5 Asian Cover Gems Celebrating English as a Second Language

As an immigrant to the United States who is Chinese and born in Australia, I appreciate the linguistic synthesization of people who also have the experience of transnationalism. When people talk to me they often question my accent/s because I am not white and my ethnicity does not fit the typical identity of an “Australian.” My accent/s ebb and flow between Australian and American, and both cultures are rooted in colonialism. The U.S encompasses a fondue of populations that gives open minded people access to sample or learn about another’s culture or ethnicity. International cultural traditions generate many national holidays in the U.S and gives the American public an excuse to drink excessively, and assault and/or accept each other by appropriating another’s cultural traditions. English is often a second language for immigrants, and many international singers choose to assimilate and sing in the established cultural language. International singers often cover popular English songs to appeal to the popular music audience who have the privilege to buy their music. Celebrating music as a second language and listening to the cultural inflections of singers can supply listeners with clues about the artists’ transnational route/s through enunciation. Here are 5 cover gems from Asian singers singing in English and their first language. 

Fung Po-Po “Suicide is Painless” (1970). A great cover of the Mike Altman song. Fung was a child prodigy star from Hong Kong who played a role in more than 120 features before she was 14 years old. She was referred to as the “Shirley Temple of the East.” Listeners can hear Fung’s transnationalism within her English inflection and Cantonese/Mandarin first language synthesized with her British accent because Hong Kong was under British rule at that time.

Nam Hong “She’s a Lady” (1972). Mostly sung in Nam’s first language of Mandarin with a few words in English in the chorus, stating “she’s a lady” to stamp an audible signature onto this popular song. The tune was covered often in the Asian market, including a full-English version by Penny Lim.

Penny Lim “Dancing On a Saturday Night” made popular by Barry Blue in 1974. Lim sang in English and Chinese. She often sang with the Silverstones as her back up band, complimenting her vocals and mirroring a Joe Meek Telstar sound. This backing track is by another well-known southeast Asian recording act, The Stylers.

Rita Chao “Only Friends” made popular by Francoise Hardy and written by Sonny Miller in 1966. Chao sings the majority of the song in Mandarin except the signature line of the chorus. She sang many songs in English and Chinese to enable inclusiveness of appealing to both Eastern and Western audiences. The 4-song 7″ EP format was very popular in Asia, and these often included a mix of traditional local standards intermingled with western melodies, like “Wooly Bully”, “As Tears Go By”, and “My Bonnie”.

Dara Puspita “To Love Somebody” a song made popular by The Bee Gees. Dara Puspita (or Flower Girls) was an all female Indonesian girl group in the 1960s who wrote and performed all their own songs, paving the way for many Indonesian girl bands. They were harassed by the Indonesian government due to their Western pop sounds and were constantly interrogated by their government because of their feminist ethics (Bitch Media 2018).


By Karen Lee (Weekend Family Music Hour)

PORTLAND MUSICIANS CORNER With DJ Sonic Szilvi – Interview with The Secret Light

Shamefully, I must admit I have never seen The Secret Light live before. There are so many shows and bands in this city of ours, it’s almost impossible to keep up with them. I have heard their music and checked out some of their live footage on Youtube. That’s something, right? But on a totally positive note, The Secret Light will finally shine down on me from the stage of Portland’s Paris Theater at 2018’s PIGFEST.

The Secret Light is a tasty blend of some darker melodic genres. Viktor Nova provides sultry  vocals backed by danceable rhythms and synth magic. Michelle Pecchia adds support to the infuses beats with her bass, and Kiisu D’Salyss adds more melody with his guitar. The outcome? Fantastic music.

Now let’s get to the interview!

Q: What came first, the band name or the band? Can you guys share with us, how this band came about?

The band. We’ve all played together in different bands, Viktor and kiisu in Pink Noise, Viktor and Michelle in theXplodingboys, and Michelle and kiisu in The Oblik. We all actually played together in a merging of Pink Noise and theXplodingboys while performing a cover once. Pink Noise and The Oblik broke up around the same time, and the 3 of us began jamming together. That’s how the band was formed.

The name “The Secret Light” had all the elements we required; mystery, ambiguous occult themes, general nerdiness…also the .com domain was available and we found no other existing bands using the name.

