Wednesday, January 25, 2012

ed + the red reds prep 10-piece band for cd release at the piano fort

A revolving collective led by Ed Thanhouser, Ed & The Red Reds' 10-track Lost Leader dropped on January 23rd but the celebration happens on Friday the 27th when "my big-ass band of 10 people takes the stage to play the whole album start to finish," Thanhouser says.

Ed and Co. will be headlining Sellwood's The Piano Fort (read OMN's recent article on the venue) for the release of their debut CD with Meridian, W.C. Beck & The Valiant Swains, and Ezza Rose.

Full of road weary tales, and a little bit of rambling, supported by the delicate vocals of Jade Eckler (Loch Lomond), Jenny Wayne (John Heart Jackie) and Ezza Rose, Lost Leader has twang on "Albatross," a not-so-subtle-rage on "Black Fitted Shirt," a bit-o-blues on "Doubt" (thanks to Paul Christiansen's organ work), and it's all propelled by Thanhouser's honest songwriting--"Would love me, when I'm ugly, when I'm old, and I'm pudgy, it's alright, you don't have to lie to me," Thanhouser bellows on "Albatross" (below)--and strong yet inviting vocals.

The sparse moments of Lost Leader give way to wicked guitar solos (again on "Albatross," provided by Hoyt Emerson) and feedback battling harmonicas at the end of album opener, "Story of the Sound." Thanhouser's definitely a countrified boy wrapped up in an indescribable Portland indie rock scene. (See the above photo for proof.) Part of a burgeoning alt-country, folk-country, singer/songwriter umbrella, it doesn't matter much what you call it just "don't you dare call it 'Americana' goddamnit," Thanhouser threatens.

"Trying to get it close to the sound on the record" (which was recorded at Type Foundry by Adam Selzer) and playing it in its entirety, Thanhouser will bring Lost Leader to the stage with Jennie Wayne, Jade Eckler, and Ezza Rose providing vocals, Reed Wallsmith (Blue Cranes) playing sax, Kenny Feinstein (Water Tower Bucket Boys) on mandolin, Hoyt Emerson on guitar, Sophie Vitells on fiddle, Zach Stamler on bass, Ryan McPhail on drums, and Jason Montgomery (Jackrabbit, The Low Bones) playing "everything from baritone guitar to pedal steel to plain old Tele. Yeah, that's a lot of people... we could almost be a soul band!"

Read the rest on OMN.

Friday, January 20, 2012

sellwood’s newest venue : the piano fort

As Portlanders were faced with the demise of one Sellwood clubhouse, another is destined to rise, nearby, from its ashes. And again, much of the appeal of this new venue is the uniqueness of the establishment: Modcott Pianos by day and The Piano Fort by night.

Enter Modcott during business hours and you'll be greeted by the full-bearded, easygoing, polite owner Sam Evans and his feisty, beige-and-white, miniature Italian greyhound Stella, who'll not doubt excitedly paw at your calves and thighs.

Discarded piano parts line the walls, providing decoration for the spacious warehouse located a block from the intersection of Milwaukie and 17th on Spokane St., and the chalk, A-frame sign out front reads: "Piano Repair, Transport, Tuning, Rebuilding, Art & Music."

It's that last bit we'd like to focus on. While piano restoration is most definitely an art, and a craft Evans has been perfecting for 16 years, The Piano Fort is a fairly recent development in the history of the one-year-old shop. Modcott, an abbreviated take on the name modern cottage, referring to the original upright, cottage-style piano, threw its first show on June 18th and has been averaging about one per month since then, with six or seven shows now in the books.

Friend and multi-instrumentalist for Blitzen Trapper, Marty Marquis, first suggested that Evans host a show. The thought had crossed the piano tinker's mind before and his consent resulted in a successful benefit concert featuring Lone Madrone, Seth Kenzie, and Marquis.

But the inaugural performance at The Piano Fort would not simply be performed in the corner or even on top of a makeshift stage. No, the structural integrity of the stage would be founded upon the sturdy cases of grands themselves.

