Episode #20 featuring Miller & Sasser


Chris Miller (left) and James Sasser

Episode #20 Miller & Sasser

We invited the A-team into The Helm for our latest episode, and boy oh boy did they ever deliver.

First up was our pal Kip from Secret Aardvark Trading Company, who arrived for the start of the show with a hankerin’ thirst and a re-up of habanero sauce, the gift we share with our musical guests. As Eric says early in the show, Kip is family and it sure was a blast having him as an audience of one for this week’s show. Not only is he great company, but he shares a cool story about how he met the great country singer Emily Herring and came to play in her band, providing a terrific intro for her song “Your Mistake.”

Things just kept getting better with the arrival of Chris Miller and James Sasser, the dynamite local country duo who stopped by for an interview and live performance. Miller & Sasser came straight from their weekly happy hour gig at The Landmark Saloon here in Portland and shared some stories from their recent travels to California and Texas, as well as some history of how they met and how our own Mike Lee played an integral role in launching their partnership.

These fellas a first-rate gentlemen and performers, and one listen to their original song “Step By Step” will give you a good idea of just how good these guys are. When it comes to country singers in Portland, it just doesn’t get any better than James Sasser. And for guitar pickers, Chris Miller’s track record speaks for itself. He’s been playing for years as a sideman with some of the bigger names in alt-country (most notably with Dave Alvin) and is a member of the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. We feel super blessed to have these fine gents in The Helm and are pleased as all get out to share this special interview and performance.

Episode #20 also features some fine music from more of our favorites, including Neko Case, John Moreland, local boys Riviera and the red-hot Lydia Loveless. We also have a fantastic Trio Bravo from super listener Will Ginsler, who’s been one of the podcast’s top advocates. Thanks, Will, for the great support and also for the kick-ass three-song collection you selected.

Lots to chew on this week, so let’s get started, shall we? Here’s the playlist for Episode #20.

Stars & Gutters, Two Cow Garage
Shit Shots Count, Drive-By Truckers
Tennessee, Johnny Cash
All My Friends Are Crazy, 500 Miles To Memphis
Things That Scare Me, Neko Case
Break My Heart Sweetly, John Moreland
Hurricane, Possessed By Paul James
Trio Bravo by Will Ginsler
Satan And St. Paul, John Fulbright
For The Turnstiles, Neil Young
Cocaine and Ashes, Son Volt
Your Mistake, Emily Herring
Honky Tonkers Don’t Cry, Dale Watson
Interview with Miller & Sasser
Step By Step (Live In The Helm), Miller & Sasser
Tell It To The Jukebox (Live In The Helm), Miller & Sasser
When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You) (Live In The Helm), Miller & Sasser
Cavalier, Shovels & Rope
Little Ways, Dwight Yoakam
Hopeless, Riviera
I Hope He Breaks Your Heart, American Aquarium
Let’s Just Be Friends For Tonight, Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers
The Very Best, The Harmed Brothers
The Very Best, The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit
Cigarettes & Truckstops, Lindi Ortega
Kit Kat Clock, Bottle Rockets
Head, Lydia Loveless
Bar Lights, Root Jack

TMFWP Special: Willy Vlautin Live at Landmark Saloon


Willy Vlautin of Richmond Fontaine

When Kelly Blair Bauman invited his friend Willy Vlautin to play a set of music for Bauman’s weekly “Unhappy Hour” at the Landmark Saloon, Vlautin had never been to Portland’s “Best Little Honky Tonk.” In fact, since moving with his girlfriend to the outskirts of town, Vlautin has been mostly staying out of bars and concentrating on his burgeoning fiction-writing career, which has taken off like a rocket since the publication of his first novel, “The Motel Life,” in 2007.

So without much fanfare, Vlautin came to the tiny Landmark on Sunday, Aug. 4 of last year for a late-afternoon performance of songs new and old, many familiar to folks who been following his band, Richmond Fontaine, during its 15-year run as Portland preeminent alt-country band. This was before the release of “The Motel Life” movie — which hit theaters last fall — and before the release this year of his fourth novel, “The Free,” which has been making headlines around the globe.

