Pretend Sweethearts, A Simple Colony, Sam Densmore, The My Oh Mys

Pretend Sweethearts

With influences ranging from the traditional and anonymous folk songs of old to trip hop and classic rock, the Sweethearts’ blend is rich and delicious. Some fans liken them to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, others to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, while a recent reviewer said “[her] honeyed vocals and [his] smooth crooning create wonderful harmonies together, with well-crafted arrangements, and skillfull musicianship…” Popatunes, June, 2013. The two trade off on guitars, piano and pedal steel, while locking in tight harmonies reminiscent of the Jayhawks or The Civil Wars.

The dynamic duo behind Pretend Sweethearts met while studying music therapy. Though she professed dislike for him at first, the two eventually found they had some grand affinities: mystical tendencies, a love of vocal harmony, non-violence and an incurable wanderlust. After de Man broke his back falling from a great height, Brianna took sympathy on him and began carrying his guitar to class for him. The two began singing together quite by accident: one night at a party, they found themselves leading a sing-along of Beatles tunes and spent the rest of the night in a corner, singing every old folk song they could muster. Their voices blended in an easy, sweet harmony and thus began a partnership in songwriting and performing that the two treat like a personal religion.

Brianna Lynn grew up in Oregon, had an itchy foot and spent years wandering in far-flung places like Tanzania, India, Japan and Brooklyn, then brought herself home to raise her newborn daughter. With a music teacher dad and a fortune-teller for a mom, she studied voice, piano and clairvoyance while still a girl. Her first outing was an oddball combo of drums, bass, cello, guitar and keys called Dreaming in Colors, with which she released a bright collection of smart rock songs.

Drew de Man (yes, that is his real last name) is from Georgia, cut his teeth on the blues in his daddy's hometown in Arkansas. Mom insisted on guitar lessons, and introduced him to yoga and country music. From 2001-2007 de Man fronted No River City--an alt-country band that gained accolades from No Depression, Magnet and The Village Voice, as well as fond attention from Europe. Between vagabonding and playing with No River City, Drew's own wanderlust led him to Bolivia, England, Egypt and all over the continental US before depositing him in Portland.

Like gin and juice, like a razor and a boot, like lightning and the mountaintop, the uniting of powerful forces brings magic, storms and intoxication. The Sweethearts see visions and use music as medicine. The duo spent their first year together calling themselves Vagabond & Tramp, but found themselves more compelled by the ambiguous nature of their relationship. They’ve played the standard bill of dive bars and coffee shops, but take much more pride in their compassionate service work, performing for elders in retirement homes and prisoners behind bars.

A Simple Colony

A simple colony is a collaboration between singer/lyricist Michael Dodson (Portland Gay Men's Chorus) and guitarist/composer Lara Michell (the Stolen Sweets, Dirty Martini). They make quirky, moody pop rock songs with lush and layered vocals. Big influences include Lara's classical piano and guitar background, Michael's formative years as a jazz and choral singer, and a mutual love of hooky, harmony-laden pop songs. Longtime friends who met in college, their unique musical chemistry has been intriguing audiences in the Portland area since 2010.

Make It Start is their new album. Ambient keyboard sounds and electronic beats swirl into the existing musical environment of delicate guitar and rich vocal arrangements. The result is a dark, catchy musical journey: part acoustic, part electronic, counter-balanced by the occasional straight-ahead rock band approach of guitars/bass/drums, and bolstered by the strikingly angular offerings "No King for a Crown" and "The Hand You Hold".

With a lyrical approach that is alternately direct and abstract, they write about love and the struggle to keep it alive. And they write about loss and the struggle to heal from it. Songs like "Thread in the Needle" and "Pincushion Heart" come alive through vivid collages of descriptive images, while the more frank "On Your Side" and "Blood On Your Hands" are straight from the heart. "No King for a Crown" is the soundtrack to a revolution, and "The Fury Inside the Sound" probes the experiences of an autistic person. Dodson's golden tenor is the multi-tracked ribbon tying it all together.

Their collaboration began a few years ago when Lara emailed Michael several unfinished pieces of original instrumental music. Michael is a veteran singer but had not previously done any songwriting, so they were both amazed when the lyrics, melodies and harmonies started pouring out – often fully formed and arranged – from Michael's creative center. His unexpected, often dissonant harmonic choices which are rooted in his jazz and choral background had found an unexpected home alongside Lara's intricate guitar style.

A simple colony performs as an acoustic duo or as a full-band quintet, with the additions of Nancy Hess (bass, vocals), Rebecca Sanborn (keys) and Ned Failing (drums).

Sam Densmore

I’m a Portland based singer/songwriter named Sam Densmore; RIYL Wilco, Elliot Smith, Beatles, David Bowie, Neutral Milk Hotel. In summer of 2012, I released a CD and digital download of my double EP called “Ku Thar Tik - Sad Songs For A Sad World/Cat Years” to rave reviews, "Sam Densmore’s pleasant voice and smartly succinct songwriting make for a strong and impressive double whammy. Moreover, Densmore plays a mean acoustic guitar and never degenerates into mushy cliché at any point..."—Jersey Beat - Joe Wawrzyniak

In support of the album release, I performed over 140 shows in Oregon and Washington last year. My show is entertaining, professional, and appealing to a wide variety of audiences.

The My Oh Mys

The My Oh Mys are a 5-peice rock band from Portland Oregon. Formed by the unholy alliance of really short people, really tall people, one normal sized person and one REALLY hungry person and forged in the blazing fire of handfulls of gigs in front of at least a few folks we aren't directly related to, The My Oh Mys play rock music for the people with no regard to decibel level, grammar, or proper stage-attire.

The band consists of Jeff Baxter, Anders Bergstrom, Tom Nunes, Bones Caragol and Ezra Holbrook, all former or current members of some of the NW's most beloved bands (The Decemberists, Jive Talking Robots, Triclops Organ Trio, Rob Stroup & the Blame, The Minus 5, Curtis Salgado, The ForReals, Jeremy Wilson, Dr. Theopolis, Redray Frazier). We are currently preparing to release our first full length record "A Howl Against the Wind" in the spring/summer of 2013 with shows/tour dates to follow.

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Pretend Sweethearts, A Simple Colony, Sam Densmore, The My Oh Mys

Saturday, November 16 · Doors 8:45 PM / Show 9:00 PM at The Secret Society