Acoustic Magic: An Interview with MMW’s Billy Martin
Apr17

Acoustic Magic: An Interview with MMW’s Billy Martin

Interview by Kara Wilbeck Photo courtesy of Billy Martin This Thursday, April 18, Medeski Martin & Wood will be stopping at the Roseland Theater for a seated acoustic show. The acoustic tours are a special and rare thing for MMW, and will give the audience an entirely different experience than the electric shows. Since, we’re so excited for the show, Kara gave drummer Billy Martin a call to talk about the tour, MMW’s new acoustic live album, and some really cool side projects. ___________________________ Portland Metronome: Can you tell me a little bit about the new Medeski Martin and Wood album, Free Magic? Billy Martin: Free Magic is just a document of some of what we call our acoustic tour, which is really John [Medeski] playing acoustic pianos and other things that he likes to bring. Sometimes he’ll even play a flute or other instruments that make sound, or a melodica, which is something you blow into as you play the keys. But it’s acoustic on his end mostly, and then Chris [Wood] plays his usual upright and electric, I play drums and percussion. And the record is a compilation of about a week or two of touring years ago — I think it was ’07. It’s a compilation of all these special performances we did. It’s basically that. It’s what I call chamber music, meaning that we don’t use a lot of electronics, we’re playing the room like it’s a theater. Like classical or jazz, it’s more chamber-like. We rarely do an acoustic tour. We’ve only done a handful of them over the past 20-some-odd years. We’re going to do this acoustic tour on the West Coast, and that’s what it’s about. PM: Since you recorded this album so long ago, why did you decide to release it recently? BM: Two reasons. Really, it was time for us to think about releasing something that we owned and had recorded ourselves, and a live record sort of made sense. We felt like a live acoustic record is even more special because we don’t normally release a record like that. The second reason is because it gives us an opportunity to do an entire tour where we’re playing this instrumentation, this setup; to do this unique thing that we rarely do. They kind of go together. PM: Are you going to be playing a lot of songs that you played either on the new album or during the tour on which you recorded the album? BM: We’ll be doing some of them, but we always have new material that is combined with some of those things from the record. We have...

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Total Immersion: An Interview with Papadosio’s Anthony Thogmartin
Apr13

Total Immersion: An Interview with Papadosio’s Anthony Thogmartin

Interview by Kara Wilbeck Photos by Jason Charme Last Saturday, April 6, the Asheville, NC-rooted band Papadosio stopped at Branx in Portland while on the West Coast leg of their Future Forest tour. Before their show, guitarist Anthony Thogmartin talked with the Metronome about the band’s new album and tour, and really impressed us with his vision of the scene-changing, unifying, artistic tour de force that is Papadosio. Read on to find out why Papadosio is doing nothing you’ve ever seen a band do before. **** Portland Metronome: You’re currently touring to promote your new album T.E.T.I.O.S (To End the Illusion of Separation).  Can you tell us about the album? Anthony Thogmartin: The latest album, T.E.T.I.O.S for short, is To End the Illusion of Separation. It was pretty ambitious. There’s two discs and there’s 20 songs. We have been touring so hard that we hadn’t really had a chance to release anything, so we took three years worth of songs and basically decided to try to put as much into [the album] as possible. It’s sort of an artistic representation of our way to end the illusion of separation. We  had a visual artist create a piece for each song and in the little flipbook that you get with it you can listen to the music, look at what the artist did with the song, and kind of get an immersive experience in that regard. It’s a unique kind of thing. PM: You have a lot of strong themes of unity and the collective spirit. Do you think this comes out in the music, the way your band works, and your attitude? AT: I really think that we look at the culmination of our experiences in that it’s kind of like… you know, we’re still really good friends. We still do a lot of things together outside of playing, and we take care of our energy and we take care of each other. So we kind of try to live in that way, whether it’s through the music or not, and I think that as a natural reaction our music in and of itself promotes the same idea. So yeah, we kind of try to live it in whatever way that is. PM: I know that your band is pretty well known throughout the festival scene. How do you think festivals have helped your band grow, get promoted and get your name out there? AT: I mean, it’s funny. We got booked when we were younger at a lot of festivals, and then we just ended up playing more and more and ended up becoming a festival playing band,...

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Pickin’ at the Tabor: An evening with The Student Loan
Apr11

Pickin’ at the Tabor: An evening with The Student Loan

  Review and Interview by Kenneth Harris Photo courtesy the Student Loan (Photo by Arian Stevens)   The Student Loan kicks their set off with much authority, and a fast danceable tempo is set early and maintained throughout the night. This jovial quartet plays with aggressive accuracy. This particular Friday evening has brought out a sparse crowd to The Tabor. Unimpeded by this, the band still delivers an engaging set. TSL’s portion of the evening was extremely high energy, and the band decorated their performance and showed off their skills as transitional artists. Subtle as it may seem, the listener eventually finds that each tune is carried into the next. This ability to forge one song progressively into the next is effortlessly and skillfully exuded. This type of continuity between song interludes keeps the listener engaged and builds anticipation. Chad Kimbler’s playing is very significant here. His phrasing on the mandolin is noted all evening with sharp, fast, melodic drive, continuity and accent. Liz Chibucos is a toe tappin’, guitar pickin’, smilin’ lady! Taking cues and passing them off with ease, she plays guitar with humble confidence. Liz’s flatpicking has an extremely fluent and charged sound. Tempo changes are reflected with ease. After the band had been happily jostling the crowd for some time, Liz dug into her bag of tricks and switched things up a bit to play some fiddle for us! It was at this time that banjoist Mark Gerolami took some time for flatpicking to show his chops on the guitar. But that was just a bit of fun for the gang — Mark is really the Student Loan’s banjo man. His banjo rolls are lively, timely and innovative. In TSL’s banjo player we don’t see the so often found, stoic, laid back, expressionless kind of banjo player. Far from it. What we see is that Mark’s quite jolly and involved up there on stage. Julio Appling’s bass playing fervently ties everything together. He thumps the bass while simultaneously caressing it. Whether taking the lead or holding steady, Julio’s buttery smooth bass bumps permeate the dance floor. After some grassy groove shakin’ on the dance floor, it becomes apparent that these four definitely feed off of each other and really enjoy performing together. Their banter is as fast and sharp witted as their picking is! Be not mistaken though, grasslovers! This isn’t bluegrass! This is acoustic lover’s progressive grass. TSL are very crafty acoustic tricksters, playing a lively sort of “snapgrass” (the best way I could describe the type of grass they play) with elements off jazz, classical and rock and roll. Aside from being very...

