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.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saturday, December 17th - Petoskey, Bridgit Jacobsen, Houswife

We are elated to wrap up this year of our living room shows with the joyful sounds of Petoskey!  After such a great year of shows, this is the perfect way to put a cap on 2011!

Petoskey is a very lively band fronted by the charismatic Angie Kuzma who's voice reminds me of Joanna Newsom backed my an energetic group of talented instrumentalists.  Their songs bounce between delicate musings and erupt into flashes of shuffling and swells, always shifting moods within each compositions.  There's a great attention to detail and dynamics to their songs, and they move seamlessly from one part to the other leaving the listener naturally with them as they continue and progress with the story presenting within the song.  They recently released their stellar album Bombs Away that is a solid collection of well-crafted pieces.  A song that really stands out to me is called Always, please check out the full album HERE.

Bridgit Jacobsen
We're so excited to host one of talented and dear friends Bridgit Jacobsen!  The last time that she played here, she silenced the audience from the first to last chord strummed during her performance.  Bridgit plays simple, yet engaging songs, with her voice melding perfectly with her guitar and her strong melodies carrying through each piece with a subtle and trance-like force.  With each song progressing within her set, you're left with a lifted mood and a sense of reflective optimism.  There is no filter with how Bridgit Jacobsen plays and her presence as a person, with each song as a genuine story.  We're honored to have her play here again and she will be performing new material, which I am sure to be quite the show! You can hear some of her music HERE.

"For Kela Parker (aka Houswife), the musician who writes and performs under the name Houswife, music has been a constant presence her whole life, albeit a low-profile one.Her sound bears the mark of the music that inspired Parker to start playing music as a child. The delicate and insistent sound of the piano comes equally from her love of the work of Mozart and Rachmaninoff; the circuitous swirl of her guitar playing inspired by folk artists like Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. You can hear the imprint of modern indie rock on these songs, as well. "Let The Walls" echoes with the ghostly pull of artists like Cat Power and PJ Harvey, and "Cutting Cords" aching like the best moments of Bill Callahan. Add to it, a vocal style that gives a tangy, brassy edge to lyrics that closely examine the intricacies of life from both a personal and a universal angle." - Robert Ham speaking about her debut self-titled album.

I want to extend a very loud THANKS to: Dustin Hamman (Run On Sentence), Ezza RoseShoeshine Blue, Mike Apinyakula (Shoeshine Blue), Pancake Breakfast, Justin Lamoraux (Midwest Dilemma), The Moth & The Flame, Waver, Clamor, Bellow Picture Show, Slow Skate, Eliza Rickman, Ritchie Young (Loch Lomond), Ed Thanhouser, Lindsay Clarke, Cotton, Michaela Anne, Annie Lynch (Annie & The Beekeepers), Bells, The Ascetic Junkies, Fever, Lynnae Gryffin, Vikesh Kapoor, Ryan Sollee (The Builders & The Butchers), and Hip Hatchet for making this such an incredible year of music.  Here's to more to come!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Saturday, November 19th - Ryan Sollee (Builders & The Butchers), Hip Hatchet, Cotton

Ryan Sollee (of The Builders & The Butchers)
As the days have grown colder and the nights are taking over the majority of our waking hours, we are approaching the the winter months ahead - there can't be more perfect reasons to stop by and sit by the fire with us with another round of great music!  We are so excited to announce that Ryan Sollee (of The Builders and the Butchers) will be performing a solo set!  Ryan brings history with him in his music, calling back to the doldrum days of the haggard west with his dense vivid murder ballads.  Ryan's songs bring an intensity through and through, delegated from his vocal delivery to his guitar playing.  There is also much revelry in the darkness of his compositions.  Some of the best local shows I've seen have been presented by Ryan and his band, as they bring some the most engaging and lively shows.  Ryan Sollee has toured extensively around the US and abroad and has an incredible resume of artists that he has shared the stage with. This show will be a very special experience as Mr. Sollee presents his more bare-boned version of his songs which I am sure to be captivating!

Hip Hatchet
Hip Hatchet is a band that I've just recently discovered, and what a great discovery!  This project is a great ensemble of great musicians gathered by Phillipe Bronchtein and Alex Lewis.  Their songs are laden with earnest harmonies and lush with guitar intricacy and soft woodwind and piano textures.  Each of these compositions are perfectly described on their site as "simple and carefully orchestrated" the only thing that I would add is that their songs are more of snapshots, and you navigate through them as more of looking at picture than just merely listening.

