Stream or download TMFWP Special:
Portland Country Underground — An Appreciation: PCU Podcast Special
By PHIL FAVORITE
For That Much Furhter West Podcast
Since forming about five years ago as a Monday night happy hour band at the Laurelthirst Public House, Portland Country Underground, or PCU as they are known, has had a handful of individual lineup changes. But in terms of talent, the band has been a model of consistency, providing their fun-loving fans with songs from a catalog that spans the history of Americana music and often dips into the obscure and inspirational.
The current PCU lineup features longtime members Darrin Craig on rhythm guitar, Lewi Longmire on lead guitar, David Lipkind on harmonica, Dave Reisch on bass and relative newcomers Ben Nugent on drums and Jason Montgomery on pedal steel and lap steel guitar. All are respected veterans of the Portland music scene, and Reisch provides a direct link to Portland’s past — he was a member of the Holy Modal Rounders, plays with trippy-hippy veterans the Freak Mountain Ramblers, and when singing with PCU leads the band through a few songs made famous by fellow Portland alt-country and folk pioneers such as Jeffrey Frederick.
Kansas-born W.C. Beck was an original member of PCU and added a healthy dose of Midwest authenticity to the act, which you can hear on his song “Poor Man.” Like a few other former members of the band, he has since moved away from Portland but usually sits in with PCU when he returns here for visits. His cousin Darrin Craig, another Kansan, keeps that Midwestern vibe in tact, which you can hear when he sings “Pray For Rain.”
That song features some supernatural harmonica playing by David Lipkind, who occasionally takes lead vocal duties and is always at the ready to add some sweet harmonies or drop an insane harp solo when called on by the band’s live traffic cop, Lewi Longmire. When he’s not ripping a hot guitar solo of his own, Longmire is calling the shots, passing out solos between Lipkind and Montgomery or taking lead singing duties on songs by artists as varied as Mel Tillis, Ronnie Lane and Jimbo Mathis. He occasionally adds an original tune to the mix, such as the one we share here, “Baby, Would You Take Me Home.”
Needless to say, we’re huge fans and admirers of PCU, who sit at the top of sweet list of top-notch alt-country happy hour bands that we’re privileged to enjoy here in Portland.
You can catch Portland Country Underground for free on the first, second, fourth Monday of every month from 6 to 8 p.m. at Laurelthirst Public House. If you do, be sure to tip the band and your bartenders.
A special podcast thank you to our pal and local recording guru Greg Fuller for providing us with these wonderful sound files. Feel free to stream or download the individual tracks from this special edition of the podcast.
Stream or Download “Poor Man” here: Poor Man
Stream or download “Pray For Rain” here: Pray For Rain
Stream or download “Baby, Would You Take Me Home?” here: Baby, Would You Take Me Home?