A skipping stone from Portland, to Michigan, New York City, and back to Portland. It was theatre and dance worlds in Manhattan. And here in Portland, total immersion into the radio broadcasting world (KGON, Q105, The BEAT, and KINK), more dance, theatre, art and endless music.
Out of the blue visit with Jonathan Warren and The Billy Goats. A gig in Eugene allowed them to crash my pad for a few good hours, before heading to do the show. After that? Back to Boise, for the boys.
It was just last October, when the boys dropped in for a first visit. Check out our visit HERE. Introductions made. Music Played. Lots of laughs gone down. This time we cut to the chase. Catching up on what’s new in their world of music. And there is! As you’ll hear in our conversation.
L-R David Henry, Jonathan Warren, Austin Clark
Getting Wild With The Billy Goats At Robin Road - SoundCloud (1919 secs long, 7 plays)Play in SoundCloud
Cletus, THE DOG!
In case you’re in Boise, you can check out some of these places on the list!
Self described “economic migrant” Lucas Ward, has been planting his West Coast feet in Portland during these late spring weeks of 2019. There’s a new album to pull together, some shows to play, and introductions to be made as we get to know the global and local heroics of The Silver Snails.
Opening The Human Heart
The first album THE 7 MELODIES, has just been rereleased to introduce it to a new global audience. Now comes a new album in the works, here in Portland. Hopeful for a 2020 release. The net that Lucas and his wife and partner in musical and artistic travel have chosen to throw, is very wide, indeed.
The story of how Elisa and Lucas met. How he ended up a nationalized Italian citizen. How The Silver Snails came to be. How Portland is still a destination point.
These and other bits of a life so well and deeply lived? Some of the mysteries are revealed in my conversation with Lucas. Others will come by listening to the music. Beginning with the debut album and to be supplemented by going to live shows. Check for the June shows HERE.
And my conversation with Lucas is here for you to enjoy. A couple of live songs, unplugged, and one from the rerelease so you can hear what it’s ALL about. Lucas is in the middle of sharing a bit of the new baby, the work of art, and taking out time to celebrate.
Always good to be inspired by an artist’s story of how they find their true calling. Paves the way for others to follow, and just maybe create the same path, be it in music or any other calling. Especially fine in this age of good distraction, and some not so fine.
PORTLAND’S OWN TWO-MAN BAND
Rock duos are certainly out there. Think White Stripes, Black Keys, MGMT, Royal Blood. UTILITY was Royal Blood-inspired, as it turns out.
Here’s a bit of background on Ryan and Adam:
UTILITY is the new project from RFK Heise (Last Giant, System and Station) and Adam Draper (Down Gown, Swim Swam Swum). The idea is simple: “how much sound can two people make using modern technology with a bass and a drum kit and how close can that sound get to Thin Lizzy, new wave, soul, and rock n’ roll?” The result is the self-titled album UTILITY.
Drummer Adam Draper had a day-job gig, so it was bassist and songwriter, Ryan, on his own at Robin Road.
We dug into the history of the two long-time friends, the bands they shared a life with and how they got to know, each had the other’s back fully. So UTILITY was born.
Ryan and I go deep into the project. What’s next, and how the magic happens. And we preview two tracks of the just-released self-titled album.
UTILITY Work Ahead At Robin Road - SoundCloud (1693 secs long, 14 plays)Play in SoundCloud
Josh Malm, a self-confessed complicated man, has had a whirlwind time of it. Some four years later, and a side bar move to Nashville and back to Portland, there’s a collection of new songs with Saints & Renegades. And a freshly released video that hits right to the heart of the matter.
REWOOD SON IN SERVICE OF THE ART
It’s been a while since Josh and I sat down together to catch up on, well, everything! The last one-on-one centered around his moves to Nashville to take that deep nosedive into his music.
“I just want to make art”
Our conversation ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime. Living one’s purpose; divine/creative intervention; letting things blossom of their own accord (“don’t push the river”). Why Nashville? Why NOT Nashville. And we dove deep into the idea of the miracle of timing: needing to be in the right place at the right time. There’s a really great story about that very thing. It lives inside the story of the making of Redwood Son’s video release for his song “Punches”. Check out the video, and our convo, below.
Outlaws! Right here in River City! Time to get to the bottom of what Nate Wallace, the mastermind of the lyrics for Hearts of Oak, has floating in his head. Then, the band gets to work to structure out how the music and melody will play out. New album just floated out. Time for Moves!
The Hearts of Oak Two-Way Street
Portland, Oregon is the kind of town that welcomes into its midst so many different genres of music. Lucky us! That includes Hearts of Oak. Front man Nate Wallace has a deep affinity for many different artists that have influenced him.
“We’re a band that has two modes: classic songwriting in the country and folk style, and a noise/drone-psychedelic sound,” states Wallace. “I bring to mind late Dylan, Bonnie Prince Billy, and Magnolia Electric Co. The rest of the band kind of sounds like Spacemen 3, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Sleep, Träd, and Gräs & Stenar. Those two styles form a unique sound.”