"Grands are actually supporting the music," Evans grins as he steps from stair to piano bench to keys--producing a discordant mash of notes--before taking the stage built on top of pianos. With five pianos (four grands and a spinet) bearing the load, Evans ensures that the strength of the cases leaves the solid instruments unharmed, except for the spinet used as a stair, which he assures is garbage anyways. Proving his point, he demonstrates that two of the supporting pianos are perfectly functional, allowing audience members to include themselves in the action if so moved. Another level above the stage sits a drum kit and bands have been known to employ the space for a horn section, keys or wicked guitar solos.

Enter The Piano Fort on the night of a show and you'll encounter an atmosphere that embodies the Portland DIY, house scene. The Fort's policies include a small door charge (often $5 to simply cover expenses), all ages welcome, BYOB if you're 21+, and respect the space--it is a functional workshop replete with tools hanging from pegboards and piano parts hiding in the recesses.

Read the rest on OMN.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

5 local alternatives to 24 hour fitness

You should have made your New Year's resolutions by now, and if you're anything like the rest of us, it's likely that one of your resolutions involves your health: eating right, getting in shape, shedding a few pounds, or training for a marathon if you're one of those ambitious (aka crazy) types.

But, we're already halfway through January so it's time to take stock of your good intentions and look hard at yourself in the mirror: Are you really staying true to your promises of healthy living? If fitness was on your list, we're here to give you a little push by offering some cool, local alternatives to the fitness giants.

The Green Microgym

Self-proclaimed to be the "world's first electricity generating gyms," The Green Microgyms really are green. With three locations (Sellwood, Belmont, Alberta) open 24 hours, each gym offers "members a completely green gym" experience by capturing the energy from a workout and repurposing it to power the building. Or as the gym's website states: "The energy bar one member just ate powers the ceiling fan for the next three hours." If feeling good about being green isn't enough, you can also "Burn and Earn." Teaming up with Supportland, you can earn five points to use at local businesses for every half hour workout on any piece of electricity-generating equipment. Franchising opportunities are already available in over half of the nation's states as The Green Microgym continues its aim to reduce the impact of your footprint, on more than one level. One day free trial.

The Green Microgym Sellwood: 7703 SE 13th, 503.933.2230; Belmont: 828 SE 34th, Studio B, 503.313.6216; Alberta: 1237 NE Alberta St., 503.933.2230

East Portland Community Center & Pool

Under Portland Parks & Rec control since 1998, amenities include an indoor basketball court, rock climbing wall, and a spacious pool area with a four-lane, 25-yard lap pool, a leisure pool with water two slides, and a hot tub. The fitness room has free weights and machines as well as bikes, treadmills, ellipticals, and stair climbers, plus personal training is available. Drop-in group exercise classes include Nia, Zumba, cardio, Pilates, yoga, belly dancing, water aerobics and more. With plenty of pass options, the center is extremely family friendly and affordable. Drop-in trial passes are $2.

East Portland Community Center & Pool, 740 SE 106th Ave., 503.823.3450

Read the rest on Neighborhood Notes.

Friday, January 13, 2012

garage punk break ups + monsters : a q/a with the pack a.d.

"Louder and faster."

That was the mindset of The Pack A.D.'s Maya Miller and Becky Black as they entered to the studio to record their fourth album, Unpersons, which was released on September 13th, 2011.

The gritty BC duo of Miller on drums and Black on guitar and vocals has always stunned with their potent, feral energy and a raw sense of their own "sloppiness"—a punk ethos their looking to embrace moving forward.

"You don't have to be perfect, which we're not," Miller laughs.

The last time The Pack A.D. played Portland, it was a little-attended affair in the corner of Rontoms on a Sunday night. Before that gig, I described them as:

A female Black Keys pulsing with crude, bluesy energy and endlessly crashing cymbals, drummer Maya Miller puts Meg White to shame while singer/guitarist Becky Black drawls and hauls with the best male garage rockers.
And while I'm sure they're sick of The Black Keys comparison, they've got a leg up on the Akron duo--not to mention it's still a wise positioning tool as the Carney/Auerbach team is the hottest rock duo since The White Stripes broke up. It took The Black Keys seven albums to ditch their blues, but The Pack A.D. has made their first foray outside of their roots in three albums less.

