas formed with her brother Jamos and sister Cally. As she got more involved in the vibrant Portland music community, the initial band morphed a bit, and then released a 4-track EP.
During this time, Tara sported her signature short haircut, the likeness of which was painted on their bass drum. We joked at the time about how she could never change her hair. A while later, Tara dropped the band name, reinvented herself as a solo, and released a full length CD Get Out and Walk. You can hear her do many of these tracks live today. Last year, she grew out the hair and released two singles Touch You and Willow Baby both of which we’re pleased to be playing on Portland Notes Radio.
In keeping with the theme of change and growth, here’s a video of Tara’s “A Man” at McMenamins Grand Lodge.
As if she didn’t have enough to do, Tara started a new project in the form of a podcast called “Making the Move”. It is all about independent musicians making the move into music full time. The goal is to provide relevant insights for musicians, and a bit of inside-baseball for the rest of us. Find it on Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. The podcast is hosted by Vortex Magazine. Stay up to date at the @makingthemove Instagram page.
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.
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”.
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”.
If 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.