Sunday, July 22, 2012

Friday, August 3rd - Passenger & Pilot, Cars & Trains

Hello again!  It's been a while, but after a much needed break and rest, we are fully back to booking shows here at The Christmas Horse!  With that said, we have a great schedule coming up that we're anxious to tell you about!  We'll be hosting the likes of Ashia Grzesik, Houswife, Autopilot is for Lovers, JL Stiles, and Shannon Stevens; but first, we're delighted to present you the first show that we're debuting our new schedule with.  On August 3rd, we'll be hosting the talented and touring Passenger & Pilot with the immensely talented multi-instrumentalist one-man project Cars & Trains!  I promise that the pairing of bands names was coincidental!

Passenger & Pilot
Passenger & Pilot hail from San Francisco, and I met them last year on tour and played an amazing show with them!  They bring heartfelt and heavily arranged compositions.  The whole band has a broad and captivating sound, and it's centered around duet harmonies from the two main songwriters China Langford and Jonathan Hirsch.  When thinking of this band, it brings images of being very community-oriented and engaged with their local surroundings, the band brings together people by it's earnest approach to songwriting and their expression in general.  They're touring in support of their recent release 'The Calm Before'. Gorgeous.

Cars & Trains
Cars & Trains is the complex and mind-boggling project of Tom Fillep, who is the only member of this project, but you would never know that while listening to his music.  Each composition is dense and layered with acoustic textures and resonating vocals laid underneath loops and electronic beats that sway and glitch in and out of everything.  There's a lot to say about Cars & Trains, but it's best just to hear for yourself.  It's a great privilege to FINALLY get him to play!!

This is going to be great.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Continuing with our series of videos, we bring you PANCAKE BREAKFAST! Mike Midlo and Co. have made a couple of appearances at The Christmas Horse and have left such wonderful and indelible impressions with each visit!  Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Saturday, May 5th: Wayward Vessel, Sam Cooper

It's been a while since I've updated our site, so apologies on that front!  We've been busy at the Christmas Horse and we've got a lot in store this month!  Just coming off of having a residency series at the Waypost, we're happy to be coming back to hosting shows in the confines of our comfortable home.  What's coming up you ask?  We're celebrating Cinco De Mayo with two talented performances from Sam Cooper and Wayward Vessel!!

Wayward Vessel
A few months ago when I received an email from Kenneth Chapple, 1/4 of Wayward Vessel, I checked out their music and I was immediately hooked.  They present energetic and uplifting bluegrass.  Each player in the group is extremely well-versed and comfortable with their instrument. At times they swell and interweave their melodies in flurries and then break into space to let their individual voices to evolve and be showcased.  Switching between male and female lead vocals, they sing songs of joy and solace that transition often brings.  We're looking forward to exploring a side of acoustic music that we haven't hosted before.  This will surely be a treat.  Please be sure to check out their opening song Shady Grove on their recent release, reminds me of Gillian Welch.

Sam Cooper has always been an immense treat in every capacity that he's performed in, with each set carrying a unique charm into the next.  Sam's shows are always crafted, yet held hold a space for spontaneity in how he plays his songs.  Each set that I've seen has been engaging and spirited.  Sam Cooper is well versed in whatever instrument he picks up, and he crafts immersive stories to accommodate each one.  Mr. Cooper's songs are playful and have a wide range of emotions, and the one consistent element is how they always shift.

This will be a very special show indeed.  It may still be cold enough at night for a fire.  Come and share an evening with friends and music!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Saturday, April 7th: Porches, Old Age

Hello everyone!!  After a bit of a hiatus from hosting shows, we're coming back with something a little different.  For the month of April, we're going to be hosting a series of shows on every Saturday at a great space called The Waypost!  This venue is nestled in north Portland, near Mississippi Street and has a great intimate feel.  I've seen a fair amount of wonderful shows there, and it's great to be teaming up with them!

The first show in the series will be a great show with dear friends in the local band Porches, and another wonderful band from Corvallis called Old Age.

There's a lot to be said about the band Porches.  I've known these chums for a while now, and the one thing that I've always seen is their constant exploration and progression of their sound.  I've seen them in many different formats and a diverse array of instrumentation.  All of the members have seemed to have landed on captivating straight forward rock that has subtleties of intricate melodies within the the giant wall of sound that they create.  All of the members bounce from instrument to instrument, constantly changing and switching things up throughout the set.  It's a ton of fun to watch and experience.  There's a lot of members and they're all extremely talented. They have also written one of my all-time favorite songs called Bird in a Cage.  I would whole-heartily recommend seeing this band if you haven't already. They'll be playing a special low-key set that I'm looking forward to seeing!

Old Age
Another band that I've seen a lot more of recently have been Corvallis darlings Old Age who have been playing a ton recently and have been making it up to Portland a good amount.  The band is mainly guitarist Matthew Ulm and bassist Dustin Daniels who have great chemistry on stage that could only be harnessed by playing together so long.  Old Age presents great songs and story telling through angular compositions that echoes Built to Spill and others of a similar ilk.

Both bands compliment each other perfectly and I know that this will be a fantastic evening of music.  Come out for a kickoff of unique shows in the Christmas Horse lineage!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Saturday, February 11th - Like A Villain, Waver, Clamor, Bellow

After looking at our calendar, I realize that we have hosted shows for the past 5 months straight and with each show we feel the support growing with each one.  One of the things that strikes me the most about these shows is that the audience is always drastically different, ranging from old to young and people coming to support their friends and strangers.  We are proud to say that this has always been a safe place for music and expression and we really feel that everyone has contributed in an immense way!

