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Posts Tagged ‘Portland’

Today I am pleased to bring you the very talented and very thoughtful Anna Horvitz. The way Anna and I got connected is actually a Facebook success story. It turns out Anna was friends with my late niece, Selene, when they were young. Anna saw my sister’s name and then mine and then she reached out to me. I am so glad she did. It has been great to get to know someone who was a friend of Selene. Additionally, she has a great voice and a beautiful mind (she’s not imaginary, really).


Copy of pelicangirlE compressedWhen did you first start singing?

It was somewhere between the time I was born and the time I learned how to speak. I grew up with a very musical family, and I have some great memories of singing old ballads and children’s songs with my dad around the piano when I was barely tall enough to see the keys. I was a very sensitive kid, too. I used to cry at the sad songs. I think I remember at one point we decided we weren’t going to do “On Top of Old Smokey” anymore because it was too sad.

What made you feel like you wanted to pursue music as more than a hobby?

It’s kind of weird how it happened. I guess you could say music pursued me. When I was a kid my mom signed me up for sax lessons. I was really good at it, but it was hell trying to get me to practice. I did the whole middle school band thing, but playing sax didn’t seem as cool as wearing dark eyeliner and dressing up and getting busted for smoking cigarettes outside of high school, so I stopped for a bit. In my early 20s I picked up the sax again and almost instantly landed myself in a Latin rock band called Cabeza de Vaca. I wasn’t even looking for a band at the time. But it was my first experience actually jamming out in a group, and the connection, the musical telepathic experience, was incredible. When that project ended, it was a big loss in my life. I didn’t have the leadership skills at the time to form my own band, so I wound up writing songs to the guitar with my self-taught finger-picking skills. It was like it took over. I would stay up so late with the music some nights and go in to work the next day totally exhausted and sometimes a little hung over. But I just couldn’t be responsible about it. It was just too important a part of my life to ignore. And it was about then that I came to the realization that music was going to be a part of my life forever.

Who or what inspires you most, music or otherwise?

Pain. When it comes to creativity, I mean. Good pain and bad pain, like love and loss. That sharp and amazing gasping pain when you realize you’re alive and the sun is bouncing off the leaves as they rustle in the wind. The magical aching pain of falling in love, and the end-of-the-world pain when you fall out. The pain-in-the-ass pain of being alive and trying to feed yourself and pay your bills and still have enough money left over to drown your miseries and successes at the bar. The immense emotional pain of being a living animal in the controlled environment often referred to as civilization. Music and the other arts are a very therapeutic way of dealing with all of this pain. I’m not a masochist or even a pessimist, in fact, I love life dearly, which may be why I make an effort to turn its intensities into beauty.

Tell me about Mojave Wild. 

Mojave Wild was born out of the songs that kept me up late and made me function poorly at work the next day. Once I had enough songs I began to perform at open mics at a local dive in La Mesa, California, a seedy bar called Joe ‘N’ Andy’s that no longer exists. From there I began to gather interested musicians to form a band, but it took a long time to build up a solid group of core members. A couple of years, in fact. Took a long time to figure out a name, too. The project started as Milk Duck and finally made its way over to Mojave Wild as we outgrew the ten thousand other names I had come up with. Once we were solid we started playing out. We got good responses from the crowd, but it’s really hard to build a following, especially in San Diego, what with the way the venues book local bands. But I had a great time nonetheless. I loved performing, and it was an empowering feeling to have such great musicians backing me in the music I had written. A couple of the members were really good with odd time signatures, too, which I love, and which allowed us to explore different styles and step outside the traditional singer/songwriter-turned-rock genre.

What is the future of Mojave Wild?

Mojave Wild is currently on sabbatical in the Mojave Desert for the next year or so while I do my best to straighten out my new life up here in Portland. Back in San Diego, the bass player had left the group, and it was around this time that the drummer (Salvatore, who was/is also my boyfriend) and I decided we were ready to move up north. I have been involved with some other wonderful projects since I got here, and I’m still writing songs, but MW requires a big investment of time that I just don’t have right now, and I wouldn’t want to scrimp on something that means so much to me. I’m working on that time thing, though, and by June of 2015 I’ll be out scrounging around for new members again. Sure wish my old guitar player would move up here!

