Fir Talks East African Jazz, Traditional Recording, and Transport Ecstasy

FirIt’s no secret that the Pacific Northwest is a mystical place brimming with rolling mountain ranges, lush forests, and meandering rivers. It inspires a collective ethos that draws people from all over the world and influences a rich and diverse culture. All of this enables Portland to offer the ideal nourishment for budding and rooted creatives alike, most of which take this persona to heart. Wearing it proudly on their sleeves, folk-surf-psych band Fir brandishes Cascadia’s archetypal flag symbol as their name, paying homage to the region’s esoteric musings.

They’ve earned the title, as they share multiple commonalities with their adopted home city. Much like Portland, Fir is a classic old soul, but not without a strong sense of youthful enthusiasm. Their style is difficult to define; having blended a myriad of eclectic sounds from an application of exhaustive musical exploration. And, in proper Portland affinity, they know how to make you feel like you’ve been transported to a world outside of your own, fully immersed in a moment within their music.

I had the opportunity to meet with Fir a couple weeks ago before their show at Turn Turn Turn in NE Portland. We talked about navigating the Portland music environment, learning from antecedent influences, and making a name for themselves in an increasingly distracted music world.

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The Wednesday People release Yesterday’s News

The Wed People - Yesterday's NewwsIf there’s one thing that has always rang true for The Wednesday People, it’s that they’re dynamic, and constantly shifting. This can be said about their music, their members, and their direction as a band. That fact is more evident than ever, with their release of Yesterday’s News. The title illustrates a lamentable irony; a harsh realization that although it’s their first full-length LP, it also happens to be their last.

The People got their start as a humble folksy group, singing songs of the woods and mountain men. After a handful of years and a few handfuls of lineup changes, they’ve since morphed into a powerful and passionate groove rock outfit, wailing about smooth grooves and Mississippi Blues. Yesterday’s News, the inaugural LP for the group, is a fluctuating ride over a wide range of turbulent and flowing sounds.

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Portugal. The Man at Edgefield Amphitheater

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Portugal. The Man‘s “Live In The Moment” from their latest album, Woodstock, opens with this line: “My home / Is a girl with eyes like wishing wells.” On Friday, August 24th, their home town of Portland, OR welcomed them with thousands of keenly fixated eyes all gazing at a wish come true. Portland has always championed their own kind, and two back-to-back sold out shows at McMenamins Edgefield is far from surprising for the PDX veterans. Despite their mainstream success over the last couple years, PTM have never forgotten where they came from. From constantly collaborating with other local artists, to hanging out with Blazers players, they’ve distinctly established themselves as the true Lords of Portland. With this undeniable homestead fellowship, there was eager anticipation that these shows would make for a rowdy weekend with numerous special surprises.

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Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats at MicMenamins Edgfield Amphitheater

DSC_0080Standing at the foot of the stage at McMenamins Edgfield Amphitheater, the first thought in my head as Nathaniel Rateliff entered in front of a roaring, sold out audience was: damn, for a husky dude, this guy can MOVE. Bounding in from stage right, he quickly set the tone with a remarkably graceful cartwheel while the Night Sweats played him on. From that moment, they gave nothing but soulful energy the entire night.

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Shaking the Neighborhood – The Wednesday People Find a Home Away from Home

 

The Wednesday People GroupHouse shows get rowdy. Things get broken. The cops get called. The liquor cabinet gets raided. Sketchy guys named Trevor show up and seem not to know anyone, yet proceed to grab an armful of beers and stash them in his van out front before coming back in and attempting to sell acid to all your friends claiming that it’s ‘really cool stuff’. House shows exhibit all the recklessness of a standard house party in addition to an elevated sense of enthusiasm influenced by the primal impetus of organic rhythm. Blood runs hot as a living room turned auditorium pulses with every drum kick and guitar wail, shaking the neighborhood with waves of vibration.

House shows are also iconic. People dance. Drunken friendships are discovered. New fans are planted. They’re the historical birthplaces of some of the world’s greatest musical careers, and Utah-based psych rock outfit The Wednesday People are no strangers to this phenomenon. In fact, they’re often the catalyst on such an occasion. On their third tour through the Pacific Northwest in the last 8 months, the Ogden locals stopped by a modest bungalow in the heart of SE Portland to shake things up on St. Patrick’s Day.

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Concert Review: Portugal. The Man at Edgefield

Portugal-The-Man-newSaturday July 22nd, Troutdale, OR, McMenamins Edgefield. The sun was beating down at a solid 90° on a sold-out crowd of just under 1,400. Scattered across the lawn were an eclectic mix of indie-goers ranging from flower-crowned millennials, to hip rocker yuppies, to a handful of high waist-pantsed and seemingly lost seniors (maybe they thought this was a Willie Nelson concert?). The grass was soft and the beer lines moved quickly as people got settled in for a night with one of the most accomplished bands to grow out of Portland.

Kicking off the event was Cat Hoch, a Portland-based psych-jazz-rock ensemble headed by a floaty-voiced melodist of the same name. Their echoey instrumentals strung together waves of trance-inducing guitar solos and ghostly themes of celestial proportion. The night then shifted to the surf rock stylings of The Shivas. Channeling the spirit of early southwestern 60’s blues and a wicked-shaggy haircut that Joey Ramone himself would’ve been proud of, The Shivas ramped up the tempo and got heads bobbing faster than you could say ’90’s Quentin Tarantino soundtrack candidate.’

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