Waver, Clamor, Bellow
For this next show, we're changing the mood a bit.  We're taking a breath from acoustic guitars and plugging in.  We're excited to announce that Waver, Clamor, Bellow will be returning to the living room.  Spearheaded by guitarist Vernon Shepard and collaborator Ben Magaziner on viola and pedals, they present melodic soundscapes that remind me of A Silver Mt. Zion and Windy & Carl.  Backed with pedals, they interweave a lush atmosphere and provide a lot of sound for two people.  Their "songs" are captured by moments, and while there's a lot of space in their compositions, they are very intentional with textures and each time I've seen them perform, they get more layered and intricate.  You can't find their music online, so you'll have to come and see/listen for yourself!

Like A Villain
There's a lot of ways that I've heard Holland Andrew's (aka Like A Villain) music described - I've just read it as being "Post-Minimalism" - and there's a reason why it's described in so many ways, it's because her music is uniquely it's own and it pulls from a lot of different places.  I would call Holland's music as dense, textured and multi-formed.  Each of her songs bring a unique character that's different from the others.  The compositions from Like A Villain are laden with loops that are often vocal and clarinet-oriented.  Holland's voice is really strong and her harmonies remind me of Bjork.  Her songs are at times peaceful and are more instrumental.  There's a lot of play with dissonance, but comfortable dissonance, while the songs move seamlessly into the next.  We're elated to host Holland and the immense talent that she brings!  You can hear her music at her Facebook page.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Saturday, January 14th - Better Homes & Gardens, Greylag, Old Age

Better Homes & Gardens
We're elated to announce that we'll be starting off the new year with an incredible show!  I've been trying to get the immensely talented Reed Wallsmith to play at the Christmas Horse for a long, and FINALLY, he's going to perform here with his project Better Homes & Gardens.  This project also involves an insane all-star group consisting of Joe Cunningham (Blue Cranes), Jon Shaw, and Tim DuRoche.  Wallsmith & Co. navigate through their jazz compositions with such a strong artistic integrity, often exploring more the landscapes the music is presenting, rather than notes and technical composition.  There's a wealth to say about all of the players in this group, and it's very hard to specify all that they do.  Reed has definitely made me into a believer in the saxophone, which was honestly a huge feat.  In both of his projects, Reed pays homage to the jazz tradition and is a very accomplished player (receiving various grants and accolades) and approaches his music with a collaborative and experimental guise.  I would highly recommend looking up the projects that Reed's been involved with, very inspiring.

Another group that I've been very excited to bring is Greylag, a newly-transplanted band to Portland.  Fronted by Andrew Stonestreet, Greylag presents very layered and guitar textured folk-pop songs backed by interesting percussive surges.  There are beautiful harmonies within each of the pieces that I've listened to, a song that really stands out to me is Black Crow, the song moves and sweeps with dense instrumentation without getting too busy and keeps a simplicity that a hard feat to keep in check.  Greylag is a group of extremely talented musicians that I believe will perform an amazing set and I'm very much looking forward to seeing how they play their songs live, there is a ton of energy to each piece.

It's an understatement that this is going to an amazing show.  Let's kick the year off right and spend the evening with good music and people!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A personal account

I feel inspired to post a recent entry that was sent to me from Phillipe Bronchtein (of Hip Hatchet) who recently performed at the Christmas Horse.  It's deeply touching and epitomizes the spirit of the space we are striving to create.  This, as other personal accounts really hits home to the sense of community and open dialogue through art, and we are so honored to be a part of the process.  A huge thanks to Ryan Sollee, Hip Hatchet, and Cotton for making last Saturday an incredible evening!

Christmas Horse
There is a big difference between playing through amplification and sitting in a living room with acoustic guitars. In recent shows, Alex and I have been playing our acoustic guitars through our amps. This decision mainly stems from the kind of shows we’ve been able to book, opening slots for louder acts. In an effort to pull our weight in medium sized rooms (often times fairly empty) the amplifiers make it easier to pack a punch.
Here’s the thing. I didn’t start writing folk songs so i could fill rock clubs with amplified acoustic guitars. Frankly, I have no interest in playing live with a traditional backing band, and the recent shows have felt like I’ve had each foot in separate worlds.
Last night, Alex and I played at a living room in Southeast Portland supporting Ryan Sollee from The Builders and the Butchers. No amps, no microphones. This show epitomized what I love about writing songs. Writing a song is an intimate act, and performing a song is the most direct way to share that intimacy. Without any amplification to hide behind I felt like I was able to share the songs the way I intended to share them. Raw seems like a cheap word to use, but it felt more honest than any show we’ve done in recent memory. No bullshit, no contrived banter, no amps, just songs.
Ryan’s set was a nice reminder of why songwriting is really the foundation of any band. The Builders and the Butchers are known for their bombastic ballads, raucous live show, and lyrics that could be lifted from a scene in a Cormac McCarthy novel. Strip away everything except the chords and the words, and the songs suddenly resonated in a new way. Not better or worse, just simpler. The song as a craft pushed to the forefront and all of a sudden my connection to the songs became more immediate.
It’s that immediacy that I’m passionate about. Living room venues are such an amazing place to share songs; the direct connection that they facilitate isn’t found anywhere else. I want to thank Stirling Myles at the Christmas Horse for organizing a night that reminded me why this songwriting thing is important to me in the first place.