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ISSUE 58 | MARCH 2016





THE USUAL 3 Letter from the Editor 3 Staff Credits


FEATURES Local Feature 13 Tango Alpha Tango

Cover Feature 17 NEW MUSIC

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down

4 Aural Fix The Flavr Blue Eli & Fur Genevieve San Fermin

COMMUNITY Neighborhood of the Month 24 SE Hawthorne Boulevard

7 Short List 7 Album Reviews The Thermals RJD2 Violent Femmes Iggy Pop

Literary Arts 25 Portland writer Monica Drake

Visual Arts 27 Portland photographer Holly Andres

LIVE MUSIC 9 Know Your Venue Rontoms

11 Musicalendar An encompassing overview of concerts in PDX for the upcoming month. But that’s not all–the Musicalendar is complete with a venue map to help get you around town.

more online at

HELLO PORTLAND! What is it about music? For nearly five years, ELEVEN has been dedicated to serving up the best of Portland-centric A&E, and the primary A has always been music. That fundamental vibration at the beginning and end of the universe. That music, that thing that contains the elemental parts of every art. Comedy can bring light to an otherwise cold day. Drama can give you perspective and a lethal pill of feels. Music can do comedy, drama, and a mix of the lot betwixt. Performance art, live theatre, and cinema are all powerful and wonderful art forms. Painting, sculpture, and other physical expressions of creation can sometimes, somehow convey the sublimity of life. For me, though, it's music. When I wake up, it's not a photograph or film scene or clay jar that's stuck in my head. It's song, rhythm, the dancing vibrations that exist in every minuscule molecule of everything, of every element of the Sun, moon, stars, and in every one of Us. (But why does it always have to be Toni Basil's "Hey Mickey"?!?) Âť

- Ryan Dornfeld, Editor in Chief


EXECUTIVE STAFF EDITOR IN CHIEF Ryan Dornfeld CREATIVE DIRECTOR Dustin Mills SECTION EDITORS LOCAL FEATURE: Ethan Martin LITERARY ARTS: Scott McHale VISUAL ARTS: Mercy McNab GRAPHIC DESIGN Dustin Mills Alex Combs CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Brandy Crowe, Billy Dye, Sarah Eaton, Eric Evans, JP Kemmick, Kelly Kovl, Travis Leipzig, Samantha Lopez, Ethan Martin, Scott McHale, Lucia Ondruskova, Gina Pieracci, Tyler Sanford, Stephanie Scelza, Matthew Sweeney, Erin Treat, Charles Trowbridge PHOTOGRAPHERS Alexa Lepisto, Mercy McNab, Aa Mills, Todd Walberg, Caitlin M. Webb COVER PHOTO Maria Kanevskaya

ONLINE Mark Dilson, Kim Lawson, Michael Reiersgaard GET INVOLVED MAILING ADRESS 126 NE Alberta Suite 211 Portland, OR. 97211 GENERAL INQUIRIES ADVERTISING LOGISTICS Billy Dye ELEVEN WEST MEDIA GROUP, LLC Ryan Dornfeld Dustin Mills SPECIAL THANKS Our local business partners who make this project possible. Our friends, families, associates, lovers, creators and haters. And of course, our city!


new music aural fix

up and coming music from the national scene



I admit, I had never heard of the The Flavr Blue before writing this review. The first thing I discovered was that they were based out of Seattle. Automatically intrigued. They racked up bonus points after I learned front woman Hollis Wong-Wear’s mom lived in Kalamazoo for a minute, the city in which I did my undergrad. Any Michigan connection I can make and my face looks like the heart-eyed emoji. But back to the music...the electro pop outfit consists not only of the lovely Hollis WongWear but also Parker Joe and Lace Cadence. Together, they weave in bits of R&B and indie soul elements over precisely synthesized melodies. To their credit, I cannot draw a comparison. It was obvious right away that the energy and thought that the group puts into their music transcends the actual notes that you hear. Their latest effort, Love Notes EP, was delivered last December, however, the romantic undertones made it the backdrop for a very memorable Valentine’s Day this year. [Long silent pause.] The Flavr Blue worked for two years to perfect this gem that rings in at eight songs. Compared to 2012’s debut Pisces and 2013’s Bright Vices, Love Notes comes across as a grown-up piece of perfected art, a piece you buy to invest in. Grammy-



Pleasant-looking female duos hailing from London will always capture attention from the fashion world, and perhaps there is no more fashionable world than that of European electronic music. It is an historical cliché and even a little embarrassing to think if you subscribe to a negative connotation of the word “cliché.” Clichés are clichés for a reason; they are widely accepted illustrations of truths that are accessible to anyone. Honestly, the world can always use more clichés. They are powerful, and the good ones bridge

nominated Hollis slays with chill, clear vocals and clever lyrics, like “...plenty of good things to go around/but you know my treasure is rarely found” as heard on “Majesty.” And as expected from an accomplished spoken word poet, “Feathers” is another standout track, with just the right beat to finally get you out of your chair. Cadence and Joe show off in “A New Kind of Vibe.” I don’t know what the flavor blue tastes like, but I do know what it sounds like: smart. It would also be smart to keep them on your radar. The band is still young yet poignant, a creative force that will no doubt continue to experiment with their sound. » - Kelly Kovl

understanding, bringing humanity closer together. Eli & Fur are a good cliché: a working formula that packs dance halls with fun people and positive energy. Eliza Noble and Jennifer Skillman have creative rapport dating back to their teenage years. Their history as songwriters and experience as DJs, reasonably, yield artistic and clean sound-engineered tracks. My first impression reminded me of School of Seven Bells and Grimes–two very successful groups in their genre. After an awesome 2015, the duo’s tantamount acclaim is imminent. The world’s largest store for DJs, Beatport, tagged Eli & Fur as one of 2015’s “Artists to Watch,” contributing to their nominations for “Best Newcomer” at The DJ Awards, “Best Producer” at the Bass Music Awards, and “Best Breakthrough Artist” at the 2016 IDMA Awards. They collaborated with notorious artist Shadow Child and in November 2015 released their California Love EP, which has generated a lot of positive feedback from critics and appreciation in the genre’s fanbase. Currently these fierce English women are embarked on an adventure spanning the frontiers of the United States to spread their e-gospelic grooves in all the nooks and crannies of our cities’ venues. On March 11, you can experience their alluring melodies and harmonious glow at the Doug Fir Lounge. If you prefer the virtual landscape, then join the other three million viewers of their video “You’re So High.” Hell, do both. Two is always preferred with these ladies. » - Billy Dye | ELEVEN PORTLAND | 4

new music aural fix Photo by Michael Schwartz

Genevieve Schatz and bandmates in the alt-rock group Company of Thieves were preparing to part ways. Despite finding a good amount of success as a group, releasing a couple albums and touring with bands like OK Go and The Hold Steady, Genevieve felt called to LA to start working on a project that was exclusively her own. She admits venturing out on her own was a daunting process. For the first time in her career she was being looked at, not as a piece to a bigger picture, but as the entire product. “Colors,” released in 2014, was largely inspired by this feeling of wanting to represent herself and express herself but being afraid of how quick the world is to tear apart that expression.


