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Exclusive Interview: Kevin Robinson of Blue Giant



Too often these days, I find that in trying to produce an accurate description of a band's sound, I end up beating my head against a figurative wall, not especially sure where they might fit in to the vast expanse of available music these days. And although Blue Giant isn’t particularly difficult to classify, the best, most accurate and most succinct description comes from the band itself: “Rock and grass served with blues and sass." I literally could not have said it better.

The influence of country music is undeniable, but it isn’t really prevalent enough for Blue Giant to fall under a “country” label. Formed from members of Swords, The Decemberists and Viva Voce, it would seem that this eclectic group is poised on the edge of something big. Lead vocalist Kevin Robinson possesses an even, smooth voice which is showcased especially well in the anthem-like “Blue Sunshine” and undeniably catchy “Wesley” - both from the band's self-titled debut album.

Robinson's wife Anita provides much of the aforementioned sass, with her sweet voice and incredible guitar work providing an interesting layer to this smorgasbord of a band. Kevin Robinson took some time out of his busy schedule for the Deli Portland to discuss Coast To Coast AM, The Black Keys and the future of Blue Giant.

How did Blue Giant come to be?

2008, Anita and I started Blue Giant, mainly as an excuse to play with other people. Start a "proper" band. The results were insanely rewarding so we fired on all cylinders.

Any meaning or story behind the name?
We mashed up Blue Oyster Cult and Gentle Giant. Blue Giant sounded cooler than The Gentle Oysters.

What’s the ultimate goal that you’d all like to see this band progress to?

Touring in a bus would be an attainable goal to aspire to. I don't know if that's "ultimate" but it would be really cool to let someone else drive for a change.

What have been the standout high and low moments on tour so far?

High moments on tour: the 45 min to 1 hour you get to play for people who paid to see you perform your songs. Low moments on tour: trying to pay bills.

Where can your fans expect you to progress to as a group?

I think if people like the trajectory we're aiming at, then they'll dig the trip that we'll take em’ on.

What do you listen to in the van on tour?

The usual iPod madness. Every band your fingers can type. Lots of Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell.

Most underrated band of 2010?

The Black Keys. People really need to listen to them. I think they're really good and could catch on!

What projects do you have in the works that we can look forward to?

I've got an ever growing stack of Blue Giant songs - that when we get the green light, we'll fire that up for the follow up album. It's been really rewarding writing songs for the band, so I'm well into the third or fourth records' worth of tunes right now. Just storing them up like a musical squirrel.

---Catch Blue Giant live at the following dates next week:

July 13: On TV! KATU Channel 2 at 9 a.m.

July 13: Music Millenium at 7 p.m.

July 14: Jackpot Records at 6 p.m.

- Arielle Mullen


Album Review: Hillstomp's "Darker the Night"


"Now is time a for darker stuff!" yells Henry Kammerer, one-half of the Portland-based duo Hillstomp on the second track of their new album Darker the Night. And dark stuff is exactly what they give the listener.

The duo's third studio release - which will be available in stores July 20 - is crammed with 14 driving and dirty ballads of debauchery, and loaded with tales of embracing late night bouts of drinking, waking and repeating the process without the blink of an eye. The whole album has a very consistent brooding mood, with unique banjo rythms that take the forefront unashamed and relentless..

While firmly grounded in the blues, Hillstomp departs and adds many different influences, from folk to garage-punk, all expressed through a soulful intensity. Considering the band is known for its captivating live performances - replete with foot-stomping slide guitar riffs and John Johnson's ramshackle percussion hammering away on plastic buckets or whatever he can grab nearby, Darker the Night does not dissapoint, and invites everyone listening to join in and sing the songs of kissing the bottle and losing love without regret.

- Stirling Myles


Hosannas' Last Performance as a Quartet FRIDAY JULY 2 at The Artistery


Friday night’s show at The Artistery marks the last performance of Hosannas as Portland loves and knows it. The band is not technically breaking up, but keyboardist Cristof Hendrickson and percussionist Lane Barrington have decided to leave the group to pursue other endeavors (Best of luck, boys!).

Although the brothers Brandon and Richard Laws will continue to play under the same moniker as a two-piece, Brandon made it clear that the music will change drastically in the future, and they will not be playing the same songs they played as a foursome.

Multi-Chamber American Future at Rontoms from hosannas portland on Vimeo.

So this, my friends, will be the last time an audience’s ears will be graced with the experimental pop masterpieces that comprise the quartet’s debut, Then & Now & Then.

Show starts at 8 p.m. $6. All ages, so bring the kiddies!

-Katrina Nattress


Sean Flinn and the Royal We Headline Triple-Threat Lineup at Holocene Thursday, July 1st


Holocene will play host to a three-pronged easy-does-it rock block this Thursday July 1. If you're looking to start the new month off on the right foot, try this lineup on for size:

Quiet Life will open the show with a greased-up, slick and sputterin' Americana sheen, and no doubt lay a fine foundation with which to coax your drinking (and dancing) shoes. The band enjoyed a stint as back-up band for Port O'Brien earlier this year, before getting back to Portland to scour the Northwest wilderness, and release their brand new full-length - the excellent good-time rock 'n' roll acumen of Big Green - sometime in July.

Newer Portland group Alameda will occupy the second slot on this supple bill. The band is currently enjoying the release of their EP The Floating Hospital, a stoic four-song set of moving, minimalist acoustic-based tunes. Vocalist/guitarist Stirling Myles (also of Autopilot is for Lovers, also a contributor to The Deli Portland) stirs lush melodies with ample yet subdued accompaniment from bass clarinet, violin, viola, cello and other various effects-laced gadgets that, when dialed in correctly, evoke a melancholy, though cathartic kind of slow-burn orchestral-folk.

Rounding it all out will be the affable, affecting brood of Sean Flinn and the Royal We. Flinn's organic compositions hold both child-like cadence and a predilection for ever-maturing musical magic, like a wild-eyed tramp crooning pure truth, injecting finite detail, leaving nothing unverified and everything real in every note, every pluck of the string, every measured melody. His is a musical palate ingratiated not only by the wiles of the ubiquitous, rambling, road-weary minstrel, but also by more contemporary visions of first wave rock 'n' roll and R&B, not unlike the wide swath M. Ward casts - though that comparison is admittedly a stretch. Flinn and his Royal We (featuring members of Y La Bamba, and Meyercord among other notable local acts) are in a class all their own, and you can sponge up your lesson tomorrow night.

Show starts at 8:30 p.m. Cover is $5. 21 and over.

- Ryan J. Prado


Portland Folk Festival Announces Lineup


The inaugural Portland Folk Festival released its preliminary lineup last week, and if the preliminary nature of this information is any indication, the fully blossomed lineup is going to set your heart to twangin'.

Being held at various outdoor and indoor venues, as well as neighborhood outdoor spaces throughout Portland from August 19 to 22, the Portland Folk Festival will feature some familiar PDX folk firepower alongside national and international acts who hold only the most special places in our collective hearts (Sea of Bees!, ahem). We're not talking indie-folk exclusivity here (as the term might most readily be attributed), but real, honest, gritty, goopy acoustic ruminations from the likes of Celso Machado, Jim Page and Earl White Band. Rounding out the younger set will be Portland's own Loch Lomond, Freak Mountain Ramblers and Future Historians.

A fuller list of the preliminary lineup is available here.

Some additional schematics on this exciting, new Slim Moon-helmed music, art, craft, film, folk adventure:

"Portland Folk Festival will be held over four days, with a different neighborhood focus each day. Music venues, pubs, galleries and interesting spaces throughout Downtown Portland, Alberta Arts District, Mississippi Avenue and Southeast Portland will host events through the day and night all weekend.

The Portland Folk Festival is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of the world's folk and traditional music, and to the vibrant community, forward-thinking quality of life, and spectacular natural beauty of our treasured home of Portland. With one foot firmly rooted in preserving and celebrating the lessons of the past, and one in working toward a sustainable future, we are dedicated to the study, evolution, expression and celebration of the music of the people.

This is a wonderful opportunity for the community of Portland to come together and discover a world of music that's happening in their own backyard.

Tickets for Portland Folk Festival are being sold online for $45. You will receive a badge that will get you into every show and event during the festival. Tickets for individual concerts will be available through each venue's online box office or at the door day of show."

The Festival has also been holding monthly showcases in anticipation of the August kick-off. The next one will be held at the Mississippi Street Fair on Saturday, July 10 noon - 8 p.m. at the Parlour on the Hill stage, and will feature the likes of Stefan Jecusco and the Godless Moravians, mbilly, and more.

- Ryan J. Prado



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