Category Archives: performance

Solo EP from Brad Parsons: “Anywhere the River Runs”

Here’s a heads-up for the forthcoming EP from my friend Brad Parsons. His first solo album will be available June 14 as CDs and digital downloads.

(By the way, when I’m not in the classroom, I enjoy working with musicians and other artists on print and digital materials to promote their work. If you could use some help promoting your own work, leave a comment and let me know!)

PORTLAND, Ore. — When Brad Parsons steps out on a stage, it’s not long before he overpowers a roaring crowd. With little but his voice and an acoustic guitar, Parsons channels raucous energy into original songs that are as hopeful as they are heart-wrenching.

Parsons is a Portland-based singer-songwriter with folk-rock roots extending to Idaho. After collaborating on albums with several bands in the Northwest, Parsons will release his first solo EP in June 2012. The EP, Anywhere the River Runs, showcases Parsons’ vocal power, vivid lyricism, and infectious melodies. The independently released EP will be available June 14, 2012 in CD form and as digital downloads, both through bradparsonsmusic.bandcamp.com.

Anywhere the River Runs offers six songs from Parsons’ 16-year catalog of original work. Collaborating with Jeff Albertson and Matt Stegner of Summer Babes, the recordings feature Parsons on vocals, guitar, piano, banjo, drums, harmonica and bass. The album was recorded and mixed by Matt Stegner at Blackout Studios in Seattle and mastered by Nick Moon at Tone Proper Mastering in Portland. The project was entirely funded by support of fans through Kickstarter.com.

After picking up guitar and drums in his early teens, Parsons studied creative writing in college along with the songwriting of Jeff Tweedy, Townes Van Zandt and Neil Young. “I’m not an art house songwriter. I try to make my songs simple,” Parsons says, citing influences from the early Beatles. “I try to write songs that are as real as possible, songs that people can understand.”

Parsons’ discography includes The Bellboys’ eponymous 2009 EP and their 2011 album, I’ll Be Here All Night. Parsons also wrote and performed with The Villains (now known as Rose City Thorns) on Meat in 2009. Parsons will also be featured on Hole-Hearted Fools, a full-length Southern rock album that is in production with Fruition String Band.

Promoting Anywhere the River Runs, Parsons will tour the Western U.S. in the summer of 2012. Fans can watch for his solo tour in June and a July tour with Renegade String Band. Parsons has also shared the stage with The Shook Twins, Fruition String Band, Water Tower, and members of Elephant Revival. Since 2010, Parsons has played with bands at Austin’s SXSW, Portland’s Crystal Ballroom and Doug Fir Lounge, Seattle’s Tractor Tavern, and Oregon’s Mountain Stomp Festival. He shared the late night stage at the 2011 Northwest String Summit with Fruition and Jeff Austin from Yonder Mountain String Band, and has toured in New Orleans, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Colorado, Arizona, and the Northwestern states.

Brad Parsons is available for booking through Eric Schwieterman, eric.schwieterman@yahoo.com, and for media inquiries through Stephanie Wells-Gray, swellsgray@gmail.com.

Music, video and photos of Brad Parsons are at:

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Thursday – Anecdotal Evidence: A Storytelling Series

This Thursday evening I’ll do my first storytelling piece with Anecdotal Evidence in Vancouver, WA. I’ve been impressed with the group’s talent, humor and remarkable sense of community, and am excited to work with them. This month’s theme is “Be True to Your School” and I’ll be sharing a story about my bewilderment with teens and their text messengering. (Which is ironic, since I’ve spent all weekend getting to know my smart phone.)

Here are the details for this month’s show. Typically, the larger the audience, the more animated the storyteller. So we’ll see you there!

The BellBoys’ Fall 2010 Debut: “I’ll Be Here All Night”

I’ve written many a press release in my day, but it’s rare that I am THIS PROUD to announce someone else’s project. Here’s all you need to know about The BellBoys’ first full-length album! And here is a video to give you a sense of the bros’ glorious harmonizin’-to-acoustic-guitar-in-a-van vibe.

