Tag Archives: Alberta Street Pub

Elke Robitaille releases new album 6/18 – In the End

Photo by Mercy McNab

I was able to catch Elke Robitaille for a moment, while she was doing some preparation for her upcoming CD release – in this exclusive Q&A with the singer-songwriter, we learn about the inspiration behind the soon-to-be-unveiled project. Good songwriters speak expressively from the heart, and she is an outstanding example, sharing a glimpse into her musical maturation and writing process. Robitaille celebrates the public release of In the End at Alberta Street Pub on Saturday. June 18, at 6PM.

Kelly: Country, gospel, and folk music are generally born from authentic experiences – would you say this rings true for you? Do you have an example of a story?

Elke: I would definitely agree. These styles of music typically feature a strong storytelling element that comes from a place of honesty and simplicity. As a songwriter, my lyrics have always allowed me to write about authentic experiences in a poetic way. On my new album, (In The End) many of the songs share a common thread in terms of story and experience. I found myself in a place where I was very much reflecting on life and death. Not to sound morbid, but I was simply intrigued by how fleeting life can be. It wasn’t about any specific death that I experienced first-hand, but more so about reflecting on my own life, the specific stages I’ve gone through, and growing older. The concept actually helped me to curate the songs I wanted on the album, and the order of the tracks was carefully selected to tell an arcing story from start to finish.

Elke-Robitaille-releases-new-album-02Kelly: Was your childhood filled with music – did your family play together?

Elke: Yes, I had a very musical childhood. I grew up in small coastal town in British Columbia, Canada. It was a very isolated little community, but it had a large art and music scene. My parents saw that I had a love for music at a young age, so they enrolled me in voice lessons, guitar lessons, and community choir at the local Academy of Music. My dad also played guitar and sang at home all the time. I would strum along with him and we’d sing Willie Nelson, Woody Guthrie, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and The Beatles (to name a few!) I think this is where I developed such a love for folk music and the storytelling that goes along with it!

Kelly: When did you know that you had found your voice to translate experiences into songs to share?

Elke: That’s a great question. I always loved to sing, but I didn’t really find my voice until I was 17. That’s how old I was when I started writing my own songs. I actually recorded and released my first full-length studio album at 18. I wrote songs about first-love and breakups, and it was a great way for me to gain confidence in translating my experiences into songs. However, to say that I really “found my voice” would be premature. Over the years, I’ve cultivated my sound, and I’m constantly finding new genres and artists that inspire me to grow and change in different ways. In terms of style, I started out very folk-based, but my songwriting has started to lean more comfortably towards bluegrass and alt-country. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I feel like I’m constantly striving to find my voice and translate it into songs that are genuine and heartfelt.

Photo by Mercy McNab

Kelly: Are you inspired to create a new album when there’s a big change in your life, or are you always composing?

Elke: Both! I’m always composing, but that doesn’t mean that every song is album worthy. Sometimes I’ll write a song, perform it once, and decide it’s not quite what I had in mind. But it’s a great exercise. I do get inspired to create an album when something big happens in life, or if I’m just really focused on a particular theme. That’s essentially what happened with the new album, “In The End.” As I mentioned earlier, I recognized a theme of life and death in a lot of the songs that I was writing, and that’s what got things rolling for a new album.

Kelly: How do you find your accompanying vocalists and instrumentalists? Are there several of you who work on each other’s albums?

Elke: I am very lucky to work with such incredible musicians. Some of us have been working together for many years. In fact, my husband is my bass player (JP Downer) – we have been playing music professionally together for 12 years. We met when we were attending Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, CA and we’ve been playing together ever since. The drummer on our album (Beak Wing) is also a musician we met while living in LA. He recorded drums on our last album as well (Flowers In The City, 2009.) Other than that, I like to stay very connected and involved in the local Portland music scene, and that is really how I find amazingly talented musicians to play and collaborate with.

Kelly: Who is your favorite storyteller?

