Review of Wannabe by Taylor Kingman

by Taylor Kingman
(2017, Mama Bird)


“I wannabe strong. That time I proved I was right, I was wrong.”

I love records where the artist opens up and shares everything they have. For some songwriters (John Moreland, Willy Tea Taylor, Micah Schnabel), it just comes naturally and they do it all the time. Others (Jason Isbell, BJ Barham) share it from a period in their life when there is growth. Taylor Kingman is among the latter, and it’s evident on his solo debut, “Wannabe.”

I first met Taylor at the 2013 Wildwood MusicFest & Campout as lead singer of The Hill Dogs and, I must be honest here, I was not impressed. A late start to his showcase set and a missed slot at the Sunday morning review showed me a kid still trying to figure things out while having the time of his life. Soon afterward he was spending a lot more time here in Portland and a few friends who also saw the Wildwood performance said I should get to know him better and see him for the talented, good-natured kid that he is.

Getting to know more about Taylor the person, I discovered a kind spirit with a big smile who truly loves music. We had him and The Hill Dogs on the podcast (see Episode #72) and I could tell immediately he had figured stuff out. He launched an open mic on Sundays at The Laurelthirst Pub, challenging all comers with a new songwriting theme each week. He started hanging and playing with the regular musicians there as well. This is where we have seen him shedding his old skin for new. His songwriting is amazing and has matured so much. We all witnessed a rebirth at Wildwood 2016. The Hill Dogs were perfect and blew everyone away.

Now Taylor has made an honest and truly great solo record.

“I wannabe forgiven for everything I knew. I wannabe true.”

To purchase a CD, cassette or digital download of “Wannabe” by Taylor Kingman, visit his page at the Mama Bird Recording Co. website. Taylor will be performing songs from “Wannabe” and also playing with his band TK and The Holy Know Nothings on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at Mississippi Studios.

Listen to “Wannabe” on Spotify, courtesy of Mama Bird Recording Co.:

Episode #71 featuring Birger Olsen


The Quiet Man: Birger Olsen. Photo courtesy of Mama Bird Recording Co.

Stream or download Episode #71:   Episode 71 w/ Birger Olsen

They don’t make ’em like they used to. Truer words were never spoken, or in this case sung by Birger Olsen, the quiet and steady guitarist from the band Denver who explores his smokey blues side on a new six-song solo record, “The Lights Just Buzz.”

Birger stopped by The Helm to share some stories and songs and promote the new release for Episode #71 of That Much Further West Podcast.

Listening the new record, it’s easy to understand why it’s creating such a strong early buzz in the Americana scene. Birger taps into a mysterious, bluesy vein he says has long been at the root of his musical foundation, revealing the influence that several of his musical heroes have had on his writing — artists like Taj Mahal, Lyle Lovett and Ry Cooder.


Rainier beer and smokey blues: Birger Olsen live in The Helm.

On this episode, Birger talks about his decision to record the six songs on the new release with the help of musical partner Ben Nugent, who guided the recording process and added a few special touches to help him convey a sort of nightclub vibe — a music noir if you will — that oozes from the record. He also speaks of his musical upbringing and how he first got into playing country music only after arriving in Portland, and how he formed Denver with a few of his musical pals in his adopted hometown.

Birger also shares of a couple of gem-like live solo acoustic performances from the new record: the title cut, and another called “Slow Bone.”

On June 30, Birger will be celebrating his record release with a show at Mississippi Studios in Portland along with Kele Goodwin and the rest of Denver. To pre-order “The Lights Just Buzz,” due in stores later this week, visit the dedicated Mama Bird Recording Co. page. Also, watch for Birger at the annual Americana Music Association festival in Nashville in September.

In the meantime, dial up the podcast and give it a spin! Here’s the playlist for Episode #71:

The Lights Just Buzz, Birger Olsen
You Look As Sweet (Live In The Helm), Birger Olsen
Sweet Mama Janisse, Taj Mahal
God Will, Lyle Lovett
Tattler, Ry Cooder
Bird In The Morning Dew, Denver
Sammyville, Denver
Rabbit Dancing, Denver
Slow Bone (Live In The Helm), Birger Olsen
Hummin’, Birger Olsen

Episode #51 featuring Barna Howard


Barna Howard, back to the garden. Portrait by Christopher Sohler (

Episode #51 featuring Barna Howard

We’ve been blessed in the first half of 2015 to have had a bevy of uber-talented folks as podcast guests in The Helm, and we’ve done it again for Episode #51 with Barna Howard, a world-class young folkie based right here in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.

Barna has an excellent new record out that we’ve been playing on the show, and he just returned from a European tour in advance of its release. Now he’s gearing up for a local record-release show on July 1 at Mississippi Studios.


Barna Howard with his trusty Martin, live in The Helm. Photo by Christopher Sohler

In our interview, we learn a bit about Barna’s upbringing in small-town Missouri and adventures in big cities such as Chicago and Boston that led him to settle out west. He also speaks of his musical influences — artists such as Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark — which make sense when you hear him perform live in The Helm. He shares a pair of tunes from the new record, the title track “Quite A Feelin’ ” and “Then And There.”

We added in a few more songs from Barna’s new record to help listeners get a feel for how strong it is. Be sure to go to to learn more and to pick up a copy of “Quite A Feelin’.”

Our playlist for Episode #51 also features amazing new music from a bevy of talented artists with whom we are just becoming familiar, including Sam Outlaw, Some Train Yard, Sammy Brue and big batch from folks slated to play at next month’s Wildwood MusicFest and Campout, Oregon’s best little summer music festival.

We were sure to include a few songs from some our longtime favorites, including Whitey Morgan and The 78s, Denver and the lead track from the kickass new EP from The Swearengens, which starts off the show.

So have at it folks! Here’s the playlist:

American Woman (Take My Freedom Away), The Swearengens
Jesus Take The Wheel (And Drive Me To A Bar), Sam Outlaw
Distant Lands, Wild Rabbit
Quite A Feelin’ (Live In The Helm), Barna Howard
Then and There (Live In The Helm), Barna Howard
Notches On A Frame, Barna Howard
Indiana Rose, Barna Howard
Truckstop Amphetamines, J.P. Harris and the Tough Choices
If I Killed Her, Some Train Yard
It Ain’t Easy, Nathan Kalish
Rowdy Love, Denver
Waitin’ ‘Round To Die, Whitey Morgan and The 78s
Jealous, Sammy Brue
San Andreas’ Fault, The Earnest Lovers
Let The Waters Ride, The Holy Ghost Electric Show
Waiting For Some Drunk, Big Harp