LaurelThirst Public House, An Intimate Music Venue that ROCKS

LaurelThirst Public House

 The LaurelThirst Public House has been part of the Kearns Neighborhood in Portland Oregon since 1988. Prior to being a great small venue to hear bluegrass and nitty-gritty roots rock, it was “Glenn’s Blue Keg” from 1939-1960. Glenn allegedly purchased the pub from a corrupt police office who had “gangster” ties.

Sundays at The Blue Keg were open to people who were “down on their luck.” Wooden kegs were utilized back in this day and they also served as perfect bar stools. The NE corner had a small table with kegs for seats and that was the designated “locals” area of the restaurant.

Glenn's Blue Keg

Currently LaurelThirst Public House is a casual, affordable music pub that has beautifully been described as a “historical hippy dive and cozy live venue.” With multiply daily musical acts and Happy Hour always have free music from 6-8pm.  Evening music is never more than $10 at the absolute max.

LaurelThirst Public House

Arrive early to snag a booth along the wall and you’ll be sitting comfortably and pretty as the bar fills with people and the air with music. If you can’t get there early, go anyway and find a snug place in the crowd.  Even though this is a crowded bar, it’s not a rambunctious bar where people will be pushing and elbowing.

The turkey sandwich is a great choice on their menu and so it the good’ol comforting grilled cheese and tomato soup. Microbrews, ciders, wine and a full bar is available.

Street parking only

LaurelThirst Public House
(503) 232-1504
2958 NE Glisan St, Portland, OR


Kelly’s Olympian 3rd Oldest Bar in Portland

Kellys olympian 3

Kelly’s Olympian was established in 1902 and is the third oldest consistently run bar in Portland.  The name is acombination of one of the original owners, “Kelly” and Olympic Brewing Company.

During its inaugural years it was a fvorite hangout for visiting timbermen, sailors, shipworkers and locals. Story has it that there used to be several entrances to Portland’s infamous Shanghai Tunnels from inside Kelly’s Olympian. Tales have been told that Kelly’s once housed one of the most well-known card rooms in Portland and during Prohibition in the 1930’s a speakeasy. As with many of Portland’s historic buildings, supernatural sightings and experiences has also been documented here.

Located in downtown Portland, Kelly’s Olympian houses a collection of vintage motorcycles – some are suspended from the ceiling -as well as neon signs, motorcycle accessories and antique gas pumps, giving the bar a definite biker theme but people of all walks of life come to Kelly’s. Nightly, Kelly’s hosts live local bands or DJ spun music. The vibe is casual and friendly and the drinks are inexpensive and stiff.

Kelly’S Olympian
426 SW Washington St, Portland, OR
(503) 228-3669
Kellys Olympian
Kellys Olympian

Wonder Ballroom, An Intimate Music Venue in Portland

Wonder Ballroom

Located in NE Portland, the Wonder Ballroom is a “wonder-ful” venue to hear music. For many acts just starting out on world city tours this venue plays their host. I actually saw Lady Gaga perform here on St. Patrick’s Day about 6 years ago. At that time I had no clue about her “little monsters” and in this small venue it was quite obvious that we were outnumbered.

The Wonder Ballroom was built in 1914 by The Ancient Order of Hibernians, a group committed to immigration reform, civil rights for those of Irish descent and the preservation of the old Irish culture. By the late 30’s the Hibernian order dwindled and the building was turned over to the Catholic Church and became the hub for operating their Catholic Youth Organization. Sporting Event were held here and The Portland Boxing School also used this facility.

From the late 30’s to the mid-50’s the building was owned and operated by The American Legion Navy, Post 101 and was highly utilized during WWI. A community center and daycare facility filled the space from 1956-2000.

In 2002 the building shut down due to the deterioration and lack of improvement funds. In 2004 the building was purchased and renovation started on what is today known as the Wonder Ballroom. And then in 2006 the building was proudly placed on the National Register of Historic Places, in recognition of its historic and architectural significance.

The venue is small but not small as in closet. And the size is what makes the venue such a great place to hear bands. Downstairs is standing room only and if you prefer a seat get their as early as possible and race to the balcony to claim a theater seat. Each level has a bar and each bar will have a line. Before the show eat next door at Toro Bravo or Secret Society or Russell Street BBQ. After the show grab a bite & another drink downstairs below the Wonder Ballroom [insert revolving door of restaurant names] and rehash the best parts of the concert.

It’s all street parking and a residential area so expect to walk a bit of a distance and keep the noise down to a dull roar.

Wonder Ballroom
(503) 284-8686 
128 NE Russell St, Portland, OR


Portland Spirit Radical 80’s Cruise!


Photo Jun 14, 11 08 10 PM

You’ll want to add this to your list of fun weekend activities to schedule.

I’m not sure why  it’s taken me 12 years to board the Portland Spirit but it has – this past Saturday I boarded the Portland Spirit at 10:45pm for the Radical 80’s Dance Cruise that sets sails at 11pm.  11pm, yup that’s the time it starts, which even for me I thought: if I wait that late to start my night I’d likely bag it and opt to put my pj’s on and catch up on Game of Thrones with a bottle of wine and a cross-bow hidden under my bed to protect me from all the crazy shit my imagination would throw at me after watching a few episodes; or if I started mPhoto Jun 14, 10 30 56 PMy night early and board the boat at 10:45pm,I’d be having too much fun elsewhere and likely not make the boarding time. And an 11pm swim in the Willamette has never been on my bucket list, so my 12 year streak might continue even longer.

Surprisingly neither happened and it worked out quite well, we met up at the the hotel bar, Bottle + Kitchen at the Hotel Rose, which is the perfect walking distance to the Portland Spirit. Another bonus of heading out later in the evening is, street parking is free, and along NATIO Parkway it’s pretty easy to find an open spot.

So after eating some yummy truffle fries and a bottle of wine, it was 10:45pm, and we walked over to the Portland Spirit to board. The security screening was well organized and moved swiftly, we were on board within 10 minutes.

Photo Jun 14, 10 42 25 PM

The lower level of the ship has a bar,  bathrooms and the buffet, which is an optional add-on to the ticket price. I can’t comment on the food because we didn’t choose that option. The bar line moved swiftly and they had a nice selection of decent wine along with draft beers and a full bar


Dressing up is not mandatory but I’d say 80% of the ticket holders were dressed up and they were pretty creative with their 80’s attire.  On board was a Ghost Buster, “Like a Virgin” Madonna, Flashdancers, lots of neon, big hair and long mullets.  My favorite of the night was the guy who dressed like Tom Cruise from Risky Business, a dress shirt with turned up collar, tightie whities and white tube socks! AWESOME!

Photo Jun 14, 11 13 09 PMPhoto Jun 14, 11 17 14 PMPhoto Jun 14, 11 41 15 PMPhoto Jun 14, 11 23 18 PM




Don’t let all the great people watching inside distract you from taking in some of the great views of Portland’s shoreline from the outdoor decks! Just off the dance floor you can exit outdoors to a narrow space along the ship’s rails or head upstairs to the upper deck which is completely ‘open air, and also seems to be the “smokers lounge” but the space is plenty big enough to enjoy the fresh air and sights.

The music was loud, the dance floor was illuminated with beams of rainbows, polka-dots, disco ball speckles and on occasion a blanket of fog. The 2-hour Radical 80’s Cruise sails along the Willamette River under a few of our picturesque bridges, it’s a smooth ride with a hint of rocking motion so be sure to drink some water in between your trips to the bar.  Photo Jun 15, 12 09 00 AM

The Portland Spirit 80’s cruise departs every Saturday night at 11pm with a few exceptions.

Tickets are $20 or if you have a group of 6 or more it’s only $10 per person which is a great deal and finding 6 people who want to cruise up and down the Willamette River while nostalgic -can’t-help-but -sing-a-long-and-dance 80’s music plays, shouldn’t be that hard to do.

Again I’m not sure why it’s taken me 12 years to board the Portland Spirit but I know it won’t take another 12 years before I do it again. Check out their website for details on all their other excursions, like the Friday Happy Hour cruise, Sunday Brunch and sightseeing cruises.


80's throwback



MarchFourth Marching Band: Joy Now!