Genevieve’s debut EP, Show Your Colors was


released later in 2014 and is predominately recognized for MARCH 25 | STAR THEATER

There are a few lyrics in Genevieve’s debut song “Colors” which are the most apt representation of who she is as an artist, what she wants to convey and how she has made it to the place she is now. In the very first verse, she sings, “Your life is your design, so go ahead and design it/ Your star is in the sky, so go ahead align it.” That’s exactly what she has spent the last several years doing. Traveling back to 2013,

the shimmering pop supernova that is “Colors.” But on the whole, the album showcases a broad range both sonically and thematically. For all her trepidation about being judged as an individual, Genevieve’s voice absolutely needs to be heard. Of the songs on the five-song EP, “Authority” feels like the best glimpse of what Genevieve is trying to capture in her music; both vulnerable and uplifting, this is the song that it seems Genevieve is able to unapologetically show her colors. » - Sarah Eaton


new music aural fix

Photo by Denny Renshaw



Jackrabbit is the ideal namesake for San Fermin's sophomore release, with unpredictable twists and turns in instrumentals and arrangements that keep the listener on their ever-tapping toes. San Fermin is the brainchild of Ellis Ludwig-Leone, the compositional force that moves these songs past predictability. After graduating from Yale, Ludwig-Leone assisted on several film scores and operas, experiences which clearly influenced the songs on Jackrabbit. While maintaining a cohesive sound throughout the album, each song varies enough to hold a new treasure at every turn. Featuring more than 20 musicians, including Ludwig-Leon's partnersin-crime, Allen Tate, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius, Jackrabbit has enough varied content to cast a wide net, while not losing any quality. Just when you think you've tapped into an indie rock groove, you're seamlessly whipped into an instrumental pop rock breakdown. It's more invigorating than the tilt-awhirl, with considerably less nausea. Ludwig-Leone doesn't pander to simple

sensibilities. If you're looking for a cookie cutter indie rock album, Jackrabbit is not for you. I found it best to check my anticipation, as I never did end up where I thought I would in any particular track. As San Fermin continues to tour in the form of a tight eight-piece, one wonders how the sound will evolve next. Dramatics notwithstanding, Jackrabbit is sure to pique your interest, whether you find it to be your particular cup of tea or not. » - Stephanie Scelza

QUICK TRACKS A “THE WOODS” This track dances with mortality right off the bat, gently introducing us to Ludwig-Leone's mercurial writing style. Look, there in the sky! It's an indie rock song! It's a rock opera! It's Super!

B “JACKRABBIT” Savvy orchestration and catchy melodies make this one of the more immediately accessible tracks. Be prepared to find yourself singing it for days. | ELEVEN PORTLAND | 6

new music album reviews



Short List Adult Books Running From The Blows Dead Stars Bright Colors Miike Snow iii M. Ward More Rain


Poliça United Crushers Thao & The Get Down Stay Down A Man Alive Haelos Full Circle

L The Thermals

We Disappear Saddle Creek

For over a decade, The Thermals have consistently turned out their unique brand of lo-fi indie punk rock to the Portland scene and beyond. Featuring Hutch Harris (vocals, guitar) along with Kathy Foster (vocals, bass) and Westin Glass (drums), the trio’s seventh full-length album was recorded with help from former Death Cab for Cutie member Chris Walla at Kung Fu Bakery in Portland, and Seattle’s The

The Joy Formidable Hitch Damien Jurado Visions Of Us On The Land White Denim Stiff 3 Doors Down Us And The Night Soul Asylum Change Of Fortune Tango Alpha Tango White Sugar

L Buy it

Steal it

Toss it @elevenpdx


RJD2 Dame Fortune Electrical Connections RJD2 (Ramble Jon Krohn) has been around for a very, very long time. He found success from these barren, off-kilter, almost hopeless hip-hop instrumentals that lured you in with their bleak eccentricities. On Dame Fortune, however, he couldn’t be much further from the sounds that created him. This isn’t to say Dame Fortune is lacking due to the sonic left-turn; more

Hall of Justice. We Disappear is the fistpumping, mind-expanding follow up to 2013’s Desperate Ground. Case in point: the commanding lead single, “Hey You.” But that’s just the beginning—“Hey You” isn’t just a catchy, radio-friendly lead single with the rest of the album casted off as filler. The LP begins with some noisy distortion reminiscent of Sonic Youth’s “100%” and you almost think you just dropped the needle on Dirty. Your ears perk, your pulse increases, and adrenaline is flowing from head to toe. According to a statement from Harris, We Disappear is rooted in an obsession with technology, love and death. “Into the code we stay alive/we will be whole we will survive/if we go we will not be missed/in the code we will always exist.” In between the hard-hitting tracks, We Disappear is filled with thoughtful lyrics and overflowing with distorted soundscapes like those you will hear on “The Great Dying” and the album’s last track, “Years In A Day.” The latter serves as the perfect ending as the song slowly fades away—just like we all do. » - Wendy Worzalla

than anything he’s flexing a versatile set of production muscles with this record. It jumps from some jazzy, eclectic beats to this long, cinematic orchestral arrangement on the track “PF, Day One,” to what may as well be an Aphex Twin throwaway on the track “A New Theory.” Where RJD2 finds success on this record is on the more experimental tracks: notably “A New Theory,” and “Your Nostalgic Heart and Lung.” A handful of guest vocalists (and one rapper) also help carry some some of the weight throughout. And while “Up In The Clouds” isn’t the best track we’ve heard RJD2 and Blueprint collaborate on (together they work as hip-hop duo Soul Position), it’s a good cut. Unfortunately, the genre-bending and lack of coherent theme is this project's only major downfall. As a whole, it feels like a hastily composed collection of ideas that stand stronger alone than together. The album adds up to less than the sum of its parts, but none of the parts are necessarily broken; they just aren’t quite the right parts for each other. » - Tyler Sanford

new music album reviews departure from everything they’ve done up to this point. Let’s not waste any time and just

Gone from this new album are the half-joking threats, the songs shit-talking bullies and failed flings;

shamelessly trot out the clichés right

what’s seen here has seen some of

now: at this point in a review of a

the worst the world can dish out for

post-'80s Violent Femmes record, the

real and has more to say about it

reviewer would remind readers that the

than that it sucks. Love and travel

Femmes once put out such anthemic

are not necessarily going to fix your

classics of college radio as “Blister in

shambled life. We think that we can

the Sun,” “Kiss Off,” and “Add it Up;” and

do everything as kids, only to see how

yes, all that was great rock 'n' roll, and

boring life really can be in the end.

we remember. It’s as though, for many,

There’s an inimitable charm to Gano’s

these guys never did anything else.

nasally snarl carrying these middle-

And this might be on account of how, as

aged gripes. To say the least, it’s an

far back as 1991’s Why Do Birds Sing?,

honest, spirited record from a band

their albums have seemed to mostly

that unfairly got labelled a one-hit

just be collections of songs: the same

wonder. There’s even something like

latest proper full-length, We Can Do

basic materials for an album assembled

a lovelorn country classic in “What

Anything, to materialize, but those

without much ado, without much to

You Really Mean,” a cover penned by

who found themselves let down by

distinguish them. Moreover, neither

Gano’s older sister Cynthia Gayneau.

their hit-and-miss attempts to expand

have they seemed to show much of

I say this in all honesty: We Can Do

the territory of Gordon Gano’s self-

their true selves beyond the snotty,

Anything is the real follow-up they’ve

deprecating lyricism since the '90s will

anxious kids who broke through way

had in the works all along. You owe

appreciate the wait all the more. This

back when, and surely there’s more to

it to yourself check this out ASAP if

new record might be their best since

these guys than all that? This is where

you love punk rock and “indie rock,”

they began, a genuinely surprising

We Can Do Anything comes in.

whatever that is. » - Matthew Sweeney

bar-burnouts since the very beginning with The Stooges. His new album, Post Pop Depression, doesn’t fall short of that. Post Pop Depression will be his seventeenth studio album and is set to be released on March 18, produced by Queens of the Stone Age lead man Joshua Homme. The pair began working on the album last January (2015) in secret without a record label; it is now being released by Loma Vista Recordings. In addition to Homme's involvement, Queens of the Stone Age's Dean Fertita (also of The Dead Weather) plays guitars and keyboards on the album and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders also contributes. As I played the album, I did what I do with every review–I listened for familiarities, I listened for who/what it reminded me of. I realized after each listen, that it didn’t remind me of anything except for exactly what it is: it’s garage rock, hard rock, new wave, and art rock & blues–it’s Iggy Pop. Post Pop Depression is the highpowered music we’d expect from Iggy. It emits a raw energy that’s reminiscent

of the very first Stooges album. It’s infectious, and complete with back-tobasic rock 'n' roll flavor that’s been so out of rotation the last few years. The album kicks off with “Break Into Your Heart,” a stiff, snot-nosed rock song that’s drenched in the kind of power chords that are intimately familiar in any Iggy Pop or '70s glam/punk rock song. The album deals with questions of usefulness and adequacy as one’s legacy, or in this case one’s career, is near its end through cadence vocals layered with high-striking guitars. The strongest track is “Gardenia” with its gleefully satirical lyrics that are among the album’s highlights–however “American Valhalla” earns distinction with its power ballad production and melody. As a whole, the album stays true to the very essence of glam rock, '70s punk, and the notable emotional minimalism that is so closely connected to that era and style of music. It’s a poignant reminder of Iggy Pop’s gift for melody, visceral abrasiveness and is a much deserved victory lap for an icon who influenced so many. » - Samantha Lopez