Q: Why this genre? What is that draws you towards playing in the darker genres? And would you want to play anything different at all?

There is no genre we are trying to emulate. We make the music we want to hear and the music we create happens organically. It’s a culmination of all the previous bands we’ve enjoyed and been influenced by. We’d argue that we’re just as much pop as we are dark. That aside, darker genres have more depth of subject matter and style that appeals to us.

As far as other aspirations, kiisu woud like to be involved in something more industrial with elements of black metal but that will have to wait until he finds the time machine mentioned in a question towards the end of this interview. Viktor is finding his calling as a synthwave DJ and is exploring composing soundtracks. Michelle would like to move to Sweden and become the new bassist for Agent Side Grinder. *LOL*

Q: What is more important to you as a band, the message or the music? Why do you feel that way?

I’m not convinced those are separate items. The message and music are so intertwined they are essentially the same thing. We are who we are becoming and we are trying to become better in everything we do. The world is dark and brutal and our message is of alternate universes and timelines where life can peacefully exist and where broken robots can find love and happiness…

 Q: What is the biggest goal for The Secret Light? What do you do to achieve that goal?

Ultimately we’re into being able to quit our day jobs and do music full time but that’s the generic dream of most bands isn’t it? As far as pragmatic realistic goals we’d like to get on a label where we can have a mutually beneficial relationship that will expose us to a larger audience. We would like to continue making music that we, and hopefully many others enjoy. We do this because we love creating and performing.

Q: I like to throw in some fun fantasy questions, so here is one. You go to the Oregon coast and find a hidden time machine! You can go anywhere you want the past or the future. Where would you go and why? What would you do once you are there?

Ultimately we would have to travel to the future as we still have hope that humanity, or perhaps highly evolved cephalopods will have gotten their act together enough for a peaceful space traveling society. We’re all science fiction fans and hope to one day see a future of space travel beyond the solar system. Before that however, we’d have to travel to the past to hide our time machine/DeLorean better, and to play a series of long playing pranks involving eyes and triangles.

Q: One last question. What can we expect from The Secret Light in the near future? Any projects in sight? Tours? Changing the world? 😉

We have a single coming out in October that we are currently wrapping up. We are also writing and polishing the last couple songs for the second album, which we will be recording immediately after finishing the single. When the single is released, we’re looking into booking a two week Western U.S. tour, and then a larger one following that. We’re hoping to get a European tour together within a year. After that we will continue on to explore the multiverse and change many worlds.

Thank you so much for taking your time and doing this interview with me! I cannot wait to see you guys at the PIGFEST!

DJ Sonic Szilvi, a European native, joined the Portland music scene a few years ago, currently playing bass for two active bands and one on hiatus. She recently joined the Freeform Portland family as a DJ. Sonic Szilvi hosts the weekly show Dark Noise Radio


Radio Hot Tub features over 250 local bands out of Portland, Oregon. I’ve built this show out of a love for our thriving local music scene, mostly bands I’ve discovered during live performances. On Friday, July 13th I put together a bill featuring three of my favorites. It all happened at The Fixin To in St John’s.

Opening the show was a fresh new band out of Portland called Streetcar Conductors. The band is the brainchild of drummer/singer Jonathon Moore. Many of you may know him as the keyboardist for Portland legend King Black Acid, but in this band, Jonathan has taken over the songwriting role.

At first listeners might find a certain unease, an unfamiliar feeling. That feeling, my friend, is joy. In a world filled with chaos and despair, Jonathan has written a batch of songs that bring up a sense of wonder, happiness and positivity. He is joined on stage by singer/keyboardist Carmen Charters, who has a blissful smile on her face throughout the entire performance. Bassist Matthew Dinaro (of The Toads) along with guitarists Jimmy Ling and Michael Hollifield all hold their own, delivering catchy hooks and solid technical skills.

They open the show with their tune “You Are The Brightest Star,” a simple tune reminiscent of sixties pop bands. They always win over the crowd with “Pictures of Ourselves”, a song dedicated to our obsession with selfies, and they wrap up the set with their quirky song “The Absurdity of Life,” which includes a break in which the band throws confetti at the audience. The band is a breath of fresh air in our music scene. They don’t imitate anybody else, and yet their style is complimentary to a variety of different bands. Keep your ears open for this band, they’ll be back on stage with King Black Acid at the Holocene on Thursday, August 16th!

