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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

M. T. Howard

Austin Miller

7 pm

Free

21 and over

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M. T. Howard

Ex-Punk Songwriter

M. T. Howard

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. With Gasoline Dream he's created a surreal listening experience like a vivid dream that might be hard to interpret, but leaves you pondering it for time to come.

 

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/michaelthomashoward/

Austin Miller

Singer/Songwriter

Austin Miller

Austin Miller's interest in music emerged at a young age. Raised all-American on Springsteen, Petty, and piano lessons starting at 3 years old, there was rarely a moment when a radio wasn't playing or a record wasn't spinning. But it wasn't until college that he began putting pen to paper, thanks to a week-long Dylan binge.

Today, those influences have been met with a short history of shows spanning 40 states and 10 countries. Miller exerts a worldliness beyond his 27 years -- not only in his confident croon, but also in his rambling rhythm and thoughtful guitar work.

Over the years, inspiration has continued to strike just like that original Dylan-fueled kick did: without warning, yet beautifully timed.

It's the combination of lonely stretches of highway between gigs out west, or short amount of time at home before wanting to get back on the road, that these songs come to fruition. When he finds the time to reflect, it results in a certain nostalgic and refreshing take on the classic Americana from which he draws so much influence.

In comes Engine, his third and most ambitious album yet, on which Miller exudes his stories of love and loss in understated, calculated, and skillfully-crafted hooks that leave listeners with just the right taste of melancholy in their mouths.

The record is supported by a dynamic group of musicians originally assembled to tour behind his last album, More Than One Way. Touring seems to be the time and place that Miller's life makes the most sense, and the group stuck around to work diligently on Engine. Over the span of its 39 minutes, Miller gently asserts his voice and tone into the forefront, and the tactful accompaniment carries the soft melodies the rest of the way home.

In "Skeleton Keys" he sings: "I will rest when it's assured that I have no reason to be awake."

Seems like he has yet to find that chance to rest, and we're all better for it.

 

Website:
http://www.austinmillermusic.com/

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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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