It's funny. Neither of these bands really cared for the blues in the first place--it was just an easy starting point. The Keys cite the influence of Wu-Tang and hip-hop (as they demonstrated with Blakroc) while Miller admits she's been listening to dubstep lately. Plus, her and Black have oft plotted "a secret side project": "We've been talking for a while about doing an alternate band that would be an electronic band purely," Miller confides.

Don't worry, that won't happened under The Pack A.D. moniker because as the blues get pushed aside in favor of garage punk, the girls still maintain their intentions to only record what can be reproduced live as a duo.

"We don't really have any pretense to elaborate, orchestral pieces or anything like that," Miller explains. "We wanna have as much fun as we would have if we went to a show."

And for both audience members and The Pack A.D. to have fun, expect the music to get "louder and faster" while the lyrics reveal on their geeky pleasures: songs about break ups and monsters, in particular, on Unpersons.

"Sirens" features "an undersea creature" originally inspired by an episode of Angel (more on this later). There's a Frankenstein reference plus robots and ghosts on "Haunt You" (below).

In 2011, "We played the least amount of shows we've playing in three years," says Miller. Well, that's about to change as The Pack A.D. hits the ground running in 2012 starting with a string of four NW dates in January, including the Doug Fir on the 19th, before more dates all over the US in March.

In the weeks following the holidays and leading up to their first dates of the new year, OMN spoke to Maya Miller on the phone from her home in Vancouver, BC. With two and half months of touring already under their belts supporting Unpersons, The Pack A.D. already hit up most of Canada and the Northern US plus recently returned from Europe.

What's been the most memorable tour experience so far supporting this record?

We did Canada and then some US dates and then we went to Europe and did shows in France and Germany and Italy and Switzerland. We played a show in Paris and when we played our song "Sirens" this girl jumped up on stage and grabbed the mic and proceeded to do the chorus parts. We couldn't really stop her because Becky has to keep playing guitar and I can't really leave the drums. To her credit, she actually got it right.

Read the rest on OMN.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

10 creative uses for your small business calendar

Any small business owner or organization can create value through creative calendaring.

Business calendars are nothing new—from scheduling appointments and meetings to planning promotions and paying the bills or employees—but it's likely that you are not using your calendar to its full potential.

"I'm trying to move towards a space where it's not only an individual planning tool, but it's also a group planning tool and a historical record for the organization," explains Loren Guerriero, the Community Outreach Coordinator for Mercy Corps NW.

Don't worry, you don't have to look far to learn about the benefits of advanced calendaring processes as the testimonials below from several Portland thought leaders will demonstrate that any small business owner or organization can create value through creative calendaring.

"I rely on my calendar; it's critical to how I conduct myself through the day,” says Lisa Christy, an Associate Media Director at Wieden+Kennedy. "If something's not on the calendar, it's not real."

If your own sentiments don't echo Christy's, it might be time to reconsider how you use calendars. So, what are the purposes for a calendar?


Calendars can help you compartmentalize your time. They will help you stay organized, plan ahead and even relieve some stress while potentially increasing productivity.

"I don't have to worry about where I'm supposed to be and when and with whom," Christy continues. "It frees all that up… so I can focus my energy on thinking about what I'm doing as opposed to worrying about where I'm supposed to be."

"It keeps me on task and keeps me going," Christy adds.

In an agency environment where "a lot of people are working on a lot of different stuff" like at Ben Lloyd's Amplify Interactive, some employees choose to block out certain times to work on the same weekly tasks or projects for clients, making sure everything is properly maintained and deadlines are met.


Or better yet, communicating without communicating. At a boutique digital agency like Amplify Interactive, president Ben Lloyd can schedule appointments with his employees without even exchanging a word. Simply turn on several calendars side by side, compare availabilities, and Lloyd can schedule a meeting for the entire team with a few clicks. Employees will automatically see the meeting, location, time, and any other pertinent information in their own calendar windows.

"Organization and calendaring is usually one of the first things that we talk about when I interview people," Lloyd says, "because it's a really big part of working in an agency environment like ours."

But the communication extends far beyond the walls of his office and personal employees.

"We're able to send calendar appointments to clients and see who's attending all from the calendaring system," Lloyd says.

And organizations like Mercy Corps NW have both internal and external calendars.

