Upcoming Appearances – April / May 2012

Friday April 20 – 9pm
The Spare Room
4830 NE 42nd Ave, Portland
Jimi Hardin’s Hip Deep featuring Nayibe Rojas

Saturday May 5 – 6pm
2680 E. Agate Rd., Shelton, WA
Ninja Hippies

Sunday May 6 – 12 noon
2680 E. Agate Rd., Shelton, WA
Jerry Rig

Friday May 18 – 9pm
Red Lion Hotel on the River
Jantzen Beach, Portland
Jimi Hardin’s Hip Deep featuring Nayibe Rojas


Hip Deep

I got a call around Christmas from my good buddy Jimi Hardin. Jimi was Mystic Canyon’s drummer when we started gigging regularly back in 2005. He brought an energy to the stage that took everyone’s game to the next level, and we developed an instant and undeniable chemistry. More recently, Jimi and I have connected when he co-hosts a jam night at Mama Maria’s, Queen of Hearts or Knuckleheads.

I had heard that Jimi’s band, Hip Deep, as well as the jam night at Mama Maria’s, had fallen apart. So when he called me on that winter afternoon, he filled me in on what had happened, but was already looking forward to the next project and wanted me to be a part of it.

He was putting together a funky backing band for a singer he had worked with over the summer. In fact, I had met Nayibe Rojas when we both sat in with Hip Deep in July. She was looking to put together a 60s, 70s and 80s revue of funky soul and dance music, and Jimi thought my percussion would be perfect for some of the songs she had in mind. “Don’t worry about the horn, right now we just want percussion and maybe some backing vocals.” I was happy to accept the challenge.

And what a challenge it has been! In just about three months, we have put together 3 sets totalling nearly 40 songs that cover a wide spectrum of dance music from classic 60s soul to 80s new-wave synth-rock. The percussion parts are juicy, and the background vocals are pretty lush. And sure enough, once the band got to know my skill-set, I found myself adding trombone, drums and even keyboards to the mix.

Now we’re ready to raise the curtain on this new incarnation of Jimi Hardin’s Hip Deep featuring Nayibe Rojas. Filling out the lineup will be musical director Julian Stefoni on keyboards, guitar and vocals, Tevis Hodge on guitar and Naiya Cominos on bass and vocals. Our good friend Maynard will be adding his saxes to the horn section as well. Check out the Hip Deep blog for all the details on our debut this Saturday at Portland Saturday Market, as well as our club premiere at the Spare Room on April 20.

Summer Update

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve checked in here. For a guy who is still looking for a job, I seem to be pretty busy. Here’s what’s going on in my world lately:

The Ginja Ninja tears it up with Russell Batiste

Unfortunately, it was just too good to last. Family Funktion at the Tabor wrapped up in April, after a solid 3-month run of groovin’ and helping out the community. Before it was all over we had one hell of a Mardi Gras throwdown with New Orleans’ hardest working drummer Russell Batiste! Since then, C-Money split town and is now tearing it up back east with his new band Yeah Bud. Back here in Portland,  I know there are some of us who would love to get the Funktion started again in the Fall. Let’s make it happen, Family!

Speaking of family, Donna and I took a trip to upstate New York to visit her brother’s vacation home. We lounged for a week on Great Sacandaga Lake and Lake George while playing with our awesome nephew and adorable niece.

If you’ve read my Phish review from a few years ago, you may be wondering why I haven’t posted anything about this summer’s Gorge shows. Frankly, I was just too blown away by the experience to write about it. There are fine reviews at Online Phish Tour and Mr. Miner’s blog if you need a recap of what went down. The band is really on fire right now, and the 2 Gorge shows that opened the second leg of their Summer tour were among the best they have played all year, perhaps even since their 2009 reunion.

For me the shows were just the delicious creamy filling in the middle of a weeklong Twinkie of Phishiness. Coalition Brewing hosted a Gorge pre-party, where Portland’s Phishiest met in the beer garden for some tasty brews and vintage Gorge jams on the sound system. Scott Hewitt and I had a fun drive to and from the shows, improvising a Stephen King-esque short story about the rapidly spreading windfarms along the way. And while the counterculture bazaar in the parking lot never slept, it never got rowdy or ugly either. We met some really nice neighbors in the campsite and soaked in the one-of-a-kind atmosphere. I was riding such a high after these shows that I went out to watch the webcast of both nights at Lake Tahoe at a great local tap room called Hop Haven, meeting even more kindred spirits who just couldn’t get enough Phish.