Violent Femmes We Can Do Anything PIAS Records It took 16 years for Violent Femmes’

Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression Loma Vista Recordings Before '70s punk really took off and before the bloom of '90s grunge, you had Iggy Pop–an outrageous, sometimes dangerous and relentless misfit of rock 'n' roll music. Iggy has used his raw-powered vocal style and smarts to create a long career characterized by commercial success, critical notice and respect from all over the music world. He influenced a generation of glam-rockers and dive- | ELEVEN PORTLAND | 8

live music


Photo by Greg LeMieux

intimate bar and performance space inside, and an enormous patio space with roaring fires outside. Following suit with much of Portland’s style, there are elements of industrial meshing with organic. There are sleek angles to the furniture and fixtures, with exposed metal and wooden beams in romantic light. The menu is quality without being conceited (featuring everything from a cauliflower po-boy to a five oz. hanger steak for under $10), and while the cocktail menu is full of lovely concoctions like "Rosemary’s Baby” (Cazadores, St. Germain, Clear Creek cranberry), or the


“Mona Lou” (Stoli Vanilla vodka, Kahlua, Amarula cream liquor, he changes in Portland are ever more

Allspice Dram, nutmeg, named after Ron Toms’s mom), there

apparent on lower East Burnside these

is also a reasonable beer and wine list to choose from during

days, but this part of town is still holding

happy hour. It’s the best of both worlds, both classy and

strong to some of its mainstays with a few

casual, great for a date-night or late-night hang out. Then

eateries, boutiques, and live music venues.

there’s the music.

This year marks the 10th anniversary for the sophisticated, yet rustic Rontoms. There isn’t a distinct sign announcing

Toms designed the space with sound in mind. The ubiquitous Allen and Heath Mixwizard is not the most

that you have arrived. The owner, a man named Ron Toms, decided on an image of a man using a mobile helicopter to mark the entrance in lieu of plastering a name on the side of the building. Despite his anonymous efforts, his name caught on as the title for the business. A former web designer for Nike, Toms decided to move on from office life and ventured into bar ownership, adapting his architectural and 3D program knowledge for designing a new restaurant and performance space from the empty shell of a former industrial coffee machine repair facility. The property underwent a full seismic retrofit, and is a unique contrast of spaces. There is an


Local band AAN playing the Rontoms patio. Photo by Todd Walberg

live music

Local band Tiburones playing inside at Rontoms. Photo by Todd Walberg

elaborate sound system, but in the right hands it works great for this smaller venue, especially with the acoustics of what may be the main characteristic of Rontoms: the amphitheater-style structure. Toms knew that minimizing expanding waves with an angled structure would make for the best sound quality. It even sounds good for those who watch through the large windows outside on the sidewalks once capacity is reached, but we still suggest arriving early for the Sunday Sessions. In the beginning bookers Hannah Carlen and Joel Bowden devised the idea behind the Sessions, which was to have shows like clockwork on a slow day of the week, and never charge for it. It’s goodwill over money-making, showcasing the best music in Portland. There have been a few incarnations of bookers and musicians from Máscaras’ Theo Craig to the current booker, sound tech and musician Boone Howard. Aside from a few special events, most music events are (and according to Toms always will be), free. » - Brandy Crowe





1332 W BURNSIDE 2 Lake Street Drive | The Suffers


3-4 MarchFourth | Joy Now Youth Brigade

6 Pusha T | Lil Bibby | G Herbo 12-13 Umphrey's McGee | Tauk Finish Ticket | Vinyl Theater Yonder Mountain String Band Datsik | Ookay | Drezo X Ambassadors | Seinabo Sey | Savoir Adore Dark Star Orchestra
















26 18











Martha Scanlan John Neufeld Duo Live Wire: Hey Marseille | Jen Kirkman My Brothers & I | The BGP Aoife O'Donovan | Robt Sarazin Blake Wolf Eyes | Timmy's Organism | Video Anderson East | Dylan LeBlanc Dengue Fever | Tezeta Band Jackson Boon & The Ocean Ghosts | Psychomagic Live Wire: Rebecca Traistor Yppah | Manatee Commune | Halo Refuser Fanno Creek Just Lions | Novosti | The Tamed West Hillstomp | Kory Quinn & The Comrades Acid Mothers Temple | Orphan Goggles Radiation City | Moon By You | Smokey Brights XRAY.FM 2nd Birthday Party Michael Hurley | Anita Margarita Band Chairlift Nap Eyes | Cian Nugent | Dragging An Ox Through Water Quilt | Mild High Club Shearwater | The Oo-Ray




Classixx | Eliot Lipp | Karl Kling The Shivas | Sculpture Gardens Dead Winter Carpenters | Gipsy Moon Tango Alpha Tango | Fauna Shade Joseph | Corey Kilgannon Eleanor Friedberger | Icewater Protomartyr | Chastity Belt | Hurry Up Jack Garratt | Kacy Hill Penny & Sparrow | The Whistles & The Bells Bronze Radio Return | Howard Eli & Fur Motorbreath | Plush Hunter & The Dirty Jacks | Cedar Teeth | Patrimony Casey Neill & The Norway Rats | The My Oh Mys This Will Destroy You | Vinyl Williams The Prettiots Kawehi Phil Cook | Dead Tongues An Evening With Greg Dulli The Lil Smokies | Trout Steak Revival Banners | The Moth & The Flame | Pop Etc Bag Raiders White Denim | Sam Cohen 28-29 Poliรงa | Clara-Nova 30 Field Music 31 The Lower 48 | Rio Grands | Tiburones

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8 NW 6TH

Animal Collective | Ratking Mutemath | Paper Route Jauz Disturbed Breaking Benjamin | Starset Slayer | Testament | Carcass Between The Buried & Me | August Burns Red Abbath | High On Fire | Skeletonwitch | Tribulation


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live music MARCH MISSISSIPPI STUDIOS (CONT.) Satan | Danava | Violation Wound | DJ Dennis Dread Yuck | Big Thief Mothers | All Dogs | Haley Heynderickx Acid Dad San Fermin | Esmé Patterson









St. Lucia | Grace Mitchell Esperanza Spalding The Reverend Horton Heat | Unknown Hinson Magma | Helen Money Daughter | Wilsen The Floozies | Sunsquabi | Sugarbeats Thao & The Get Down Stay Down Rachel Platten | Hunter Hunted Wolfmother Hey Marseilles | Hibou
















21 29



3 11 6























6 13 20

8 9

Bunker Sessions Open Mic | Eye Candy VJs(Mondays) Will Kinky | Annie Dang | General Mojo Thesis Teleporter 4 | The Zags | Vacilando Stubborn Son | Calisse | Gold Casio Leo Islo | Small Skies | The Wave Collector Chloe Stuff | Katie Kuffel The Sextet | Almost Rock | Headdress Chris Lee | Stray Labradora | Centaurs of Attention | Ronnie Haines Supercrow | The Late Great | Small Field Rose City Round: David Shur (of Future Historians) The Adnas | Thrash Dogs Lee Allstar | Bleach Blonde Dudes Ned & The Dirt Faded Pages | Louder Oceans | Sell the Farm Self Group Presents: Cathedral Park White Bear Polar Tundra | Crushing Crayons Familiar Wild | Karyn Ann | T. Nile Trox | Samarei | Steez | Nakyooes | DJ Verbz Metts, Ryan & Collins | Root Jack | Pat Kearns Family Mansion Fever Feel | Ladywolf | Happy Dagger