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Catching Up With Keller: A little Q and A with Mr. Williams.
Apr10

Catching Up With Keller: A little Q and A with Mr. Williams.

Keller Williams Interview Interview by Rich Messmer   This Friday evening, April 12, the renowned contemporary alternative-folk artist Keller Williams will be paying a visit to Portland for a solo gig at the Aladdin Theater. For nearly two non-stop decades, Keller has unleashed a torrent of ever-evolving and genre-bending material. Known predominantly for his virtuosity at guitar and a unique “one man band” style of solo performances, Keller has also found much acclaim for his many collaborative efforts with other artists. As is per-usual for Mr. Williams, 2013 is another busy year including a recently released album of Grateful Dead covers on piano, more solo acts, acclaimed collaborations with the McCourys and the Keels, and plenty of new material coming down the pike. Portland Metronome was happy to be able to steal a few minutes of his time and “pick” his brain. We talked about his innovative career, various collaborations, the past, present and future of bluegrass and folk, and what it feels like to be a man living on the road. Be sure to catch him this Friday. Tickets are still available and can be found here. _________________________________ Portland Metronome: You recently released an online album titled “Keys,” an album of Grateful Dead covers that is involved with the Rex Foundation. Could you tell us a little about this project and the Rex Foundation? Keller Williams: Well the Rex Foundation was started by the Grateful Dead in the 80s and it funds several nonprofits — it’s a really good thing. All of the proceeds from the digital downloads go to the foundation. All of the publishing goes to the foundation as well. It’s a good thing because it gave me a chance to do this piano album that I have been wanting to do forever but haven’t let myself go there. That was exciting to reach one of my goals of doing an all-piano record. Plus, its no secret that I have an unhealthy fascination with the Grateful Dead and it’s a good way for me to play the songs I love on piano and have the money from that benefit something positive. PM: You have been spending a lot of time recently with the Travelin’ McCourys. How did this collaboration come about ? KW: Well our paths have been crossing for many years at all different kinds of festivals around the country. They have been looking around for guitar players, and I’m a solo guitar player so it just kind of seemed like a natural fit. We got together for one afternoon in Nashville to feel each other out if you will, so we just sat around...

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Freshly Cooked: Vince Herman on Leftover Salmon, Stage Antics and the Best Restaurant in Nederland
Apr05

Freshly Cooked: Vince Herman on Leftover Salmon, Stage Antics and the Best Restaurant in Nederland

Interview by Kara Leona Wilbeck Photos by Alexander Maso Way back in February, I finally got the chance to go to my first Leftover Salmon show. Growing up in the Northeast, Salmon was one of those bands that I heard of often, but never had the opportunity to see (although I had been lucky enough to catch both Vince Herman and Drew Emmitt’s side projects several times). Even though at this show, I was a totally newbie, Leftover Salmon’s current touring lineup was somewhat new to my companions, most of whom had been around the Salmon block.  For my friends, the largest change to the band’s sound was the lack of a keyboardist (who was dismissed from the band in recent years), but for many of the older crowd it was the absence of the late banjo player and founding member Mark Vann.  Ever-morphing lineup aside, Leftover Salmon seems to be going strong and enjoying a bit of a rebirth. With the still-relatively-recent addition of banjo player Andy Thorn, they have recorded their first new album in eight years, showcasing the chops the band’s got and proving that they can still keep that Salmon magic going. Feburary’s show at the Crystal Ballroom was definitely fun. The setlist was a great mix of old songs and new, with many of the tunes being “mystery” songs for even the most knowledgeable of my companions. To get me prepared for my first Leftover Salmon show, I got the chance to have a little chat with Vince Herman. The conversation stretched from the band and its music, to unforgettable memories from Horning’s Hideout, to Vince’s favorite Portland bands (here’s lookin’ at you, Fruition!). ________________________________ Portland Metronome: Can you tell me a little bit about your current tour? Vince Herman: Yeah! This winter Leftover Salmon tour 2013 starts in Missoula, Montana, then goes to Seattle, Portland, Arcata, Tahoe, Petaluma, San Francisco, down to San Diego, then up to Arizona… that kind of thing. It’s about three weeks. We’re kind of doing a winter tour, a spring tour and a fall tour — that’s what we’ve been doing the last couple of years. We’re just lovin’ it! PM: Is winter a good time to play in the Pacific Northwest? VH: Well, you know, sure! People are getting a little bit of that cabin fever going on at this time of the year, and music brings the community together right when they need it. PM: Your band has changed its lineup a bit over the years. How do you feel about the musicians you’re working with, and do you foresee any more changes? VH: Well Greg...

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