Monday, December 12, 2011

Concert Review: Barry Brusseau, Jin, Leah B, J and LIly, others; Goat's Head Manor; 12.10.11

it was the best of times, it was the worst of times

This was my second official house show, living at Goat's Head Manor, a house venue nestled in lovely south east Portland, Or. We only have one residential neighbor, and noise complaints are scarce, so we're able to get pretty primal.
This time, we were trying to steer in a new direction, bringing in quieter, listening music, as well as pandering to the party crowds, that usually come to our parties. The preparations were the most elaborate of any show, so far: we moved all the furniture in the living room, and made a sweet floor-sit space, hung up lovely fabric and lights, courtesy of GuildWorks (thanks Mar!) We worked really hard, tried to set up something special, to allow space for some exquisite music to take place.

My friend Lily and i kicked off the festivities, a short but very sweet and very rewarding set that people seemed to like. She used to live here, and for months we would sit on the front porch, drink endless cups of coffee, learn songs, talk about everything under the Milky Way. This set was a culmination of that phase, with her playing some nylon string guitar, and i played atmospheric gazey electric over top. We played mostly covers, with one original: we played songs by Mazzy Star, Sneaker Pimps, Sia, and The Delgados. I thought we sounded tremendous, especially considering the raw nature of the material and performance, being more spontaneous and less rehearsed. Its some of the best music i've been involved in, to date, and i'm totally stoked to finally be getting into thick, rich textural music, that i've been secretly nursing in my marrow for years.

me and lily

My good friend Leah Bodenhamer played next, successfully bridging the cosmic and the earthly, as only she can. One woman, one voice, one guitar, this was raw, intimate, and very real. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and she totally rose to the occasion, surpassing nerves, sound problems, and atmospheric disturbances to conjure something sublime. A bunch of her classmates from the School of Forest Medicine were in attendance, and Leah left the stage, to sit amongst the audience, and lead everbody in some plant songs, frequently relinquishing the lead role, to become a voice amongst many. There was clapping, homemade rattles and shakers, a bit of stomping. The atmosphere began to shimmy and shake, the air became electric, shaded with the holy spirit, and i had that blessed sense of fulfilling my person, to help facilitate these musickal magickal moments to go off. Rock 'n roll church, indeed!

Next, and best for me, was the impeccable Barry Brusseau, featured previously here at J's Heaven. Getting him to do his thing at our house was what made me think of doing an intimate acoustic show in the first place. As usual, his detail and finesse were in evidence, with a liquid light show playing against the dripping windows. The room looked lovely, and a bunch of people showed up to see his set, seated comfortable on pillows and cushions all over the floor. The sound could have been a little better, as i couldn't hear his vocals that well, but even muddied up i was impressed by how polished and pristine his songs are, singing through different mics at different times, to have different effects. His classical guitar (so many classical guitars, in one house at one time!) was running through a classy Marshall acoustic amplifier, his tone was dry and delectable, hardly amplified at all. It is his presentation is what always strikes me about this guy, tone mood texture nuance clarity control. I'd also like to give a shout to his drummer, who hits all the right notes at all the right times. He can mute a crash cymbal like a classical pianist! For all the trials and tribulations, it was worth it to see Barry Brusseau in my living room, watching from a couch where i used to sleep. Labor of love, indeed.

The house was getting pretty packed, at this point, and i began to recede to the margins, watching in awestruck fascination as the party vibes from the dj's in the basement began to take over while Jin, a solo act, played every instrument under the sun, looping himself tastefully as he played guitar fiddle trumpet and other things, a one man gypsy troupe. It was getting hard for me to pay attention, but i liked what i heard, and will listen further.

At this point, the faceless party masses pretty much took over, and the whole house was elbow to elbow. Pretty awesome techno took place in the basement, courtesy of my roommate Jonah Lee, with my new friend Ky taking a spin behind the decks for a while as well. There was a 9 piece bluegrass that played in the basement, but i didn't see any of them, too many damn people.

We have this problem, here at Goat's Head, when we throw a party, and try and do something awesome, it ends up overrun by people we don't know. It degenerates into pure drunken debauch. During the course of the evening, we lost a whole bunch of holy holies, including my tarot cards and medicine pouch, as well as a beautiful glass piece. Someone stole a jade buddha, from the upstairs bathroom. Someone broke a mirror. If anyone has any of these items, i would HIGHLY ADVISE you give them. You can even leave them on the front porch, no questions asked. YOU DO NOT KNOW WHO YOU ARE FUCKING WITH.

You cannot steal magick, it must be earned.

For many many years, i toiled away in solitude, crying out with all my heart for a scene to be involved with, to meet other musicians, to go to awesome shows, to throw awesome shows of my own. I would read with yearning stories from New York, from Chicago, from places that seemed so inaccessible. Miracle of miracles, and i fell into this sweet spot in Portland, and there's so much good shit going on AT ALL TIMES! So many people who give their whole lives, their whole hearts, just to make some good art, something of worth, that speaks to the finer things, aspires to higher truths. People are going to extraordinary lengths, and often times JUST GIVING IT AWAY, or for dirt cheap (like Barry Brusseau's record for 10 bucks.) I mean, we made 7 bucks at this show. We are not capitalists.

And then you go into someone's home and fuck it all up, and steal their precious things. What the fuck is wrong with you?!? Its time to wake the fuck up. Like, now. Any society that operates outside the norm must be responsible for itself. We must be accountable for our own actions, if we are to survive. I have total sympathy, i've done a bunch of fucked up shit, in my own life, and i am no saint now, by any imagining. If you don't feel good about doing something, don't do it. If you are mindless, and not paying attention, wake up! If these venues shut down, there is no place for awesome music to happen, and we will be left with strip mall limbo. Trust me, i come from strip mall limbo, you DO NOT want that to happen.

But, all in all, i met a bunch of awesome people, and saw a bunch of awesome music, and participated in some sweet jams, later on! For me, those cards are just cardboard, and i will get more. For the person that would take such a thing, take a look at yr life. This is a wake up call.


  1. That is some ridiculous bullshit.
    I am very sorry to hear something like that went down during what was otherwise a good experience.

    Also, good christ are you correct about Strip Mall Limbo. It gives me the shivers to think about.

  2. hey ms! nice to see you/hear from you again! You are correct, it is some bullshit, but fret not! The universe has given me a new tarot deck. and i overcome ALL adversity! The person who would steal someone's holy items is a very troubled soul, indeed, and its a hard path they walk. I have sympathy, i've done some TERRIBLE things in my time, and i don't do them anymore. As long as we walk in the walk, but don't tremble in the darkness, all is well.
    Onwards and upwards, my brother! Many good things to come! Keep yr eyes peeled, i've gone some excellent shit, coming yr way!

  3. Ah, good. I was contemplating providing you with a new deck myself. I couldn't recall if you were a classic Rider-Waite man, or if you'd had the Thoth deck. And so I delayed. You should send me your addy at the Goat's Head, though, if you'll be there long.

    My plans for getting my PhD in PDX have fallen thru, but Seattle is still a possibility.

  4. i'm actually in seattle, at this very moment! I've hardly spent any time here, yet. Portland is awesome. It'd be awesome if you were anywhere nearby.

    i emailed you my address. Its nice to hear from you. And i used the thoth deck, for what its worth, but now i'm using the marseilles tarot.