3 4 9 10 16 17 22 24 26 31


DoveDriver | Rare Diagram Sama Dams | No Kind Of Rider Fog Father | Battlehooch


4 11 12 19 20 24 25 29 30 31


Justin Jay | Drexler | Rymes Ambrosia Salad | DJ Jackal | DJ Sappho The Hill Dogs | Balto | Those Willows The Flavr Blue | Blossom Dreamboat | WL | Hush Arbors Young Fathers Hunny | Wax Idols | Mothertapes Pictureplane | Religious Girls Hinds | Cotillon Goldroom


27 28 29 30 31

1 3 4 5 6 9 10 11 12 13 15 16 17 18 19 20 22 23 24 25 26 30


Emmy The Great Summer Cannibals | Months Dude York | Naked Giants Pillar Point The High Highs The Prids | Hollow Sidewalks | Helvetia

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Photo by Mercy McNab

11 1300 SE STARK 3 11 12 18 25 29

Ani Difranco | Rupa & The April Fishes Ben Rector | Gavin James The Brothers Comatose | The Easy Leaves Pigs On The Wing Peter Frampton | Julian Frampton Steve Hackett presents Genesis Classics

THE KNOW 12 2026 NE ALBERTA 2 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 17 18 19 20 22 23 24 25 26 28 31

Sallo | Disemballerina Sons Of Huns | Cloud Catcher | Pushy Blowout | Dead Soft | Pass ZHOD | Sculpture Gardens | Killed By Health The Ghost Ease | Noyes | Bobby Peru | My First Mind Alto! | Golden Hour | Faxes Tiltwheel | Hungry Tiger | Dead Bars | Low Culture Dusty Santamaria | Kulululu | Love, Fuck Neighborhood Brats | Wild Mohicans | Piss Test Agata | Warpfire Lee Corey Oswald | Horders | Sloth & Turtle Heiress | mercy Ties | Black Communion | woven Tongues And And And | Couches | Paper/Upper/Cuts Cherry Cola | Robot Boy | Shitty Weekend Mope Grooves | Mall Walk Frankie & The Witch Fingers | Coma Serfs Dispossessed | Prolix Destruct Sleeping Beauties | Brain Bagz | The Hemingers Bud Bronson & The Goodtimers | Sweeping Exits

ALBERTA STREET PUB 13 1036 NE ALBERTA Santiam | Matt Buetow The Co Founder | Secret Sea | Isaac Pierce Kat Fountain & Friends Buddy Jay's Jamaican Band Old Age | Roselit Bone Huck Notari & The River | Oscar Fang & The Gang KMUZ Local Roots Live Series 10-11 The Weather Machine | Two Planets 12 The Druthers | Pretty Gritty 17 Cascade Crescendo 18 The Moonshine | Alder Street 19 The Way Outside | The Green Room | Raphie 23 Out Of Dodge | Noah Kite | Red Steppes 25 Ezza Rose | The American West | T Nile 30 Nolan Ford | Harlowe | Green Hills Alone

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THE SECRET SOCIETY 14 116 NE RUSSELL 3 4 6 9 11 12 18 19 24 25 26

Everything's Jake | Baby & The Pearl Blowers Life During Wartime 7 On 7 The Brain Odell Band | Louder Oceans Well Swung The Cool Whips | Original Middle Age Ska Enjoy Club Ma Fondue | The Pat Stilwell Band Left Coast Country | Josiah Payne | Beach Fire Stumptown Swing | Doug & Dees Hot Lovin' Jazz Babies Kelsey & The Next Right Thing | DJ Klavical Melao De Cuba Salsa Orchestra

Want to have your show listed? E-mail




Tango Alpha Tango

ood rock 'n' roll will

stick. There’s something for everyone on

never die because, at

this record because, well, it’s an album

its best, it tells lies

for the tempted. Catch Nathan and his

we can all see the

wife Mirabai Carter-Trueb (bass) and

truth in, and everyone

Joey Harmon (drums) March 4 at Doug

knows honesty don’t


get old. Portland’s hard-working Tango Alpha Tango has the swagger and stage

ELEVEN: Your music draws heavily

chops to make indie fans blush, the

on older, traditional blues-rock styles.

wit to leave cynics mumbling, and the

Did you grow up listening mostly to

bravado to hasten a boy back to the bar

guitar-driven blues and classic rock?

to buy that cute girl next to him a damn whiskey sour. And here they come, new

Nathan Trueb: So, the brief history

album in hand, to give you a dash of

of where I came from is kind of a lot of

the sweet on your lips. Songwriter and

oldies growing up, Motown, Beach Boys,

frontman Nathan Trueb has written

The Beatles. Then I got a little older,

his most concise, poignant material on

introduced to the guitar around sixth

White Sugar, and he sews it through

grade, and that whole world opened up

with lyrics that stir and melodies that

through my older brother. Stuff like Led

that kind of thing, and country music. So whether I like to admit it or not, I do love country. But, as people call it, “real country.” I don’t enjoy the big-box Nashville stuff. Hank Williams was a big influence. And then all the influence that just comes with being a guitar player, all those Nashville players. I feel like that’s their version of jazz. They’re playing to the chords rather than just jamming abstractly over a key. 11: There’s also a strong element on the new record of contemporary indie music that you successfully blend with that older bluesy sound. Are you worried that by relying heavily on an older styling that you won’t sound current enough?



Redwood Son (Sundays) Somerset Meadow | Plastic Shadow | Nails Hide Metal Possesed By Paul James Lindsie Feathers | Sean Mager | Anna Hoone Smooth Hound Smith | Rich Layton & The Troublemakers Mexican Gunfight | Love Gigantic Liza Anne | The Saint Johns | Youth Runson Willis III | Insects Vs. Robots | The Hugs Willow Grove | The Mix Position | Caravela Salsa Konviviaal w/DJ Me The Parson Red Heads | House Of Angels Paul Lesinski Lessons In Fresh White Eagle Blues Jam hosted by Travers Kiley Heavy Gone Acoustic | Monica Nelson & The Highgates The Mutineers | The Low Bones | The Resolectrics The Last Draw | Friends & Lovers Black Sheep Black | The Loved | The Von Howlers Spank! Jumaane Smith | Skerik's Bandalabra Hutson | The Dark Backward Rule Of The Bone Thornton Creek Jeff Campbell | Jamie Kent | Megan Slankard

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NT: Well I do feel like we are moving away from that with this new album. As you’ve heard, the last album Black Cloud had several very bluesy tracks on it, and I feel like sometimes people like to find, not in a negative way, a way to pigeonhole you so they can describe it and say what the show’s gonna sound like or the album’s gonna sound like. Zeppelin, Cream, Hendrix. And with my

If you listen to the first few tracks you

friend group we all went nuts on that

might think that we were a blues band

stuff for a while. Then as I got older, and

but there are lots of pop songs on there

progressed with the guitar, I started

too. But I feel like with this album I’m

being interested in bands like Steely

always one foot in that classic guitar

Dan. And that led me to playing jazz. I

world and another foot in wanting to

studied jazz for a bit in college; I love

be a great songwriter. I’m not filtering

playing it still. That influence doesn’t

it through the question of "are these

always come across, but maybe in the

bluesy enough;" it’s more like “no, is this

composition/progressions aspect.

the best song that people will relate to the best?” That’s how my vision is these

11: There are also elements of


country and folk. Within the American musical landscape, where do you locate your main wellspring of influence?

11: The new album, White Sugar, has a more produced and succinct quality as opposed to Black Cloud.

NT: I think the other part of growing

How do you feel your songwriting and

up was being around music. I mean all

recording processes have changed

my family were musicians, and for a long

between the two albums?

time they would play country music. Not by my choice. I grew up on a farm in

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Oregon City, the outskirts, so I always

album, it has 13 songs, and we were

grew up with animals and chores and

kind of playing catch up with older


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NT: Black Cloud was a pretty lengthy


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material just so it could be there as a

away from trite things or things that

snap shot of what we were doing at the

are going to be worn out in a couple

time. It became more of a rock 'n' roll

years. I don’t like to talk about texting

album in that sense, because of the

or cell phones. There are certain things

nature of where we were at as a band.

that put an expiration date on it and I


Whereas this album we had a lot of

try to stay away from that stuff. And sometimes it’s to mask what I’m saying

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time to home in on the tracks, and not just me, but the band. And my writing

because the songs are really personal

process, the inspiration came in a little

to me, or to people around me, and you

bit of a different way. I was listening to

don’t want to give everything away. You

more Paul Simon. I wanted this album

want the listener to feel like they’re

to be more melodic and I wanted to

having the experience too; because I

explore different ranges of my voice,

feel like if I’m experiencing this then

like falsetto. I’ve always been into that.

