Tag Archives: folk

Westicana – The Way to Thrive in the West


What is Westicana? I proposed this question to Josh Malm Tree of Redwood Son, who gave me a straightforward explanation. However, I could tell that much thought had gone into this new idea, and I had to explore the possibilities!

Westicana-The-Way-to-Thrive-in-the-West-01Westicana is a genre of music, an artist collective, and an approach to musical vitality. In terms of genre, Westicana is “Western Americana”, which Redwood Son has absolutely established a solid home for here in the Northwest. Touching on country and folk and holding true to the genre of Americana, Josh’s music has certainly communicated the spirit of the expansive west , since being named “Best New Artist” at the 2011 Portland Music Awards. Redwood Son’s songs are a lovely mix of vintage instrumental tones, timeless lyrics, and contemporary approach to folk music. Josh’s idea of Westicana as a genre is very open and inclusive. As the idea continues to build momentum, I believe that we will see a very generous palette of musical styles being incorporated by partners in the Westicana Collective.

Westicana-The-Way-to-Thrive-in-the-West-02There is a spirit of adventure and danger connected to the idea of the “Wild West.” I first think of tumbleweed, gunfights, and long dusty rides across endless miles of wide open prairies. Then, I am led to consider the ideas of freedom, independence, and enduring spirit that brought pioneers to leave the comforts of civilization and establish homes for themselves in a generally hostile environment. The land was often unforgiving, work was never ending, and the entire effort was a gigantic risk. Salvation and success came to those who bonded together to build community. These communities of adventurous individuals are our pioneers, our ancestors – they held on tightly to their desire for independence and creativity, while creating a safe environment for all members to share ideas, build families and grow together. This is the emotional idea behind the Westicana Collective – made tangible by a group of musicians and music lovers who work together to build community based around a love of storytelling through lyric and melody.

Josh’s mind is always working on new ideas, and he shared a few with me. Westicana plans include many cooperative efforts between bands we already know and love. The collective will collaborate on shows and recordings, bring musicians together to meet and explore new ideas together, and assist in spreading the word about emerging artists. His love of bringing like-hearted individuals together is being fulfilled with the Westicana Collective.

Westicana-The-Way-to-Thrive-in-the-West-03This week in Westicana: Tonight, April 11 – a live premier of a new video at Lake Theater and Cafe in Lake Oswego, 7PM. Wednesday, April 13 – Westicana Wednesdays at Wild Hare Saloon in Oregon City. Join Redwood son and guests for songs and stories at 7PM. And, the Redwood Son release party this Saturday, April 16 at Mississippi Studios! Playing with Jaime Wyatt, Rust on the Rails, and McDougall – entry to this show includes a copy of the new CD from Redwood Son, as well as a healthy dose of the wild, free, independent spirit that is Westicana! Join Portland Notes at Mississippi Studios, doors 8PM, show at 8:30. Crimson and Clover Media will be in attendance to document the event, and this release show is Kelly’s pick of the week for Vortex Music Magazine!

The Whiskey Darlings – Live Sessions Album available now!


Rob Rainwater and Michele Van Kleef, each very active in the local music community, have come together to create a project based on a common love of thoughtful, emotional stories and incredibly tight harmonies. Finding a bond over the music of Simon and Garfunkel, this duo has created beautifully conceived lyrical songs with a comfortable, familiar feel. The Whiskey Darlings are quickly creating fans and friends all over the Northwest and beyond!

The-Wiskey-Darlings-Live-Sessions-01They’ve recently submitted their new song “Why, oh Why?” To the NPR Music 2016 Tiny Desk contest. The Whiskey Darlings have booked a variety of shows over the next few months – and they’ve been written up in The Starlight Music Chronicles and featured in an article on Portland Radio Project.

The-Wiskey-Darlings-Live-Sessions-02Both Rob and Michele are show hosts at Portland Radio Project, where they support and encourage local musicians to pursue their musical dreams. Michele hosts the Monday Music Muse show at 11 AM on Mondays, while Rob is the host of his own show, Songs From the Source, on Sunday afternoons at 1PM

The-Wiskey-Darlings-Live-Sessions-04Listening to the album, I am moved by the longing, sadness, hope, and connection that I hear in the lyrics. Even Rob’s harmonica carries such a strong sense of emotion, that it is impossible to miss. Though Rob and Michele have only been working together for a short time, their harmonies sound like they grew up in the same house as children. Perhaps that is due to Michele’s extensive background as a harmony singer, but I also give credit to the strong friendship that is so visible between these two musicians. The harmonies on “Moonlight Falls” give me goosebumps every time I hear the song!