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What do you hope to do next?

I’m currently singing in an eccentric group that we have temporarily dubbed “The Monday Night Band,” for lack of an official name. We’re just getting it started, but it feels promising. It’s a variety of musical styles that work around the West African djembe and dunun drums. Lots of deep and sensual vocals. When we’re ready to take on more members and start playing out, we can also promise belly dancers at our performances. It’s gonna be a pretty showy affair. I’m really excited about it, because it’s my first project that will incorporate some theatrics into my stage presence. Sal’s in it, too. And our keyboardist, Mike, is also a San Diego refugee, ironically.

I’m also considering getting back into the solo performances, but that might be a tough one, since I’m currently going to school and working. But I miss it. I love that damn stage.

Hmmmm, what else? Maybe get some of my artwork up in a local gallery in the next year.

What has been your favorite performance of yours?

I gotta say, singing live with Gerald Collier on Seattle’s KEXP was pretty fucking magical. It’s really something, to be performing in a little sparkly room with just a few people around, and knowing your voices are being carried out to thousands of ears. I feel very blessed that I got a chance to work with Gerald. That there is one talented, good-hearted guy.

 

What has been your experience in the San Diego music scene compared to the Portland scene?

I feel like the Portland audience is much more receptive to its local bands. But I’ve noticed that the general plight of the local band is pretty much the same everywhere. Venues don’t book bands to entertain, anymore. They book bands that bring their friends. It’s not quite the pay-to-play situation, but your friends are paying for you to play. So there’s no opportunity for exposure from a few gigs, especially when they book you on a Monday night, late.

Aside from my complaining, though, this city has some awesome musicians in it. I’ve seen some amazing bands for just ten bucks at Goodfoot, and a couple for FREE at Laurelthirst happy hour. I’m also impressed just by the people I meet randomly who say they are musicians, primarily because they actually ARE, not like the half-assed guitar players I met so many of in San Diego. Sal and I have surmised that it’s because during the winter there’s not much else to do but get drunk and practice. And there are no winters in San Diego.

Who, dead or alive, would you love to perform with most and why?

Eddie Vedder, but I’d rather he was alive and not dead when I sang with him. I’ve been singing harmonies with him since my teenage days, but he doesn’t know it. Ever since he started his solo career I’ve heard so many possibilities for collaboration in his songs. It’s actually a goal of mine, to one day sing with him, as far-fetched and dreamy as it may sound. But I don’t think it’s an impossible dream. I know I’ve got the pipes, so it’s just a matter of getting him to know I exist.

Favorite TV show ever?

It’s either Frasier or Deep Space Nine. During one season of Frasier a bunch of cast members from DS9 kept randomly appearing on the show. I felt like a five-year-old with a brand new Tonka truck.

God I’m so 90s.

 

Enjoy Anna at these fine locations:

 

 

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Memory is a funny thing. Our minds are constantly messing with us and we help our brains do this. If you don’t believe me go read this. This happened to me. For years I was telling people about the time Ray Manzarek told me a dirty joke about Mick Jagger. But that never happened. He was there, I did meet him, but he didn’t tell the joke though he did deliver the punchline. The story got warped for a few reasons as far as I can tell. One is that when other people retold it they told as if Ray had told the joke and then would bring it up to me in front of other people framing it that way. The other is it made the story short and sweet and had name recognition.

The Real Story

I used to work at a hotel that did a lot of work with bands and theater groups due to its proximity to multiple venues. One day I saw that Ray Manzarek was going to be staying with us!!!! I was so excited and freaking out waiting for his arrival day. It came. It went. No Ray.

Two weeks later Michael McClure and Ray Manzarek walk in to check in! Some one had the dates wrong! Here he was in front of me! All I could think to say was “We were expecting you two weeks ago.” And Mr. Manzarek said “But you aren’t now?” and he chuckled. I asked them to please wait while I got our events/bands/whatever reservations person. She said she would be out in a moment. While we waited I did my best to keep my cool, stay professional, and mostly not show I was spazzing on the inside.