I’m sure that others have been there too.

I’ve always sung along to stuff that’s

We’re not all that different.


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maybe higher than my voice, female vocalists, Stevie Wonder. So I think this album stemmed from a little of that,

refrain at the end goes “White sugar

just wanting to write some memorable

calls/green dollar falls.” What is the

melodies and more structured songs.

metaphor here?

11: White Sugar is loaded with

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NT: So maybe to even paint a broader

clever, often poignant lyrical turns,

brush, and I didn’t mean to write it

I’m thinking of the bonus song "I Won’t

this way, but the concept of the album

Tell," with the lyric “a creature of habit

for me, White Sugar, whether I knew

with the habit of a preacher” and “here

it at the time or not, seems to be a

I am lord, I’m at your door/I’m not your

temptation album. I mean sex, drugs,

only client,” and the opening track’s

and rock 'n' roll, all those things that

lyric of “I gotta girl with the Ray Ban

not just rock 'n' rollers deal with but

sun tan/she shake and rattle like a

everyone deals with in my age group,

rattle snake spray can.” Your lyrics

and younger too, and older. So White

can be serious and they can be playful.

Sugar has an obvious reference to drugs.

What do you find most important in

That’s the first thing that everyone

making a song’s lyrics resonate with

comes up and asks me: “Is that song


about cocaine?” Well it is, but it’s more


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11: In the album’s title track, a

about what that represents: a fleeting NT: I’m really influenced by

good time.

literature for my writing, rather than another person’s songs. We’re all guilty

11: There are lyrics in the song

as musicians of thinking “Oh, I wish I

that make it sound like you’re almost

had written that song.” I find the more

talking about a woman. Like a one

I start reading, the more inspired I

night stand. And then other times


get musically. Sometimes it’s just a

it’s more explicitly a drug reference.

memorable tagline that I know is going

So it does kind of seem to expand the

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to be the hook for me, and then the rest

metaphor to be about indulgence and

of the lyrics come from the questions

excess, not necessarily addiction.

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“What does that mean and what am I going to write about?” Usually it’s

NT: Yeah, flirting with all that

just something autobiographical or

stuff. In relationships too. I feel like

autobiographical from someone else’s

Black Cloud was more of an album

point of view when I’m writing. But I’m

that was good versus evil, whether

very picky about lyrics. I try to stay

it’s spiritual or political, kind of those

wide-encompassing topics. And then White Sugar, as a continuation, is more

temptation, girls, drugs? I feel like that is the umbrella that the songs all unintentionally fall under. 11: I didn’t want to presume too much, especially because your bassist


object of observation?

personal. How does the individual, myself, or whoever, deal with adultery,


11: Those around you can become an

350 W BURNSIDE NT: Yes. And for the record, me and Mirabai are fine [laughs]. But yeah I mean it's just things that everyone deals with. I hope it’s relatable. The goal for me is to just, like I said, write a song that someone can sing and feel—you know

is also your wife, but it does seem like

people write you nice stuff like that

there are several lyrics in various songs

sometimes, like “Man, this song got me

that seem to have this "little secret"

through this time,” or “That’s exactly

aspect to them. It does seem like that’s

about this thing that I don’t even need to

a theme.

tell you about, but that’s my theme song


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Shred Kelly Acousta Noir

5 17


for this.” And at the end of the day too NT: Right it is, and like I said, or maybe I didn’t say it explicitly, but the "me" isn’t necessarily me. You know when you’re friends with a writer or songwriter then you’re going to be an open target for what I’m experiencing

you can listen to the song "White Sugar" and it’s just a party song. You know, whatever, if that’s as far as you want to take it then that’s all it needs to be. » - Ethan Martin

through you and how it’s affecting either


your friend group or your family.

L Tango Alpha Tango

White Sugar Self-released

If you’ve kicked around the Portland music scene for any length of time, you’re at least familiar with Tango Alpha Tango. With four studio albums and a live record under their belt, the trio has garnered a following well worthy of its considerable talent. Their fifth full-length album, White Sugar, is perhaps the tightest the band’s ever been, and that cohesion translates to an excellent collection of tracks. The laid-back “Don’t Tell My Baby” is a rootsy blues jam, thumping around with meandering


vocals and a catchy hook. The title track digs down into that subterranean grit all rocks bands wish they could harness, but few can actually do so. It rolls with heavy riffs and simple guitar lines complemented by a delightfully ominous keys line. On “The Devil’s Mark,” the group gets an opportunity to stretch out and display its instrumental chops. That it wouldn’t feel out of place on a heavier rock album tells you that Tango Alpha Tango has fleshed out their ability to change tones and textures while still maintaining the overall élan of the album. The song begins with a light vamp and a major-ish key, before the fuzzy guitar kicks in and brings out a nice undertone. It transitions, midway through, into a heavy jam that runs out the rest of the song’s nearly six-and-a-half minutes. It’s an excellent feeling to watch a group grow beyond anyone’s expectations, and the way that Tango Alpha Tango has continued to re-set the bar for itself higher and higher is a testament to the creative force behind the project. White Sugar surely deserves our attention. » - Charles Trowbridge


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Photo by Maria Kanevskaya


hao Nguyen used to

While the album is Nguyen's

breakthrough, would be

play a song, “Moped,�

most personal yet, it is also

willing to make, but Nguyen's

from her debut record,

her most sonically daring.

live performances have

Like the Linen, using

Produced with the help of her

always showcased a desire

a toothbrush as a sort

close friend Merrill Garbus,

for momentum and the album

of bouncy, rhythmic

of electro-pop outfit Tune-

is nothing if not inspired by a

pick. It was a cute and quirky

Yards, Man Alive is a drastic

gesture, from a songwriter

departure from Nguyen's

whose stage presence has

previous efforts, mixing a

always been funny and a little

host of electronic sounds and

odd, but the toothbrush was

effects into her normally more

also a practical tool, allowing

folk-inspired sound, not to

the song a jaunty, exuberant

mention a ten-fold increase

bounce. Since that initial

in the rhythm section. On

release, Nguyen has put out

many of the tracks, Nguyen

three terrific albums with her

herself sounds different,

band The Get Down Stay Down,

experimenting with shifts in

each album building upon the

her vocal patterns. Lyrically,

last in complexity, subject

Nguyen deals with her

matter and musicality. She's

relationship with her father

toured incessantly and opened

in a myriad of ways, from the

or a studio full of tricks.

for acts like Neko Case, The

intimate to the ferocious,

ELEVEN recently talked

Head and the Heart, and The

much in the same way she has

with her on the phone about


dealt with everything from

the evolution of her career,

the California justice system

working with Garbus, and the

to release her newest record,

to jilted love in past work. The

radically different sound of

Man Alive, a personal album

album is a risk few artists,

her new album.

about her absent father.

on the cusp of a career

Now Nguyen is preparing

desire to move. For all its differences, Man Alive seems intent on continuing what has constantly been Nguyen's push for new territory, both musically and lyrically. Nguyen has always been adept at using the tools and resources at her disposal to propel her songs to new heights, whether it be a toothbrush, a slide guitar | ELEVEN PORTLAND | 18

features national scene Photo by Todd Walberg

aspect of your music and you've always put on such a great show. I'm curious how touring feels for you a decade or so into your career. TN: It feels more tiring, but it also feels a lot calmer, I think, after you've grown older. I think it's a really great privilege, to be able to do this for a living. And the way we get to show our gratitude is through our shows and we try to put on the best show we can for the people who have so graciously joined us. Now it's a very positive, very communitycentric vibe and I really love that. We're really excited to get out. 11: You know folks are coming to your shows now, so that must take a little worry off the pretour. TN: That we know people are coming? We can only hope. It's better to be just as grateful for one person showing up as you would for however many. It's still a choice people make and we really appreciate it. 11: You had a pop-country duo in high school and the current incarnation of what y'all are up to pulls in a lot of different genres, especially on the new album, with inflections of hip-hop, aggressive rock 'n' roll, some electronic elements. I'd love to know what you're listening to in the touring van. If there's anything that's off limits, or anything we'd be surprised by.