Ezra, on electric guitar, adds that it’s all Nate but def a two-way street for the band as a whole. In our conversation, we had the opportunity to dig deeper into what makes the band “move”. Both the roots of who they are and what is happening on the new album Moves. A sweet, dark November evening as we break down some of the descriptors used when speaking about Hearts of Oak: “shoe-gazer country”, and “singer-songwriter with a druggy, psychedelic band”. Let’s dive in!
There are lessons to be taken from those musicians who while doing their own thing have also learned and cultivated the art of serving other artists, serving the song, the music. Eddie is a stellar example of this art form.
MASTER CRAFTSMAN, JOURNEYMAN, ARTIST
There’s no one word that begins to completely describe what role Eddie plays. Countless session musicians have stepped in to provide the backing tracks, musical skills, from backing vocals, to drums, guitar, bass, on a short-term basis for musicians who hire them out for their projects. Eddie is one of those guys. But. He is also Eddie Martinez. A new collection of music is out in the world. He calls it Akosua.
The story behind that album and his many, many moments of session work, the many artists he served in the capacity as a New York studio guitarist are explored in this late summer conversation at Robin Road. On board with me? Ty Hitzemann and Wayne Anderson. And we preview 2 tracks off that new album.
During our time together, we couldn’t help but be delighted over and over again, by the casual name-dropping from Eddie. Without a shred of ego on the part of this guitar shredder. So much a part of his world over the years, from Eric Clapton to Mick Jagger, David Lee Roth, Robert Palmer, Yoko Ono, LaBelle, Run-DMC, and so many others.
In our conversation, we touch in on what and who first inspired him on this musical journey to his music quest (you’ll never guess who), to selling music in this now digital age, and his family of musical brothers. They go deep! On the new album alone, listen for the artful bass work of Carmine Rojas (David Bowie, Joe Bonamassa, Rod Stewart) and Portland’s own local heroes, John Mazzaco and Patrick Lamb. The self-professed “born ham” and generous spirit that is Eddie Martinez takes us on a really splendid journey. Dive into those weeds with us.
Into The Musical Weeds With Eddie Martinez - SoundCloud (4436 secs long, 94 plays)Play in SoundCloud
Links to the personnel and artists plus a few video highlights to music that was referenced in our conversation.
We open our story by snagging the perfect parking spot about a block away from Keller Auditorium. Took a lovely walk a few blocks to Nel Centro for a delicious Happy Hour dinner/drink experience before the performance. The temperature dropping, we went early to the theatre after eating – just in time for the pre-show lecture, which provided a really good perspective on Verdi’s La Traviata. Settled into our seats, the lights went down…and…
PORTLAND OPERA’S SEASON OPENER
The curtain rose to a stunning tableau. It looked like a painting. The first scene is the wild party where we are introduced to Violetta and Alfredo. The cast was frozen in place for a good fifteen seconds, allowing the audience to take it in. The pose reminded me of the photo of the debauched party portrayed in the gatefold of Beggars Banquet. Then, all at once the cast burst into action.
The music is so good, of course. The soprano playing Violetta (Aurelia Florian) is a Romanian actress fresh from singing the role with the San Francisco Opera. She was completely brilliant. The three acts are perfect at presenting her ultimate demise. Act One is full of life and freedom and wildness, with the promise of true love in the midst of artifice.
The second act takes us to her life away from the party social scene and the heartbreaking ultimatum issued by Alfredo’s father. The actor playing the father (Weston Hurt) was a highlight for me throughout. That act ends with Alfredo publicly denouncing Violetta. Act Three opens with Violetta in bed, dying from consumption. When Alfredo does finally come back to her, I must admit that my eyes welled up. Even though I knew that he would walk into the room, the emotional wallop took me by surprise. He is played by Jonathan Boyd and does a very good job at it.
However, the night really belongs to Aurelia Florian as Violetta. By the end, she is a wreck. So is the audience. She brings such depth and pathos to the role. During the curtain call, she was clearly still deep into the clutches of the part. She looked devastated. She is a true artist. The direction by Elise Sandell is remarkable – how a soprano can sing some of this very challenging music while either lying down or reclining on a fainting couch is beyond me! She captured the spirit of the piece so very well.
All in all, a totally memorable night at the opera.
~This review is courtesy of guest contributor, Steve Barton. More about Steve, below.
When I was in elementary school back in the Paleolithic Age, they used to wheel in a metal industrial-looking cart with a record player on it. The player was situated in what looked like a large brown suitcase. The teacher would put an album on the turntable, pick up the heavy tonearm and play classical records for the class. This might have been a music teacher. I don’t believe that it would have been our usual 3rd grade instructor (hello, Mrs. Mayer!). Anyway, one of these sessions was all about Bizet’s Carmen. The teacher would play a bit of the “Toreador Song”, for example. They would stop it and explain what the various vocal lines and instruments were doing and then play it again. I vividly remember listening with that new information fresh in my mind.
