TMFWP Special: Fifth Anniversary Podcast Picks

An idea comes to life: Eric Kotila (left) and Mike Lee launched That Much Further West Podcast five years ago as a live internet radio show, broadcast from the Hawthorne Theater Lounge in Portland.

Stream or download Fifth Anniversary Podcast Picks: 5th Anniversary Podcast Picks

It began as a simple idea: a couple of burly, bearded buddies sharing their love of rock, punk and country music with friends and other folks far and wide. What Eric Kotila and Mike Lee launched five years ago as a live internet radio show has evolved into what we today call That Much Further West Podcast.

Much has changed over that time. The show is no longer broadcast live from a public place — instead, it has been taped for the last three-plus years in the comfy confines of The Helm, our subterranean lair in North Portland. We also have a dedicated website
(where you are right now) that serves as a hub for episodes, playlists, specials and reviews. And the team has added Phil Favorite as a co-host and producer and Anne Marie as photographer to help bolster our efforts to produce quality, original content.

The boys, live from The Helm (left to right): Mike Lee, Eric Kotila and Phil Favorite. Photo by Anne Marie for Local Hero Media (www.localheromedia.com)

Despite the many changes, mostly for the better, the spirit of the show remains the same. We’re here to turn you on to the music that we love and also the music of the amazingly talented guests we’ve had on the show for the last five years.

To celebrate, we’ve compiled a collection of tunes that represents the tip of the iceberg of what we’ve been listening to and sharing with you over the past five years, and hope to continue to share going forward.

We owe a deep debt of gratitude to the many artists who have volunteered their time and energy to be guests on the show. By one count we’ve had as many as six members of the Oregon Music Hall of Fame visit and perform in The Helm, and that’s just scratching the surface. Rising national stars such as John Moreland and Aaron Lee Tasjan also have stopped by as we’ve compiled more than 80 episodes live from The Helm.

We’re also indebted to the many friends whose interest, enthusiasm and support have fueled our efforts. Special props to Christopher Sohler for his rock-solid stint as our contributing photographer, and to Mary Atwood for her behind-the-scenes, “hostess with the mostest” contributions.

We also can’t thank enough our sponsors — Secret Aardvark Trading Co. and Cloud City Gardens — for their above-and-beyond generosity in making each podcast taping a special treat for our guests.

And last but far from least, a special thank you to Jean Kotila and Ruby Kotila for welcoming us into their home on podcast nights and putting up with our shenanigans. We greatly appreciate it.

So there you have it. A big thank you to you all. And if you’re still wondering what all this is about, just push the play button above. You’ll hear the following:

30 Days, Root Jack
1964, Hearts Of Oak
Tears Don’t Matter Much, Lucero
Right Time, Nikki Lane
Life Is Beautiful, Willy Tea Taylor
Humble Narrator, Two Cow Garage
Dog Bumped, Tim Barry
Midwestern Guys, Lydia Loveless
With Love From Brushy Mountain, Matt Woods
Captain And Tennille, Drunken Prayer
Anchor’s The Way, The Calamity Cubes
Shoulda Known Better, Possessed By Paul James
Whole Damn Bottle, Copper & Coal
The Travelin’ Kind, Tom VandenAvond
Beautiful, Fernando
Ain’t Going To The Bar Tonight, American Aquarium
Deep Red Bells, Neko Case
Better Days, The Harmed Brothers
Somebody Loves You, Austin Lucas
Fire Away, Chris Stapleton
Hurtin’ On The Bottle, Margo Price
Keep It Between The Lines, Sturgill Simpson
Always On The Ride, Richmond Fontaine
Elephant, Jason Isbell

Right at home: Goon squad and co-hosts, protecting the booze at The Helm.

TMFWP Special: Live From The Helm, Vol. 3

Mamma Coal celebrated the release of her widely anticipated album “Raven Haired Vixen” with a visit to The Helm. That’s 2016 Oregon Music Hall of Fame inductee Paul Brainard riding shotgun. Photo by Anne Marie for Local Hero Media (www.localheromedia.com).

Stream or download Live From The Helm, Vol. 3:  Live From The Helm Vol. 3

There were a lot of things about 2016 we’d like to forget — it was a year of staggering losses for both the music world and the great wide world in general. Still, our team at That Much Further West Podcast had much to be thankful for, namely the incredible roster of guests we hosted at The Helm for podcast episodes this year.

From start to finish, this year marked a great leap forward for the podcast. The team decided to narrow the focus, dedicating the entirety of each episode to our individual guests. That way we learned more about their histories, their influences, their hopes and dreams and their immediate plans for the future. All celebrated remarkable successes this year and we were happy to promote their fine work and proud to host them in our subterranean home in Portland — The Helm!

Nick Foltz of Lowlight added his usual heavy dose of cool to The Helm scene in 2016. Photo by Anne Marie for Local Hero Media (www.localheromedia.com).