Praise for The BellBoys and I’ll Be Here All Night:

“These are new songs but they sound like standards, like songs you’ve been hearing all your life. … The record really captures them just the way I experienced them (busking) on the street. It’s not polished to the point where it loses the raw emotion. … They’re not going to be a secret for very long.” — Phonte, The Foreign Exchange, Raleigh, NC

“The most talented, soulful bunch of songwriters I’ve ever heard.” — Gavin Soens, Hives Inquiry Squad, Portland, OR

“I had the privilege of mixing The BellBoys’ new album and was blown away by their raw energy, earthy sound and stellar vocals. You have to hear these guys sing! Three-part harmonies and catchy melodies that simply reach for your soul. Watch out for this band!” Erick Jaskowiak, Nashville, TN

This fall the Portland, Ore.-based quintet The BellBoys are releasing their debut album, I’ll Be Here All Night. The album showcases The BellBoys’ Americana folk-rock sound with shreddin’ guitar work and passionate three-part male harmonies. The independently released album is available for “pay-what-you-want” digital downloads as of Sept. 7, 2010, and in CD form as late fall of 2010, both through thebellboyspdx.bandcamp.com.

I’ll Be Here All Night offers eleven original songs by The BellBoys’ own Jay Cobb Anderson, Brad Parsons and Mike Winter, whose lyrics explore life with gritty honesty. That trio’s tight, grizzly harmonies and classic, yet tasteful, guitar leads are supported by Keith Simon on upright bass and Tyler Thompson on drums with backup vocals.

As a testament to The BellBoys’ spot-on performance abilities, the band recorded all tracks for I’ll Be Here All Night in just two days. The album was recorded by Matt Stegner at Blackout Studios in Seattle, and was mixed and mastered by Erick Jaskowiak, a Nashville-based engineer, mixer and producer for multiple Grammy-nominated artists.  Already, fans are fawning over the infectious groove of “Somethin’ In My Mind,” the twangy tension of “Caroline,” the loyal lyrics of “Terrorized” and the billowing swagger of “All My Love.” The band also released a self-titled EP in 2009 while busking in rain, sunshine and snow in Portland.

Riding the five-pronged wave of raw energy that its members produce, the band’s recorded sound is as pleasing as its live performances. In little more than a year, The BellBoys have drawn crowds at venues including Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge and Mt. Tabor Theater, Oregon’s Mountain Stomp Festival, and Boise’s Knitting Factory while touring throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and California. The group has also shared the stage and collaborated with The Clumsy Lovers, Four on the Floor, The Shook Twins, Baby Gramps, The Villains, Fruition, Flomotion and Taarka.

The BellBoys are available for booking by writing to thebellboyspdx@gmail.com. For press inquiries, contact Kat Bataillon at 503-477-3521 or kmbataillon@aol.com. Music, video and photos of The BellBoys are at www.myspace.com/thebellboyspdx, www.facebook.com/thebellboyspdx, and youtube.com/thebellboyspdx.

Classroom Publishing: “Life of Youth” on video

Today I’ve contributed my first story to the Classroom Publishing blog of Ooligan Press at Portland State University. While it’s easy to think of classroom publishing as a process that’s stuck on paper, we at the CP blog like to think of it as an empowering creative process that allows students to put their voice out in a form that generates feedback. This could be a chapbook, a literary magazine, a newspaper, or a podcast, a blog, or a video, or any number of things.

In the case of 14 youth working with Outside In (a Portland non-profit that helps homeless youth move toward health and self-sufficiency), classroom publishing has taken the form of a 90-minute video series, which premieres Aug. 31 inside the Portland Art Museum. The 10 videos address teen sexual health with creativity and without scare tactics. I am proud to even have the small role of helping announce the project, but the filmmakers and their project partners are even prouder. Here’s the story!

Tiny tot channels Billy Collins

I’m not sure what is more enchanting — precocious pre-K kids or Billy Collins’ poetry. And now, just to blow my mind, the internet has bestowed upon us this video of a three-year-old boy reciting “Litany” by Billy Collins. I could watch this over and over. The words are so crisp and beautiful, and the way the child recites them is mesmerizing. Props to whoever gave birth to and raised this child! Oh yeah, and everyone should read Billy Collins’ poems. Every day.