Vlautin played three short sets that summer day in Southeast Portland, swapping stage time with Bauman as both played to a nearly empty room. A few of Vlautin’s friends were on hand, a few other regulars, and a couple of tables worth of chatty patrons who clearly had no interest in the music nor any clue as to what they were hearing or who was playing.

Undaunted, the easy-going Vlautin played through the clanking glassware and jibber-jabber, letting his well-worn voice and left-handed Martin acoustic tell his true-to-life tales of society’s down and out. During the first set — which Vlautin asked us not to share due to the unfinished nature of the songs — Vlautin sat with a notebook of fresh ideas at his feet and could barely get a reaction from the small crowd while strumming and singing a batch of brand-new songs.

The small crowd proved a bit more responsive during the second and third sets, which we share here. Afterwards, podcast host Phil Favorite caught up with Vlautin outside the Landmark for an interview that was featured in Episode #2. As longtime fans of both Vlautin’s fiction and the great music of Richmond Fontaine, we’re thrilled to be able to share these couple of sets in all their ragged glory. Big thanks to both Willy and Kelly for helping us make it happen.

Listen to Willy Vlautin Live at Landmark Pt. 1 Willy Vlautin at Landmark Pt. 1

Two Alone
$87 And A Guilt Conscience That Gets Worst The Longer I Go
Lost In The Trees
Unknown Song

Listen to Willy Vlautin Live at Landmark Pt. 2 Willy Vlautin at Landmark Pt. 2

Moving Back Home #1
Moving Back Home #2
“Tapped Out In Tulsa (?)”
The Boyfriends

Willy Vlautin will be promoting “The Free” with readings in the Los Angeles area on March 26 and 27, and at St. Johns Booksellers in Portland on April 10. He will also be performing at Wesley Stace’s Cabinet of Wonders at the Aladdin Theater in Portland on April 4. Learn more about Willy Vlautin’s fiction writing and music career at willyvlautin.com.

Episode #19 featuring The Evangenitals


Juli Crockett Feldman (left) and Lisa Dee of The Evangenitals. Photo by Chad Lanning. Cupcakes by Dina.

Episode #19 with Evangenitals

We survived another music-filled weekend here in Portland and are back to take you along for another podcast joyride, this week featuring Los Angeles band The Evangenitals, who rolled through Oregon on tour supporting their new record, Moby Dick (or The Album).

The band played a fantastic set headlining our That Much Further West Podcast showcase last week, and afterwards podcast host Mike Lee caught up with singers Juli Crockett Feldman and Lisa Dee for the interview. The ladies talk about their philosophy for surviving the rigors of the road, capturing new fans and what it means to be “making it” in the music business. Juli and Lisa proved as lovely and articulate as they are fun and talented, and we’re grateful they took time to speak with Mike about their music and the new record.

The Evangenitals show launched a wild weekend of rock and roll that had our fearless hosts running all over town to see some of our favorite bands. Philly grabbed the baton on Friday night and did some serious gig-hopping, catching a number of acts including Matthew Lindley at Beaterville Cafe and the CD release show by Spirit Lake at Mississippi Studios. Eric dropped in for the second of Hillstomp’s epic two-night stand at Doug Fir that included a set by local faves Root Jack.

This week’s playlist reflects a lot of what the guys witnessed this weekend and includes songs by Lindley, a brand-new tune from Hillstomp, a little bit of Root Jack and a bunch of stuff from some of our favorites, including a new song from Chuck Ragan. Also, we’d be remiss if we didn’t send a shout out to our Hoot sister from Copper & Coal, Carra Stasney, who gave birth last week to her first child, a boy named Dean Michael. Congrats Carra, and thanks for all your great music!

Here’s this week’s playlist. Enjoy the show.