Up next was a band I’ve followed for years, Dad Works Hard. If you haven’t experienced this band live, you’re missing out on one of Portland’s hottest party bands. A mix of funk, boogie woogie and disco, this band delivers one of the most high energy foot stomping shows you’ll see in our city. Guitarist/ singer Daniel T. Barkness growls and barks out lyrics fast and furious. Bassist Sebastian De La Vega is loaded with personality and a talent for hitting high notes that would make the Bee Gees blush, and drummer Tyler Jensen delivers solid beats throughout. With songs like “Mr. Saturday Night,” “Party King” and “Can’t Get High,” these straight forward songs easily stick in your mind and make your body move.

If you’ve never seen them before, I encourage you to watch this. If you’re at all offended by anything you see or hear from this act, you’re probably lacking a sense of humor, and should seek professional help. Life is serious enough. Take a break and cut loose with Dad Works Hard. It does a body good!

Wrapping up the night was a band that I rank in the Top 10 bands out of Portland. Foxy Lemon delivers everything I desire in a live act… catchy songs, loads of attitude, top notch musicians and last but not least, a real frontman. Backed by a phenomenal rhythm section (Lachlan Hall on Bass and the amazing Eddie Steele on drums) and a pair of incredibly tight guitar players (Scott Keeley and Kevin Keeley), singer Keishi Ihara brings a special performance every night. He gyrates and strides confidently across the stage (as he calls it “purging Satan”), bringing about a vibe that takes you back to some of the classic singers like Robert Plant, Steven Tyler and David Coverdale. His delivery is soulful and his style is unmatchable. Portland has many great bands, but very few have a singer who can hold the crowd like Keishi. On stage he is a powerhouse. Off stage, he’s warm friendly and very humble. This vibe is apparent in every member of Foxy Lemon. These are a bunch of down to earth guys who just happen to be extremely talented. They’d have no trouble holding their own on an arena stage, so I always feel blessed to be able to see them in a small club. Catch these guys before the closest seat to the stage is out of your price range!

Radio Hot Tub’s goal has always been to bring these local bands’ songs to the audience who may never have heard them before, and also to bring the local music community closer together. Bands that met that night had never seen each other perform before, and now are making plans on doing more live shows together in the future. What can you do to help our local music scene grow and prosper? Simple! Get out to a live show in one of the many venues around town. Not sure what bands to go see? Check out Radio Hot Tub and listen to the music. You’re sure to find a band that’ll grab your ear. Find out where they’re performing and go see them. We are so lucky to live here! Take advantage.. and thanks in advance from Radio Hot Tub and all of the bands that make us sound so great!

Scott “Uncle Scotty” Hammond has been a radio show host for over 20 years. He brought his internet radio station, Radio Hot Tub, to Portland and has been a strong supporter of the local music scene. He currently does live shows featuring local rock bands alternating Friday mornings on Freeform Portland.

5 Examples Of Difficult Third Albums

Cliches exist because more often than not they are true. That plus the fact that we love to speak in metaphor, saying things such as “I know that place like the back of my hand,” which conveys that we have an intimate knowledge of a particular place, instead of just matter of factly saying, “I know that place well”.

In Rock N’ Roll circles one of the most common cliches is that your third album is the most difficult one. Speaking as a bystander I would think that such a thing would be true. After all, keeping with the theme of cliches here, “You have your whole life to write your first album.” So the first one is generally bursting with a lifetime’s experience and expression. A second album will often have been comprised of songs not used on the first album, and perhaps a few new ones. But by the third album, the well is dry, the box is empty, the screen is blank, the songwriter in the band may as well be Waiting for Godot, if Godot in this case were the gift of illumination and expression.

The grind of being in a Rock N’ Roll band must be incredibly nerve wracking. Most young bands are almost always on tour, re-locating themselves nightly from place to place, each venue virtually the same as the night before, identical hotel rooms and as like as not clubs or event halls, with stages and light arrays, sound technicians all with the same odd playlists blaring over the PA system, examples of “Good Music,” not music that is good.