“Litany” by Billy Collins
You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman’s tea cup.
But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and–somehow–the wine.

Mortified Portland on KGW

Can I get a whut-whut for Mortified? Last night our readings got the Portland chapter‘s first-ever standing ovation and we got a live spot on Portland’s KGW TV news.

I’m not sure which of those milestones I’m more proud of, but I do know that this collection of Mortified stories is one of my all-time favorites, and I can’t wait to see our packed-out house tonight.

Here is the KGW video clip, which includes Susan Danehy, Jennifer Coughlin and myself. (The Liz Lemon reference is from my joke that I thought I’d grow up to be Mother Teresa but turned out more like the 30 Rock character. Appropriately awkward!)

Favorite Snapshop Moments of the Night:

  • Signing a Mortified alum’s ankle cast with quotes from the show.
  • Melissa Ooms‘ Biblical language-laden reading made me laugh so hard that I used my inhaler twice.
  • The sense of victory that comes after sharing the worst parts of your adolescence with a crowd of strangers.
  • The realization that our worst teenage moments are an essential part of our lives’ narratives. Even when they’re really bad. Like, Screech-from-Saved-by-the-Bell bad.

Watch me get Mortified (and simulate a car accident)

This week I’m giving my second comedy reading with Mortified Portland, this time using excerpts from my high school journal. Tickets are going fast, so click here to reserve your spot.

As a sneak preview, here’s an excerpt from a journal entry I wrote (to God) during my senior year of high school. It gives a detailed recap of the Sober Graduation presentation I acted in with my friends from the high school drama club. We simulated a car accident, complete with gory make-up, a helicopter and an appearance on KLEW-TV. It’s actually one of my favorite pieces, but it was too long to use in its entirety for this week’s reading. Enjoy it if you can.

Friday, May 22, 1998

Dear God,

A week from now, I will graduate!!!

This has been quite an action-packed week. The Sober Grad presentation went pretty well. Our roles were like this:

Charles was the driver of the car that rolled several times. He had very few, minor injuries. He played his part well — kind of belligerent but really scared of the situation. I was a passenger in the back seat of Charles’ car and was thrown from the vehicle as it rolled. I had a huge, gory (plastic) leg wound and fake blood all over me.

I also had internal bleeding near my brain, and was disoriented. It was kind of hard to play this part — very much in pain, very confused and disoriented — when my body and brain felt completely normal. I used hyperventilation to make myself feel somewhat pained, and just tried my best to think about how horrible the scene really was, and let it out in many blood-curdling screams.

Cameron was also a passenger of Charles’ car and had a broken arm and was bleeding profusely due to head wounds. He and Amber were stuck under the rolled car. Amber was supposed to be in critical condition, and was taken away by a paramedic helicoptor. (Yes, we had a real helicoptor!)

Daniel was the driver of the other car, that crashed into a phone pole. He was dead at the steering wheel. Jamie was lying dead, and blood-streaked on the contorted hood of the car after flying through the windshield.

Jamie did a really good job being lifeless, but it was hard for her. Afterward she just cried and cried and kept thinking about “the horror.” She realized she was taking it so hard because, unlike the rest of us, she couldn’t scream or cry in the middle of this situation.

Kami played the innocent bystander (is there such thing as a guilty bystander?) and did a great job being hysterical while trying to help us out. She kept saying things like, “Chair, you’ll be OK,” or “Jamie, you’ll be OK, just wake up. Why won’t you wake up?” This was really hard on Jamie, to hear Kami ask her so painfully to “wake up.”

The other passengers of Daniel’s car were Ben and Tamara. Tammy had a pinched spine and would have been paralyzed if the situation were real. She was stuck in the car for so long, she said she really did think she would be paralyzed. Ben had a fractured leg and pelvis. His screaming was awful (in a good way).

All this made me think about how fortunate I was that all of it was over in a few hours — that it didn’t have permanent effects like it could. Jamie, Daniel and I are planning to wear our blood-spattered shirts to the Grad Party, as a reminder to people before they go out on the road.

[NOTE: I totally didn’t do that.]

Other highlights of this week included the Awards Concert that the school had in the park.