Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Feel Good Party of the Winter 2/27

On Friday SPACE celebrated the birthdays of their employees Jess + Bryan (Bryan is responsible for Hilly Town, required reading for anybody with an interest in the Portland music scene). In addition to an endless feast of pink and red cupcakes, and pumping music, there was the one night, one song only Supergroup, Hairy Grass Knuckle, comprised of Portland's Queen of Hip-Hop- Sontiago, the Cerberus Siren- Dilly Dilly, and Lady Lamb herself- Aly Spaltro. The Song? Destiny Child's "Say My Name"

Spaltro took the stage with her side-pony tail and ukulele, before being joined by Sontiago and Dilly Dilly (also on ukulele). After trading vocals back and forth in perfect harmony, Dilly Dilly, plugged in her ukulele and lit into some electric shredding. The crowd went wild.

And history was made.

Friday, February 27, 2009

There are drums beyond the mountain....

Portland's celebration of Johnny Cash started yesterday at 9 am on WMPG. Johnny Fountain showed up at 11:30 am (after a run in with Johnny Law, who let him off with a warning for expired plates after he learned Johnny Fountain would be playing Johnny Cash on the radio). Ceci Gilson of WMPG's "Kitchen Party" presided over the 3 hours of Cash music, which also included performances by Dave Gutter, Pecos Bill, and Rebecca Minnick.

Ceci was also excited to learn that John was one of the organizers of Tower of Song, and conducted an impromptu interview on the subject. More information on March's Tower of Song soon.

Johnny played "Long Black Veil" and "A Boy Named Sue"- you can listen to the latter by clicking the video above.

At 9 pm, doors opened at SPACE Gallery for the Johnny Cash Tribute night. Johnny Fountain took the stage first and lit into a rip roaring version of "A Boy Named Sue" and had the whole audience cheering along.

Next it was time for the live debut of The Panda Bandits, the once "imaginary" band started by Alicia and Me. We had the honor of being joined by a veritable super group of Portland talent including Fountain, his drummer from the Manes- Dan Boyden, Pond Trotter's Patrick Dennis (who are finishing up their debut album now) on upright bass, Ian Riley of Anna's Ghost also on drums, two giraffes on loan from Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, and Jess Sheldon holding it down on the tambourine.

We played "Drums" from Johnny Cash Sings the Ballad of the American Indian: Bitter Tears. Johnny Cash had great empathy for the American Indian, and I thought it was important that the Panda Bandits represent that oft-overlooked part of the Cash Oeuvre. As for how the performance went, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:

The rest of the night brought us great versions of Folsom Prison Blues, Ballad of a Teenage Queen, and When the Man Comes Around, among lots of other tunes. Oh, and there was plenty of whiskey, too. The show ended with Over A Cardboard Sea, one of my new favorite bands in Portland, performing the first song Johnny Cash ever learned to play. There was also a final group jam on Ring of Fire... but we'll let that pass into legend.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Johnny Cash!!!

It's Johnny Cash's Birthday today, and Eternal Otter Records is celebrating with the rest of the Portland music community.

On WMPG (90.9/104.1 fm) DJ Dale of "WheeeDoggies" and Ceci Gilson of "Kitchen Party" will combine their radio shows on WMPG to bring listeners three solid hours of music by Johnny Cash (and friends) in celebration of the birthday of this great American music icon. "Whole Lotta Cash" will feature in-studio performances of Cash's songs by several of Portland's finest musicians including Dave Gutter, Rebecca Minnick, Pecos Bill, and Eternal Otter Records' Johnny Fountain (he'll be on at 11:30 am). Listen here.

The festivities will continue at SPACE Gallery with a 7 pm screening of the 1969 documentary, Johnny Cash: The Man, His World, His Music. Following the film, Portland musicians will take the stage to pay tribute to Johnny Cash. Wesley Hartley (Dead End Armory), Pecos Bill, Matthew Lajoie (Cursillistas), Eggbot, Kelly Nesbitt, Dave Gutter (Rustic Overtones), Alias, Christopher Teret, Justin Boss, and Sara Cox will all be playing Cash tunes. Johnny Fountain will be kicking off the show. And the Panda Bandits (Alicia & me + friends) will be making their live debut!