Read the next eight tips on Neighborhood Notes.

Monday, January 9, 2012

farewell, the woods

Sadly, it's official. The Woods is no more.

Riding my bike by there today was bittersweet, just like the last song of Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside's set on Saturday night. Seeing a hodgepodge of chairs and couches sitting behind the locked, black iron gates made me fantasize that a resurrection was still possible.

But the facts are that the property is owned by Claybourne Commons, LLC, which was looking to raise the rent while the owners of The Woods, Ritchie Young, Vivien Lyon, and Yoni Shpak, would've liked a rent decrease. This effectively pushed the music venue out as Claybourne Commons currently hopes to redevelop the land, pushing the former funeral home, built in 1928, back half a block with plans to use the new real estate on SE Milwaukie for storefronts.

After two-and-half years of Bingo and Bourbon, Baby Ketten Karaoke, soul night with DJ Cooky Parker, and intimate concerts--one of my most memorable was an evening with The Robinsons and Y La Bamba--it was all destined to end on Saturday, January 7th.

But not without a free show. And a great, local line up to boot: Brothers Young, AgesandAges, and Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside.

A line stretched around the block all night long, and the place was packed well-past the supposed 300 person capacity. Familiar faces from the PDX music scene abounded with the likes of Lewi Longmire, Jim Brunberg of Mississippi Studios, the boys of Lone Madrone, music video director Alicia J. Rose, all of the brothers Young (how many are there anyways?), Dennise Kowalczyk of KZME, and the brothers from Rose City Live (who have a great gallery of photos up) all wandering around throughout the night.

Read the rest on OMN.

Friday, January 6, 2012

school of rock + pdx pop now! bring the 'best of portland'

Portland's School of Rock is accustomed to a rock 'n' roll lifestyle.

"This is what School of Rock does year round: teach kids music/songs/entire albums and put on rock and roll shows," says Dani Fish, the assistant manager and an instructor at the Portland School of Rock. "But it’s our first time partnering with PDX Pop Now!," she continues in reference to the upcoming Best of Portland concert at the Crystal Ballroom on Friday, January 13th.

"And it’s about time!" Fish exclaims. "We’re both focused on making music accessible to kids. We’re both teaching kids how to love music. PDX Pop has the local music scene on lock down and does an incredible job of making it open to all ages, and it’s amazing to combine our strengths to put on one great Portland-music-honoring night."

She's talking about the Best of Portland, of course--a night which will feature Portland School of Rock students on stage at the Crystal Ballroom playing music by Portland bands alongside the actual band members. Teenagers rocking out to the local music that they love next to the artists that actually wrote the music. The holidays are over and the "grown ups" will once again mingle with the youngsters... or more likely, the kids will show the adults a thing or two on stage.

"Playing with the kids on stage are members of: The Thermals, M. Ward, Blitzen Trapper, Menomena, YACHT, Radiation City, Typhoon, Danava, The Portland Cello Project, Laura Veirs, Ancient Heat, Mean Jeans, Cower, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Nether Regions, and Zia from Dandy Warhols," Fish lists. "In some cases (like The Thermals), all of the band members are going to be playing with the kids, so it’s going to be epic."

The night will feature two hours of performance from the kids and bands together, "a secret tribute performance," and the normal Friday night affair of '80s Video Dance Attack till close.

Supporting Fish in organizing such an ambitious evening is Ed Thanhouser, the former PDX Pop Now! booking coordinator and current advisory board member who's also been known to lead Ed & The Red Reds--set to release the new album Lost Leader on January 23rd--as well as pen a few articles for OMN.

"I’m grateful Ed and the PDX Pop folks agreed to partner with us," Fish adds. The partnership includes that all of the proceeds from the show will go towards PDX Pop Now!--for their wonderful all-ages, music education advocacy efforts, compilation CDs and summer festival--and PROWUS, which stands for Portland Rock On With Us.

"This nonprofit [PROWUS] was founded by a group of radical School of Rock moms years ago and is now a full-blown nonprofit that serves as a music grant foundation," Fish explains. "Any kid, 18 and younger, can apply for a scholarship to attend any music education program in the city. It’s all about accessibility and fighting the lack of arts education available to folks from varying socio-economic backgrounds."

