836 N. Russell St. / Portland, OR, 97227
Thursday, August 10, 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.
"...the magic of their music is in the way opposites attract. His harmonies add a soulful bottom and her's a softer edge."-Adrienne Lawrence, Frederick News Post
"Pretty Gritty's Soulful Americana have been turning heads in the music world for more than two years, but it would seem their future is brighter than their already bright past."-Ken Frager, The Pulse
Pretty Gritty on the road
Pretty Gritty is the serendipitous joining of the talents of Blaine Heinonen and Sarah Wolff, both born and raised in Montgomery County, MD. Although they originate from different rock bands, fate brought them together at local "open-mic" nights, where it became evident that they shared an interest in writing and performing songs that mix country, rock, blues, and soul. It's said that she brings the "pretty" while he brings the "gritty", combining for an engaging alt-country duo with seducing harmonies and addicting acoustics.
In three years, Pretty Gritty has cultivated a unique sound allowing them to open for such acts as Joe Newberry, Tim O'Brian, Tony Trischka, Chris Eldridge, Josh Gracin, Larry the Cable Guy, and Lake Street Dive at renowned places like Music & Spirits at A. Smith Bowman Distillery, Jammin Java, 8x10, Frederick Gone Country, the Virginia State Fair, and the Charm City Folk and Bluegrass Festival.
Pretty Gritty's debut album, featuring Keller Williams, won three IMC awards in 2012. Their outstanding live performance has earned them a reputation as a must-see musical act.
Now Blaine and Sarah have returned victorious from their first National Tour and are in the studio finishing up their new EP. This third recording project was made possible by their amazing fans and supporters via Kickstarter. Do yourself a favor, come experience Soulful Americana at its best.
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