303 SW 12th Avenue Portland, OR, 97204
Friday, February 10, 2023
Crystal Hotel - Al's Den
6:30pm doors, 7pm show
$10 in advance, $10 day of show
21 and over
6:30pm doors, 7pm show$10 in advance, $10 day of show21 and over
Amidst the turbulence of modern society and the political climate in America, it is often difficult to see the role that music plays. Portland singer-songwriter Brian Granse has pondered this question throughout his career as an artist, which has carried him through a wide array of lifestyles linked by a common theme: From growing up in a rural Illinois town of 2000 people, to holding down construction jobs while playing music throughout his twenties, to working as a teacher for at-risk youth in Portland, OR, Granse has found himself on the front lines of income inequality in the United States. It is largely this issue, and the rural-urban divide, that motivates his upcoming EP, The Longwall.
"In recent years, I've seen up close and personal how low-income families face so many more challenges on their paths, with systems in place that perpetuate that cycle," Granse says, reflecting on his job teaching special education and music production at an alternative high school, a position that helped ignite his passion for social justice. "I see the broader system failing to provide them with opportunities to climb, and seeing it first hand is a sobering experience."
With a firmer understanding of the social issues faced in the city, Granse looks back on his rural beginnings with a newfound focus:
"I'm navigating through my own value systems as I go through life to figure out what pieces of my history to hold to and which ones to grow away from or amend. I like capturing stories from within that pocket of growth that focus more on the humanity in people's experiences as I contemplate...how do we bridge value systems in the United States?"
Granse seems perfectly poised to be such a bridge. The Longwall is a lush and lonesome portrait of hardship. Largely set against a backdrop of desolate flatlands of the midwest, Granse's songs give voice to the economically depressed, working class people of rural America to whom upward mobility is inaccessible. Melancholic chords and rich strings fill out the stories that come to life with Granse's heartfelt voice and acoustic guitar. While the music feels deeply emotional, the presence of something larger than Granse himself looms beneath the surface.
"I think when we try to find some common ground and a way to inject some humanity into situations and stories, people can see beyond politics and achieve some level of shared vision."
The Longwall was self-recorded entirely at Brian Granse's home studio except for drums, which were engineered by Justin Phelps at Cloud City Studios before he opened The Hallowed Halls in Portland, OR. It features Kyleen King on violin (Brandi Carlile, The Decemberists), Chris Frank on upright bass, Gideon Freudman on cello (Portland Cello Project), Russ Kleiner on drums (Tony Furtado, Curtis Salgado), Lex Browning on violin (Tanya Tucker, Trace Adkins), and Paul Brainard on pedal steel (Blitzen Trapper, M. Ward).
Kabir Green was raised in the rural woods of Chester County, Pennsylvania by his back-to-the-land hippie artist parents. His dad was a figure in the counterculture movement in Woodstock who spent time with Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsburg, and Ram Dass, lived on a commune with the Grateful Dead, created album covers for Todd Rundgren and Wavy Gravy, and chopped wood with his neighbor Levon Helm of The Band. Raised on a farm without gas or TV, Kabir first fell in love with music through an eclectic stack of records he found in his mom's studio. Inspired by The Beatles, Jackson Browne, Ali Farka Toure, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Bill Monroe, Kabir taught himself to play guitar at 13 and began to write and perform his own songs soon after. He moved to Brooklyn after college where he and a friend produced an Off Broadway musical called Love/Sad - with Kabir serving as musical director - that ran to both rave and middling reviews for over a year. During that time he formed and toured nationally with several bands, including The Illumination Band, which set the words of the Sufi Poet Rumi to the strains of Appalachian folk and American blues music. Mining his diverse musical influences and upbringing, Kabir writes songs that are intimate and spiritual, seeking - in the words of Townes Van Zandt - to examine and possibly alter the state of grace in which we live. He currently lives in Eugene, OR with his wife and two boys.
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