ELEVEN: The Pacific Northwest seems to hold a special place in your heart. A number of bandmates hail from the area, your first tour was with Portlander Laura Veirs, and your first three records came out from Kill Rock Stars. Not that we mind, but why the special love? Thao Nguyen: I really appreciate how you guys handle rainfall. [Laughs] The relationship with the Northwest started with my relationship with Kill Rock Stars and my management, who were in parts of Seattle, and then in Portland. And half our band does live in Portland and have done so for years, and yeah, it definitely is like a second home and a first home for half my band. 11: You're kicking your tour off here in March? TN: That's right. 11: We're very excited for that show at the Wonder Ballroom. I know that touring has always been a really big


TN: Primarily, there's not a lot of music playing because we hear a lot of it. I think everyone's listening to their own music. If the radio is on... a lot of podcasts. There's always so much sound happening, I think that people are pretty excited when there's just silence. But everyone's always sharing new songs and new bands too. Sometimes it's new bands or sometimes it's a really obscure James Brown track. Our bassist really likes to share obscure James Brown tracks with us. 11: Let's talk about the new album. It's a pretty sincere departure in a lot of ways from your earlier stuff. It seems like each album you've put out has been a progression. You've added instrumentation, added new players. Always pushing forward. I'm interested in how that idea resulted in the new album and where a lot of that new sound came from. TN: I think that this album is a closer and more fully realized iteration of these things we've been working toward a lot, that not necessarily have been captured on record, but within our lives shows. It's the most effective synthesis of our different influences. Especially though, the leanings that I have... I know the earlier work is a lot more folk and country based, which, you know, obviously, was a big part of my youthful upbringing. The

features national scene more hip-hop influences, the kind of riff-based layers, as opposed to just being based off of guitar tracks, with the guitar as the primary instrument... 11: There seems to be a lot more studio production, electronic feel to it too, and I know you worked with Merrill Garbus on the album and that you've worked with her before and I'd love to hear what that process in the studio was like and what she maybe brought out of you that maybe you couldn't have achieved on your own. TN: Oh, definitely. Merrill's a really great friend of mine and we've been wanting to work together for a really long time, to work together again. Yes, her influence is really strong throughout the record and I would say one of the backbones of this record and why making it was so rewarding and joyful was there was a lot of time and space for experimentation and creativity. Finding some little odd sounds and not being afraid to incorporate them. Using tracks from a home demo that I recorded and just inserting that into the song as opposed to me treating it in the studio. There was a lot of fucking things up. There's a fearlessness that Merrill has that I have always admired. And that kind of energy and encouragement was amazing. That's sort of the environment she fostered for all of us. One of incredible warmth and positivity. And really premised upon challenging everyone, encouraging everyone to go a little bit further than we ever had. With a lot of weird pedals and

preamps and our sound engineer, Beau Sorenson, who actually, he used to live in Portland as well, he was incredible and basically another member of the band, as far as what he was able to do from the board. 11: I know you and Merrill are close friends and you had said you wanted to keep the people in the room to something resembling a family of musicians, which was due to it being a more personal album. But I'm also curious how that introspection plays with the idea of a more feisty and energetic sound. TN: I think that it all comes from the same place, and actually this record was a chance to explore really difficult subject matter, but with an honesty, with sort of a frankness and directness that I hadn't done before. And honestly, this is a very frank, raw, direct record. 11: Some of that subject matter deals with your father. Do you want to talk about how it felt to get some of that out there a little later in you career, on the fourth album? Why you felt the need to do that on this particular album? TN: I think in past recordings I wasn't ready in my personal life to do it and at this point when I started writing songs for the record, I didn't know what exactly the record would be, just that it would be coinciding with what was happening in my

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䴀伀一䐀䄀夀匀㨀 䈀唀一䬀䔀刀 匀䔀匀匀䤀伀一匀 伀倀䔀一 䴀䤀䌀 ⴀ 㠀倀䴀⼀䘀刀䔀䔀

伀倀䔀一 䴀䤀䌀 䠀伀匀吀䔀䐀 䈀夀 䰀䔀䔀 䄀唀䰀匀伀一 䄀一䐀 吀䄀䰀伀一 䈀刀伀一匀伀一⸀ 匀䤀䜀一唀倀 䄀吀 㜀㌀ ⸀ 匀䠀伀圀 㠀⸀ 

䴀伀一䐀䄀夀匀㨀 䔀夀䔀 䌀䄀一䐀夀 嘀䨀匀 ⴀ 㤀倀䴀⼀䘀刀䔀䔀

䴀唀匀䤀䌀 嘀䤀䐀䔀伀 刀䔀儀唀䔀匀吀匀 䘀伀刀 吀䠀䔀 匀伀唀䰀⸀ 匀䔀䰀䔀䌀吀 䘀刀伀䴀 䄀 匀吀伀唀吀 䌀䄀吀䄀䰀伀䜀℀ | ELEVEN PORTLAND | 20

features national scene real life. It sort of wrote itself and I could just tell where the songs were going, the direction of the record being the arc of this relationship. And it wouldn't happen in the future, mostly because it was happening now. There was no way to stop it. It was hard too in some way, obviously because it was a very vulnerable place to be in but at the same time there were no other songs that were going to happen. 11: It seemed like life was sort of directing you to write this album. TN: I guess so. 11: Was it ever difficult to shape the lyrics around some of those songs, going in with a pre-determined idea of what you might write about and then try to fit those words into song? TN: No. When I write, the lyrics are written sort of simultaneously with the music. So that part wasn't hard. The hard part was just really acknowledging and accepting that these songs would be out. That these lyrics that are deeply personal would be public. That's another thing that Merrill was... I could not have made this record without a very good friend at the helm. It's not a comfortable enough topic to just be exploring songs with someone I don't know very well. 11: Quick Bowie question. Was he an influence for you?


TN: Yeah. Especially in the last few years. Adam, our bassist, is a huge Bowie fan. For years now there has been... I wouldn't claim to be a too serious fan, like others are, but definitely there are several songs I have always looked to as beacons of songwriting and production, as templates of what a good song is. I loved his humanity, that was so present, even in more obscure seeming songs. Whatever production choices... the emotion of them I loved, and the ability to connect on a very humane level was remarkable. You can still feel that heartbreak and the optimism and the hope of people trying to communicate. 11: My little sister actually wanted me to ask you a question. “Body� was one of the first songs she learned to play on the guitar. She's 21 now, living in Nashville and making a run at the music industry. Any advice for her or for any other young, female singer-songwriters out there? TN: I would say all the things you would expect someone to say. Reach out to other musicians who you think might have had similar experiences. Sort of build a community in whatever community you can. And support each other. That, and the fact of being a woman and a musician, those two things, when it comes to music, can't exist independently. It's important now, to acknowledge being a woman in music. The goal here is that it becomes... that it isn't sort of a hyphenated phrase. That said, it is a really specific experience to be a woman pursuing a career in music. And that I wish her luck. There's cheesy things I would like to say as well. Don't give up and all those things. Don't take any bullshit.