Elke: It’s hard to name just one. I’ve always been a fan of Ani Difranco‘s songwriting and storytelling. I’ve been influenced and inspired by many different storytellers, but one thing Ani taught me through her songwriting was how to be honest and vulnerable with my words, and that is something I’ll always keep with me.

A remarkable woman with an honest heart – you can check out Elke Robitaille tunes on her website, and catch her live at the release party this June 18. The new tunes can also be purchased on CDBaby.

Elke Robitaille – That Devil

Music Marketing with Robert Richter


Tomorrow night, June 8, offers an amazing opportunity for Portland musicians and music fans alike! Local musician/manager/marketer/media expert Robert Richter hosts 2 music-related events at the Alberta Street Pub. I was able to catch a quick interview with him – catching some creative marketing ideas drawn from his professional experience and his personal story with his current band Castletown. Every listener will take different advice to heart, I am sure – in the interview, Richter touches on seemingly lighthearted subjects ranging from throwing a good party to wardrobe choices…but he also talks about the three things that every successful entrepreneur must possess… (intrigued?) His best advice, of course: be at the Alberta Street Pub tomorrow night 5:30 until we shut the place down!

Music-Marketing-with-Robert-Richter-03From 5:30-6:45, Richter will deliver his informational seminar about the best methods to get booked in Summer festivals. The seminar cost is $5, and includes the lecture, Q&A, an informational handout, and the chance to network with fellow musicians and industry personnel. Robert Richter and Kelly Jones will be creating an email list so that attendees will remain updated on new festival information. When I attended the last festival booking seminar, I was surprised at how little I understood about the vast differences between festivals and local venue shows.

Music-Marketing-with-Robert-Richter-01At 7:00, Local Roots, Music from Northwest Artists, presents the Late Spring/Summer Songwriter Showcase. Door is also $5. This session of the popular live series features Adam Sweeney, Radio Stranger with Woody Moran and Kelly Brightwell, Chris Stewart, Annie Corbett, Andrew Goncalves, Laryssa Birdseye, and Jason Henderson Amare. Every month, Richter presents a new group of local original artists to Portland at the Alberta Street Pub. The live concerts, in addition to his weekly Sunday evening radio show on KMUZ Community Radio 88.5FM and 100.7FM, allow a wide range of listeners access to our fabulous local music scene. Richter hosts artist interviews, maintains a locals only playlist, creates podcasts, and a yearly compilation CD. This community investment is a delight to musicians, industry professionals and the local media. We, at Portland Notes, cannot wait to have access to the Local Roots music – what a great way to showcase our Northwest talent!

Music-Marketing-with-Robert-Richter-02I always enjoy a conversation with Robert Richter – he’s not afraid to share the secrets of his success with all of us. With that in mind, join us tomorrow with your questions about festival booking at 5:30, then stay and be one of the first to see the next team of local singer-songwriters who will be on the front lines of music in the coming months.

Soulful Sundays with Scott Brockett and Rob Rainwater


Portland Notes spent an early Sunday evening at Alberta Street Pub for the Soulful Sunday concert with the Scott Brockett Trio and the Rob Rainwater Trio. This all-ages show featured some amazing soul, blues, folk, and rock music that was at times quiet, others rockin! It was also a benefit concert to help raise money for the Tim Ellis Medical Fund. Tim is well known in the Portland Music Scene and beyond. He has performed with and recorded for some of the biggest names in the business and has built his professional reputation on his commitment to excellence and a relentless work ethic. He also owns the well known, Kung Fu Bakery Recording Studio. In December 2015, Tim was diagnosed with Advanced Melanoma. To help offset the mounting medical costs he is incurring, the Portland music community has banded together with fundraising concerts to raise monies to help Tim and his family with these costs. Scott and Rob wanted to do what they could to help so they organized this one at Alberta Pub.

