Michele Van Kleef
- Old Church |
- Thursday, May 16, 2013
- 6 p.m. |
- Free |
- All ages welcome
About Naomi LaViolette
Portland, Oregon-based songwriter, pianist and vocalist Naomi LaViolette has found her niche in the marriage of two worlds: folk singer and jazz soulstress. Combining otherworldly Sarah McLachlan-like vocals with the soul of Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones' understated elegance and Ingrid Michaelson's playfulness, LaViolette's songs demand your attention.
LaViolette's 2012 eponymous debut album-which features ten original songs and her own arrangements of George Gershwin's "Our Love Is Here to Stay" and Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now"-was released to immediate critical acclaim. Oregon Music News wrote that she "shines" in her original tracks, The Portland Tribune praised her balanced combination of "chops" and "lyricism" and StereoSubversion.com proclaimed that "Naomi LaViolette is a siren, and if she isn't then she damn sure is possessed by one because it is impossible not to be ensnared by her jazzy vocal prowess." Produced and engineered by Dean Baskerville (Sheryl Crow, Everclear), Naomi fronts the album at the piano and sings lead and background vocals in addition to adding synths and harmonica into the mix.
An honest and in-the-moment songwriter, LaViolette composes from an authentic outpouring of life experiences. She writes songs about falling in love, staying in love, heartbreak, life's tough questions, and finding answers in surprising places. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, her songs often contain inspiration from the natural world, reflecting a sort of wild, uncontained beauty. "In artistic expression," says LaViolette, "we find places to stand in a world that is constantly changing. We discover what is most important in our lives, and understand our trials and joys at a deeper level because of them."
Her album showcases LaViolette's comfort with writing songs for a number of genres. Whether channeling Diana Krall on the rich piano ballad "Fragile," playing emotional piano pop on "Somewhere New to Stand," or getting flirty on the funky "Hey Yeah," LaViolette demonstrates her desire to not repeat the same thing over and over again. This focus on variety is not accidental. "I went into the record very open minded about the direction the album was going to head in," LaViolette says. "I had over 20 ideas for songs to put on the record. I like to play a lot of styles, and I like variety when I listen to records, so we decided to be eclectic while still having some unifying concepts, such as my voice and the way I sing, and a strong piano presence on every track."
LaViolette's roots are deep in classical music-she has a master's degree in classical piano performance-but she has also immersed herself in jazz standards, folk songs, soul, pop and gospel music. All these influences give her songs a musical vibe that is simultaneously vintage and current, and help to give her album a variety of moods and feelings for listeners to enjoy. She takes inspiration wherever she can find it, especially from other artists.
Not content to rest on her laurels, however, LaViolette is already pushing forward with new projects. In addition to touring in support of this record, she is commissioning songs for various outlets, and she released "Noel"-her own arrangement of the classic carol "The First Noel"-as a holiday single November 2012. The duet was recorded with Concert Rock Violinist Aaron Meyer.
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About Michele Van Kleef
Michele just finished recording her second record with Lazy Bones Recordings. This is her debut solo record: After All, featuring Tony Levin (incredible bass player of Peter Gabriel) and Nate Query (incredible bass player of The Decemberists and former Calobo bandmate)! Her music is based in storytelling with memorable melodies and sung with haunting vocals.
Michele got her start in the music industry as singer in the very successful, NW-based Indie band Calobo. They toured the country for over 6 years and shared the stage with Sara McLachlan, the Indigo Girls, Ani DiFranco and Jethro Tull. In Portland they played Portland Meadows, The Roseland Theater, La Luna and became regular sell-outs at The Crystal Ballroom. Across the country they played Wetlands in NYC, House of Blues in Chicago, the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, The Showbox and the Moore Theater in Seattle, and the epic music festival, Bumbershoot on the Stadium Stage in Seattle. When all was said and done, Calobo released 5 full-length records, the final being recorded Live at the Crystal Ballroom in our hometown of Portland, OR.
After Calobo, Michele joined Lazy Bones Recordings act Mackabella in Seattle. They released the self-titled album Mackabella and many of these songs were placed in the TV/Film industry. "Willing" has had the most placements: a movie trailer for the Johnny Cash story "Walk the Line", and spoof of the same film, "Walk Hard", among many others. Other Mackabella song placements include VH1, Fox, NBC, T-Mobile, 90210, Lifetime, MTV,South of Nowhere, and Roswell.
About Redwood Son
Whether or not the name and music of Redwood Son has yet hit the big radar, this year's "Best New Artist" of the Portland Music Awards is on the rise. Their 20 Song double-disc debut, The Lion's Inside, boasts a dynamic versatility that crosses the borders of their West Coast Americana with hook-laden roots-rock and alt.country, while maintaining an authentic Universal "Pop" vibe.
Led by singer-songwriter Josh Malm, Redwood Son's long anticipated release of The Lion's Inside signifies a culmination of Malm's tireless persistence as a performer and live music presenter throughout the Pacific Northwest since 2005. Though making an initial mark under his previous moniker J*Malem, he birthed the concept of Redwood Son in 2009 searching for an honest sound representative of his childhood in the California Redwoods. The first incarnation of the band was making way towards this very album while establishing a local presence when an unexpected catastrophe struck. On November 4th, 2009 Redwood Son's original drummer and Malm's long-time friend Kipp Crawford was killed in a tragic event that remains partly unsolved. Though Redwood Son experienced a state of dismantle with uncertain destiny, Malm did not lose sight of their shared vision alongside the standing support of the group's original guitarist Chance Hayden. The project was resurrected in the spring of 2010 to nobly move forward, recording The Lion's Inside in Crawford's honor along with an unreleased dedication track titled "Because of You".
The rawness of Redwood Son's beginning is nostalgically captured on Disc One: Summer of '77, focused on the band's sound as a unit along with guest instrumentalists who compliment Malm's friendly lead vocals. Known for bringing the right guys together, trusty engineer Rob Stroup fostered Malm's connection to the authentic sounds of roots-rock and alt. country. The disc was then mixed with a warm analog approach by Rian Lewis, bringing the presence of a laid-back summer day to the ears. Less than a mile away, Disc Two: New Beautiful Day was recorded and produced simultaneously by Dean Kattari to beckon the band's mainstream viability. Here the band's core shows an even greater expansiveness shouldering a more lyrically focused sound, with guest vocals on nine of the ten tracks from singers including Gretchen Mitchell and Ray Frazier. Though the two discs stand tall individually, together they represent a full circle of Malm's musical journey thus far. His thoughfully told stories are the focal point throughout, binding his many musical influences into Redwood Son's distinctive brand of West Coast Americana.
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