MarchFourth Marching Band, a Portland based music and performance group that typifies the colorful, unconventional, and curiously captivating nature of Portland and Portlanders, has just celebrated 10 years of success this past March. If you’ve never had the wildly entertaining pleasure of encountering them while out and about PDX, or worse yet never heard about them, read on. Portland Monthly wrote an excellent expose of this band, their history, their contagious joy and their national success. Check out MarchFourth’s website for tour dates around the country and mark the calendar for your opportunity to experience this one-of-a-kind marching band, at The Waterfront Blues Fest, this July 4th, at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland, Oregon.

Story: Portland Monthly Feb 2013 Aaron Scott

Images: Courtesy Joshua Timmermans and Andy Batt

MOST PORTLANDERS have encountered that instant change of mood, let’s call it an M4 moment, where you thought you were doing one thing—commuting over the Hawthorne Bridge, wandering a crowded street fair, standing outside the Schnitz—when suddenly, with the crash of drums, the ring of horns, and the holler of stilt walkers, everything changes and you’re wrapped up in a Sgt. Pepper’s Technicolor Carnival Marching Band hallucination.

There was a time in the mid-’00s when the MarchFourth Marching Band was everywhere, pulling up in its signature fire truck, playing every festival and Alberta event, winning Willamette Week’s Best Local Band, ringing the hallowed atrium of City Hall like a cymbal for former Mayor Sam Adams’s swearing-in celebration, and always leaving just before the police arrived (at least that one time it put on an unpermitted parade with Tom Green for a segment on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno).

But you’d be excused for realizing it’s been a while since you last heard their rallying cry, “Joy Now!” That’s because they’re now on the road 175 days a year, a modern coterie of merry pranksters touring music halls across the country.

Image: Andy Batt [Read more…]


I was happily invited by a good friend, Alex Steininger  from Portland based music label and Music PR Firm: In Music We Trust, to attend a private debut concert of  a two man band, Aina Haina. Dylan Magierek and Mike Ailes met eons ago while attending school in Hawaii and learned they had a common passion for music, not Hawaiian music – 80’s rock !  After graduating, these two men set off on musical career paths. Dylan started Badman Records, a Portland label that produced albums for local artists such as Starfucker and The Builders and Butchers as well as a group out of Louisville, KY – you might have heard of them before-  My Morning Jacket. Mike continued to belt out the lyrics and play guitar, making a mark for himself in the states as well as in Japan, with 2 albums.

Both Dylan and Mike are accomplished musicians with energetic and gregarious personalities. It was a pleasure speaking with them, tossing back a shot with them and rockin’ out to their sounds. Continuing to live the dream,  Aina Haina’s CD will be released February 2013 and then the boys will be hitting the road and going on tour.

Music and  mingling mixed at this event and I became acquainted with a a young, passionate music blogger, Colin Hudson. Colin writes for the blog  Bridgetown Sound – because he loves it, not for the money. Admittedly, he states, the perks are pretty awesome too.

Below read Colin’s review of Aina Haina as posted on Bridgetown Sound.    

Artist Spotlight: Aina Haina Written by: Colin Hudson

In case you were getting worried that real rock n roll, the kind that thrives on grunge, garage, and blues was flocking away from Portland, then next year has a big suprise for you. A local supergroup consisting of two awesome and accomplished musicians, Dylan Magierek and Mike Ailes will be releasing an album in February and touring during 2013. These longtime companions crossed musical paths one more time to form a power-duo that focuses on distorted guitar riffs and simple, thriving rhythms to get their point across. And their point is to rock.

Aina Haina‘s sound stems from 80s rock with a lot of influence from the garage rock revival of the early 2000’s. There are hints of the Black Keys, Van Halen, and even Neil Young throughout one of their sets. Dylan, a former bassist, lays it down on the drum set while Mike plays the guitar rhythm and lead. Impressively, they both do vocals with Mike being the primary singer and Dylan coming in with back up and harmonies.

  Both are well accomplished musicians and Dylan Magierek is best known as the founder and owner of Bad Man Records. A popular Portland label that produced albums for local greats such as Starfucker and The Builders and the Butchers. He worked, produced and did some engineering work on many of the albums on the Bad Man label. Bad Man Records also produced albums for a little band out of Louisville, KY, My Morning Jacket. That being said, Aina Haina are no rookies to the industry, they know that things need to rock in order to work.