Michael McClure, a very good poet, and Ray were on tour together. While we were waiting Mr. McClure started telling this…joke…well, sort of a joke. You’ll see what I mean as I try my best to recount what he said:

So there’s this girl and she loves Mick Jagger. Every time she has sex she has to think about Mick in order to get off. And then one day the Rolling Stones come to town and she goes to the show. She goes up to the roadies and gets backstage after the show and she meets Mick Jagger. They get to talking and then she winds up having sex with Mick.

It’s at this point that Ray Manzarek looks at me and says “And who do you think she was thinking about when she was with him?” And we all laughed. To this day I still don’t really get it. I get the philosophical implications of the set up(I think), but these two men were operating on a whole other level from me.

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Great info on Oregon Music News on how to help Pete Krebs of Hazel in his current treatment for desmoplastic melanoma: http://oregonmusicnews.com/2013/02/07/portland-throws-benefits-for-pete-krebs/

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Today I am proud to bring you a review of the Killswitch Engage concert I attended at the Hawthorne Theater. I am really excited because this is our first guest review! Dylan DePriest kindly asked me along to the show and even more kindly agreed to write up the review! Oh, and when he talks about “the Reverend” that’s me and here’s why (<–follow link).


Killswitch Engage

Killswitch Engage concert review
28 November 2012
Portland, OR
It was a typical cold Wednesday night in Portland. For many it was the milestone marking the middle of the work week, but for metalheads it was the night that Acaro, Shadows Fall, and Killswitch Engage were performing in our great city. This show’s placement in the middle of the work week refined the crowd from people finding something to do on their day off to people who would risk their sleep schedules to see three amazing bands.
I’ve always found that waiting in line outside of the venue is a great start to a show because you get to hear what people say about the bands. The Reverend and I stood right next to someone who was less than affectionate for Shadows Fall; we noted this because her choice to use derogatory terms in her description of the band rather than her choosing to use a more logical and fact-based argument that other people would use. (editor’s note: she called Brian Fair, Shadows Fall’s lead singer “gay” and she didn’t mean he was homosexual, so clearly she is font of taste and discernment, or you know someone who needs to be made aware that is not cool) This conversation continued until we had finally passed Hawthorne Theatre’s security.
Acaro were the opening act for the night and they sounded great and performed great as well. Unfortunately the crowd was pretty weak at this point in the show because that the place wasn’t full and people weren’t warmed up yet. Two guys along with the Reverend and I were the only ones moshing which was fun, but it wasn’t super intense in terms of overall crowd intensity. Acaro’s set was great in terms of performance, but they only played about half an hour.
By the time Shadows Fall came on, the crowd had filled in significantly which brought along the 300 lb. moshers, which pretty much ruled my participation out. Shadows Fall were amazing performers, excelling significantly in their manipulation of the stage lighting and their ability to excite the crowd. Also, Brian Fair’s dreads were a great addition in terms of the visual aspect of the set. The crowd was great as well, people had started to stagedive and be more involved in the metal experience. (editor’s note: DD did plenty of stagediving his own self)
After two great acts, Killswitch Engage performed and did a damn good job of it too. Killswitch Engage started with some Howard Jones-era songs, which was really quite great to experience since Jesse Leach is the band’s vocalist again. The band then performed their entire “Alive or Just Breathing” record. I’ve listened to that record many times from start to finish and it never gets old, so having the live experience was absolutely amazing and, based upon the way the crowd acted, they felt largely the same too. After performing the entire record, Killswitch ended with two more Howard Jones-era songs, ultimately bringing their set to around two hours in length.
This concert was one of the greatest shows I have ever been to. After the opening, the crowd was intense, responsive, and fully engaged in the metal experience. While the show was at a small venue, which is a complaint from many people but not from me, the show was amazing and the music was loud. All three of these bands were great performers and even though I wasn’t completely familiar with all of the songs by the first two bands, they made an environment that was great for new fans and diehards alike. This will be a show that I will remember for many years to come.


I can’t thank Dylan enough for inviting me along and for writing this review.

