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”.
Last month on the evening before Thanksgiving Day I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with #WomenCrush Music, an international non-profit organization whose mission it is to support rising women songwriters by hosting showcases, workshops & networking events, all while creating a safe community. I have to admit that I was there to perform with my band, Avalanche Lily, and that I wasn’t very familiar with #WomenCrush Music before then. What I found was a warm welcoming community of musicians and an incredibly talented lineup of performers and a mission that’s about a lot more than music.
The November showcase at the White Eagle included several singer-songwriter performances, starting with Katelyn Convery who sings aching songs with a strong buttery voice and bass-y acoustic guitar. I also really dug the darkly seductive piano pop from Lauren Kershner, who recently released a new single and music video, Wicked, that matches her intriguing persona perfectly. Special guest, EmZee, the co-leader of the Missoula, MT chapter, closed out the night with a spirited performance. The sheer talent of these three performers was impressive, reminding me and everyone in the audience of Portland’s bounty of incredible local music.
The next #WomenCrush Music event coming up on Wednesday, December 19, at the White Eagle will be a holiday party and an educational workshop about treating music like a business, taught and sponsored by lawyer Michael Jonas of Rational Unicorn Legal Services. The event will also feature live performances from Acoustic Minds, a well-known local band led by two sisters, and Complementary Colors, a duo of brilliant married musical ladies who recently released a new EP.
Hannah diMo, leads the Portland chapter of #WomenCrush and wants “to help other women and women-identifying humans achieve their dreams.” Her new single is coming out on Feb 23 with a release-party at Holocene and she will be playing with her band at the White Eagle on January 3.
#WomenCrush Music was founded in Portland in January 2017 by then-local musician Ashley Kervabon. In two years the movement has expanded to 15 chapters in 12 cities across the United States and in Vancouver, BC. You can learn more about the history of #WomenCrush Music by checking out their fb page, their website, and this article in Vortex Music Magazine.
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The local, arty post-punk trio Miss Rayon released their new full length album Eclipse on Saturday, November 17th with a celebratory show at popular all-ages punk club, Black Water Bar.
I received some upsetting news as I was waiting for the show to start and suddenly wasn’t sure if I was going to be in the right headspace to enjoy loud music in a crowded club. However, the crowd was more warmly enthusiastic than rowdy, and each of the bands who performed that night had a special way of blending dark, brooding, and even chaotic moods with infectious beats, creating a melancholic dance grooves that felt strangely therapeutic.
WL opened the show with a big, fuzzed out rock songs and a detached stage presence. Singer/bassist Misty Mary’s hyaline dream-pop vocals fluttered above the fat chords and insistent rhythms. Their songs are simple in structure, but have a satisfying textural breadth that manages to be both heavy and hypnotic.
After WL’s set, the 6-member ensemble Conditioner Disco Group hurriedly filled the stage with an eclectic array of gear, including bongos, alto saxophone, and mini synth alongside the typical guitar, drums and bass. They quickly animated the crowd with unique no wave party jams, blending earnest hardcore didacticism with fluttering free-jazz runs and tight Motorik rhythms into a controlled frenzy.
Miss Rayon started strong right out the gate, delivering a Yoko Ono cover with tight parallel vocal harmonies, sizzling drums, and deftly intertwined synth and guitar melodies. The original material that comprised the rest of their set continued to showcase the interplay of beatific vocals over moody, angular instrumental counterpoint between guitarist Eric Sabatino and bassist Jenny Logan, and tight, hi-hat-heavy beats from prolific portland drummer Hannah Blilie. This juxtaposition was used to particularly great effect on their performance of their new album’s title track, “Eclipse,” a mournful ballad with a blues cadence in which Blilie’s gentle voice soared over the somber instrumental riffs.
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.