836 N. Russell St. / Portland, OR, 97227
Thursday, February 2, 2017
8 p.m.$10 in advance, $10 day of show21 and over
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At first glance, the word association of "Alaska" and "punk rock" might seem like something out of a cunning psychological method, but for singer-songwriter Michael Howard, they represent elemental forces that have helped form his creative voice. "I grew up playing in punk bands around Anchorage, putting on shows at rec centers and such," he says. In many ways, he fits in among a generation of ex-punk rockers and now happens to be a songwriter. As such, Howard is, in a way, an outsider. Born and raised amid the long winter nights and extended summer days of the Last Frontier, Howard knows what it is to be removed, living on the edge of civilization. Being formed as an adolescent by punk's do-it-yourself ethic, he is an explorer and an inventor, creatively speaking. After many dark Alaskan winters touring the rest of the State and long Arctic summers as a community organizer and activist, Michael Howard's unique perspective has come to fruition in his latest album, GASOLINE DREAM, a collection of poetic Americana born from life on the road.
Recorded at San Francisco's Tiny Telephone Studios, the album was produced and engineered by Jacob Winik (Magnetic Fields, John Vanderslice). In keeping with Howard's DIY punk roots, many of the songs, such as "Hog Butcher, Hog Butcher," and the title track, were recorded entirely live. Though a largely stripped-down recording, Howard brought in friend and part-time co-writer Kevin Worrell (upright bass, piano, pump organ) and Andrew Maguire (percussion) for other instrumentation.The songs on Gasoline Dream share a certain unvarnished, prophetic story-song quality with those of early Bob Dylan. Where the songwriting on Howard's previous album, The Martyr & The Magician, was more ethereal and spiritual, here it is more poetic and concrete. "These are a lot of stories inspired by being on the road," says Howard. "There's a touch of the personal along with the universal. It's more of a coherent collection of songs addressing community and global issues, references to veterans of the Afghanistan war and the Arab Spring, for instance."Like many prophets and dream interpreters of history, Michael Howard originates and speaks from the edge of society.
While I was earning an English degree, Josh Ritter came to my college and put on a small solo concert. Watching Ritter on stage was like watching someone trying to make sense of their existence, in real time, with a guitar and words. It seemed to be less of a performance and more of one man's necessity, which happened to be on public display that night. I had written songs before then, but certainly all that followed became something else entirely. I strive to find those songs, to write those songs, that exist in that perfect place perched between my own experience and the common experience that everyone can relate to. This rarely happens (in fact, I don't even know if it's happened yet.) I also think that I take myself much too seriously, and I have a lot to learn about writing songs that make people feel good; that make people want to shake around a little bit.
When I'm not playing music I substitute teach high school students. People love to ask how I balance music and teaching, which one I'm more passionate about; would I leave teaching behind entirely to pursue music? Does teaching influence my music? I don't know the answer to any of these things. I am passionate about music and I am passionate about teaching. Some days I can't stand music, some days I can't stand teaching. Both can feel like work, and both can leave me feeling like a crook for getting paid to do what I do.
I grew up a little bit in Texas, and then mostly in Oregon. My parents read to me at night and took me to the library and flooded my ears with music that meant something. My mom made me learn the cello at a young age. My dad took me to see John Gorka and Leo Kotke. I have a dog, a yellow lab named Ben, who has toured more than 10,000 miles with me over the past few years (human miles.) I play an old 1970′s Takamine gifted to me by my uncle.
-Jeffrey Martin has released two albums. Gold in the Water (2009) and Build A Home EP (2012.) In 2011 he was invited to the Sisters Folk Festival as an emerging artist, and then returned in 2012 as an officially showcased artist. In fall of 2012 Jeffrey was a finalist in the Mountain Stage / New Song contest in New York City. And he has earned songwriting mentions in American Songwriter Magazine, as well as the 2009 Kerrville Folk Fest songwriter contest.
Ryan Sollee moved to Portland in 2003 to chase music with his punk band the Born Losers. Eventually he formed The Builders and the Butchers, to much local and modest national acclaim. They toured relentlessly for 5 years, taking the Builders across Europe and the US multiple times. Ryan is a Taurus and a proud husband and father.
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