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My sister, Mo, is in town. She’s in town because we are David Byrne-ing it up!(Byrne-ing down the house?) Tonight we get to see him talk about his book How Music Works with Carrie Brownstein, but last night we saw him perform with St. Vincent(Annie Clark) in support of their collaborative album Love This Giant

Intention. Beauty. Art. That is what we witnessed. I’ll be honest. I don’t really know how to write this review; how to properly convey the experience I had. Let me start with the basics and go from there.

There was a minimalist stage set up; just a few stage lights and a plain white backdrop. This was used to great affect when setting the mood. Byrne and St. Vincent both convey an amazing stage presence and are amazing vocalists and, as Mrs. Muffin said, St. Vincent has Prince-like chops on the guitar. The eight-piece horn section, drummer, and keyboardist were tight-every single one of them consummate musicians. Each song had it’s own choreography whether it was dancing, marching around the stage or even having the horn section and Byrne lie down so the attention was aimed at St. Vincent.

Everything was so focussed and thoughtful and every song was so good and every performer so on their game. And here is the part that is kind of hard to explain. I have been to many concerts and had an amazing time. There are times when the artist or band and the audience are so in sync that it becomes transcendent (Belly at LaLuna in ’95 comes to mind). While last night’s concert did not attain that kind of transcendence, it did offer something else-at least to me. About three songs in it all hit me: David Byrne, St. Vincent, the horn section, the drummer, the keyboardist, the amount of work, dedication, passion, talent, and the level of the craft that I was witnessing and then it happened. Bear with me here kids….my eyes watered…they teared up. I didn’t cry, but I would say I was moved to tears. I have heard people talk about being brought to tears by artwork or a piece of music and have never gotten it. I understand those things bringing out something that is already inside of a person, but never believed the art or music did it in and of itself. Maybe I had something inside me that recognized what was going on up on the stage last night, but it seemed bigger than that and it definitely didn’t feel like it was about me.


Of note:
They played three encores and when they introduced the members of the horn section they pointed out that each person had their own table in the lobby selling merchandise for their individual bands they are in outside of the Love This Giant project. That’s class, folks.

Every song was amazing. That is rare, but it’s true.

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One of my bands, Zombies Love Gizzards, will be playing at 10pm this Saturday Oct 13 at The Red Room located at 2530 NE 82nd Ave, Portland, Oregon 97220.
Please come check us out. It will look something like this…NSFW

We also have an album you can purchase here: http://zombieslovegizzards.bandcamp.com/

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Last night I got to see Ion Storm‘s inaugural show! They were amazing from the first song to the last. For those unaware I interviewed  them here. Go get acquainted with them and then come right back. It’s OK. I’ll wait.

Everything I’ve heard from them so far has impressed me, but those were only recordings. One really must see them live to get the full impact. First, amazing guitar tone and a pretty tight outfit. I know these guys practice up to 12 hours at a go and it shows. Their current bass player is a recent addition and it showed a bit, but overall he brought the low end. Drummer Tim was solid, fast, and interesting. I thought there was a moment when he was losing the beat, but it was just a part of a tempo change that was written into the song. Grady and Chris had some great harmonized riffage going on that seemed to focus around 4ths and it sounded great. My main complaint was the vocal levels. This show was at the Red Room and their vocals always seem low, but Grady represented growl well.

Oh, did I mention they have a Minotaur? His name is Drew. Look at him.

Do you have a Minotaur? No, you do not. I played bullfighter with Drew for a bit. It was good times.

This band has a lot to offer and brought the heat, which leads me to the title of this post. Look up there ↑ and read it again. At most there were three people up off their butts rocking out, including me and Drew. I wish that this was the exception rather than the rule. I know people want to blame smart phones etc, but it’s not that. In my estimation it’s our self reflective, self conscious society. To put it another way: we are afraid of having fun and looking like fools(Well, not me clearly. I played bullfighter with a Minotaur). It needs to stop now. Do it for yourself. Get up!! Dance! Bang your head!! Visibly enjoy yourself!!!

But also do it for that band up there on the stage or the one on the floor where the pool tables had to be moved to make room. They don’t spend 12 hours at a go writing and rehearsing so you can sit there drinking your PBR and golf clapping after every song. And I can guarantee you they didn’t do it for the money, because bands rarely get paid much if anything just starting out. This is a two way street. They are there for you and you need to be there for them.

Some pics from the show:

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