Angela Allen

Gary Houston’s Music Posters

Gary Houston’s clever hand-pulled music posters keep Voodoo Catbox hoppin’

Originally published in Oregon Music News

Gary Houston has been hand-pulling silkscreen collectibles since he began Voodoo Catbox in 1995 in Portland. It was born from his 8-year-old graphic design and screen-printing business, so he was poised to find a place in the rock ‘n’ roll poster world. He doesn’t use a computer. He does everything by hand – from lettering to drawing to silk-screening. Many of his posters go for $30, but some bring in $450. He’s sold one piece for $600. The Chinese invented screen-printing 2000 years ago, he says, and nothing much about the craft has changed. He calls the work hands-on, physical, creative and romantic. “It’s leaving a little bit of history.” Read More

Valerie Day and John Smith of Nu Shooz

Valerie Day talks about the refreshed Nu Shooz and the new CD — ‘Pandora’s Box’

Oregon Music News CD Review of "Pandora's Box"

Originally Published on Oregon Music News September 9, 2010

Portland’s long-lived and much-loved Nu Shooz has turned its band into an orchestra and its musical talents to its newly released CD, “Pandora’s Box,” a mix of tunes described as “James Bond meets James Brown.” Expect a lot more than that — including a honeyed version of the 1955 jazz standard, “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most.”

ndeed the recording is packed with surprises, musical leaps and 14 tunes, many originals by Nu Shooz’ songwriter John Smith, who happens to be lead singer Valerie Day’s husband. Day is the face and the voice of the two-decades-plus-old group, who burst on the scene with its breakthrough mid-‘80s hit, “I Can’t Wait.” An anniversary edition of that song is the final cut on the new CD.

I talked with Day to find out what’s up with the new and the old Shooz. Read More

Tony Starlight

A Day In the Nightlife: Tony Starlight’s Supper Club

Oregon Music News Review of Tony Starlight's Supper Club

Originally published on Oregon Music News August 10, 2010

Tony Starlight’s Supperclub & Lounge, 3728 N.E. Sandy Blvd., hunkers down in a fitting location — Hollywood. The one in Portland, not the place with the big sign on the hill near LA.

Nee and aka Brett Kucera, Tony Starlight opened his namesake place in January 2007, determined to bring Portland a nostalgic entertainment venue it didn’t have. Not a jazz club, a New York City-style piano bar, high-end resto, nor a concert hall, his room would be a supper club with a variety show, starring himself as Dino, Tom Jones, Frankie, Neil Diamond and made-up characters. He’d make people laugh, connect with the audience, get to know the community — at least the ones who showed up at his nightclub.

What’s odd is that by now the club has become all of those things. Read More

Review of Seattle Opera’s “Amelia”

Seattle's world premiere "Amelia" takes off with grace

Originally published on Concertonet.com, May 31, 2010

Seattle Opera lacked a crucial element since lauded general director Speight Jenkins has run the show for 27 years. Until now, he has never commissioned an opera.

With Amelia, which made its elaborate two-hour world premiere in May, operagoers should have even firmer confidence in Jenkins' vision. Beginning in 2002, when he sorted through contemporary composers' works with director Stephen Wadsworth, settling on Daron Aric Hagen's music, he never looked back from his original intention to make an American opera with American themes. Read More

Beach sings in sweet Portuguese

Oregon Music News CD review of "Brasil Beat"

Originally published on Oregon Music News, May 31, 2010

Lucky for us, Bill Beach rose from the dead Benson Hotel's basement and went to Brazil.
This spring the pianist released his energetic Brasil Beat (yes, Brazilians spell it that way) on his label, Axial Records. Six of the 12 tracks feature Beach's breathy baritone-bass shaping original Portuguese lyrics. Cross-checked with Portuguese linguists, the lyrics are precisely articulated and beautifully phrased. Beach is a stickler for details and authenticity, as relaxed as his vocals sound. Read More

Portland’s Darwish is pushing music forward

Oregon Music News Review of Silverton Wine & Jazz Fest musicians

Originally published on Oregon Music News, May 9, 2010

Portlander Ben Darwish and his quartet stepped it up a notch at the caramel-corn-scented Palace Theater as part of the Silverton Wine & Jazz Festival. If you missed this gig, you lost out on the most innovative of the day, though certainly the sexy mid-century couple of bass genius Glen Moore and the inimitable crooner/scatter/partner Nancy King, accompanied by pianist Dan Gaynor, attracted a way bigger crowd later in the evening. Read More

Omar Sosa

Omar Sosa review

Sosa's Afreecanos energize Jimmy Mak's

Originally published on Oregon Music News, April 18, 2010

OK. Dr. Lonnie Smith and Gil Scott-Heron, even Nicholas Payton, reaped the lion's share of publicity for the Soul'd Out Music Festival continuing through this week in Portland. Read More

Portland Opera review: Cosi

`Cosi' delivers flawless chemistry

Originally published in Concertonet.com, Feb. 7, 2010

Mozart's music, as singers say, is medicine for the voice. Light, lyric, and a century ahead of its time with its compositional cohesiveness, the maestro's melodies shaped a full-throttle comedic "Cosi" in Portland. Read More

Oregon Symphony review: Max Raabe

Max Raabe: sauve, sophisticated, hard to pin down

Originally published on Northwest Reverb, Feb. 25, 2010

In patent-leather shoes and tails, every hair slicked into place, Max Raabe led two hours of wit, elegance and impeccably presented music from the '20s and '30s at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Read More