The-Wiskey-Darlings-Live-Sessions-03You can purchase their album, Live Sessions on ITunes. Check their calendar for upcoming shows! They are just delightful in person, performing surprise covers, and interacting with the crowd in a most amusing way. Two very real people who perform some touching and memorable music…The Whiskey Darlings!

Tommy Alexander – Old News is Good News!


Tommy Alexander has just released a new album entitled Old News. Portland Notes says, “It’s good news to us!” The classic folk lyrics combined with interesting instrumental voicings have resulted in a sound that appeals to folk traditionalists and new style seekers alike. Tommy’s return to Portland with his album release at the Goodfoot on Wednesday night was a success after an exciting tour. The concert with the Harmed Brothers and Taylor Kingman was only $1 – providing an all-access pass to experiencing the excitement of the release celebration!

Tommy-Alexander-Old-News-is-Good-News-01We asked Tommy a few questions about his recent tour and the new album. For more Information and links to videos from Tommy Alexander’s Old News, check out the album review in Vortex Music Magazine! Please enjoy the link to Old News in its entirety, available on Bandcamp!

I’m very interested in Jenke, your artist collective. What led you to form this collaboration?

Tommy-Alexander-Old-News-is-Good-News-04It started at a small idea of collaboration between friends. I was living in Burlington, Vermont working to get into the music scene. I figured it would be fun to present the shows at a series, “Jenke Presents”. This idea grew and grew, until eventually we had 1400 square foot studio and 100 or more donation-based classes a month plus fundraisers and musical events – we released almost 20 albums in 4 years. Truly this was not my plan when I started Jenke, but it was very fun seeing it grow and grow.

Your lyrics seem to be based from personal experience – it that the case? Does Old News really reflect old news for you, or does this represent your current state of mind?

Tommy-Alexander-Old-News-is-Good-News-03Yes. generally my lyrics can be very relatable to my life and current experience. The process is very therapeutic. In the case of ‘Old News’, the tune was inspired by my own break up with an ex-lover. Inspiration for me comes from all over for sure.  Stillness and movement have their place in the process. I travel quite a bit these days and the creative juices have really been flowing. Happily, I’ve already got the next album written and ready to record.

The songs have traditional folk elements, for sure. But, there are some instrumental sounds and production techniques that are extremely modern. What led you in that direction?

Tommy-Alexander-Old-News-is-Good-News-02Working with Mike Coykendall opened up all those doors with ease. He and I are on the same page in every regard of where the sound should go. I’ve always been very into different genres of music, from hip hop to punk rock. Growing up in southern California, I was constantly hearing new sounds and new beats. I don’t want to be confined to any specific genre because truly I like them all. It is much more fun for me that way, and the band agrees.

How have your fans reacted to the new sound?

The reaction has been really incredible. FUN FUN FUN! The music drives and moves with a nice story to tell. People are listening and dancing. Folks have been loving it, and I’ve been loving it too. We’re really just beginning to scratch the surface here.

The Junebugs at Grand Lodge on 03-12-16


Originally from Vancouver, BC, Moses Barrett migrated to Portland and formed The Junebugs with drummer Kyle Owen and bassist Sean Vinson. It would appear requirement number 1 to being a member is wearing a beard! They describe their music as high-energy pop with Pacific Northwest folksy goodness. At times I felt like they were like a modern day Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. About a third of their musical selections were covers from the likes of Red Hot Chili Pepers, Neil Young, Paul Simon, Tom Petty and the Eagles. Their presentation is tight and the vocal harmonies are outstanding. During the show, Moses talked about his love for folk music, which this crowd at McMenamin’s Grand Lodge was eating like candy. Based on the reception, they will certainly be back. We recently reviewed their album, “Home To Me, and have posted this Photo Album.

Jackalope Saints at Grand Lodge on 02-27-16


Jackalope Saints describe their sound as “folk music fashioned to bluegrass and hammered to the floorboards of forgotten barns, winding through overgrown valleys where ailing giants sleep their lives away”. They played McMenamin’s Grand Lodge Saturday night with the full band, less the drummer who sprained his foot the day before.

Jackalope-Saints-at-Grand-Lodge-on-02-27-16-01The amazing thing about this band is the wide variety of sounds they can produce. In their musicial arsenal they have an acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, drums, harmonica, mandolin, banjo, violin and trumpet. (In fact, with the use of the trumpet, I also heard a definate latin feel to some of their songs.) This variety of sounds takes us to their name. According to legend, the mythical jackalope (looking like a jack rabbit with antelope horns) can mimic any sound. Given enough time, I believe these guys could too.