And not only do they play thrashing, party music but they also bring a party. Both guys love to connect with the audience throughout their show. I was lucky enough to attend an exclusive show at Devil’s Point last Thursday to see a set of their performance and get a preview of what was to come of Aina Haina. Before the concert they walked around, bought everyone drinks and food, and shot the shit with all the attendedees. And during the middle of their set, Mike claimed that they like to do a shot with everyone at their shows. So we all walked back to the bar where there was about 30 shots lined up and we all threw one back for this amazing band.

The show featured all the sounds i mentioned above, but was even more impressive to hear live. The timing and transitions were right in line and you could feel the energy of the songs shift from riff to riff. It’s also sweet to see two guys pack the same amount of punch as if they were a five piece. Dylan and Mike claim that they just didn’t want to work with someone else’s schedule. It just so happens that performing as a duo works really, really well.

Their album is set to release in February 2013 so do not miss out on hearing and seeing one of Portland’s premier bands.


80’s Video Dance Party At The Crystal Ballroom

The Crystal Ballroom

Even if you didn’t grow up in the 80’s most can appreciate the music of the 80’s. The new wave/pop-rock songs that filled the charts and made everyone want to dance, wear headbands and go to great lengths to achieve hair that was 4 x’s the size of our heads. The guitar, punk-pop sounds of Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders; Duran Duran- the boy band that was as much a fashion trendsetter as a chart topper; Culture Club – Boy George the androgynous cross-dresser who’s love of  hats and dredge locks first caught our attention then won us over with his smooth and easily likable voice; Billy Idol -a leader in the British punk-pop phenomenon; The Go-Go’s- one of the first all female successful groups. Such a iconic era in music and also pushed the envelope in regards to social norms. Last Friday night, at The Crystal Ballroom, I was reminded how fun and transcendent this musical era was. People of all ages, beginning at age 21, were singing along, wearing leotards, leg warmers, shirts that loosely hung off one shoulder, MC Hammer pants! dancing and bouncing on the “floating” dance floor and having a sweaty good time till 2am!

I happened to capture a picture from the balcony that night when the lighting was just right. As I looked at it the next day I was in awe at seeing the massive crowd that was gathered on the main floor of The Crystal Ballroom. When I look at this picture I can feel the energy of that crowd, it is an energy of lightheartedness and happiness, easiness and relaxation.

The Crystal Ballroom hosts 80’s video dance nights every Friday night. If you’ve never gone before, gather a group of friends or just your bestie and go! It’s a great way to dance away the stress of your week and to kick-off your weekend with a flash from this fun past! Another great reason to head down to The Crystal Ballroom is to experience the dance floor that is floating atop ball-bearings, giving you the feeling of  “dancing on the clouds.”

The Crystal Ballroom has a past that is rich with historical significance. It’s listed on The National Register of Historical Places. To learn more about it’s history, read this article from McMenamins website.

Still Grooving After All These Years

The Crystal Ballroom enjoys national recognition for a reason. No local venue, and indeed few in the nation, can challenge this elegant ballroom’s 90 years as a premier place to hear live music, dance and have memorable experiences. The hall has seen countless first loves unfold, police raids, visits by silent screen idols and Beat poets, psychedelic light shows, narrow escapes from fire, demolition, and neglect, and a listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it is a vital, thriving McMenamins owned and operated live music palace that hosts everything from rock ‘n’ roll and country, to hip-hop and big band swing. [Read more…]

Listen Local Portland

Listen Local Video with Loch Lomond

I’m thrilled with the music scene here in Portland. It seems every time I go to hear a local band I love, I’m introduced to yet another group that I want on my playlist. I honestly don’t recall how I stumbled upon this little tidbit but I did find it exciting, really you say, and yes really I did because I thought: more local music I wonder what new gem I’ll find on this list!

I’m talking about a program the city of Portland has called: Listen Local. This program brings Portland-based musicians to the city’s telephone lines! All the music you hear while placed on-hold for a government agency are tunes created by local talent. The program was launched in July 2010 in partnership with a Portland-based sonic branding and music licensing company Rumblefish. Every 3 months a local playlist of 15 tracks are compiled by a collaborative effort of The Community Listening Panel, The Arts and Cultural staff and Rumblefish.