Tim-Ellis-Benefit-01Rob Rainwater opened the show with Steve Hale on bass/backing vocals, and Max Tarpley on drums. Rob has a lot of new music which he hopes to release as a solo album later this year. His songs straddle the Blues and Country genres, with a folk/rock edge. Alternating between acoustic and electric guitar, he plays those Blues guitar riffs particularly well. He closed his set with two new songs performed solo because they’re not yet ready to hand over to a backing band. The touching, “Yesterday,”was written after reading divorce rate statistics, and in the song, the couple is trying to work it out. Rob has a busy performance schedule as a solo artist, as well as with “The Whiskey Darlings,” a project he has with Michele Van Kleef. He also has the popular Sunday radio show, “Songs from the Source” on Portland Radio Project from 1-3 p.m.

Tim-Ellis-Benefit-02Scott Brockett closed the evening backed by father/son duo, Cory (bass) and Jared Knowland (drums). Theirs is a sound that combines the emotional impact of soul with the grit and energy of pop-rock, sprinkled at times with some great funky beats. Scott’s songs are personal, often about love, and played with passion. The three seem to really enjoy performing together, laughing and appreciating when they go off into unknown territory during a song with a result that makes them proud. The band played a couple of fantastic renditions of covers, “Use Me,” by Bill Withers, and “Sittin on the Dock of the Bay,” by Otis Redding, that had the audience singing and cheering along.

There will be future Soulful Sunday concerts so be sure and check out Alberta Pub’s calendar to find out when the next one will be. The audience clearly enjoyed this one, and the music was hard to beat; a perfect way to end the weekend!

Festival Booking Tips from Robert Richter – Alberta St. Pub


Good news for local musicians – local industry professionals, venues, and promoters are getting on board to offer tips and assistance with the business side of the music industry. Putting together a great band and playing amazing music is not enough anymore. How does a band get booked at festivals and outdoor events in the Northwest? Robert Richter spoke to a group of eager musicians Wednesday night at the Alberta Street Pub to address this question. His targeted seminar will be offered again, with an exclusive list of tips and advice. Portland Notes is just offering a few tidbits of information that we found particularly revealing and helpful. For more specific information, contact Robert Richter.

Robert Richter, host of the popular Local Roots live concert series, is a devoted lover of Northwest artists. He offers seminars and consulting services on a regular basis, and can be reached at his email address or through Facebook on the Excel Talent page. Robert has an insider’s knowledge of the festival scene. We were surprised to hear that Robert’s suggestions are completely achievable for any local band – very encouraging!

Some common sense ideas from an experienced musician, music consultant, promoter, radio show host, and lover of local music:

  • Know your music and where your band fits well.
  • Have a short, to-the-point email that can be tailored to each festival application.
  • Keep an email introduction simple – those reading applications and emails are not necessarily familiar with music jargon.
  • HAVE A GREAT VIDEO – live performance produced without distraction. This is creating a picture in the booker’s mind of what your band will look like on their stage at their event.
  • Include video and links to band bio, photos, etc. within the short introductory email.
  • Don’t be afraid to follow up with a phone call – festival bookers can get overwhelmed with applications, email can get lost…

Things that aren’t so obvious:

  • Black Friday is the day to start booking Summer events.
  • Most festival bookers are only bookers during one season – they have other full-time jobs.
  • Many events are run by the local Chamber of Commerce or City Personnel.
  • Budgets vary by event, by town, by year, etc. There is no set pay rate.

How to get started:

  • Research town by town – repeated events.
  • Identify festivals or events that match your genre/style by reviewing past events.
  • Create content – links, VIDEO, easy contact information.
  • Always be positive – you can’t spell “festival” without “festiv”.
  • Remember that you are dealing with people who WANT to help you. They will be kind.

Robert also pointed out that opportunities exist beyond festivals – most cities have outdoor concert series and events. Research is key – festivals and outdoor events are plentiful, but vary immensely in size, budget, and level of organization. The key is to find out where the band fits, identify the contact, make a good introduction, and follow up.

Thanks to Robert Richter and the Alberta Street Pub for hosting this informational seminar!