Pretty Gritty is a Portland-based Rootsy-Americana duo formed 8 years ago in Maryland. Before moving to Portland in 2014, they sold their self-produced and self-titled CD (2012) and the River EP (2013) at shows. They were followed by the release of the Lonely Road EP in 2016 and the Full length CD Seven Year Itch in March 2018.
Sarah and Blane enjoyed a month-long Monday-evening residency at McMenamins Rock Creek Tavern in October. I was lucky enough to grab a bar stool on their final evening. They were pleased to see the larger-than-usual turnout that evening. I understand that they are already booked again for next October. Nothing like planning ahead!
There is nothing flashy or superficial about these guys. Every song in the set I heard, had a purpose and a message (which was overwhelmingly positive). No string of good-love-gone-bad songs from these two. The set was made up of about half and half originals and covers, which I like since you can learn a lot about an artist from their treatment of familiar songs, as well as their own.
So, join me at the bar for a few minutes and have a listen to “You And Me”.
Nate Botsford is an emerging artist based in Portland, Oregon with a style that is unique and memorable — straight from the heart, with relatable music and lyrics. After a good bit of chasing, I managed to catch up with Nate last weekend as he played a Saturday night show at McMenamins Rock Creek Tavern.
He is wildly talented and I enjoyed the wide variety of music he was able to deliver even from a basic 3-piece band. Most impressive was the way he worked the crowd, doing special requests for birthdays with music previously unrehearsed. He is a true showman.
Nate has two albums out so far, with a third in the works. I captured “All We Have” from his second album “Hourglass” during his Saturday evening performance.
We can think of several musicians who are from Portland and moved to Nashville. Jacob Westfall did just the opposite. I, for one, am glad he did. I describe him as a young John Mayer with greater range – both vocal and genre. Once he hits the stage, it’s not long before he captures your heart with a love song, then drives you to floor to dance it out.
Thursday evening, I caught the Jacob Westfall band (with Andrew Magnuson on guitar, on Dylan Sundstrom on bass and Mark Muusse on drums) at McMenaminsRock Creek Tavern. Check out the photos and the video I captured of a song from Jacob’s latest EP What If.
Pretend Sweethearts is a duo of singer/songwriters/multi-instrumentalists based in Atlanta who play a wide range of music from roots to blues to folk to country. Brianna Blackbird and Drew de Man met while studying music therapy here in Portland. In the course of writing songs together, releasing recordings and touring like crazy, they became “real” sweethearts. I have been a fan for a while and was glad to catch up with them for the first time last night at McMenamin’s Rock Creek Tavern. They were joined by their friend Rochelle Muzquiz handling the percussion duties.
Bri was born and raised in Portland, so this summer tour brings her back home. Drew is from Georgia forming his first band No River City in 2001, spending six years recording and touring. He is wildly talented on the guitar, she sings like a bird, and their mix of music will keep you engaged for hours. They’ve got a few more Northwest dates before they fly away, so check them out if you can.