Portland’s Mexican Gunfight was formed in 2006 by four old friends and musical brothers in arms who had worked together in various combinations since around 1985. While definitely a rock band, the band’s stylistic influences abound: blues grit, country lyricism, the soulfulness of gospel, a rare jam thrown in … occasionally even tinges of Latin and jazz.
Mexican Gunfight is:
Vocals, Bass / Dave Coey
Guitar, Vocals / Alan Toribio
Piano, Hammond Organ / Mike Walker
Drums, Vocals / Ned Failing
From the shores of sunny California to the beaches of Hawaii, from the rocky coasts of Oregon to the pure sands of Jamaica – there is a common love of a certain kind of roots music – the kind of music that you enjoy while kicking back with a cold cerveza on the wet sand with your surfboard beside you. The music you listen to while you drift away into daydreams – and maybe most of all, the kind of music that you listen to in order to take a journey to a more relaxed, happier place. Foreign Talks has captured this sound in their new album No Ceilings, and is prepared to officially release the music and the ideas behind it to the world at Dante’s PortlandFriday night, July 1.
Foreign Talks is composed of a group of very young men, who formed their band while still in high school together in Vancouver, Washington. Five years later, they are still together, writing cooperatively, touring, and making plans for the future of the band. It speaks volumes about the band that they are still together despite families moving, college offers, employment opportunities and the like. These young men are dedicated to their music and to following wherever the path leads them. At the core of the band are 2 brothers, Madison Fischer (lead vox/percussion) and Marcus Fischer (lead vox/guitar/bass), who are less than two years apart in age. Their bandmates, however, are also as close as the siblings. Tanner Steinmetz (guitar/bass/backing vox). Kevin Downes (guitar/backing vox/percussion), and Jeff Wagner (drums) are also founding and current members of this unusually loyal group. Like brothers, they argue, tease, challenge, and encourage each other constantly. It takes a close bond to hold a band together through high school and young adulthood. These guys are literally growing up together in every way, especially musically!
At their formation in 2011, Marcus Fischer says that the band was “finding their voice” and exploring the music they loved – a very vocally and melodically-driven indie sound. With a strong exposure to jazz, R&B, rap, pop, rock, and any other kind of music you can name, the Fischer brothers are able to absorb genres like sponges. Since the release of their self-titled album in 2013, the band has been immersing themselves in island roots music.The new album No Ceilings shows that the band believes there are no boundaries to music, and they are presenting a fusion sound of pop and reggae, R&B with surf, and just general “chill out” music that is catchy and relaxing. They have not just incorporated the reggae sound, either – it’s more of a lifestyle choice. The band has taken the time to appreciate the driving force and emotion behind the laid back reggae beat and island tone. Marcus explains that life today is hard, and music is a way to express and escape internal struggles that might otherwise be too difficult to bear. Foreign Talks wants to bring peace, joy, and love wherever they go, while getting people on the dance floor with a bottle of beer.
In the audio interview, Marcus really does a great job to explain the versatility of Foreign Talks – they are expressing a lifestyle of acceptance, observation, exploration, and sharing. The band wants to be relevant by expressing that we all live in this same world and we all have negative obstacles to our happiness being placed in our path every day. Foreign Talks’ music is an encouragement to live today to its fullest, enjoy every minute, and share your love with a love-starved world. Check out the very talented and entertaining band this Friday night at Dante’s.
Special thanks to Alex Steininger of In Music We Trust for introducing Portland Notes to this band. And a huge shout out to Isaac Brock and Woods Entertainment for helping to create the amazingly produced tunes on No Ceilings. The album is available for purchase now on CD Baby and ITunes. You can also listen on Spotify.
With a feature in Vortex Music Magazine this quarter, alongside such Portland Jazz greats as Mel Brown and Dan Balmer, Coco Columbia has gained credibility as a true jazz artist. Certainly, her musical training in jazz drumming at Portland State University has exposed her to traditional jazz songwriting, instrumental appreciation, and technical skill. But being a true artist with a very expansive mind, this woman did not stop there! She began vocal training to perfect the sound she was wanting to create, and began to make a name for herself with her own style of music – music to get lost in…her bio describes her current project as a fusion of “infectious indie-pop melodies, dreamy eyed electro-soul soundscapes, complex harmony and jazz improvisation to create her own unique brand of bumpin’ space age future-pop.” It’s hard to find words to describe Coco Columbia – when listening, I am feeling more than hearing…transported somewhere with mythical creatures and more than one moon.
After several months spent teaching herself to record, make beats, and play piano she put together a group of Portland’s finest jazz musicians to finish recording her debut album, “The Weight”, funded by her successful kickstarter campaign in 2012. OPB called this album “forward thinking and boundary-pushing.” Spot on, considering that Coco Columbia combined jazz techniques, spacy keys, ethereal vocals, and spoken word in a very creative way! She collaborated with established local jazz musicians such as George Colligan, Grant Sayler, Jonathan Letts, Brandon Braun,Stephanie Cooke, Max Williamson, Nicole Glover, and Jefferey Rondeau – as well as with rap artists Soopah Eype and Fabian Rush. Unique, and thought-provoking album with dreamy lyrics. Her attention to detail is inspiring.
Consequently, when the artist needs sponsorship, fans respond with great enthusiasm! Coco recently raised $10,000 to fund her second album, “When the Birds Begin to Walk,” which will be released in 2016. If you’d like to catch Coco Columbia in action (and you want to!), she will be playing with Los Angeles band KNOWER this April 20 at The Doug Fir Lounge. Thank you to Vortex Music Magazine, Coco Columbia, and Willamette Week for the photos!
I love this couple. They are talented, funny, entertaining and inspirational. I’m talking about Matt and Jenny Behnke, the married duo that fronts Skybound Blue. They gave up careers to take jobs so they had time to make music. This is a sacrifice similar to a couple deciding there is more value in one of them staying home to manage the house and be there for the kids, than having extra things or a more-comfortable retirement. As they were going through the decision-making process, they both heard – ya gotta go to know.
Much of their music is about taking risks, facing the adversities, craving the adventure and seizing the moment. You should always write-what-you-know, so from these guys you will hear songs about selling everything and sailing the Caribbean, surviving cancer, and raising a family. When you attend one of their shows, you will not only hear great music, skillfully delivered, but also great stories in and around the songs.
I had the pleasure of catching a hometown show for them at Hotel Oregon in McMinnville Friday evening. They played the Cellar Bar, a very intimate venue, which was packed mostly with people who had seen them before. Their sets are mostly original songs, with a few covers sprinkled in. Of course, on the Friday leading into Valentine’s Day, they put a few mushy songs out there too.
Over the weekend, they packed up their camper and are headed South in search of real sunshine and the woods. When they return in a month or so, look them up and get yourself a chair in front of their stage. You will be glad you did.