Tara Velarde is a young lady who’s been on my radar for a couple of years as she’s played McMenamins Grand Lodge many times. She went to college at Pacific University in Forest Grove, just up the road, so she’s quite at home here at the Garage Door. Tara can wear a lot of hats – singer, songwriter, teacher, actress, poet, (I could go on), and she brings it all to every show. She’s got some mighty talented musicians in tow as well, including Joe Deardorff (drums), Steph Landtiser (keys/backing vocals), and James Pierce (guitar).
Check the Portland Notes Calendar for an upcoming show, and listen to our radio stream as we’re playing lots of her music. A week ago, I captured a song we’re not playing and I hope you enjoy.
Anastasia Gilliam and Zay Harrison joined forces in 2011 to become Butterfly Breakdown. They are very versatile with a vast repertoire of original songs and cover tunes ranging from R&B, Pop, Rock and Blues. In 2015, they were joined by keyboardist Fern Young, though she was on vacation this night, taking the duo back to their roots. As they played the Garage Door at McMenamin’sGrand Lodge, the sets consisted of 50% original material, with covers by the likes of Amos Lee, Marvin Gaye, Tracy Chapman, Louie Armstrong, Led Zeplin, Stevie Wonder and others.
In addition to a great variety of entertaining music, you should catch Butterfly Breakdown live someday for the equally entertaining story-telling between songs. I’ve capture an example for you. Enjoy!
Santiam is a familiar name in the Northwest, for a number of reasons – you’ve seen the green beans, you’ve heard of the Native American tribe, and you may have visited the river. But the important question is: Have you heard this band? Santiam is a versatile, creative group of musicians who are establishing a place in Northwest history with their unique combination of influences. Having just released an EP, they continue to write new songs, and are dedicated to writing in and about their lives and experiences in the beautiful and ever-changing Northwest. This is their home, and they want to establish a name and a musical presence for themselves here among their friends and neighbors.
When people come together to make music, it is often because of interest or training in similar types of music. Maybe they meet in a guitar class, at an open mic, or at a concert. The common ground is a good launching point for efficient songwriting and easy communication between bandmates. But…what happens when each member of your band comes from a different musical experience? Santiam is the story of how beautiful that journey can be – when destiny brings varied backgrounds and common passion together! I had to find out how these three very different musicians were able to find each other and know that they would fit well together – listen to the interview for the story. It’s a good example for all musicians about getting out into the community and exploring new genres of music.
Santiam has just released their new EP, appropriately a representation of many styles, with each song on the 3 track release highlighting a different member’s writing process. Jen Deale (keys/vocals) says that her influences come from jazz and pop – influences which are clearly heard in the lovely blended vocals and relatable lyrics on the EP. Jen’s voice really blew me away – she’s such a sweet and gentle person when describing her songwriting process, but get her singing, and she is totally in control of the entire room! She’s got depth and richness to her voice that allows her to pull off some soulful wailing as well as lighter pop vocals. Patrick Tumpane (guitar/vocals) says he grew up loving KISS, but tended to be attracted to indie rock as an adult musician. The songs also reflect that indie spirit, as well as a definite homage to Northwest folk. Drummer and vocalist Chris Spicer comes from a basis of “good classic rock”, which drive the dynamic nature of the music. The three say that the writing process is very supportive and open, certainly a collaborative style that pays respect to the roots and influences of all the band members..
Seeing Santiam live is an experience to remember – the band is friendly and lovable, gathering devoted fans and creating venue relationships that guarantee a repeat invite. The energy on stage radiates in waves through the dancing audience. Regardless of whether they are recreating a cover song, or presenting a fabulous original, there is an underlying feeling of camaraderie on stage that flows into the audience and just makes you want the happy vibe to last all night! The band is full of appreciation for the local music scene, and has so much praise for active local groups such as Cedar Teeth, Pretty Gritty, Dirty Revival, and the Jackelope Saints. They are making musical friends all over town with their good intent and energy.
You can catch Santiam in Seattle at The Sunset Tavern on Saturday, July 23. Other upcoming events are listed on their website and Facebook page. In the meantime, check out the new EP on bandcamp to get a sense of their versatility. Every song Santiam performs reflects each member’s common love of good, heartfelt music, while giving a nice variety of substance. After their visit to Seattle, I hear (shhh….) that they will be at the Laurelthirst on August 20! Firmly rooted in the Northwest – I hope you will love them as we do!
As part of the McMenamin’s Great Northwest Music Tour the Freak Mountain Ramblers returned to Grand Lodge for another stellar show. They have been with the tour from the beginning (at least 10 years) and are invited back every year. They showed us why Friday night as they parading their wide assortment of music ranging from classic pop & rock, modern pop and Rock, and (their specialties) country and swing (which they often combine). This has got to be the most versatile band in the Northwest. These guys know how to fill a dance floor and there are a lot more shows coming up on this tour so I hope you can make one. In the mean time, have a look at some photos from Friday night.
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.