features national scene 11: In the past you've worked with a lot of non-profits, sometimes donating portions of ticket sales, or speaking out on issues. Would you care to talk about why that's important to you? TN: When I was growing up, I was interested in music, but when I was in school, I was not considering a career in music and I always thought I would go into a form of social work, especially regarding the prevention of domestic violence, and support around it. And then I realized I couldn't be on the front lines of that work. I just didn't have the constitution for it. I have so much respect for the people, in all forms of social justice work, who actually do see it, every day, on the front lines of it. So when I chose music instead, I committed myself to using my job as much as I could, and always maintaining that part of my life. I'm a member of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners. The entire last record, We the Common, was sort of a tribute to that organization. And I'm still a member and that community is incredibly important to me. It's amazing, because it doesn't matter one lick that I am a musician when I'm in that group and I think to maintain that perspective and understand that there's a lot more... just that they've given me so much more than I've given them as far as perspective and the people that I've met. When we play shows it's a little more of a community vibe and I'm just so grateful to be doing it and that's why people are there and we can kind of share this thing together. That comes from being a part of this coalition. 11: I suppose if you're on the road a lot, it's important to have a good community back home. TN: Definitely. It's a reason to come home. 11: You've also worked with a number of other organizations, like McSweeneys and Radiolab. How did that aspect of your career start up? TN: Yeah, I have been really lucky to collaborate with people more from the public radio life. Public radio has been amazing to us. Different programs have different variety shows, where you can not only be the musical guest, but also participate in a skit, or speak in complete sentences. That always is a bonus. Typically, when you put a show on, you don't showcase–unless you choose to talk between songs–you don't get to interact on a more conversational level. And yeah, I'm a fan of all these programs. As a listener, just as someone who listens to all these programs, it's a real joy to get to be a part of it. If they choose to invite me. 11: It seems like wherever you go or whatever you do, you're forming community, which is a special thing to be able to do. Congrats on the album being wrapped up and the tour starting up. TN: Thanks. We're excited to be in Portland. Always. » | ELEVEN PORTLAND | 22



















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Excalibur Books & Comics - 2444 SE Hawthorne Blvd


Pink Vintage - 2500 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Location photos by Mercy McNab


Clever Cycles - 900 SE Hawthorne Blvd






Analog Cafe - 720 SE Hawthorne Blvd


Helium Comedy Club - 900 SE 9th Ave


The High Dive - 1406 SE 12th Ave


Lardo - 1212 SE Hawthorne Blvd


Riyadhs - 1318 SE Hawthorne Blvd


School of Rock - 1440 SE Hawthorne Blvd


Devil's Dill - 1711 SE Hawthorne Blvd

11. FOOD IN THE HOOD Blackbird Pizza - 1935 SE Hawthorne Blvd | ELEVEN PORTLAND | 24

community literary arts ELEVEN: All of your stories seem to be Portlandcentric. How much of the flavor of this town inspires your writing? Monica Drake: This collection is all based on Portland, and it kind of sprawls out east, to the base of Mt Hood. Most of my writing, actually, is kind of speaking back to Portland. I love the city– I’ve been here a long, long time. And it changes a lot. I think that this collection of linked stories speaks to that change. So I can contain the place, and let the movement be through time. 11: How much of you is in the voices of your characters?

Photo by Mercy McNab

LITERARY ARTS Portland writer Monica Drake


he first short story in The Folly of Loving Life begins with a lover’s note from the narrator pleading for forgiveness after throwing her boyfriend’s favorite shirt in a free box on the curb and trying to throw his sneakers up on the powerlines. It’s these kind of quirky, Portland-specific details that have endeared Monica Drake to her readers since her debut novel Clown Girl. The taco stands, the dive bars, the hangover juice carts, the stale beer can recycling center. This collection of intertwined short stories portray a family over time, mainly two sisters who engage in the perverse persistence we call folly. In "See You Later Fry-O-Lator," the younger sister Lu toils in a menial job at a burger joint and is literally branded by deep frying machine. She finds some redemption with a boy suffering through a similar job. The story "S.T.D. Demon" follows the older sister Vanessa as she pursues an attractive stranger, her Pilgrim, while he constantly runs into ex-wives on the street. With The Folly of Loving Life, Monica creates a humorous, yet poignant version of the old Portland, with its gritty charm. The characters grow with the city, and are affected by the infill and gentrification going on around them and forcing them into the bland suburbs. Monica Drake has won both an Eric Hoffer award and an IPPY award for storytelling for her novel Clown Girl. She is lead faculty in the writing program at Pacific Northwest College of Art, where she has recently created a unique program that merges the visual arts with writing. ELEVEN sat down with her to discuss her brand new book, her writing style, and the fine art of creating art with the written word.


MD: I would say all of these stories are both me and not me. That’s true for all my writing. Even the men and the women and the children. They’re all representing me to a certain extent. It would be a mistake to read them as memoir. But I worked at Burger King. I’ve gotten many a burn on my arm. I’ve also worked as a clown, and that fed into Clown Girl. I’ve also worked as a cake cutter, and mortgage broker–I’ve worked all of the jobs that show up in my stories. 11: This is your first collection of short stories. How is that different from writing a novel? MD: I really love writing short stories, and some of these reach way back in my history. The majority of this book is written more recently. It was a wonderful exercise to pull out stories and think of how they relate to each other, and build a world in pieces. The writer Kevin Canty described it as “lightning flashes.” I just love that idea of it being flashes. It’s a different way of building a continuous narrative. In some ways, this may or may not be the pivotal moments of these characters' lives. Or they may not seem as the largest moments. These are not the weddings and the traditional celebrations. These are the small moments that illuminate a life. 11: That reminds me of Raymond Carver, the way he condensed so much between the dialogue. How is that different from writing a full narrative of a novel? MD: Well, stories are all about compression. I think that that’s the fun of writing a story. Compressing the things around a moment. You mentioned Carver, that kind of compression. When you write a novel, you have to start some place and end some place, and fill out all the places in between. Clown Girl was moment to moment, day by day. It is a compressed period of time. In my second novel, Stud Book there are seven points of view. Because there are multiple points of view, you can justify jumping around in time and place for each character. So in some ways it is a collection of stories that are merged enough to be a novel. With this book I’m stepping back even a little further, and leaving a little more space between the stories.

community literary arts 11: What advice would you have for the aspiring writers in this city? MD: I think what’s great about Portland is that we have all of these kind of kitchen table classes now. I studied with Tom Spanbauer when he first started teaching classes here, about 1991. That was a turning point for me. It wasn’t an MFA, it wasn’t even a community college. It was just paying Tom some money to join his group at home. I think that because he was just trying to get off the ground, having people that stuck around and took his classes helped generate steam for what he was doing, and at the same time he helped us all pick up our speed as writers. So there’s that kind of connecting with people who you have an affinity for. We can compliment each other, and hopefully generate a positive scene around what you’re doing. That’s where I met Chuck Palahniuk before he published Fight Club. 11: And you also became a teacher. Can you tell me about your program? MD: I teach down at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, PNCA. I designed an undergraduate writing program that’s in place there now. We’re just getting it off the ground. It is a BFA that joins writing and art. It’s a small private school, but it is an amazing place to come and study writing and art. When designing the program, that was a big part of what I wanted to assert. Before I started writing, I studied art history and painting. I think that painting was incredibly satisfying, but writing, to me, is more directly communicative. But there’s something about painting that allows your mind to range and settle. So I set the program up to have the foundation classes as visual arts classes. So you will have an art foundation– design and drawing and art history. But when you come to your studio arts, instead of film, or sculpture, or graphic design, you would be working on writing. 11: Clown Girl is a very visual story. Can you tell me more about that process? MD: My idea of a clown was based on Charlie Chaplin, a very toned down visual image of a clown. It was the idea of the struggling underdog with small but determined aspirations, who is kind of run over by life. The comedy comes from persistence. In the end I think it has a lot of underpainting, to use a visual arts term. I think all those layer show through. It’s almost like archeology, or when you paint–you start with just a bare sketch on a canvas and just build up, it’s all still there.