Come for the cake stay for the music. Tickets are $8 ($6 for SPACE members)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tower of Song Nominated for Best Public Event in Portland

Readers of the Portland Phoenix have nominated Tower of Song for best Public Event in Portland for the paper's upcoming Best of '09 issue. Cast your vote for Tower of Song here! Although I won't be offended if you vote for the PICNIC, which was pretty fun.

More information on Tower of Song here.

Live on the Red Telephone #7: Dominic Lavoie

For the seventh installment of Live on the Red Telephone, Dominic Lavoie of Dominic & The Lucid played solo at the 106.1 fm Portsmouth Community Radio studio. The program started at 10 am with our theme segment- this week featuring songs about Cowboys & Indians, including two cowboy songs from local Portland bands (Sugar Smallhouse and the Legend of the Wandering Siren Cactus by Samuel James; and The Legend of Scary Steve by Over a Cardboard Sea). The song selection was in anticipation of the upcoming Johnny Cash Birthday show at SPACE Gallery, but I'll get to that in another post. You can check out the full playlist here.

Dominic started at 11 am, and treated us to a selection of rare cuts, including the song he wrote for Empire's "Something Like Love" Valentine's show. He also tried to play a few cowboy-esque songs of his own, and I thought the rather epic "Against the Clocks of Man" came close to fitting the bill. Check out a sample track from the show here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Johnny & The Manes @ The Empire 2/21

Johnny & The Manes played Saturday night at the Empire, opening for Strause & Co's CD release show. I knew it was going to be a great set when I walked into the downstairs of the Empire, and could hear the band sound checking "Thought Machine". I'd heard John practicing this new song, but I had no idea that he was ready to perform it with the full band. Or how heavy and awesome it would sound. When I got upstairs, I could tell the whole group was really excited to play it. It's the first song that they've completely written together as a band.

It absolutely rocked. From the opening line ("Inside the Thought Machine there is a factory that manufactures only mazes") to the climatic sonic tidal wave that bubbled and boiled with Jeff Marion's keys, the band put in their tightest performance I've seen.

They kept the energy up through the rest of their all too short set. Dan Boyden's drums kicked "Drag" into high gear- a song that seems to be just a pair of horn-rimmed glasses away from being a lost Elvis Costello classic with the invective chorus of "I used to think you considered me a good influence / but now I hope you choke on each drag of your last cigarette"

By the time they finished with "'88 Olds", everyone in the audience was having a good time, nodding or dancing along. Shawn Ayotte's bouncy bass-lines were particularly carefree and joyous. The Empire also did a great job with the sound, and Johnny's voice came through strong and full of personality.

I had intended to check out the 48 Hour Music Festival Across the street, but ended up staying at the Empire. Johnny had remarked that the Manes' barnstorming rock was not the most logical opening act for a night of Bluegrass, but the good time energy reached across genres. The Jerks of Grass took the stage next, all crowded around a single microphone, and lived up to their esteemed reputation. Alicia and I were also blown away by what might have been possibly the greatest bass solo we had ever seen.

I knew nothing about Strause & Co before Saturday, but they proved to be a great headliner. Brad Strause had played in a very successful Cajun band before losing his vision, wife, and job all in a single year. He spent the next two years at home, playing songs to his dog. Finally, his music was discovered by a fellow Portland musician and they went about putting a band together and releasing an album. It's always a pleasure to see someone play who truly lives music to the core of his or her being. Strause also played a tune he'd written for his seeing eye dog, who dutifully sat next to him on stage. I think the dog nodded off halfway through the song, but I guess he'd heard it before.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Dominic Lavoie Live on the Red Telephone this Sunday

Dominic Lavoie (of Dominic & The Lucid Fame) will be playing live on 106.1 fm Portsmouth Community Radio this Sunday at 11 am.

He will be appearing on The Red Telephone, the radio show hosted by me and my beautiful companion, Alicia Sampson. We go on at 10 am and will play songs about "Cowboys & Indians" (each show has a different theme) for about an hour. After that, Dominic will take the mike.

If you don't live within 10 miles of Portsmouth, you can listen to the show online here. It's a great way to start your Sunday!

Johnny & The Manes Play Live at the Empire this Saturday

Johnny Fountain and his band of rogues, otherwise known as The Manes, will be playing upstairs at The Empire Dine & Dance with the Jerks of Grass and Strause & Co (who will also be releasing a new CD).