With this sort of lifestyle, it is no surprise to find that third albums can be the most challenging to write and record. In addition to the lifestyle, one would think that by the third album, the record label footing the bill would be turning the screws as well, looking to recoup some of their investment in the band. By the third record, the record label would definitely be looking for a commercial and broad appealing radio hit. Something that would increase the band’s fanbase and public profile.

Here are a few examples of difficult third albums, some of which changed the bands that recorded them, for better or worse.

The Psychedelic Furs “Forever now”

Continue reading →

Portland Musicians Corner With DJ Sonic Szilvi – Interview with Photona

I had heard of Photona in the past, but I confess, I never really knew their songs and hadn’t seen them live until recently. I was looking to feature a local band for my radio show and decided to contact them. My message felt welcome and I instantly felt a great connection to them. They are great musicians and excellent human beings.

To top things off they create absolutely amazing songs, loaded with emotions, stories and musical depth. Their genre is a cool mixture of the darker side of synth pop and rock, with a great beat and chilling vocals that give you the shivers. Vocals come from Outer Stace, who has the pipes of a dark angel. Synth, sound programming and guitar come from Phono, and last but not least XavierX completes this trio with those essential beats and rhythms.

Put all that on a stage and you have a pretty sweet show that is hard to forget.

Sonic Sz:  How did Photona start?

XavierX: Our vocalist, Outer Stace, had written and recorded a lot of great material a while back. I had the riffs running around in my head, and I tossed one of them into my recording software and recorded some drums to it. That first song was “Packed Away”, that’s what started it all. “Packed Away” is on our first album, Alabaster Inlay Tiger Panels. We just kept writing and working, and here we are!

Outer Stace: What X said… That is the beginning in a nutshell. X having faith in me as a musician & kind of pushing me to realize that I could do this. I had stopped for an excessive amount of time. We have known each other a long time…he knew just what button to push to spark that flame and get me back to singing. I am so glad he did. Our good friend Betley started us out on keys/guitar and then we found Phono. Woah… he is an incredible and irreplaceable addition. He is now one of us..one of us…one of us!

Phono: Yea and it was purely serendipity. I just so happened to run into Stace at the right place at the right time and we gave each other a shot. It didn’t take long for us to figure out our sound and take things to the next level.

Outer Stace: Bonus, we all like each other a lot and have fun working on all of the aspects of the process, even the hard work. The work is beyond satisfying when you love what you are doing and who you are doing it with. We are very fortunate to have come together. You can feel when it’s right.  All of the little pieces are perfectly in place.

Continue reading →

Musical Tourism (part 1)

It’s always a challenge getting back on the plane with a bulky record bag and a shoulder that aches for days, but when traveling, one of my favorite ways to dip in to the culture is via the local record store. Like a good used book store, you can really get a feel for a new place by flipping through the bins and meeting the staff behind the counter. Although the vinyl revival has led to grocery stores stocking reissues of records that never needed to reappear, an authentic record store is an organic experience, which cannot be easily replicated. It usually takes just a few minutes to get a sense of a good store — although many brick and mortar record stores have disappeared in recent decades, there are still some stores hanging on, which honestly don’t need to stick around — the same plastic dividers between the aging copies of Big Rock from decades past, intermixed with high-priced reissues of the same artists. A great record store is often well-curated, helping you reach beyond the borders of your usual realm of listening. And any self-respecting vinyl shop has a couple of turntables set up for you to check out the material before buying — it doesn’t count for the guy behind the counter to offer to play anything you want. Traveling around the US and elsewhere, I always feel fortunate for some of the fantastic record stores we have at home in Portland — Mississippi, Beacon Sound, Little Axe, Green Noise, to name a few — we are truly spoiled.

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Bongo Joe records in Geneva, Switzerland.

I was familiar with the label, through their excellent Jesse Mae Hemphill compilation, released in conjunction with Mississippi Records. I didn’t realize until I was in Geneva, that there was a physical store in addition to the label. Apparently, the store’s founder had worked in the past with Mississippi Records at their Portland store, and this relationship is evident in a similar ethos guiding the store. It is a lovely physical space, with big windows opening on to a little terrace overlooking a tidy square. The main floor holds a good supply of vinyl as well as a small counter for drinks. A steep ladder leads up to a little attic with extra stacks of vinyl. I had a good chat with the fellow running the store that day, Mathieu, about the history and philosophy of the store, and also gathered a lot of suggestions for new music.

I picked up a couple of their label releases, including their recent LP by Altin Gün — a “third generation” Turkish band, reinterpreting older Turkish songs, recorded in analog.  A great record:

They also have a nice collection of various African LPs, including Juju, Soukous, Congolese Rumba, some of which I’ll be bringing back to play on Freeform:


The only challenge with buying vinyl on a trip is that you’ve got to wait till you get home to play it…

The 500 Covers of Ron Clyne: A Prospective Look at Smithsonian Folkways Design

Photo courtesy of Native Craft Works blog

 Ron Clyne (1925-2006) was a Chicago born, Brooklyn based freelance graphic designer and painter who fashioned approximately 500 Smithsonian Folkways covers starting in the mid 1950s. He helped establish the visual brand of Smithsonian Folkways record covers compriseof two tone typography complimented with photography on thick textured printing stock paper glued onto record sleeves. Clyne’s design aesthetic gave him a fair amount of artistic liberty, bringing a modernist perspective to Smithsonian design with his own interests in tribal arts, as he labelled “world” art, assigning culturally competent images to Smithsonian Ethnic Folkways recordings. He also designed record covers for labels such as Vanguard, and book jackets for various science fiction and fantasy publishers, such as Arkham House (Hurley, 2010). 

Moses Asch founded the Smithsonian Folkways label in 1948, and he maintained stewardship of the label until his passing twenty years later. Smithsonian worked with independent groups, artists, and non corporate advertising or music agencies. Smithsonian recordings are based on an archival preservationist ethic rooted in capturing the essence and feeling of the artist or group they are documenting. They promoted these ethics by recording artists and groups, using monaural analog field recorders which brought an anthropological research component into the field documentation process. Alan Lomax was one of Smithsonian Folkways better known ethnomusicologists, recording blues, jazz and folk greats such as Lead Belly, Josh White, Sonny Terry, the Golden Gate Quartet, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seeger, to name only a few. Lomax also documented international folk songs and rituals with recordings spanning the globe, enabling audible cultural sounds to be heard and accessible to people, bringing cultural awareness to inquisitive listeners.

Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways
Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways

Smithsonian Folkways released an average of a record per week over its 38 year span and stands today as an inspiration to audio archivists around the world. The label was/is anchored by staffs’ shared personal interests in cultural anthropology. Asch wanted the recordings to match the covers of the LPs and provide an authentic visual representation of the artist or group contained therein. Working prodigiously, Clyne was somehow able to keep up with the fast pace of releases, balancing typography, layout and images that embodied jazz, folk, experimental and international artists, while mirroring the diversity and inclusivity of Smithsonian recordings. An exhibition of Clyne’s work shown in 2007 at The Narrows Gallery in Melbourne, Australia displayed how expansive the range of Smithsonian recordings are culturally and anthropologically through cover design. Some of those featured were John Cage with music by John Tudor; Indian Music of Mexico played by traditional musicians and recorded by Henrietta Urchenko; Memphis Slim’s, The Real Boogie Woogie and Pete Seeger’s Folk Songs for Young People (Nixon, 2007).

Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways
Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways

In 2001 while visiting my friend Mark in Brooklyn, NY, I had the privilege to meet Clyne. Mark’s aunt was Clyne’s neighbor, and she arranged a meet-and-greet for us because we were both collectors of Smithsonian Folkways LPs. Upon meeting Clyne in his Brooklyn Heights home, I noticed his home was vastly modernist: furniture and art was conventional and clean; lines between windows, walls, and sparse woodwork provided symmetry between cabinetry, juxtaposed with white ceilings complimented by clear glass windows in his living room. Three museum-sized, floor-to-ceiling Maori statues were the main focal point in his living room. We were thoroughly impressed by his vast collection of Pacific Islander indigenous tribal art, positioned meticulously throughout the house. Clyne was proud to share each pieces’ historical context and meaning, providing a walking tour while lecturing about world, modern, and advertising art contexts. Clyne maintained a special archive of his LP cover art and showed us lithographs, including most of his Smithsonian LP cover designs. Clyne’s wife was graciously welcoming, wearing a long flowing gown while interjecting playful adlibs during Clyne’s history lesson. I asked Clyne where he found the images he used for his cover art because many of the photos appeared to originate from the country the recording was from. He said, “I found all the images for my cover designs at the New York Public Library and National Archive.” This was genius to me because the photos/images he found were mostly public domain so he didn’t have to worry about copyright laws. I also asked Clyne if he listened to each LP he designed a cover for, for inspiration to enable some insights into the ethnicity or culture on the LP, to help match an image. He stated, “No, I didn’t have the time.” He would look at the title of the record and find images based on origin. Our visit with Clyne was similar to the video posted by Smithsonian below.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has grown into a leading cultural institution providing education through music in cultural folklore, heritage, and oral histories. There are now Smithsonian Global Sound Libraries accessible online where listeners can search and listen from home or school. Playlists and themes can be made, and teacher resources are available to construct interactive curriculums expanding on geography, literature, and diversity from more than 160 countries globally (Smithsonian, 2018). Through music and design, Smithsonian Folkways has helped support and empower ethnic and cultural education around the globe while bringing obscure sounds to new audiences.

Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways



Hurley, Andrew W. (2010). Transparency as authenticity? Ronald Clyne and his cover art for Folkways. https://folkways.si.edu/magazine-spring-summer-2012-transparency-authenticity-ronald-clyne-cover-art-folkways/article/smithsonian

Nixon, John. (2007). ARTSPACE http://www.artspace.org.nz/exhibitions/2007/ronaldclyne.asp

Smithsonian Folkways https://folkways.si.edu/


Written by Karen Lee (Weekend Family Music Hour)






The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders Of Mars

We all have one of “those” records. A record to raise your spirits. A record to make you feel less glum. A record that paints the inside of your earholes with delight.

For me, no matter the circumstance, that record is David Bowie’s “The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders Of Mars.”

I was well aware of David Bowie before I ever heard this record in full, thanks to my Mom and her purchases from Columbia House Record Club. One of her records of my was the David Bowie singles collection, “ChangesBowie,” which itself makes a pretty good argument for compilations as great albums.

But with “Ziggy….” I encountered the masterpiece while working in a record store. More than likely, I put it on for the very first time one slow afternoon, while I was working by myself.

This album is gobsmacking from start to finish, but I’m particularly taken with the slow insistent drumbeat at the beginning of the song “Five Years,” which forces you to lean in and prick up your ears.

For the entire creative development of this record, Bowie embodied Ziggy, a space-dreamlike character to the point where his new identity temporarily overtook his life. The clothes and makeup and attitude were all part of his stellar storytelling.

There is something perfectly sequenced about the songs on “Ziggy….” they speak to each other, catapult each other into the next. It’s perfection, from the arrangements of instruments, to the lyrics, which are poetic, naked, in place, in time with the times, yet also shoot listeners into a magical sort of future.

I never tire of playing the album. I must have played it hundreds of time now, and it continues to be a favorite all the way through. It’s a story so well told, I can experience it endlessly with newness, over and over. I’m like a small child with a favorite book insisting “Again.”

Do yourself a favor, put the record on right now. Maybe our needles will be moving in parallel while we listen, sit back and a drink a milkshake, cold and long.

Noah Fence hosts It’s a Nice World To Visit – Punk, Post-Punk, Garage Rock, Psych…A mix of new tracks and old favorites. On Freeform Portland Radio.

Portland Musicians Corner With DJ Sonic Szilvi & Complimentary Colors

Complimentary Colors is an acoustic folk duo based in Portland, Oregon. They sing songs about childhood, love, life too. Even if their themes are a bit darker, their goal is to turn the darkness around, brighten a little corner of the world, and make people smile. In addition to singing, Camille Rose and Ashley Elizabeth play the ukulele and guitar as well as some other fun, unexpected instruments. Camille and Ashley don’t just share the stage but share love and life (they are engaged), which makes their songs even more heartfelt.