“From our entrepreneurs to our artists, what starts in Portland tends to be watched – and bought – around the world. Portland’s economic prosperity is being built on our innovation and our creativity. Listen Local showcases both.” — Mayor Sam Adams

The underlying goals and purpose of this program are pretty contemporary and commendable. The program is used to showcase our local talented musicians in an effort to introduce every person, local or foreign, who interacts with the city’s on-hold service, to a “positive sonic experience that gives them a sense of the city’s character and texture.” Ideally engaging locals to explore these new found sounds and bands by attending one of their shows or downloading some of their music. Foreigners will get a great taste of our hotbed of emerging talent or confirm what they’ve already heard, prompting them to download or visit the groups band site.

The Listen Local page on the city’s website has a wealth of information about joining the community listening panel, how the songs are selected, how to get your music into the catalog for consideration and contact information.

Also on the city website is a photostream on flickr named “ I saw Sam.” Pretty hilarious.

A link to kickstarter which highlights current local projects within a selected theme.

Listen Local: great concept, great exposure for local musicians and way better than the typical elevator music. Portland: way better place to live, work and wile away the minutes while on hold!

Click on Listen Local to find more details and to listen to the 2012 Spring Playlist of local musicians.




Dancing with N.E.D.


N.E.D. (No Evidence of Disease)

The term N.E.D., to a cancer patient, is in essence, the gift of life.

GYN cancers are one of the largest devastating cancers to women.

Dancing with N.E.D is a truly unique band, consisting of 6 GYN oncologists, from across the country, who have come together to play a mix of original alternative rock and folk-rock songs. They have produced 2 CD’s and have toured across the country.

On March 11, 2012 they played at The Tiffany Center. Their intention, their passion, is to use music and medicine to fight for the lives of their patients and bring awareness to cancers that fall below the belt.

According to the data collected by Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, the mortality rates for ovarian cancer have not improved in 40 years since the ” War on Cancer” was declared. Other cancers have had a significant reduction in mortality rates due to heightened awareness which leads to early detection, funding for research, thus in turn- better treatment options.

Spark-Media is an award winning documentary production company that has followed these doctors/musicians and some of their patients, across the country, collecting footage, dialogue and personal insights into this doc-rocker band. The documentary will serve to capture, promote and educate our nation’s awareness on GYN cancers. The goal being to raise awareness, that would drive an increase in funding for research and ultimately the discovery of better treatment.

Dancing with N.E.D.’s music and message is fueled by John Boggess, M.D. from NC; Joanie Hope, M.D. from Alaska; Nimesh Nagarsheth, M.D. from New York; William, “Rusty” Robinson, M.D. from Louisiana, John Soper, M.D. from North Carolina; and William Winter, M.D. from Portland, Oregon.

Check out their website and help create awareness

Musical Notes: Matthew Heller


“Hey boys with your plastic love and your rubber bullets from your paper guns, aint nobody gonna make you feel famous tonight…”

Folksinger/songwriter Matthew Heller’s self-titled breakthrough album brings together a wide variety of sounds and genres including folk, indie, and grunge. If you’re listening to this album for the first time, be sure to check out my favorite tracks, “Moon Below,” “Girl Into A Rose,” and “Every Note.”

This album is particularly distinct in that Heller’s vocals take on an almost chameleon-like quality, altering to fit the particular needs of each individual track. Take a listen and you’ll see what I mean. Vocals and overall sound range in style from artists like Billy Corgan, Ani DiFranco, Billy Joel, and even a hint of Red Hot Chili Peppers (“If I Could”). The album also features a mix of guitar-centered and piano-centered tracks, making this a gripping album to listen to.

The album opens with “Moon Below,” one of my favorite tracks. Heller’s vocals on this track remind me of Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins. The next track, “Snake Bite,” takes on a very different style, adopting a sound reminiscent of singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco, exemplifying Heller’s vocal prowess and adaptability. Be sure to pay attention to the lyrics on this album. “Another Nightmare” is a Billy Joel- like song that lends itself to demonstrating Heller’s skill as a storyteller, sung over a beautiful piano ballad. “Girl Into a Rose,” is another track with memorable lyrics, “I’ve been on this road for so long I can’t remember my name… and I’ve been playing you for so long I can’t remember the game…”

Overall this is a very solid first album, impressive in composition and performance. I’m excited to see what else Matthew Heller comes up with. Check out Matthew Heller’s bandcamp page for a FREE DOWNLOAD of this album!

Music reviews courtesy of Celia Hassan and That Groove Machine.