Johnny & The Manes were last heard roaring out from the Tower of Song, and this is sure to be a great rocking set. Johnny has been working on some new songs recently, including a tale of adventure on the high seas, and a psychedelic exploration into the Thought Machine. I'll probably have a few drinks, and heckle him until he gives in and plays one of these new jams.

Fountain has also received some good press for his solo show recently, with a nice write up in The Noise, a Boston-based music rag that covers the New England Rock Scene:

"John Fountain, a twenty-something bartender with long dirty-blonde hair takes the stage with his guitar. He begins to sing, and my arm hairs stand at attention. The sound and rhythm of his voice is a cross between that of Bob Dylan and Ray LaMontagne... His voice is deep, yet soothing. He holds his guitar close to his body, seemingly at home onstage. A girl sitting next to me says, 'I could listen to this guy all night.' The feeling is mutual"

Johnny's deep, yet soothing voice takes the stage with the rest of the Manes at 9 pm. The cover is $5.

After the Manes are done, I'll probably swing by SPACE to check out the 48 Hour Music Festival, which is sure to be an interesting spectacle. I'll be sorry to miss the Jerks of Grass, but I'll make it up to them by heading down to the Bramhall Pub for their regular Thursday Gig. It's always a great time, and it's been far too long since I've last been.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

More Tower of Song Videos!

For all you Tower of Song fans out there, I thought I'd share some more footage from within the walls of our citadel:

Anna's Ghost

TJ "Pluto Nekaffe" Metcalfe of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper

Aly "Mickey Florentine" Spaltro of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper Photos over at Hilly Town

Check out some of the nice photos taken by the good people of Hilly Town for the Lady Lamb the Beekeeper show at the Meg Perry Center from last Sunday.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tower of Song 2/6/09

More info on Tower of Song Here:

First Friday of February brought another great Tower of Song. Johnny Fountain and Lady Lamb the Beekeeper were there of course (although this might be one of the last live performances in a few months for the Beekeeper), and were also joined by this month's guest, Anna's Ghost.

I was really excited to hear Anna's Ghost perform, because I love their 2007 self-titled EP and they don't play out live nearly enough. They remind me of Joy Division if fronted by Nico and influenced by Neutral Milk Hotel (awesome! my first over the top name-dropping piece of music criticism!). Plus Gabrielle Raymond's voice exists somewhere between the thunder clouds and the underworld, so I knew it would sound amazing bellowing out from a window in the Tower of Song. As expected, they put on a mesmerizing show. Supposedly, they have their first full-length coming out in a few months and it should be great. They are previewing one of the new tracks, "Static Habits", on their myspace:

Johnny Fountain was also joined by his full band, The Manes, for the first time ever at Tower of Song. It was a bit of an experiment, as this was our first time setting up the mikes to handle a drummer. But it turned out beautifully, as evidenced by this video:

Johnny & The Manes have a 5-Song EP out now that you can purchase from Eternal Otter Records:

It should also soon be appearing in Bullmoose Records here in Portland.

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper closed the show with a truly gorgeous performance. I'm usually outside at the merchandise table in Congress Square during Tower of Song, but the night was too cold for that- so it was a rare treat to listen to Aly & TJ rock the Tower from the comfort of the sofa with a cold beer in my hand. Their set included a drumless, "beatbox" (or "beedle-bop?") version of Beluga, and each took a solo turn at the mike- with TJ singing "Metal Mouth" and Aly performing "Sunday Shoes", which she first debuted at SPACE's Dead of Winter Show. They are returning to the studio (i.e. their bedrooms and basements) for the next few months to record their new LP, so now is the perfect time to catch up on Samples for Handsome Animals which is NOW AVAILABLE ON iTUNES. Tell your friends.

And if you haven't heard the music of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. What are you waiting for? Check out their myspace immediately:

This Tower of Song also boasted the best crowd ever, and yielded some exciting underground news, including a tip that Aly will be guesting at an upcoming Sontiago live performance at SPACE. I'll keep you posted.

Also got to meet some of the lovely people from the Pine Haven Collective, who have a cool art show going on at the Corduroy Surf Shop on Market Street. Check out their scene here

While cleaning up the Tower the next morning, we got some outside confirmation on how great the show was- Hanging in our neighbor's window across the street were two big home-made posters proclaiming "TWO THUMBS UP" (with picture of said-thumbs) and "WE LIKE YOUR MUSIC". Thanks Portland!

Anna's Ghost

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper