Saturday, August 8 at 8:00

 

The Blackberry Bushes are a Contemporary Stringband from the rain-drenched forests of Olympia, Washington. They take a bluegrass instrumentation, draw from the deep roots of American folk music and add influences from Bluegrass, Appalachian old-time, Indie Rock, jazz, and pop. Virtuosic musicianship, compelling arrangements, quick wit, flying tempos, and heavy heel boot dancing are all elements of a live show that is joyous and vibrant with an intention to move the audience in their hearts and out of their seats. The poetic delivery of hypnotizing vocal harmonies and fresh songwriting sets The Blackberry Bushes Stringband apart. Acoustic Americana lovers are continually surprised and delighted by this new bouquet of players on the festival stage.

The Appalachian Mountains are the meeting place of the fiddle and the banjo, and musical culture permeates the entire length of the Mississippi River. Jes Raymond and Jakob Breitbach may have started their musical journey in the rainy bottom of the Puget Sound, but their work is infused with the essence of the homes they wandered West from. Joined by Daniel Ullom on the mandolin and Forrest Marowitz on the upright bass, The Blackberry Bushes draw from the deep roots of American traditional music to create a playful and resonant sound with both twang and sophistication. They are emerging as a band of artists whose Americana is honest and generous with an obvious love of performing, spot on chemistry, and a live show that truly aims to stir the spirit.

Jes’s songs connect the day to day with the muses of wonder, folk wisdom, earthiness, and impermanence. Backed by two, three and four part harmonies, she sings with joy and a desire for every person in the house to feel that she is singing to them. Jakob’s virtuosic fiddle improvisation and Daniel’s longtime immersion in bluegrass and old-time create a thrillingly potent onstage correspondence. Together with Forrest’s exceptionally sensitive and deeply grooving bass lines, they propel a song-focused band to expand outward in exploratory delight. Jes’s skillful flatpicking interlocks these soundscapes while the band simultaneously honors the genius of tradition and innovation.

The Blackberry Bushes

 

 

It is a rare magic that allows a band to use voices from many genres in an acoustic instrumentation that retains distinct threads of sonic color. Elements of jazz, classical, pop and gospel saturate this modern string band sound that is buoyant, bold, and like their thorny namesake, rooted and growing, growing, growing.

 

 

“Their blend of traditional Bluegrass and Folk elements with more contemporary sounds has an appeal not seen since Nickel Creek or The Be Good Tanyas.”

(Joseph Kyle The Big Takeover)

 

 

 

 

 True North

 

      

Salem, Oregon’s True North play tunes so smooth they bring to mind bluegrass-pop artists like Alison Krauss and Union Station, as well as old country legends like Hank Williams, Sr. Employing all the musical specifics of the bluegrass genre, True North embarks on instrumental solos with earnestness and humility

– KIM RUEHL, WEST COAST PERFORMER MAGAZINE

****
True North Elsebound : Quite outstanding blend of bluegrass-derived music from Oregon band with outstanding singer and writer Kristen Grainger. Her songs are first class and the band deserves attention.

___“AND THE REST” COLUMN IN FROOTS ONLINE BRITISH MAGAZINE. WWW.FROOTSMAG.COM JULY 2014

Saturday, September 26, at 8:00 p.m.

Hailing from Oregon’s beautiful Willamette valley, Americana-bluegrass quartet True North combines traditional bluegrass instrumentation with fat harmonies and folk-edged songwriting for a distinctive sound that is fresh, warm and memorable.

Fronted by vocalist and award-winning singer-songwriters Kristen Grainger and Dan Wetzel, True North is rounded out with two well-known Northwest bluegrass superstars Dale Adkins and Suzanne Pearce Adkins.

The band’s latest release, “Elsebound” (April 2014) has received very favorable reviews from music critics here and abroad and is currently in its 14th week in the Roots Music Report’s top ten (national folk charts), with a week at no. 1, rubbing elbows with big names like Nickel Creek, Ray Lamontagne and Sarah Jaroz. The album is currently number one in Oregon on Roots Music Report’s state-by-state charts as well.