Further Bus at the Gorge

While the highlights of my summer have been pretty exhilerating, the everyday stuff has been fun too. I get to babysit some pretty cool kids. I’ve got a great set-up in the guest room where I can practice trombone with some jazz play-along CDs, all through my headphones so I don’t bother the neighbors. And I’ve been playing drumset more than ever. In fact, music has kept me the busiest this summer, as I have jammed with no less than 6 bands in preparation for a full slate of gigs in the near future. Among the places you can see me sing, play percussion, drums or trombone  in the next few weeks:

Tonight with Mystic Canyon on NE 30th Ave, just north of Alberta Street’s Last Thursday Street Fair

Noon-2:00pm  Saturday 9/10/11 with Mystic Canyon at Vancouver Peace & Justice Fair, Esther Short Park, Vancouver WA

2:00pm Sunday 9/11/11 with the Featles at Squidstock (contact me in the comments for details)

8:00pm Saturday 10/1/11 with the Harmless Eccentrics and the Magenta Theater Band at the Magenta Theater, Main St, Vancouver, WA

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you soon. Keep an eye out for Umphrey’s McGee’s new album Death By Stereo, available 9/13/11 everywhere. I’m working on hosting a listening party here in Portland before the album drops, so stay tuned….

Uncle Bubba sits for a spell

The Art of Now

In January 2011, Camp Creek Records and the Mt. Tabor Theater rang in the new year by launching a brand new spin on “Jam Night.”  Each Tuesday this month, The Family Funktion assembled 3 diverse lineups of local jammers for an evening of 100% improvisational music. The spirit of spontaneous creation of art carries over into other media, as video and digital art is projected on the walls while dancers, painters and rappers become part of a masterpiece of the moment. 

Taylor Schwartz draws inspiration from the music to create this digital wall art

There is no charge for admission, but folks are encouraged to make a donation to  a local charity. January’s beneficiary was the Community Warehouse, a local non-profit that provides necessities to needy families in Portland. At the January 25th event, a raffle of jewelry and glass prizes from local artisans also benefitted the organization. Each week has attracted a sizeable crowd for a Tuesday night, even the second week, when ice storms threatened to make the roads treacherous. 

Within the walls of the Mt Tabor Concert Hall is a highly innovative canvas for artists of all persuasions to make an impact on Portland’s live music scene, and on each other. Digital artist Taylor Schwartz brings exotic and shapely figures to life against vibrant and horrific backdrops on his laptop and on the South wall of the room. A dancer named Sarah Flores combines rhythmic gymnastics with impressive body control to create a kinetic whirlwind of color with a glowing hula-hoop. Jordan Inglee from Audioglobe.com captures the music and streams it to the global community, and occasionally gets on stage to get his groove on. Each beat, movement and stroke is influenced by, and impresses itself upon, all who contribute to the whole.

All of this is not necessairly a new idea. I’ve been to many festivals, parties and campgrounds over the years that have combined live music and lights with fire dancing, juggling, painting and other forms of expression. But to see this kind of scene happening indoors on a Tuesday night in January feels fresh and exciting. Seeing more people at the Tabor on these Tuesday nights than they often draw on weekends is encouraging. Jamming with musicians who have never played together before just for the fun of it is liberating. And seeing a good cause benefit directly from the scene fills me with hope and pride.

Setting up for the Family Funktion Week 3.

The Tabor’s exquisite sound system has provided a fertile ground for sonic explorations by members of Sauce PolicyOutpost, Jesta, Reeble JarThe Escort Service, StellakinesisJuno What? and many other bands. Colin Ward does a great job harnessing these talents and putting together diverse and exciting lineups for each set. I am proud to have shared the stage with many adventurous jammers over the first month of this journey, and look forward to future Family Funktions. February’s shows will benefit Hope 4 Friends, kicking off with a lineup featuring the Motet’s Jans Ingber this Tuesday February1. Until then, enjoy this behind-the-scenes peek at a recent Funktion Jam.