It was a revelation. I was just beginning to be interested in music – especially rock and roll, having recently experienced the DNA altering experience of watching the first appearance of The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. My family would sit in front of the TV together every Sunday night at 8pm and watch the Sullivan show. This episode, of course, was a game changer. The music of Carmen got into my little 3rd grader head like some sort of lightbulb.
I do credit The Beatles for putting me on my lifelong path of writing songs and playing rock and roll – but that moment with Carmen was every bit as crucial. I finally saw a production of the opera only a couple of years ago. I love opera, although I have only been to see The Magic Flute, Wozzeck, Carmen and now La Traviata, I am awestruck by the power of the singers and the intensity of the music that the composers have to get to the heart of. I dig the mix of theatre, music, dance, singing.
I think about that otherwise normal run of the mill day in the classroom, and I am so thankful that music and art were still considered to be important in a child’s school life. So thankful that they wheeled in that beast of a record player. So thankful that she chose Carmen. I am who I am because of it.
A five-year mark often signals that it’s time for evolution and changes. For the band, the feeling is mutual. And with that, a second guitar player enters, stage left!
SHIFTING UP THE SOUND
The Shrike began their journey as a Portland-based alternative hard rock band in 2013. Now comes a turn in the road. New directions. New expectations. We gathered The Craw, Darren Linder and new-comer on lead guitar, Billy Carnese, enlisted to help carry that weight, to consider increasing the epic nature of The Shrike and to enrich existing compositions and create new ones. An exciting time!
The Craw and Billy Carnese. Dueling guitarists!
Our conversation went in so many cray-directions. Among them? Hopes and dreams for future sounds, challenges in expanding the sound of the band and finally hitting “their stride” as a 5-piece, as The Craw told me.
So this is a fine time to go that extra mile. Not just sit home and stream, but take in the live offerings this town has to offer on any given night.
The Shrike Pilgrimage To Robin Road - SoundCloud (2799 secs long, 1 plays)Play in SoundCloud
The exuberant Billy Carnese
You can preview the new sound of the band in these videos.
The Shrike - THE STRANGER (Live at Twilight Cafe) - YouTube
The Shrike - OUR TIME (Live at Twilight Cafe) - YouTube
Meet the boys from Boise. Singular sounds of guitar, banjo, and cello meet and wash through the lens of Jonathan Warren. Each member of the trio brings significant ideas and artistry to the mix and the result is a celebration of ideas, both dark and reflective, joyous and timeless.
LOVE, LOSS, REDEMPTION, HOPE
It’s all in there, the beauty that can hide beneath the pain, hope that is uncovered within the struggle and the light that shows the path through darkness. The new album from The Billygoats manages to bring all those contrasts under the one roof of Cletus.
Any time we get to know somebody new in our circle, in this case a trio that makes up The Billygoats, lots of mysteries to uncover, question to be asked, sought out, explained. The dark spaces along with the light, laughter, and silly. And if we are lucky, lots fun and chill times may ensue. All the above, in the case of this Robin Road visit by Jonathan, Stever, and David.
Jonathan and David
Our conversation, below, includes a song caught live and a track off Cletus the band describes as their favorite on the new record. We caught some live video moments as well that offer some really good insight into the trio’s style. Check those out along with the official band video for “Stayed Too Long”. As you will see, Billygoats like to play in the darkness.
Trippin With The Billygoats At Robin Road - SoundCloud (2365 secs long, 3 plays)Play in SoundCloud
“Stayed Too Long”
So nice, done twice. This is “Decision”, The Billygoats’ favorite track on the new album.
Stayed too long-Jonathan Warren and the Billygoats. Official music video - YouTube
In our constantly connected world, it seems hardly possible that Mike and I hadn’t sat down for a proper chat-up. So much ground to cover since that last time, in the spring of 2016, during a time when we lost so many of our musical heroes. It’s a different world two years down the road. Time to catch up.
Collaboration As A Hallmark
Mike Collins is many things. First and foremost, Mike is a drummer. But then many other things fall into place. He’s a songwriter, a member of three different bands, each fulfilling certain artistic needs and requirements. He’s a father and he seemingly never tires of the exploration and thought this world requires of us.
Follow along with us as we dive deep into the artistic process and what it means for his three bands: Rooftop Screamers, Metts Ryan & Collins, and the soul rock and funk cover band Ants In the Kitchen. What he learned by being part of The Nowhere Band and learning so many of the great songs that came before.
And then stay with us we take a deeper dive into the recently recharged worlds of psychedelia. From ayahuasca to LSD, mushrooms and DMT.
Mike Collins and His Many Labors of Love - SoundCloud (2984 secs long, 23 plays)Play in SoundCloud
Check out a new video for one of the songs off the new MRC album Homegrown. “I Think I’m In Love”.
I Think That I'm In Love - YouTube
Here’s a video from the recent Rooftop Screamers Vol 1. “Roses Again”.
Rooftop Screamers - Roses Again (feat. Ken Stringfellow) - YouTube