Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Locals Only

One of the things I love about Portland and the Pacific Northwest is the abundance and variety of talented musical artists that call this place home (at least until they get successful and move away. Sigh.). This month I want to share some of my favorite local artists with you. Please check their websites and videos, and try to see them live if you can!

A few months ago, Eugene-area Mensan Ted (Theo) Czuk sent me a copy of his new CD, titled The Gamut. Ted is a very talented multi-instrumentalist and poet, and his new CD really showcases Ted's mastery of  many musical genres. Check out his website: http://www.tedczuk.com/ and get on his mailing list for opportunities to hear him live!

Closer to home, you have probably noticed—as I have—ads in the Omen for performances by the Bach Cantata Choir, which has two Mensa members—Mary Forst and Barbara Lance. This group has a very interesting and ambitious mission: "to sing the entire set of cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach over a period of 20 years." I'm looking forward to an opportunity to attend one of their concerts at Rose City Park Presbyterian Church in the near future. More details and schedule at:

One of the most exciting bands to come out of Portland in the past few years is the trio Gossip. They have a tight drums-and-bass sound, which they augment for live performances with guitar and keyboard. Singer Beth Ditto is a total delight to watch; she's powerful, sexy, and a total original. Sometimes I think she is simultaneously channeling Dolly Parton and Divine. You must watch at least a few of their videos at http://www.gossipyouth.com

Here's Gossip's video of "Pop Goes the World." Gotta love the sparkly skull epaulets:

The cello was my first instrument, so—as you might imagine—I have great affection for Portland Cello Project. I think we own all of their CDs, and they are always coming up with interesting music from many sources.  Check their website for videos and live performance schedule: https://portlandcelloproject.com/

Here's a lovely video featuring music by the Portland Cello Project:

Jazz fans already know the name and voice of Portlander Nancy King. If you only know her from her recordings, you owe it to yourself to hear her live. She has a web page at http://www.jazzvox.com/nancyking/. Frequently backing Nancy King is trumpeter, singer, and harmonica player Robert Moore. I've had the pleasure of jamming with Robert a number of times and I can tell you that he is the real deal. He has a soulful, expressive singing voice, and he's also a top-tier jazz instrumentalist. Get on  his mailing list by going to: http://romomusic.net/. I consider both of these artists to be true treasures of the Portland jazz scene.

Here's Nancy King with Steve Christofferson doing Zanzibar by Dave Frishberg (who, by the way, is yet another Portland treasure):

Singer and bassist Esperanza Spalding  has moved beyond the hype surrounding her "Best New Artist" Grammy award (yes, kiddies, there actually is someone better than Beiber) and is proving that she is talented, soulful, original, and evolving as an artist. Her last two CDs—Chamber Music Society  and Radio Music Society showcase the depth of her talent. And she has an afro to die for. http://www.esperanzaspalding.com/

Here's Essie doing one of her new tunes (and not playing upright bass quite so much any more):

What is in the water here that is making young women want to play the bass and sing? Kate Davis is a delightful young performer who is currently studying in NYC. She has a sweet, unaffected voice that sometimes reminds me of Blossom Dearie. http://www.katedavismusic.com/

Here's dear little Kate walking her tail off on the jazz standard Just One of Those Things. If playing those fast walking lines on the string bass looks hard, let me assure you -- it is. If you're thinking it must cause blisters -- yes, it does: