836 N. Russell St. / Portland, OR, 97227
Sunday, March 19, 2017
7 p.m.Free21 and over
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An intimate evening with three songwriters trading stories and songs.
Learning to play on a guitar he borrowed from his uncle, Sam Fowles never really looked back. "I'd spend all my time down in the basement playing guitar," he recalls. "As soon as I got home from school until dinner. It was the one thing I'd get so lost in- time melted away."
Naturally he formed a handful of bands over the course of his school days, and continued into college, there forming The Parson Red Heads with Evan Way and friends. "I was 19 when w formed the band. Shortly after we did we just got knocked out by the 60's and 70's. Neil Young, George Harrison, The Byrds. Other people around us loved the stuff too, but we kind of fixated on those decades exclusively. Prince didn't speak to us- Big Star did!"
After more than ten years together as a band, touring the US, Spain and beyond, Sam felt the need to step out on his own musically and bring to fruition a brand of music he'd been gestating for years. He chose a project name that had mysteriously drawn him towards itself- House of Angels- and set about making an album that incorporated many of his most enduring influences- Midlake, CSNY, Vetiver and Jonathan Wilson, to name a few. He literally drew a map of his plans for musical style and mood. "It was a challenge to myself," Fowles says. "Could I make a song of my own that had a vibe similar to the one you hear in 'Cinnamon Girl'? And the other challenge was to write, record and perform it mostly on my own because I had never done that before in the 15 years I'd been making records. I'm really proud of the result, and I'm looking forward to sharing it with people."
From a young age, Kevin Lee Florence was always singing - first in church, and then inadvertently around the house. It wasn't until his early twenties, however, that Florence picked up the guitar and immersed himself in Neil Young, Damien Jurado, Paul Simon, and a host of other folk legends, despite being raised in an community that disparaged folk music. He found inspiration in his father's vinyl collection and an inborn penchant for writing poetry, and gradually set about turning his passion into something viable.
Given, Kevin Lee Florence's debut album, represents the cream of the crop from his personally penned songs, along with two of Florence's favorite covers: Paul Simon's "Peace Like a River" and Damien Jurado's "Ohio." These gentle nods to two of his biggest influences help flesh out the simple, nine track record. Flecked with folk influences, finger-picked guitar lines and distinctive harmonies provided by his sister Kelly Florence, Given falls somewhere between Sam Beam's hushed, vivid folk and Simon's own conversational, quirky lyrical genius. The slow-burning hope of "Could Today be the Day" falls into a groove, and contrasts with harmony fanfare and drama on album closer "Kindness." For the more traditional minded, "Shining Shining" is pure pastoral bliss, with bright piano accents and lush harmonies. Through it all, Florence's understated, warm voice carries the record, wrapping you like a warm blanket on an autumn evening.
In spring of 2009, Josh White decided to take a huge step of
faith. Previously the lead singer of the band Telecast, White quickly became a
church planter and worship leader in Portland, Oregon. His church is located in
the Hawthorne District of Southeast Portland, a bohemian part of town, known
more for its hippies and hipsters than churches. "I met my wife Darcy in this
neighborhood 14 years ago," recounts White. "We know the culture and the
people. Which in turn fuels the heart and vision of the church: to preach the
gospel to the some of the most unchurched people in the country."
His church Door of Hope offers the inspiration for White's
solo debut Achor, a folk/bluegrass
project with BEC Recordings. The meaning behind both the church name and the
album title come from Hosea 2:15. The valley of Achor is the valley of trouble;
so named after Achan's sin was discovered and judged in the days of Joshua. The
prophet Hosea proclaimed that the God's restoration would transform the valley
of trouble into a door of hope. It is this restoration that White and Door of
Hope aim to see in their neighborhood.
The songs on Achor
are the songs of the church, written for Door of Hope and used in its worship
services. "Where I did the Brit rock sound with Telecast, these songs reflect
the acoustic, folk music of Hawthorne. It's a mix of folk and bluegrass in
worship, almost like a Jesus Movement folk worship revival," says White.
Produced by Sebastian Rogers, Achor took White down a new path of album recording. "This was the
first Christian record that Sebastian ever worked on. He was fun and eccentric,
stretching me to work from the belief that this should be the most honest music
possible." A belief that shaped the way the album was even recorded. "Typically
recording builds from the drums up and everything is corrected to be shiny and
pretty. Not this one," says White. "We recorded my vocals and then gathered all
the musicians one at a time in a room to play to that performance. There wasn't
any vocal tuning or loops."
The freshness of recording reflects the content of the
songs, which seek an intimate, new relationship with Christ. White is
passionate about the experience of living Christ both in the church and through
the music. "If you forget the foundation of knowing Christ personally, you can
be super involved in a great cause but the gospel becomes lost. Everything
comes from the foundation of knowing Christ personally; it's about that
relationship," he says. "This is about moving beyond just acceptance of Christ.
This is about being truly moved by the cost of discipleship and holy living.
The record is focused on the possibility of deep intimacy with Christ and the idea
that God can still surprise us," says White.
Songs like "You Amaze Me" illustrate the theme of Achor, revealing an intimate love for
Christ. "There are two places you can be with Christ: either drawing closer to
him or drifting further from him. Everyone experiences the drifting but this
song shows God drawn to us by his love." The darker intensity of "Let Me See
Your Hands" show the gritty, honest sense of the album and reflects its "Oh
Brother, Where Art Thou?" inspiration; White became a believer around the
movie's release and wrote the song then. "The people around me in Seattle were
kind of freaked out by my new faith," White says. "This song came out almost
like an angry worship song; it had some extra teeth and intensity to it. It's
almost irreverent as I feel myself screaming to Christ saying "let me see your
hands." Still, I love the intensity and honesty found in it."
Josh White wants to see people come alive in
Christ and would believe Achor is but
one piece contributing to this awakening. "There is a prophetic element to
worship; it is necessary and powerful. Hearts open through music, stirring
emotions and inserting a message into hearts. These songs come out of what
we're experiencing at Door of Hope; they are part of a movement to turn this
city upside down."
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