Cotton is another new ensemble that I've recently become acquainted with.  I checked out their music upon recommendation and I was immediately enraptured from the first song.  The band presents acoustic textures that support melodies from more digital and and electronic elements.  A song that stands out to me is their album opener A Sudden Plea.  I would recommend checking out the rest of their album The Great Cure here.

This goes without saying, but this is going to be a great show!  There is a wonderful combination of established artists and up and coming projects.  Come on out!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday, October 8th - Fever, Lynnae Gryffin

We're immensely excited to host these two wonderful performances, kicking off the fall seasons. Get ready for an evening of smoke-filled ballads!

Fever plays very charming and interesting pieces that echoes the compositions from PJ Harvey and has a noir-esque feel to their songs.  There's a lot of mystery and thought put into Fever's songs and they look to put a lot of energy into their performances, including performing with dance troupes from time to time and have a very collaborative presence in their shows.  Often times they play electric, but this will be a special acoustic show for them, so this will be a show not to miss!  I just learned that the band moved to Portland from Oklahoma, so let's welcome them to town!

I have recently come across the music from Lynnae Gryffin and I have been stunned ever since.  Her album Abigail is a wonderful record filled with intimate songs with a lot of spacial composition and intricate melodies with a great deal of ghost notes and melodies that creates a really interesting feel to her songs.  Lynnae's songs sometimes echo the past works of Joan of Arc, which is an immense compliment.  You will not be dissapointed!

There will most definitely be a fire for this show, so warm up and bring your whiskey!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Friday, September 16th - The Ascetic Junkies, Bells

Coming out of a busy August schedule here at the Christmas Horse, we've been delighted to host such wonderful music over the course of this year. And as if the shows haven't already been amazing, I have the most exciting news that we'll be hosting Bells from San Francisco, as well as local movers and the always engaging Ascetic Junkies!! Every time that I've seen the Ascetic Junkies play live, I'm always in awe of how comfortable they take the stage and feel at home there. All of the members are so connected and create energetic and constantly shifting songs that bounce between foot-stomping bluegrass to post-wave punk all in one song, and done in an effortless way. This group is filled with very skilled musicians and performers and there are wonderful harmonies presented by (the newly wed!) Kali Giaritta and Matt Harmon; they are backed by a whole plethora of instruments and energetic dancing. Check out their album HERE.

There's a lot I can say about Bells, I'll start with the fact that I had the immense pleasure of playing a show with them while on tour in a packed room in the Mission District of SF, and I have never seen a band move an audience to dance as much as they did. Their music is an engaging combination of African rhythm and percussion and experimental tones and textures that makes me think of Animal Collective. The band is fronted by the charismatic singer Sandra Lawson-Ndu and bassist Doug Stewart who weave multi-genre compositions together with ease and fluidity. Please check out there newly-released demo "Kazoo" on their Facebook page. You will not be dissapointed!

As always, music starts at 8:30, and feel free to bring food and drink of any kind. There might be a fire if it's brisk enough outside. Come early for this one!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Saturday, August 20th - Annie Lynch & Michaela Anne, Lindsay Clark, Ed Thanhouser

We're very pleased to continue the month with another round of wonderful music and songwriting. This Saturday brings Annie Lynch from Annie & The Beekeepers from Brooklyn, NY. I've listened to a few songs and there's a ton of warmth coming out of the trio, there's a lot of bare bones that lay transparent within the songs and they show through with ease. I'm very excited to hear more! This is what I pulled up from a another site: "Annie Lynch shows off her remarkable vocal prowess on a debut album featuring lyrics that dance gently over sweet guitar picking. Lynch creates symphonic, slow- burning tunes that strike a lovely balance between heavy emotion and light, sparse sound." - Paste Magazine

Michaela Anne grew up in a military family, and lived as a modern day gypsy - traveling the American terrain as well as abroad. Always active musically, she picked up influences as diverse as the places she lived. Now planted firmly in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, a neighborhood with an imagined taste of country life within the metropolis of New York City, she h as found a home, and band. Her songs weave stories of the hardships and pleasures in life, notably influenced by the American military family lifestyle. Blending country, blues and folk with heartfelt lyrics and a powerful vocal delivery, Michaela Anne evokes the ever-changing landscape of American life she witnessed first hand.

Lindsay Clark is a wonderful songwriter who recently moved here from Nevada City among
a migration of an extremely talented community. Lindsay plays ballads and spirituals that echo the Appalachian tradition. There's a reflective space in her music, not just in what's expres
sed in the lyrics, but the space that the song holds itself as a whole. Check out her beautiful album here.