True North’s performances exemplify the most compelling aspects of live acoustic roots music: intelligent songwriting, thoughtful arrangements, terrific instrumental interpretations by the band’s highly-skilled pickers, and vocals that alternately bring you to tears or raise ecstatic hairs on the back of your neck.

“Kristen [Grainger]’s vocalizing exhibits the intensity of a singer with breathtaking ability comparable to Laurie Lewis… The band is emerging in the Northwest as one of the most endearing and passionate contributors to the Northwest’s acoustic folk repertoire.

 

“True North’s Pluck proves that you don’t need a big label or large budget to produce a fine album with first class sound. If you like your folk or bluegrass with a mellifluous edge, give True North’s Pluck a listen.”

— STEVEN STONE VINTAGE GUITAR MAGAZINE

****

"Their craftsmanship and focus squarely put the emphasis on original material, deliberative arrangements, graceful guitar, and gorgeous vocals.”

JOE ROSS STAFF WRITER, BLUEGRASS NOW

 

 

Saturday,  October 24 at 8:00 p.m.

There's no shortage of artists attempting to capture the raw, authentic sound of the 1920s and '30s, but no one is doing a better job of it in this modern age than Jerron Paxton. Heck, it could even be argued that the 24-year-old musician was actually born to be the current ambassador for acoustic blues and Appalachian folk, right down to the affliction that gave him his famous nickname: Blind Boy. Like two of his artistic idols, Willie McTell and Lemon Jefferson, Paxton is legally blind, losing most of his sight by the time he was 16. True, he can get around on his own for the most part, and it is a little curious to find him highlighting his vision problems as a connection to bluesmen of the past. But his playing and spirit come from a place of such passion and reverence that it is easy to forgive the convenience of his stage name.

Paxton comes by his love of the music honestly. His grandparents and many of his neighbors in Los Angeles were transplants from the South, bringing with them plenty of old records and a deep knowledge of traditional blues, Creole and Cajun songs. Steeped in that history, Paxton started playing fiddle and banjo in his teens, mastering both of those before moving on to guitar and piano.

 Some criticize Paxton for playing the part a little too strongly. Beyond simply billing himself as Blind Boy, he dresses and acts like a bluesman transplanted from some dusty Mississippi porch of the past to the 21st century. He has a penchant for vests or overalls worn with dress shirts buttoned all the way to the top, and lays on the hokum humor a little thick between songs, even if he does let a few modern references creep into the mix. 

But, again, as New York Times critic Ben Ratliff wrote in a review of one of Paxton's performances in 2010, "If you're good enough, everything else falls into place."

 Paxton certainly is that, and for fans hungry for an authentic blues experience, he's one of the most popular traditionalists around. Quite a coup considering that he has very little recorded material available for consumption. His reputation has grown almost entirely by word of mouth and with the help of a few dozen YouTube clips of his live performances. 

Robert Ham  The Oregonian  July 03, 2013 

 

 

Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton

  

 

Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton (born January 26, 1989) is an American musician from Los Angeles. A vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Paxton's style draws from blues and jazz music before World War II and is influenced by the likes of Fats Waller and "Blind" Lemon Jefferson

Originally from the Watts district of Los Angeles, Paxton's grandparents moved from Louisiana to California in 1956.These southern roots would have a somewhat strong influence on Paxton as a young boy. After spending time listening to his hometown blues radio station, as well as the old Cajun and country blues songs his grandmother used to sing, Paxton became interested in these early sounds, developing a breadth of knowledge pertaining to such music along the way. He began playing the fiddle when he was twelve, only to pick up the banjo two years later. As a teenager, he began to go blind, losing most of his eyesight by the age of 16. Since his childhood, he has added piano, harmonica, Cajun accordion, ukulele, guitar, and the bones to his musical arsenal, although the banjo was his first serious instrument.  In addition to blues and jazz, he uses these instruments to play Ragtime, Country blues, and Cajun music.

