Portlanders on Portlanders No. 1 (feat. Sontiago, Kurt Baker, Knaughty Sarah and More)

In which I ask five Portlanders about some of their other favorite Portlanders. This time around I asked five local rock stars which Portland musicians they have been listening to lately.

Sonya Tomlinson (Sontiago)
Samuel James continues to be a lasting favorite. He puts on a solid and interactive live performance while simultaneously entertaining with his banter. He is also always adding new techniques or songs to his repertoire. Attending a Samuel James show makes you feel as though you’re a part of something intimate which is a huge appeal.

Dr. Jason Read (Professor, Marxist Heartthrob)
I have not been getting out much to see music, but I have been listening to Awaas‘ little demo again and again. My immediate reaction to the band is that they sound a lot like Lungfish and other bands of the post-fugazi pre-emo mid nineties, but no one cares about my nostalgia. Beyond nostalgia I would say that their sound is both intense and complex, for intense and complex times. Plus they, or at least some of them, recorded a cover of Tina Turner’s Mad Max theme.

Then there is Mr. Neet, they sample Foucault.

Casey McCurry (Singer, Sunset Hearts)
My pet band in Portland has to be Altered Gee. They blend pretty diverse influences—I’m guessing a healthy amount of Dam Funk, Prince, and a lot of the Minneapolis Sound stuff that I’m also obsessed with—while remaining completely original and modern. Altered Gee puts on really unique shows too, which I think is really important in EDM, doing a DJ-esque set but with live analog tape delay and four-track machines in DIY spaces. For instance, I have seen them take over a small space like Strange Maine and completely kill it; they stole the show at Sunset Hearts’ SIX Festival at SPACE Gallery this summer, playing in the new Annex space and it totally worked. Having mixed/mastered their last album, Rise From Yr Grave, it was really fascinating to see how committed to their aesthetic they are. No laptops here, absolutely nothing digital, no sequencing. They overdub everything by hand with analog equipment (not even looping their drum machines, instead playing the parts entirely by hand, which is kind of unheard of) with a borderline-naive understanding of the recording process. They are the real deal.

Kurt Baker Singer (Kurt Baker Band)
There are a few Portland groups that I hold in high regard. Connor & The Kool Kats, Franklin Arterial, and even Riot Act on a night when they’re really on, but if I had to choose my favorite, it’d be the Kurt Baker Band. Their live show is not only entertaining but extremely tight. Each member of the group really brings so much from their past band experiences to make up a solid musical pie. The whole group really encompasses the true rock n’ roll aesthetic of yesteryear, whilst moving forward into the future. The only room from improvement would be the singer himself!

Knaughty Sarah (Geno’s Booking Agent, Hair Artist)
My musical taste is all over the place and I am loving so many local bands right now. Sylvia is a power house dream team of a band, bringing Reuben Little, Sean Libby, Candy Mann, and Andrew Barron together was one of the best ideas ever! Dark Hollow Bottling Company has been around and playing shows in Portland for many years but it was my Dad that turned me on to them a few years ago. Plus with the addiction of Nick Scala to the band I feel that their crossover appeal has really heightened. The Other Bones are talented, fun, dancey, and different, just what Portland needed! The Dirty White Hats have been the group to watch and talk about, packing rooms, selling ridiculous amounts of merch, and taking two of Portland’s better known “punk rockers” (Leon Samson and Nick Scala) and turning them into rappers. It’s brilliant and hilarious. I don’t know much about the boys that make up the band The Young Lungs but every time I see them I enjoy them greatly. Big energy, good crowd interaction, and solid performances. Keep an eye on them.

Samuel James video by way of The Real Samuel James on YouTube
Awaas’, Mr. Neet and Altered Gee videos by way of Mike Cunanne’s Brass Cankles blog
Kurt Baker Band video by way of Oglio Records on YouTube
Dirty White Hearts video by way of CrashBoomBang Media on YouTube
Dark Hollow Bottling Company video by way of Dark Hollow Bottling Company on YouTube

Alex Steed

About Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.