Christmastime Is Here

It’s been great fun adding some trombone to the Mystic Canyon repertoire. Please enjoy this holiday classic recorded at our gig last weekend:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

A Tale of Two Leagues

Football season is underway and once again I am playing in two highly competetive fantasy football leagues. The same two leagues, in fact, in which I led my teams to the playoffs last year. Although neither is a keeper league, both had most of last year’s owners return for the 2010 season. I probably won’t be posting weekly blog updates – I’m already off to a late start – but I’ll mention my teams periodically over the next few months. For now, here’s how the 2010 season began for me.

NFFL (My 2nd year in this ESPN league)
Team Name: Rose City Rock Show
Draft Position: 7th (out of 14)
QBs: Kevin Kolb, Donovan McNabb
RBs: Ray Rice, Ryan Grant, Jahvid Best, Tashard Choice, Kareem Huggins, Jason Snelling
WRs: Greg Jennings, Michael Crabtree, Bernard Berrian, Austin Collie, Kevin Walter, Sidney Rice
TE: Brent Celek
D/ST: Cincinnati Bengals
K: Ryan Succop

Though all of the Portland owners had a great time drafting at Bottles, the draft didn’t go exactly how I had hoped. I wanted a top WR and QB early, but just couldn’t pass on Rice falling to me at #7. I’m glad I got Jennings in the third, but in this QB-crazy league, the top 10 QBs were already gone by then. I rolled the dice on Kolb in the 5th, but had I taken Eli instead, I might not have been so eager to grab McNabb as a backup in the 8th. The boldest pick of this draft was Ed’s Round 2 (18th pick) snag of Arian Foster, who went on to make him look like a genius as Player of the Week.

Week 1 was brutal for my team, as you might have guessed. Aside from the two high-profile injuries, Cincy’s D was a disaster and Rice, Celek, and Crabtree were major disappointments. Luckily I was able to get help on the waiver wire, dropping Grant for his backup Brandon Jackson and even scoring Fred Taylor (cutting Snelling loose shouldn’t hurt too much.) Looking forward to better matchups for my guys this week.

Bort Footbal League (My 3rd year in this Yahoo League)
Team Name: PDX Prowlers
Draft Position: 11 of 12
QBs: Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith
RBs: Shonn Greene, Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, Reggie Bush
WRs: Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Steve Breaston, DeMaryius Thomas, Kevin Walter, Arrelious Benn
TE: Jason Witten
D/ST: Philadelphia Eagles
K: David Akers

The Bort itself is no longer around, but we were still able to carry on with this league, albeit down to 12 owners from the previous 16. I was pretty pleased with this team after the draft, getting the top QB I wanted. The trade of Housh to Baltimore complicated things a bit since I already have Boldin, so I dropped D. Thomas and picked up his teammate Jabar Gaffney, who bumps T.J. down the depth chart.

The Prowlers dominated week 1 with the top point total in the league and a 40-point margin of victory. Greene’s matchup against Baltimore scared me enough to bench him and start Forte in his place (this league plays 2RBs, 3WRs, with no flex position.) Despite Greene being my #1 pick, I think he sits again this week against New England, with Forte and Charles looking like solid plays.

My Northwest Mini-Tour

This evening I embark on a musical mini-tour of Portland and points North. Three very different gigs in three very different venues over the next three nights. I hope you’ll come out and say “Hey, Mike!”

Wednesday 7/28 9pm – 1am
Mama Maria’s, 5234 SE Powell, Portland
Shirley Sanders jam, featuring Ken Brewer (guitar) Toby Worthington (bass) and my man Jimi Hardin on drums. Looking forward to reuniting the powerhouse percussion assault.

Thursday 7/29 7:30pm-10:00pm
Corner of NE Alberta and 30th, Portland
Mystic Canyon returns to Last Thursday on Alberta. We promise to craft a set of music that will be the perfect complement to sunset, handcrafted jewelry and a slice from Bella Faccia!

Friday 7/30 6pm – 10pm
Old Town Battle Grounds, 316 E Main Street, Battle Ground, Washington
The Harmless Eccentrics return to Ed’s neighborhood with special guest Keith Picone adding to the rhythmic stew. We’ve planned three sets of our increasingly schizophrenic blend of acoustic harmony and groove, including new originals and covers from all over the last 50 years.

The adventures continue next week as the Harmless Eccentrics make their debut at the Local Lounge, 3536 NE MLK in Portland on Wednesday, August 4th.