We have always strived to do two things with this magazine: Support artists and tell their stories. This year, we’re expanding how we tell stories and offering an opportunity to local musicians. And for fans, there’ll be new music and experiences, each presenting a special way to engage with your local music community. So read on, listen up and look out for your chance to bask in the bounty of our #PDXmusic scene.
Our City, Our Sounds: A #PDXmusic Song A Month
In 2017 and ’18, we collaborated with local music makers to create two volumes of Our City, Our Sounds: A #PDXmusic Compilation, which captured a slice of unreleased local music on vinyl. (Hear more!) This year, we’ve partnered with Blue Heron Studio and engineer Gene Forte to further document the sounds of our scene by helping artists record new music.
Each month, we select one musician or band to go into the studio to record a new, original song—or even a few! We welcomed in the new year with a gathering of remarkable local songwriters offering their rendition of the cork-popping classic “Auld Lang Syne.” Spearheaded by the soulful Samuel Eisen-Meyers, he rallied Haley Johnsen, Margaret Wehr (also of Moorea Masa and Y La Bamba), Clara Baker (also of Five Letter Word) and Craig Irby Jr. in the days following Christmas. Backed by Alex Milsted on piano, Charlie Brown on talk box and Cory Limuaco on drums, see and hear them ring it in below!
Our second snapshot this February features powerful vocalist Sarah Clarke, best known for leading the funky seven-piece band Dirty Revival, sharing her first solo track ever. “Steeped in drama and daydream,” Clarke sure does “Take My Time” on the R&B-soaked ballad, a “tune fantasizing of a love affair that could never be,” she tells.
Originally written on the piano a few years ago, the song has seen its way onto a few Dirty Revival set lists but was a bit too slow to be a keeper for the energetic big band. Thanks to this, Clarke’s bandmates were already familiar with the material and Ben Turner (keys), Jon Shaw (bass), Evan Simko (guitar), Thomas Barber (trumpet), and Terry Drysdale (drums) joined the Blue Heron recording session.
“Each layer brought a new life to the song, adding texture I didn’t know was missing in the first place,” Clarke describes. Large swaths of subtle accents were added by percussion magician Darian Anthony Patrick, who also provided backing vocals alongside Laryssa Birdseye. “I am indebted to everyone who helped this song realize its full potential!”
We’re so excited to have this beautiful, long-in-the-making original as the second song in our 12-month series. Hear “Take My Time” below and follow along each month at VRTXMAG.COM/SONGAMONTH
If you’re interested in being a part of this project—and getting free studio time!—please drop us a line at info [at] vrtxmag.com
Musical Interlude: A Song and Storytelling Live Series
For all you music television fans, imagine a cross between MTV Unplugged and VH1 Storytellers—a live performance where telling the stories behind the songs is as much a part of the show as the songs themselves!
This is exactly what we’re bringing to the intimate, theatrical stage at Artists Repertory Theatre—a place where some of Portland’s most incredible songwriters and music makers will perform stripped-down versions of their songs as well as tell the stories behind them, all in a distinctive environment. Wholly unlike your standard concert venue or club, this is a setting where the seating encircles the artists and their backdrop is the stage-designed set of an actual play!
We’re kicking off our Musical Interlude collaboration with Artists Rep on Saturday, February 9 on the set of A Doll's House, Part 2 with our first genre theme: Soul/R&B. And we’ll tackle another yet-to-be-announced genre in spring on Friday, April 19 when Vortex also celebrates its fifth birthday.
But first, this inaugural Soul/R&B edition spotlights the folksy soul of Moorea Masa (who’s toured with k.d. lang and Allen Stone as well as sang with Ural Thomas and recorded with The Decemberists and EL VY), the unequivocal gospel of Saeeda Wright (who’s backed Prince and Liv Warfield and worked with Mike Phillips, Patrick Lamb and Duffy Bishop), and the bold R&B of Dirty Revival’s Sarah Clarke. While each of these women absolutely have the power to take your breath away, give you chills, and bring you to tears through song, it will be just as moving to gain insight into their lives and songwriting process through the stories they share.
Do not miss three of Portland’s most formidable vocalists up close and personal as they captivate and amaze—with both their songs and stories.