I’ve always been a huge fan and supporter of the famous weekly artist residency at McMenamin’s Al’s Den! The idea dates back to an old history with travelling musicians. No one night stands! Audiences want to get to know the artist by hearing their stories, and learning what motivates them to share their most intimate moments in such a vulnerable way with poetry and melody. McMenamins is THE place to be for local musicians, always a comfortable setting with good hearty food and drinks, attentive service, and a ready audience who are prepared to partake of the music being offered.
Traditionally, the residency at Al’s Den spotlights one artist, who invites his or her various musical friends as guests on each night. This allows Portland a week-long vacation with the host and little musical interludes with visitors each night, keeping the tone consistent, but exciting. Jack Dwyer took a slightly different route, because of his extensive community connections and ties to the cultural roots of his musical genres. Jack has had a long love of folk and bluegrass music – which has a long tradition, based around community, family, and project collaboration. Jack is involved in many Portland bands, in addition to teaching students how to play a variety of stringed instruments at Lewis and Clark College. He’s met other musicians along the way who inspired and encouraged him, joined on many projects, and connected people to play together in events such as this residency.
For this particular week, Jack Dwyer had an ingenious plan. “We have 7 nights to play – let’s invite bands who are releasing albums and showcase their work!” I love this generous, thoughtful, and totally practical spirit! Tuesday marked the CD release for The Brother Cousins, made up of Bobby Winstead, Sam Weiss and Jack Dwyer Thursday night was the Heartwood release – we will be reviewing their CD on Portland Notes this week. Elisabeth Pixley-Fink and Gordon Keepers make up that impressive duo. Friday night features The Rose City Sessions release show with Jack Dwyer, Billy Failing, Sam Weiss, Gordon Keepers, and Bobby Winstead. The closing night on Saturday will highlight Jack’s newest CD Mama’s On the Dance Floor with album art by Noah Cotter. The Jack Dwyer Band will be joined by The Chicken Hill Bandits (Mindy Dwyer, Bill Dwyer, & Eric Prust), Showcasing community in the true sense of the word, Jack has brought family and friends together on stage this week to create an inviting atmosphere. The audience is stomping their feet, clapping their hands, singing along, and adding to the enjoyment of the concerts.
Jack started out in music as a child, playing along with family at community events in his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. He has brought that feeling of family and community with him throughout his musical journey. It comes full circle in this week’s residency at Al’s Den. Jack wants to contribute to the canon of music in his genre. I believe he has and will, but he’s also nurturing the ideas that birthed folk and bluegrass music: family and community connect and grow through sharing story and music together. Please enjoy the interview with Jack Dwyer, a special preview of an advance song “The Mushroom Hunters” from the album Live in Portland, as well as links to his music on Bandcamp and his home page.
Interview with Kelly Jones
Jack Dwyer Band – The Mushroom Hunters