Ed Thanhouser is many things in the Portland community: booker, promoter, event organizer, and heavily involved in the PDX Pop Now! Festival, and he also an immensely talented performer. There's a lot of noise coming out of one person. I heard him perform one of his songs in our living room after a show and he left the room anticipating more. Well, he will play a whole set more of his music at this show! We're very humbled to have Ed open the evening grace us with his matured sense of songwriting and arrangement. You can hear his music here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Saturday, August 13th - Ritchie Young (of Loch Lomond), Eliza Rickman

This is going to be another night of amazing music! We've never hosted two shows in a row, but this is a very special exception. We're pleased to announce that Ritchie Young from Loch Lomond will be performing in our living room! He will be playing solo versions of songs from his extensive and unique catalogue including pieces from the new released Little Me Will Start A Storm which captures arrangements ranging from the dense instrumentation and bright layers of harmonies to the intimate and vulnerable plucking of the violin as the sole instrument. All of these songs will carry their weight with originality and energy.

To make the show even better - the incredibly talented Eliza Rickman will also be performing! Eliza composes music that I could see going very well with a Tim Burton movie, having a charming and quirky aesthetic with darker undertones. Her voice has a commanding presence and sits well with her string ensemble. She will be performing solo playing both a toy and upright piano, all falling as a backdrop to her entrancing storytelling. This is a show not to miss!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Friday, August 12th - The Moth and the Flame, Slow Skate, Waver Clamor Bellow

If you haven't come to a show at The Christmas Horse before, this is a good time to start. The Moth and the Flame are a band that I met while on tour going through Provo, UT (a place I didn't know existed before). I have never been more thankful to tour through this random city since we got to see the amazing performance from this band. As a two piece, both players fill the space and create beautiful and striking compositions. Reminiscent of Sigur Ros, these songs amaze me every time I listen to them. These two lads write songs that warm the heart and break it at the same time. This is unique to the usual acoustic element to our living room show, but it is no less intimate as the other performances.

I first heard the band Slow Skate on NPR and I've been hooked ever since. Not only are they some of the nicest people I've met, they are pretty amazing musicians too! This duo comes from Seattle, WA and they have been on the road a good amount recently and we're extremely happy to have them play! Caitlin's voice carries through as a pulse to each of their compositions, and the songs carry different moods from the the sparse and melodic to the driving and distorted.

Waver Clamor Bellow is a new project conceived for this show. Vernon Shepard plays beautiful noise compositions with textures and layers that flow seamlessly into one another. He will perform his pieces as a soundtrack to a puppet show that will open the evening. I highly encourage EVERYONE to see this show, It's going to be so good!! It will be too warm for a fire, but we can warm ourselves with whiskey and other spirits.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Saturday, May 14th - Songwriters Round

After a brief hiatus from hosting shows (due to everyone being on the road in some form or another), we're excited to announce that we'll be hosting the extremely talented Justin Lamoreaux along with other incredible songwriters. We'll be hosting a special evening of a rotating roster of friends and guests performing intimate versions of their songs. This will include:

JUSTIN LAMOREAUX (of Midwest Dilemma)
DUSTIN HAMMAN (of Run On Sentence)
MIKE APINYAKULA (of Shoeshine Blue)

Justin Lamoreaux
Most notably known for his involvement in Midwest Dilemma, the huge ensemble hailing from Omaha. Justin will be taking his songs by himself on the road which will call for a special evening of stripped down version of this otherwise heavily arranged pieces. We're honored and very humbled to host Justin in our living room and we would love to greet the official spring with his performance.

As always, there will be a potluck at 8:00 and music begins around 8:30. Bring food and drink! Since Justin is on the road, we're accepting donations to help him get on way.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Friday, February 4th: Run On Sentence, Alameda, Mike Midlo (of Pancake Breakfast)

This Friday, we will host a plethora of wonderful musicians and songwriters into our living room. We're excited and honored to have Run On Sentence grace us with his incredible voice and lush lyricism. Dustin Hamman has been an amazing staple in Portland, drawing from many influences, his performances are engaging and thoughtful. His newest album You, Me, and the Darkness stretches many moods and blankets the listener with acoustic and electric textures and soundscapes. Hamman's vocal range is what stands out to me the most, sweeping with the music and expanding with every song. Here's a great review of his album from NPR. Also, playing is my band Alameda (with special guests) we're heading off on tour for next two weeks, go to our website to see upcoming dates! Mike Midlo is opening the night, there's a lot to say about Mike. A few things to mention is that he writes some of the catchiest songs to date and has always been able to leave the audience awe-struck with his infectious music. Really excited for this show! As always, there will be a fire to sit by. Bring food if you feel inspired -Music starts at 9:00!