Last week, I flew up to Portland to collaborate on music with my friend, Joshua Bassett. I met him in May, when I went up to see an M. Ward concert (I had written a tribute song for him and was adventuring up to a new city to see the show and find a way to get it to him). I met Joshua through my friend, Daniel Miller, who I was staying with. Instant musical chemistry. Since then, when Lucky Penny went on tour, we stopped in Portland, and Joshua had put together a band called Welfare. It was their first show, and Joshua’s first show since 2006! Since then, I’ve been flying up once a month to collaborate with Joshua, and sing backups with Welfare when they have shows.
So last week, as soon as I flew in on Monday, Joshua picked me up, and we went straight to the studio! I dropped some back up vocals on three tracks on Welfare’s upcoming album. Which should be coming out in a few weeks, since it’s all D.I.Y. It’s good stuff. Can’t wait to hear it all finished.
That night, Joshua and his girlfriend had to work, so I went to the Sonic Forum Open Mic at The Goodfoot. It was probably the coolest open mic I’ve ever been to. It was at a cool dive-y bar with swanky red lighting and a disco ball on stage. They had a great sound system and engineer. They also had a backline onstage including a drumkit, a hammond organ, and some amps and other things. They also had a houseband that would accompany anybody. And they’d record you for $5 if you want. It was a long open mic, so everybody got 10-20 min sets. Which is nice… at my open mic in Long Beach, everyone only gets 1 song. They had a wide variety of talent: funk, punk, bluegrass, rock, singer-songwriters, R&B, everything! I met a new friend, Chris Marquand, who beatboxed and pretty made my jaw drop through the floor with the crazy sub-notes he could hit.
I played a few songs, including a cover of “Stand by Me” and “Mon Homme”. Here’s a video:
On Wednesday, Joshua threw a little get together after he got off work, and Ryan, from Welfare, brought over some recording gear and we got a really nice acoustic recording of the 5 of us playing their song Infrastructure. Click here to hear it!
David Sinclair Robison, from Lucky Penny was in town, too! He came down from Seattle to play at an art reception for Michael Wysong, from Miniature Houses, and Christine Nguyen. He came to the party on Wednesday, and I got a neat video of him playing his song, “Little Bird”, with Chris Marquand, the beatboxer I had met at the GoodFoot. Here’s the video:
The next day was Michael and Christine’s art show on Alberta Street during their Last Thursdays. Joshua and I had been practicing all day, and learned an a cappella version of “I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry”, by Hank Williams, and sweet talked our way into being able to sing while Christine was setting up.
After that, our new friend, Chris invited us to an open mic at this bar, called The Spare Room. What’s funny about the Spare Room, is that lots of my friends up in Portland have introduced me to this bar, and they always give it the same almost-embarrassed-precursor. “Well, there’s this bar… and it’s not that great… it’s kind of a dive… but it used to be a bowling alley… and everybody knows me there… they’ve got a $2 mystery shot.” It’s got a lot of character, and it’s always mostly empty, but it’s definitely fun to hang out at.
First Joshua and I played some songs, and my favorite was this one, it’s one of his:
Then, Chris went up and invited me to do a surprise performance with him. I was super nervous and froze up a little bit, but we did a fun rendition of my song, “A Little More Like Me.”
I went home on Friday morning, and happened to sit next to Michael and Christine on the flight home! Which is so random, since I fly stand-by and could have ended up on ANY flight out that day.
Every time I go to Portland, I have more and more fun, and learn more and more about the kind of adventures I can have. I can’t wait to go back and work on more songs with Joshua, and hear Welfare’s new album, and meet more new people!