11: There is a lot of humor in both this book and Clown Girl. How important is humor in your stories? MD: A lot of my writing is funny to me. I don’t know if people always see the humor in it, but when you find people that recognize what is going on, personally that’s satisfying. To connect with the reader who enjoys the absurdity of what’s on the page. Clown Girl is about the character’s adherence to clowning as a high art, and how much that means to her. When her life gets worse, and the ground begins falling out from under her feet, all she can think to do is to work out another act. She just thinks, "I’ll make a better one, it will save me this time." In many ways, I was making fun of myself because I was dirt poor and all I could think was, "I’m going to write another novel." Somebody else might say, "I’ll go to law school." In this new book, there’s a lot that makes me laugh, and I hope that comes across. I think things like "Fry-O-Lator" are funny, the word is just inherently funny. With that burn on her arm she is kind of branded by that crummy job. I was always told in high school that a job would help build character, but when I worked at Burger King it sure didn’t build any character. It wasn’t a character I wanted to build. But there is an art in it. That’s what art is for right? You’ve got these life experiences, and art somehow makes them richer, whatever art you turn to. It enriches the humanity of that job. 11: Is there still room for writers and artists to make it in this climate? MD: We have to keep room. We have to make that room. We have to keep asserting that room. » - Scott McHale

LOCAL LITERARY EVENTS DREW SCOTT SWENHAUGEN RELEASE PARTY 1 MARCH 4 | MOTHER FOUCAULT'S | 523 SE MORRISON Beloved local poet and publisher Drew Scott Swenhaugen will be reading from his highly anticipated chapbook Big, published by Dikembe Press. Stacey Tran, Hajara Quinn and Sophie Linden will also be reading at the event.

SALON SKID ROW PRESENTS 2 MARCH 15 | SALON SKID ROW | 401 SW ALDER This is a very special international edition of the weekly reading series. Recent ELEVEN featured artist Ed Skoog is the author of two books of poetry, Mister Skylight and Rough Day, both published by Copper Canyon Press. A third book, Run the Red Lights, will be published this fall. He will be joined by two Irish poets now living and working in London, C.L. Dallat and Anne-Marie Fyfe. | ELEVEN PORTLAND | 26

community visual arts a painter might look at a canvas. When I studied undergrad at the University of Montana, it was a pretty traditional program with an emphasis on abstract expressionist painting, ceramics and pottery but I just remember being so compelled by large-scale color photography and video work. This was work that I wasn’t being exposed to as a student and I had this epiphany where I thought that if this was the work that I am most compelled by then perhaps this is the work that I should be making. After graduate school, I studied at the Northwest Film Center and I think it was there Photo by Mercy McNab

VISUAL ARTS Portland photographer Holly Andres

that I became really interested in the possibility of telling a story through a

single frame. I think that while cinema is so powerful and so captivating and can stimulate so many more of your senses through editing, movement, layering sound and dialog, there is something so rich about a single image and having to contend with nothing but your own heart beating when


you look at it. ortland photographer Holly Andres takes us back to explore the wonderment of childhood imagination through her beautifully crafted cinematic photography. In as little as a single

frame an entire story unfolds. The viewer is invited to participate in the adventure of characters meshed deep inside a transformative journey from childhood to adulthood. Andres has had solo exhibitions of her work shown from Portland to New York as well as internationally, and has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Time, Art in America, and many others. Don’t miss her latest series, The Fallen Fawn showing at the Charles A. Hartman Fine Art Gallery in late March through May. ELEVEN: What made you want to transition from painting to photography? Holly Andres: My undergrad is in painting and drawing, and I still think that my foundation in painting really informs my photographic process. In particular, the compositions of my photos and the ways that formal elements like color, texture, pattern and light interact come from my knowledge in painting. When I am looking through the camera I often times look in the way that


11: You are from a very large family; how does that experience influence all of your work? HA: I feel like my memory up until I was about eighteen is like a steel trap and it’s a different type of memory, which is really vivid, rich and cinematic. I feel like as I get older I increasingly realize what a unique experience it was being the youngest of ten kids and growing up on a farm that was like a lawless land. My childhood memories offer me a fertile buffet that I always find myself returning to for ideas for my photographic work. Although I am not a mother or have much of a maternal instinct, I feel I am pretty enchanted by the childhood experience. I am also interested in those moments of losing that childhood innocence and that transition from child to adult, in particular of girl to woman. 11: Is there a name for the type of photographic aesthetic that you create? HA: I have heard it referred to as staged or cinematic, narrative photography as opposed to conventional photojournalistic images. To borrow a distinction from a

community visual arts contemporary photographer, Jeff Wall whose work also falls

that the woman who died that lived there was a hundred

into this realm, “We are farmers vs. hunters.” Most people

years old, there was evidence that a bed had been moved

might think about the process of conventional photography

downstairs and it seemed like there had not been anyone

as just waiting for these beautiful, uncanny or surreal

upstairs for decades. I was able to track down the woman

moments to present themselves and then capture them

who bought the house and rent it for five days. I hired a

whereas photographers like Gregory Crewdson, Jeff Wall

couple of assistants and a PA and spent the first two days

or Cindy Sherman and a whole host of other contemporary

cleaning and moving furniture in, since all of the original

photographers, cultivate those moments, and much like a

furniture had been moved out. I then spent two days

film director, craft them specifically to be photographed.

shooting and I was able to shoot two separate series. In the matter of two days I was able to get about twelve images

11: Are there any big lessons that you have gained from your photographic career?

working with a bigger crew, so through my experience working on commercial shoots I have learned to be more efficient with setting up shots. That is the biggest thing

HA: During my earlier photographic work on projects

that I have learned, that the more that you shoot the less

like Sparrow Lane, when I was still teaching as well, I

clunky it feels and the more familiar and efficient you can

was only shooting maybe a photograph a month. I had to

become with your work.

transform, usually my own house, into a set using fabrics for wallpaper, shopping at thrift stores and estate sales for clothes and props and spending a lot of time crafting these

11: Tell us a little about your latest series, The Fallen Fawn.

installations that were then activated with my subjects. Because I was juggling the responsibilities of teaching,

HA: A few years ago my oldest sisters where telling me

it could take me a whole month to find all of the things I

that when they were young girls they found this suitcase

needed for a shoot. For my latest series, The Fallen Fawn,

on the river’s edge behind our house. They knew it was

my approach and process was more efficient because of the

this really precious treasure that was filled with this

practice that I have gained from working for commercial

woman’s life and they took it home and hid it under their

shoots. For example, I found this really incredible house

bed. Sometimes late at night, or when they could, they

going to an estate sale and remember walking into it and

would dress up in this woman’s clothes, put her curlers in

feeling that it was already this immaculately art directed

their hair, and wear her makeup; there was even an ID in

set, and it was staggering to walk into it. I later learned

the suitcase. My sisters were these young, innocent girls that didn’t want their treasure to be taken away from them and it didn’t even occur to them that they were potentially walking into this kind of sinister story. I found myself thinking about that story and wondering about that woman, who she was, what happened to her, and why that suitcase was there. These are the types of narrative tropes that interest me, but I didn’t want to be too heavy handed about the woman’s story. Like a lot of my photo series which are

"River Road: Milepost 13" | ELEVEN PORTLAND | 28

community visual arts influenced by film, this series is told in a parallel fashion where there are actually two different stories that oscillate throughout. I wanted to kind of suggest some of the assumptions, like if there is a dead body for example, but I wanted the viewer to think a little bit or maybe arrive at their own thoughts about what happened. There is this sweet spot though, where I didn’t want the viewer to be so bewildered that they become frustrated and disengage and where I would like the viewer

"First Blush: Elk Rock Island"

to arrive at their own ‘ah-ha’ moments without totally serving it up to them on

pilfer through it, through this woman’s life. Then I kind of

a platter. I started with this image of a deer, this really

inserted moments within each photo and the titles of each

fragile, beautiful deer in the headlights and thinking about

photo are very literal and almost like locations, like clues.

the woman as this type of fallen fawn and a sort of fallen woman. I travelled five hours south to find a pot farmer that I was tipped off about because I was told he had this

11: After your work is created, what do you get out of completing a project, how do you feel?

domesticated deer that I could use for the fawn. I thought about ways that her objects are kind of left behind and her

HA: When I come off of a creative project I actually

story is left behind with them, like the car, the dog, and the

usually go through a period of grief. The way that I

contents of the suitcase. Somehow the suitcase makes its

work, I usually have a relatively specific image in mind

way outside and these girls find it and they start to kind of

or an essence of an image that I am hoping to recreate photographically and just because of all of these impossibilities there is always a distance between what was in my mind and what I was capable of creating and so there is always this period of profound grief. Once that grief dissipates a little bit though, certain qualities are revealed where I find that there may be something more to the images than I ever even imagined. » - Lucia Ondruskova



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Eleven PDX Magazine March 2016  
Eleven PDX Magazine March 2016