The rock 'n' roll lifestyle at the PDX SOR will continue long after the Best of Portland performance as current SOR programs include Mötley Crüe vs. Guns N' Roses (destined to battle on Sunday, January 15th at the Mission Theater) and sets dedicated to the albums of Queens of the Stone Age, Pink Floyd, Slayer, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and Nick Cave. See photos of SOR kids playing Rush in June of last year.

With two and a half years under her belt at the SOR, Fish--also a musician, using the moniker Tiny Hearts, who has worked and recorded with Paschal Coeur, Winterhaven, Babies Got Rabies, Vanimal, and Damon Boucher--will be directing the Best of Portland show, an idea she's been aching for "since I started working at School of Rock. I love the creativity in this city and wanted to: 1. Represent [it] 2. Expose more young people to the greatness that’s all around them."

Your goal is "to showcase 25 of the best current Portland bands." How'd you pick the bands?

Dani Fish: This is a show meant to benefit everyone involved. Kids get exposed to great music and get to play their dream gig. Local bands get more visibility. PDX Pop Now! gets money to fund their all-ages music endeavors. School of Rock gets to do what we love to do.

Read the rest on OMN and leave a comment for your chance to win a pair of tickets.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

welcome : black pussy

So much comes through my gd inbox every, single day that it's extremely difficult to stay afloat. I'm constantly skimming, always forwarding, and rarely revisiting. Often the squeaky wheel gets the oil and I spend the bulk of my time responding to inquiries and requests from the people I personally know.

Everything else of interest, especially that which is local, gets a little Gmail label stuck on it. And then it gets pushed into email oblivion. Once it has left that first page of 50, or even fallen beneath the fold with 30+ emails sitting above, it may be lost, even if it's gone unread because I knew I was interested in it... ever so slowly it slips into the digital quicksand, briefly resurfacing if it's lucky enough to be searchable (or unlucky depending how searchable it is), begging to escape the inbox purgatory, pleading for hell: permanent deletion.

It takes a very special set of, completely subjective, oft uncontrollable, circumstances to escape this fate.

Enter: Black Pussy.

Already cognizant of the psych, trance rock of White Orange, a less serious, stoner rock (see here) alter ego is not out of the question... I just wish someone would've slapped me in the face with it!

Instead, I breezed through the email.

But thankfully, OMN's Ruben Mosqueda quickly offered to do a write up on the band's debut, six-track album, On Blonde, due out on January 17th.

"That takes care of that," I thought. And it may have been another long while before, or if, I ever revisited Black Pussy.

If only I'd slogged through the initial emails/bios I would've realized that Black Pussy is the "baby" of White Orange vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Dustin Hill and features WO guitarist Ryan McIntire, bassist Adam Pike and drummer Dean Carroll plus backing vocalist Madeline Mahrie and guitarist Peter Meissner, who also provided the album's artwork.

And I would've read this descriptive gem: "The Rolling Stones song 'Brown Sugar,'" Hills says. "We heard a rumor that they wanted to call it 'Black Pussy' but for some reason or another they had to bring it down."

So, how did Black Pussy finally capture my attention? Another press email, a few more forwards, some banter back and forth, and it hit me that this was the band that my buddy Sabotage Jones said he saw on NYE in White Orange's stead at Kelly's Olympian. Stoner rock, copious consumption, make outs, nudity on stage. Here are the photos to prove it.

It takes a couple of days for these things to settle in.

So, back I go to read Ruben's yet-to-be-published review where he says, "Portland's Black Pussy is a sludgy throw-back that harkens to a time when lava lamps and black lights reigned supreme. Their debut On Blonde is full of rebellious attitude, obnoxious, distorted guitars, and memorable hooks."

Not to mention: "The lyrical content touches on everything that you’d expect--sex, drugs, more sex, and rock ‘n’ roll--and comes as no surprise from a band that lists their inspirations as weed, wine and women, not necessarily in that order."

Couldn't of said it better myself. Here's to bong rips, "high-heeled cocaine" and Black Pussy.

Welcome. I will be delighted to celebrate the release of On Blonde at the Ash Street Saloon on Saturday, February 11th.