Shifting winds brought smoke from the raging Western wildfires into the Portland area this past weekend, smuggering up the sky and blocking out our beautiful weekend stars. And while our thoughts are with the folks east of the Cascades adversely affected by the fires, we at least were able to enjoy a visit in The Helm from a few of the folks in Stars of Cascadia, a new alt-country band emerging on the Portland scene.
The Stars are led by an old friend of the podcast, Scott Jeffries, who first appeared on the show as a member of the psych-rock band Spirit Lake. He’s joined here by singer Mandy Allan and fiddle player John Nyen, who make up key elements of the full seven-piece outfit the Stars have evolved into.
During the interview, we learn how Mr. Jeffries left Spirit Lake to pursue his country muse. He formed Stars of Cascadia with a group of like-minded supporters of our local men’s professional soccer team, the Portland Timbers, and rounded out the lineup with all the necessary accouterments — telecaster, pedal steel, etc. — to bring their version of original twang to the masses.
Having played shows for more than a year now, Stars of Cascadia are picking up momentum and making big plans for recording and live playing. Here they share a couple of Scott’s original songs with Mandy and John playing prominent roles in the performance. Scott also talks about the influences that drove him toward country music, including his upbringing in California, a constant source of inspiration in his song-writing.
The interview evolves into a healthy debate about who was the best singer in The Band — Rick Danko, Levon Helm or Richard Manuel. Too bad none of these greats is alive to defend his particular legacy, though we came to the conclusion that as awe-inspiring as these singers were individually, they were all better when singing together and making those magical harmonies. Listening to the show, you’ll appreciate the harmonies laid down by Scott and Mandy, who produce a little magic of their own.
And while our hot, dry summer has brought dangerous conditions for wildfires, it also brought a wave of our favorite artists as their summer tours roared through the Pacific Northwest. On this episode we share a playlist full of music by some of the great bands and singers our hosts have had the pleasure of witnessing since the last time we gathered in The Helm, including Jason Isbell, American Aquarium, The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit and Possessed By Paul James.
We also share some new music from artists D.L. Marble, Jonathan Tyler and a track from the new solo album by Slobberbone front man Brent Best. So there’s lots to dig into for Episode #55. Have at it!
Here’s the playlist:
Daddy Was A Liar, Brent Best
Heart On A Shelf, The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit
Country Love Song, D. L. Marble
The Man I Am Today (Live In The Helm), Stars of Cascadia
Modjeska (Live In The Helm), Stars of Cascadia
Shoulda Known Better, Possessed By Paul James
Wolves, American Aquarium
This Is How We Do Things In The Country, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club
Palmetto Rose, Jason Isbell
Run-Down Neighborhood, Lindi Ortega
Hold You Like A Harness, Hip Hatchet
Riverbottom, Jonathan Tyler