We were pleased to rope in some more out-of-towners this year, including Seattle’s Evening Bell and national acts John Moreland and Aaron Lee Tasjan. We also were thrilled to highlight the great work being down by local longtime friends like Mamma Coal, Nick Foltz of Lowlight and Birger Olsen. We even made some great new friends in Kory Quinn and Taylor Kingman of the Hill Dogs, and hooked up with local legends such as Willy Vlautin of Richmond Fontaine and the mighty Fernando. All were incredibly inspiring to the team.

Still, 2016 will be remembered for our many musical losses, one big electoral loss and another that’s particularly personal to our team. We said goodbye the father of our Hoot, our friend Chuck Noland, a loss that proved particularly devastating. That’s why we wrap up “Live From The Helm, Vol. 3” with a beautiful tribute to Chuck by Maria Francis and Jeff Overbo of Silver Lake 66. In a year full of tears, there wasn’t a dry eye in The Helm during that performance.

But as we reflect on the past year before turning the calendar page, enjoy this collection of songs we proudly share here with you. We’ll see you in 2017!

Here’s the playlist:

Memphis Rain, Aaron Lee Tasjan
Our Horse Barn, Kris Stuart
Ride Through The Night, Mamma Coal
Three Brothers Roll Into Town, Willy Vlautin
In The Shadow Of The Tower Of Babel, Kory Quinn
Devil’s House, Evening Bell
A Lovely Conversation, The Harmed Brothers
Life Of The Party, Stars Of Cascadia
You Look As Sweet, Birger Olsen
Mother Mountain, The Hill Dogs
Bloodlines, Lowlight
This Very Hour, McDougall
Wasted And Waiting My Saturday Night, Lewi & Anita
Late Bloomer, Matthew Lindley
True Instigator, Fernando
Walk Away, Silver Lake 66

Our podcast hosts, at home in The Helm, left to right: Mike Lee, Eric Kotila and Phil Favorite.

July Podcast Picks — Wildwood MusicFest Primer

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Matt Lorenz, the one-man band better known as The Suitcase Junket.

Stream or download July Podcast Picks: Wildwood ’16 Primer

We’re just days away from the fifth-annual Wildwood MusicFest & Campout in Willamina, OR, and the team at That Much Further West Podcast team is gearing up for another fabulous weekend of music, friends and family.

To celebrate, we’ve put together this month’s playlist to familiarize ourselves and you with the many great acts scheduled to perform at the festival. Some are longtime friends and former featured artists on the podcast, but many are bringing great new music to our ears for the first time.

On its own, the playlist makes for a terrific listen if you’re a fan of the music we regularly feature on the podcast. But if you’re lucky enough to be attending this year’s festival, we hope this playlist serves as a primer to get you psyched up for a great weekend of music at Wildwood.

So dig in, crank it up and be sure to listen right through to the end . . . from the killer one-man band The Suitcase Junket to a new song from Jessica Hernandez and The Deltas right through to the bad-ass LA-based garage rock of The Bloodhounds, there’s lots of great stuff to chew on.

So enjoy!

Here’s the playlist:

Dying Star, The Suitcase Junket
Chris Bell, M. Lockwood Porter
Cry To Sleep, Will West
River Song, Nathaniel Talbot
Schuck It, The Lowest Pair
Market of Sorrow, Grant Sabin
The Post Is Dead, Battleme
O, Jolene!, The Hooten Hallers
Don’t Take My Man To Idaho, Jessica Hernandez and The Deltas
Maria, Mo Phillips
She Keeps My Heart, We Three
Dead Man’s Hand, Root Jack
Oregon Bride, Malachi Graham
Once Before, Redwood Son
Back That Way Again, Lowlight
Ten Speed, McDougall
Belly Of The Worm, Ben Caplan
Make A Break For Home, The Tumblers
Nowhere I’d Rather Be, Blind J. Wakins
Girl, The Hill Dogs
Dig, Lenore
Makes You Man, Windus
Saint Dee, The Bloodhounds

Episode #62 featuring Kris Stuart of Root Jack

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The man who puts the root in Root Jack: Kris Stuart in The Helm. Photo by Anne Marie

Stream or download Episode #62:  Episode 62 w/ Kris Stuart

For our first episode of 2016, we feature a dear friend who’s been with us from the start, Kris Stuart of Root Jack. And who better to kick things off for a new year at That Much Further West Podcast, as we begin re-energized and refocused on the artists who make the show special.

In this episode, hosts Mike Lee and Eric Kotila put it all on Kris as he shares stories about growing up in the South and the musical journey that brought him to the Pacific Northwest. Kris talks a bit about how he picked up the guitar growing up in a house full of older sisters, and also of his time writing, playing and signing with the Portland band Moonshine Hangover as well as his evolution as a songwriter and how things came together in the formation of his bluesy power trio, Root Jack.

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Kris Stuart, live in The Helm once again. Photo by Anne Marie

Kris also talks at length about a few other musical projects he’s involved with, including writing and performing with the John Brown Band and helping with the organizing of the annual Wildwood MusicFest & Campout. Along the way, we play some previously recorded music from Kris’ past and he also shares one on acoustic guitar live in The Helm.

So dial it in, lay back and groove to this first episode of 2016, and consider it the first in a series of episodes that focus on the guests who make our local and national music scene so vibrant.

