Posts Tagged ‘Casey Neill’

Casey Neill and KMRIA play St. Pats 2012 in Portland and beyond…

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Casey Neill has the kind of voice that makes you stop what you are doing. It’s timeless, like something that might drift out of a jukebox in a roadside tavern somewhere in Middle America. But there are other qualities there that make it truly unmistakable: hints of Michael Stipe’s vibrato tenor, some alt. country inflections of Jay Farrar and the occasional whiskey-soaked growl of Shane McGowan.

I caught a show by Casey and his band, The Norway Rats, at the Laurelthirst Public House one Wednesday as part of his month-long happy hour residency at Portland’s favorite Americana pub. I’ve been listening to him since college, and have come to expect a mellow, easy-on-the-ears folk/country sound (with an occasional rocker thrown in); essentially a predictable mix best characterized by his 2007 album, Brooklyn Bridge. The 2007 album was recorded mostly in New York City, and documents his stint in Brooklyn, while also placing his songwriting and vocals at center stage.

As I should have expected, a lot has changed for Casey since those days in New York. His live show at the Laurelthirst was anything but mellow. Since coming back to Portland and re-establishing his roots a few years ago, Casey put together a super-group of the city’s finest folk/Americana musicians—including Chris Funk and Jenny Conlee of the Decemberists, and Scott McCaughey of Minus 5. While not all the household names where there last Wednesday night, the band played a rousing set of rockers balanced by a few old favorites (see “Riffraff”) and some folksy solos.

Neill embraced the talents of some of these same stellar musicians on his 2010 release “Goodbye to the Rank and File” with a nice blend of Celtic punk, rockabilly and folk. Neill’s literate sensibilities ground each song in memorable images and turns of phrase. It’s a nostalgic homage to a country life that may have never been, and puts you inside the cool silver waters of the quarry with a young lover on a hot summer night.

Look for his newest record “All You Pretty Vandals” to be released this year, produced by Chris Funk of the Decemberists.

Neill says of the new record, “We stayed away from any roots tropes this time—no train beats, no twang, no Irish bits, very little acoustic guitar … It’s very much a high-energy band record with a big anthemetic sound. It feels edgy and urgent. There’s some horns and strings, some guest vocalists. We had a lot of fun making it.”

In the meantime, catch one of his upcoming shows in March featuring his Pogues tribute band K.M.R.I.A. (And what does that stand for, you say? Kiss My Royal Irish A**, a phrase used in James Joyce’s “Ulysses” and in the Pogues’ song “Transmetropolitan”).

Thurs. March 15: K.M.R.I.A. – CENTRALIA, WA @ The Olympic Club 7pm $15

Fri. March 16: K.M.R.I.A. – SEATTLE, WA @ The High Dive 9:30pm 513 N 36th St.

Sat. March 17: The Norway Rats – PORTLAND, OR @ McMenamins Kennedy School Gym. 4 p.m. Free.

Sat. March 17: K.M.R.I.A. – PORTLAND, OR @ The Wonder Ballroom (Always sells out), 128 NE Russell St $13, Presented by Monqui with special guest SASSPARILLA

Fri. March 30: The Norway Rats – PORTLAND, OR @ The Aladdin Theater

Lewi Longmire at the Laurelthirst Public House, Portland, OR

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Lewi Longmire and Bingo play the the Laurelthirst Public House

I went out to see an old music aquaintance of mine, Lewi Longmire, play at the Laurelthirst Public House this Tuesday after Jackstraw. This bar sits on the north end of Laurelhurst Park and is known for featuring a great mix of acoustic Americana and bluegrass. Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, played some of his first Portland gigs here, and Portland music luminaries like Laura Veirs and Casey Neill often pop in to play cameo shows.

I first met Lewi when he was working for Music Millenium, one of those rare gem’s of a music store that promotes local and upcoming musicians with in-store performances. Lewi has always had a name around town playing is own music, but has also built a great reputation as a multi-instrumentalist and has been featured on many albums by national acts like Minus 5 and Tara Jane O’Neil, as well as playing as a side man in the above mentioned Casey Neill’s band (The Norway Rats), as well as with James Low and Caleb Klauder.

Check it!

Tuesday at Laurelthirst, Lewi was playing with his buddy Bingo, who was visiting from Joshua Tree. The way they meshed was magical, and both traded songs and leads like only old music friends can. Lewi’s voice is classic Americana and he can carry a slow and sad tune (see “San Ysidro”) just as well as his more prolific and upbeat numbers like “Disappear,” both of which you can get your hands on through CDBaby.com on his most recent album, “Fire ‘Neath the Still.”

And speaking of this album, I’m intrigued by the cover. It looks like a shot from the Crooked River in Central Oregon, or maybe the John Day? If his love for rivers and the outdoors says anything about the tribe that Lewi attracts, I know you guys would love him in Bend.

And speaking of, the Laurelthirst in general seems to be a gathering place for these type of folk. Though I moved here to take a break from the foot-stompin’, shaggy-haired music so prevalent on the other side of the mountains, I have to say my soul felt filled by being at the Laurelthirst this week. Sometimes you have to move away to remember who you are.

Collaborations in PDX: Jenny Conlee

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Jenny Conlee of the Decemberists rocks the Nord at Doug's recording studio (basement.)

So Jenny was one of the wicked famous people ; ) performing on the album I’m recording with Doug Jenkins in Portland, and she was also one of the most down to earth. After unloading her Nord from her van in the driveway, she told us a cute story about skiing the day before in the rain on Mt. Hood with her husband Steve Drizos, as well as a little anecdote from a show the Decemberists had played at a small club in Brooklyn when I first met her ten or so years ago.

I’ve loved the Decemberists since I first saw them play at a little record store in Sellwood when I was in college and they had released their first full-length on Hush Records. I think Jenny is a huge asset to the band. Her melodic lines on the keys provide the perfect counterpoint to Colin Meloy’s melodies and she has a great voice too.

She played for years with Caleb Klauder’s roots/rock band Calobo in the 90′s and she also collaborates with Reclinerland (Parks & Recreation), Casey Neill and Black Prairie.

She added some enchanting organ beds and piano melody lines to the songs “A Place for You to Fall,” “Kaleidoscope Eyes,” “James,” and “House of Snow.” Thanks so much Jenny!