In 2007, Paxton moved to upstate New York to attend college and soon after began playing gigs in and around the Brooklyn area. Although not signed to a record label, he continues to play old-time, blues, and roots festivals throughout the United States, as well as various shows opening for old-time string bands including The Dust Busters.

Paxton's talent and contributions to acoustic blues have earned him comparisons to contemporary artists such as Taj Mahal, Keb' Mo', and Corey Harris.  Similar to groups such as the famed Carolina Chocolate Drops, he is one of the few contemporary African-American banjo players touring today.

 

 

Saturday, November 28 at 8:00

 

For over 10 years, Kathryn Claire has been a force in the celtic and folk music scenes in the Pacific Northwest. Her diverse musical career has spanned a wide range of genres and she has been an integral part of many music projects. From her early days with Eugene-based Irish/punk pub band, Toad in the Hole, to co-founding and fronting Portland based all-star band Circled by Hounds with Matthew Hayward-Macdonald, to her extensive and award-winning collaboration with Hanz Araki from 2010-2013, Kathryn Claire has continually been evolving as a singer, guitarist and fiddle player. Her deep love and respect for traditional music has long been a driving influence, and those roots are evident in her music.

Kathryn has released 4 solo albums of original music over the past 10 years, and is completely at home both the roll of front person or side person. Her charismatic presence and infectious smile have made her a favorite at venues and festivals around the world. She has toured and performed extensively in the US, Japan, India, Holland, Belgium and France.

Over the past year, Kathryn has been honing a unique sound that draws from her diverse musical background. The sound is energized, inspired and eclectic, yet there is a distinctive sound that is her own. 

In March, 2014, Kathryn released her most recent album Shimmering Blue, a collection of cover songs, and toured with a band which she fondly calls The Dream Band, comprised of Allen Hunter on bass, Zak Borden on mandolin, Don Henson on percussion and piano, and Ara Lee on vocals.

"There is something magic that happens when the five of us play together. There is a deep and abiding sense of respect that is shared between us, and our diverse backgrounds complement each other beautifully, making for a fresh sound."  Kathryn Claire.

Zak Borden has put down roots in many musical disciplines. In his late teens, he fell in love with bluegrass music. As it does for so many, that fertile American hybrid introduced him to a world of other styles: from the country soul of The Band to the lilting traditions of Ireland; from modern string band takes on Thelonious Monk to the syncopated rhythms of Brazil. However, as a performer and educator he soon came to find that it was really just passionate, well-played and interesting music that he loves; Music that connects and tells a story. Zak's shows employ nimble picking on guitar or mandolin and a deep baritone voice that leaps easily into a clear, high tenor.

Don Henson's band, Sneakin Out, has played various stages with Pink Martini, on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and also has opened for K.D. Lang and graced the stage of Carnegie Hall. 

KKathryn Claire

and the Dream Band

 

Allen Hunter has been playing live and recording with Portland area songwriters and bands for the past 20 years and has been touring internationally for the past 10 years with LA-based band, Eels. He has also recorded with the Eels on Vagrant Records, Michael Dean Damron & Thee Loyal Bastards on Rosa Records, Black Angel, James Low, Alan Charing, The Vibrasonics, and Jim Mesi to name a few. 

With an upbringing split between the hills of Appalachia and the heart of New York City, Ara Lee's dichotomous childhood made for a unique musical education. Ara cut her teeth fiddling and singing in the folk and gospel traditions of Tennessee, and then lived a second life in New York as an R&B and blues soloist, studio and commercial vocalist, and back-up singer. In her current incarnation as a singer-songwriter based in Portland, Ara's powerful, soul-infused vocals combined with the simplicity of acoustic folk create a style uniquely her ownone that has been perhaps best described as "Soul-folk-tribal-funk-heathen-gospel butter."

 

 

 

 

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