Left To Right, Matthew Lindley
Don’t Come Down, Hillstomp
Non Typical, Chuck Ragan
Small Town Heart, Austin Lucas
Cardboard Hearts, Dexateens
Darken My Door, Cory Brannan
Kentucky Blue, Copper & Coal
Moby Dick, The Evangenitals
Interview with Juli and Lisa from The Evangenitals
Quee Queg, The Evangenitals
The Rent, Root Jack
Broke Down South Of Dallas, Junior Brown
Over Before It Started, The Baseboard Heaters
Southbound, Railbenders
Jesus Christ, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club
I Lie When I Drink, Dale Watson
It Ain’t Easy Being Me, Chris Knight
I Am Your Man, The Ganges River Band
Kiss The Bottle, Lucero
Gates Of Victory, McDougall

Episode #18 featuring Spirit Lake


Spirit Lake (l to r): Ray, Justin, Adam, Scotty and Travis.

Episode #18 with Spirit Lake

Big thanks to Scotty, Travis and Justin from Spirit Lake, who visited our crew in The Helm for an interview and to share some tunes from their new CD, The Biggening. The record — a big, big dose of rock — comes out this week, and to celebrate, Spirit Lake is hosting a CD release show this Friday night at Mississippi Studios in Portland.

The guys talked about Spirit Lake’s expanded lineup and how it’s reflected on the new CD, a follow up to their debut of two years ago, Uncle Walker’s Amber Restorative. Things go from blue to raunchy pretty quickly in this episode, but a lot of laughs are shared. Travis and Justin’s “Walken Off” was definitely a first for the show and one of the many highlights of this week’s episode.

Once back in control of the microphones, Mike, Eric and Phil ride it out with some pretty groovy tunes and fun banter, including a not-so-flattering assessment of Sheryl Crow and her body of work. There’s also new music from Drive-By Truckers, classics from Whiskeytown and Richmond Fontaine and a loving tribute to country flag-waver Toby Keith by the one and only Michael Dean Damron.

Thank you for dialing it in. We hope you enjoy the show. Here’s this week’s playlist:

Nobody Gives A Damn About Songs Anymore, John Moreland
Bundle Of Joy, The Swearengens
The Other Side Of OK, Drag The River
Shit And Memories, Joshua Black Wilkins
To Love Somebody, Lydia Loveless
Streets Of Baltimore, Gram Parsons
When You’re Gone, Lucero
Interview with Scotty, Travis and Justin of Spirit Lake
The Biggening, Spirit Lake
Hellbent, Spirit Lake
I Want A Love, Spirit Lake
Santa Ana Winds, Spirit Lake
Questions (You Never Ask), Spirit Lake
Primer Coat, Drive-By Truckers
Something ‘Bout You, Frizzell & Friends
Blackbird, Matthew Dean Herman
$87 and a Guilty Conscience That Gets Worse The Longer I Go, Richmond Fontaine
Either Way We’re Fucked, Hellbound Glory
Bury Me On A Rainy Day, Otis Gibbs
Stay On The Ride, Patty Griffin
16 Days, Whiskeytown
Pickin’ Up The Signal, Son Volt
Church Of Level Track, Tim Barry
Toby Keith, Michael Dean Damron
Cover Me Up, Jason Isbell


Review of Nothin’ But Blood by Scott H. Biram


Scott H. Biram, Nothin’ But Blood  (2014, Bloodshot Records)

I guess there is really no point in trying to describe the type of music played by Scott H. Biram. I have given his new album, Nothing But Blood, at least 20-plus spins in preparation to write this review and I pick up on something different every time. The “Dirty Old One Man Band” as Scott is called could just as easily be labeled the “Dirty Old One Man Musical Library” ranging from punk to blues to country to metal to gospel and straight-up, dirty rock & roll.

The new album starts with a mellow, introspective country picker, “Slow & Easy,” with lyrics that could also be dropped in to fit a more raucous, rocking framework, or with a bit of steel guitar could convey that oozy, alt-country feel.

Listen to “Slow & Easy” Slow & Easy [Explicit]

This song takes me back to a certain summer when I was a teenager and my stepfather Garry and I spent two weeks high up in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. Garry was a scrap metal guy and we got a job tearing down some old logging equipment left behind many years prior. Long days were spent cutting and tearing apart this old, rusty metal and at night we would drive up to camp above the timberline, where we would turn on the AM radio and pick up stations of all genres from as far away as Mississippi, Oklahoma and California and closer stations in Colorado. The station waves would roll in and out as the car radio scanned past each station.

Those old familiar songs from all over the dial made the nights more comfortable and the thoughts of home slip away and get lost in the thin, mountain air.

Listen to “Never Comin’ Home” Never Comin’ Home

Nothing But Blood is a definite trip throughout its 14 tracks (11 plus three bonus) and a listener might feel as if their iPod is on shuffle. It delivers The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Biram and his music. I reckon Scott is like the majority of true music fans whose tastes and influences are wide and ever evolving. I appreciate his willingness to push his boundaries and deliver new and different styles and material. I also enjoy that Nothin’ But Blood can be just as chaotic and jarring as his live performances, but also just as moving and exciting.

Every good performer and musician learns from their predecessors and contemporaries. With Nothing But Blood, Biram takes those lessons and twists them into the hot, sweaty joyride only he can deliver.

Listen to “Church Point Girls” Church Point Girls

Scott H. Biram is currently on tour with Larry and His Flask and The Whiskey Shivers and will be performing on Saturday, March 8 at the Hawthorne Theatre in Portland. For more information, check out www.scottbiram.com and be sure to pick up his new album Nothing But Blood on Bloodshot Records.

That Much Further West Podcast

Episode #17 Hijinx From The Helm


The Man In Black, Johnny Cash

Episode #17 Hijinx From The Helm

Our fearless hosts celebrated Johnny Cash’s birthday last week by convening in The Helm for another taping of the podcast and a chance to share some great music with y’all. We laughed, we cried, we drank and in the end barely made it to the finish line. But we made it, and here it is in all its ragged glory.

Listen to the show and you’ll learn about Philly’s thrifting prowess, Mike’s ability to work 19-hour shifts without the benefit of caffeine or cocaine, and Eric’s love for live sing-alongs, especially with Possessed By Paul James. But wait, there’s more! . . . some political banter (“haters gonna hate”), a conversation about who was the best singer in The Band, and a tribute to the late, great comedian Harold Ramis.

The boys have been plotting for future episodes and getting ready for our March showcase featuring The Evangenitals at Alberta Street Pub in Portland on March 13. But this week, without an interview to share or a band to feature, our fearless hosts plowed forward with a playlist that includes honky-tonk heroes, kickass country up-and-comers, great friends and rock-and-rollers from across the alt-country landscape.

So kick back, dial it in and enjoy. Here’s the playlist:

Cocaine Blues, Johnny Cash
Never Comin’ Home, Scott H Biram
We Welcome You Home, Possessed By Paul James
Life Ain’t Fair And The World Is Mean, Sturgill Simpson
Ooh Las Vegas, Root Jack
When You See Me, The Harmed Brothers
Devastate, Amanda Shires
O, Jolene!, The Hooten Hallers
The Last One To Leave Seattle, Waylon Jennings
Love Is A Long Road, Del McCoury Band
The Weight, The Band
Rasputin & Me, Scotland Barr & The Slow Drags
Wanna Be Your Mama, The Damnations TX
Ten Mile Grace, The Weight
Drink ‘Til We’re Gone, Lucero
Two More Bottles Of Wine, Emmylou Harris
Righteous, Ragged Sons, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires
Deadman’s Blues, Matt Woods
Little Drunk Fists, Slobberbone
St. Mary’s (Live), American Aquarium
Ain’t No Grave, Drunken Prayer