Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Tara Velarde

Skip vonKuske

7 p.m.


21 and over

Tara Velarde

Tara Velarde

Raised in the sleepy farmland outside of the nation's self-proclaimed weirdest city, Tara Velarde is a captivating combination of class and sass. There is a timelessness and wisdom to her poetic lyrics, often prompting listeners to observe that she is an "old soul"; a simultaneous wryness and flare for the unique add drama and humor that light up the stage with fantastic energy. Deena Drewis (Sacramento News and Review) states that the "cherubic vocals of frontwoman Tara Velarde will strike a chord with fans of Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson", and Lisa Lepine (Promoter/Booker) says that the group has "a unique elixir of hopped up harmonies, gleeful pop, sly lyrics and valley spunk". All can agree that Tara's strong voice takes her listeners on a memorable journey, whether she is belting to the limits of her power or bearing her heart with soft, crystalline melodies.

It is a year of thunderous momentum for Tara Velarde, with a full-length CD release, new band members, and a rapidly increasing tour schedule of the Western United States. It was nearly a decade ago that Tara first picked up a pencil to craft the first lines of an original song, and this singing and songwriting has been the truest constant and comfort in her life for the last ten years. She continued writing through the turbulences of High School, the grind of her undergraduate studies, and the scramble of her first professional jobs as a music teacher. Performances grew from open mics to solo shows, and the addition of a backing band added new sonic possibilities that propelled the band into the Portland music scene and encouraged the creation of a freshman EP and recent full-length album entitled "Get Out and Walk". For a few sweet years Tara billed as The Tara Novellas with her band of friends, musicians, and family members. During this time they laid a solid foundation of musical authenticity, joy, and vocal excellence that remain pillars of the group. To further develop this mission, they have made a name-change to simply be called Tara Velarde - the songs, members, and spirit remains as strong as ever as the moniker denotes a clearer view of the style and format of the group. "Get Out and Walk" is out now! The 10 song album is available for purchase and download under the "Music" tab as well as on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and more streaming services. This album is the newest catalyst for Tara Velarde to reach further than ever before, so be sure to stay up to date with new shows, videos, blog posts, and more right here and by joining our mailing list. Thanks for coming along for the ride!


Skip vonKuske

Skip vonKuske

Haven't heard of Skip vonKuske? Chances are you've heard him - whether on his own recordings, or those of his primary live touring projects Vagabond Opera and Portland Cello Project. From Pink Martini to M. Ward, Skip has played cello on hundreds of recordings over two decades in Portland. He has performed around the nation and the world, while maintaining an active schedule in the local music scene in all types of genres.

Skip vonKuske has been playing the cello for nearly 30 years.  After leaving college in 1989, he played bass and guitar in pop bands but more recently has found himself integrating his classical training with improv/pop/ethnic/world music.  He is a skilled improviser, with an uncanny ability to slip into others' music.  His ability to provide the prefect complement has earned him credits on over 100 local albums.  vonKuske remarks:  "I am as inspired by Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" and the minimalism of Philip Glass as I am by Little Sue or Pink Floyd.  My goal has been to EXPAND the perception of the cello.  Its tonal palette goes beyond classical / baroque usage; there is a viability to make any type of music with the cello."

Skip vonKuske is one of the most sought after cellists in the Northwest; he is  perhaps best known as a master collaborator for his work with groups such as Vagabond Opera, Portland Cello Project, and Groovy Wallpaper.  vonKuske is also many other things: a composer, an innovator, an improviser, and producer. The Oregonian has described him as "a one-man chamber ensemble," and this is apparent in his solo work, in which he uses looping technology and sound-manipulation tools to push the cello into uncharted terrain, and yet does so without sacrificing the sentiment which is heard in his powerful, concise phrasing.

Skip began playing cello at the age of eight, and has studied with renowned cellists William Stokking of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Lorne Munro of the New York Philharmonic. He attended the Performing Arts School of Philadelphia and also studied at Michigan State University. While at MSU, Skip performed with numerous regional orchestras and in several original music projects, in which he also played bass, guitar and mandolin.

When Skip moved to Portland, Oregon in 1994, his skills as an improviser and singer/songwriter set him apart from many other classically trained musicians. In his first three years in Portland he recorded on projects with well over fifty artists. And over the last decade, Skip's cello has provided vital, though often subtle texture, to hundreds of recordings including M. Ward's "Post War" and Pink Martini's "Sympathique".

Skip has also worked with the Oregon Symphony and performed with Smokey Robinson, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Judy Collins, Crystal Gayle and many others. He stays active in the Portland's Jazz community and collaborates with film makers, producers, chamber music groups and is the first call of top music studios whenever a professional cellist is needed, whether their client has chord charts, written parts, or even no preconceived

Since the early 2000s, Skip has been a regular performer throughout the McMenamin's Kingdom, playing on nearly all their stages; plus sharing the Crystal Ballroom stage with national acts like Pink Martini, Devotchka, Beats Antique, Buckethead, Trampled by Turtles, and more. In 2015, he reached a rare milestone - holding his on-going Monday night residency at Edgefield Winery for ten years.



About Al's Den

Head downstairs at the Crystal Hotel to hang out in this music venue named for Al Winter, Portland's gambling overlord who, in the 1940s, managed his vast empire that spanned the Pacific Northwest and into Las Vegas from this very location. Today, we hold live music, artist residencies, pre- and post-concert performances and more. 





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