Saturday, March 2, 2013

the story of the "Rain Songs" concert

Rain by Christopher Shotola-Hardt     

This painting was used on the Rain Songs poster. Christopher is also a member of Bug Toast, one of the musical acts.

The Rain Songs concert, which took place on February 24th, 2013 at the Old Church in Portland, Oregon, was a great success.

I opened the concert with a piece on cigar box guitar, Ride the Train, which includes the words: valley of sickness, valley of pain, valley of cloud, valley of rain  ride, ride the train. On my next song,  a small concert hall, which was an introduction to the music that would follow (in a small concert hall, on a rainy Sunday night), I was joined by WALKING WILLOWS double bass player Rich Hinrichsen.

Kate Davis Cohen then did a strong, soulful  version of  I Can't Stand the Rain, with Rich accompanying her on double bass (just voice and double bass- an arresting arrangement, both full and spare!). She then did a memorable, melodic take of Purple Rain with Rich on piano and Nicole Campbell on backup vocals..

Richard Moore, accompanying himself on guitar, sang two musical, witty songs from his original musical, Rain the Musical, including  What's the Point of Portland? (Without the Rain), which includes so many great lines like: Obama had to have his John McCain...  What's the Point of Portland? (Without the Rain)...  put your Prius in the past, put your head out of your ass..  What's the Point of Portland? (Without the Rain).

Seth Kinzie told us a musical story and took us inside the rain with a beautiful, meditative piano composition called  A Rain Beyond the Bird Tornado. The Old Church grand piano was in good hands with Seth.

The GREATHOUSE of Music, is a one of kind Cabaret style duo featuring Helena Greathouse on vocals and Mark Greathouse on accordion. They closed the first set with one of Mark's original compositions, Oregon Dreaming. Helena opened a suitcase in the middle of the song and took out a raincoat. As she continued singing, she put the raincoat on, opened up an umbrella, and danced across the stage. Delightful!

The second set opened with singer songwriter guitarist  Jack McMahon doing When the Rain Came Down, a piece both catchy and poetic. The song was full of many lyrical gems such as:
down in the flower beds   the flowers washed their heads   when the rain came down 

Nicole Campbell did 3 original songs, all with a theme of rain in the lyrics, and her pitch perfect voice soared over her subtle guitar accompaniment. The Old Church is a concert hall with wonderful concert hall acoustics, perfect for Nicole's voice echoing through the room on her song Hopeful Heart:  
Rain soaked window panes blur the light of day
Clouded by tears of all the things you didn’t mean to say

Bug Toast took the stage with a 6 person ensemble doing 3 intricate instrumental rain related compositions, using bouzouki guitar, accordion, fret-less electric bass, violin, guitar and percussion (and computer generated rain and storm effects on one piece). Bouzouki player Christopher introduced each composition with a poetic and instructive explanation. Bug Toast played with precision, unity and style. Befitting the community aspect of the concert, Bug Toast is made up of 2 extended families, including a husband and wife, a father, daughter, and son, and two brothers. 

The WALKING WILLOWS closed the concert with our original piece, Rain, Rain, Rain, which featured me on acoustic guitar and voice and Rich on double bass and voice. We used audience volunteers on some of my original sculptural percussion instruments (such as a big sheet of metal, a rain stick and a nail rain instrument) during the storm sequence. 

It was a great experience for me to put this Rain Songs concert together and share the rain and love with a very talented and unique cast of Portland performers. This might turn into an annual event.


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