Sonic Sz: I saw in the bio on your website, that you two met and from day one you started making music. Can you take me back to that day? How did all this happen? How, where, when? Curious minds need to know! 🙂

A – We met through Tinder actually! We both experienced a rough year before meeting each other. We were both just about to give up on romance but decided to give it one last shot. December 1st, 2016 we met at my place and walked over to Maui’s in North Portland for a beer to test the waters…….turns out that the waters were just fine! Camille sparked a fire back in my heart that I hadn’t felt in a very long time. After a beer we went back to my place for some dinner and she taught me how to play my first song on the ukulele; my first song ever on an instrument, actually. If that didn’t already put this lady on my Super Neat list, the kiss she gave me as she left sure did. Fireworks.

C – I was terrified of Tinder. I had heard horror stories from some friends and, preferring to meet people organically, felt wary of the concept of internet dating. We had chatted extensively though, and I knew I just had to meet this woman. I was struck by how absolutely gorgeous she was from the moment I saw her. I had my ukulele with me for some reason, bringing it in after I realized Ashley had one of her own. I had no idea she had never played an instrument! The night was so fun. I think we spent a total of 5 hours together the first time we met, knowing for certain that there was much more to come.

Continue reading →


Nuggets Night has been happening in Portland annually for over a decade, but this year was the first time I’ve attended. The two night event at McMenamins Mission Theater featured a huge lineup of local talent, plus a stellar headliner on Saturday night, LOVE Revisited. I was joined by promoter Luke Strahota in studio at 90.3 Freeform Portland, and he filled me in on the long history of this show. What started as a benefit show for some friends has now become a yearly event that raises money for various charities. This year the proceeds were given to Queer Rock Camp PDX.

Uncle Scotty and Luke Strahota in Freeform Studios

When I saw the poster featuring the names of so many great local acts, I knew I had to attend. Each band learned songs from the 1960’s garage/psychedelic scene, and they each perform for just 15 minutes. The promoter supplied all of the amps and drums, so set up and break down time in between bands was minimal.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend on Friday night, which featured the local bands Black Fruit, The Lovesores, Fire Nuns, Hurry Up, Sacred Trees, The Furies, The Hauer Things, The Mean Reds, The Shriekers and The Von Howlers! Wow! What a lineup!

On night #2 of the show, I headed over the bridge into downtown Portland and discovered it was also the night of the Starlight Parade! I crawled through slow moving traffic for 30 minutes, and after a long search for a parking spot, I made it to The Mission Theater too late to catch the opening bands, Little Hexes and The See You Next Tuesdays. I did, however, make it just in time to watch one of my local favorites. Liquidlight!


Liquidlight has always amazed me with their technical abilities and their vocal harmonies. These skills made it possible for them to cover songs like “Eight Miles High” by The Byrds and “Village Green” by The Kinks among others. Guitarists Anthony Medici and Cory West have great on stage chemistry, and their voices blend seamlessly as they harmonize. Bassist Grahame Bywater holds down solid basslines while drummer Mitch Wilson delivers flawless percussion. The crowd erupted in applause and cheers at the end of every song, and Anthony reacted with an almost surprised look, as if to say “Wow, did we really sound good enough to deserve all that?” Yes, Anthony! You DID! Liquidlight wrapped up their 15 minute set, and I had just enough time to grab a cold beer before The Verner Pantons take the stage.

The Verner Pantons

The Verner Pantons are a perfect fit for Nuggets Night as they already sound like a throwback to the psychedelic swingin’ sixties. Fronted by guitarist singer Tobias Berblinger, the band took us back in time with the song “Hurtin’ Kind” by the Bittersweets, “Bad Little Woman” by The Wheels and “Estan Cambiando los Colores” by a band called Los Chijuas, sung entirely in Spanish by drummer Eric Rubalcava. Keyboardist Emily Faas is a bold presence on stage, and delivered sweet vocal harmonies as well. Trevor Greely and Zacharia Whiton rounded out a band that brings a perfect blend of grit and groove. Although I’m unfamiliar with most of these songs, the energy and vibe mixed with the energy in the room was infectious. You can’t help but to be drawn into the positive energy that this band delivers!

The Reverberations

Continue reading →