TMFWP Special: Live From The Helm, Vol. 1

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Bar lights at The Helm . . . our home base in Portland, OR, USA. Photo by Christopher Sohler

Live From The Helm, Vol. 1

It’s a bar. It’s a basement. It’s a warm gathering space for friends. And it’s our home base here at That Much Further West Podcast.

The Helm, so named in honor of the great Levon Helm, is all that and so much more, for in a little over a year it has been a place for co-hosts Eric Kotila, Mike Lee and Phil Favorite to record the show and receive their guests for good times and great performances.

So to kick off 2015, we’ve gathered some of the best live performances from our first year-plus in The Helm to create this very special podcast. You’ll hear songs not only by some of our best friends but also folks we’ve come to admire for their fantastic talents and artistic integrity. The performances are raw, righteous, some a little bit flawed, but all straight from the heart and aimed at your soul.

We’re looking forward to inviting more and more great singers, songwriters and players into The Helm as 2015 continues. It’s a great way for you to get to know them better and for them to promote record releases, upcoming performances and tours. And as you’ll discover by playing this podcast, we’re blessed by an abundance of talented friends both local to Portland and Oregon but also California, Washington and across the U.S.A.

Special thanks to all the artists who took the time to support the podcast and lend their talents, and also a big thanks to the Kotila Family — Eric, his lovely wife Jean and their beautiful baby Ruby (who makes a cameo on this podcast) — for opening up their home to our wonderful community.

So here it is . . . the playlist for Live From The Helm, Vol. 1. Dig it.

Step By Step, Chris Miller and James Sasser (Miller & Sasser)
Call Your Shot, Willy Tea
Slave Boy, Ron Rogers (with Deborah Giles)
Think Too Much, Kris Stuart (of Root Jack)
Greedy, Sarah Gwen
Little Birds, Freddy Trujillo
The Road, Joel Roth (of The Low Bones, with Paul Brainard)
On Mobile Bay, Morgan Geer (of Drunken Prayer, with Christa Geer)
Just Like A Fool, Rich West Blatt
Used To It Now, Nate Wallace (of Hearts of Oak, with Ezra Meredith and J. Lever)
My Beloved, Bradford Loomis & Beth Whitney
Peaceful Release, Nick Foltz (of Lowlight)
Only Blind, Tate Peterson (of The Resolectrics)
Crowhurst, Henry Kammerer (of Hillstomp)

Episode #32: Wildwood Memories 2014

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Episode #32 — Wildwood Memories 2014

Another Wildwood Music Fest & Campout is in the books, but the hangover continues. Our podcast hosts convened in their private clubhouse, The Helm, to relive the event and tell stories alongside our pal and guest Kris Stuart from Root Jack, one of the many great performers from the festival.

Co-hosts Eric Kotila and Mike Lee and Kris share tales from the weekend — some of the best revolve around the performers like Willy Tea Taylor, Brothers Of The Last Watch and Saturday night headliner Larry And His Flask. Alas, third amigo and co-host Phil Favorite missed the festival while on vacation with his family, but he still manages to share a few tales from the road, including his interaction and interview with hot young musician Aaron Lee Tasjan that published here at the TMFWP website while he was gone.

Speaking of Mr. Tasjan, Kris tells us about playing as part of ALT’s recent week-long residency here in Portland and also tells the story about Root Jack’s eventful set at Wildwood, when the lights went out and a horse-headed dancer appeared. Then Kris shares a song from one of his cool side projects, The John Brown Band, and recaps his Sunday morning performance with the Wildwood All-Star Review doing a tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival.

With Wildwood 2014 behind us, we’re lining up guests to finish off the summer podcast season in style. You’ll also be hearing in coming weeks about the That Much Further West Podcast live showcase called “Further West Fest” scheduled for September 19 at Dante’s here in Portland.

But for now, crank up our Wildwood recap episode. Here’s the playlist. Enjoy.

Frank T. James, Brothers Of The Last Watch
Big Jim’s Guitar, Willy Tea Taylor
Stopping By, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
Don’t Walk Away, Aaron Lee Tasjan
Stingray, Jim Lauderdale
Beyond The Moon, Old Man Markley
Fine Foods Market, Tim Barry
Tell My Mother I Miss Her So, Ryan Bingham
The Mill Whistle (Live In The Helm), Kris Stuart
Wichita Skyline, Drag The River
Truckdrivin’ Neighbors Downstairs (Yellow Sweat), Beck
As Long As There Is Whskey In The World, Murder By Death
Country Boy, Johnny Cash
Nobody Gives A Damn About Songs Anymore, John Moreland

 

Episode #31 — 2014 Wildwood Music Fest preview

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Sunshine and canopies . . . it’s the Wildwood Music Fest & Campout in beautiful Willamina, OR . . . photo courtesy of our pal Chad Lanning.

Episode #31 — Wildwood preview 2014

It’s finally here . . . our favorite week of the year. If you’ve been listening to the podcast, you’ve heard our hosts going on at length about the Wildwood Music Fest & Campout, the best little music festival on the West Coast. This coming weekend, the lads are making the short trip from our home base in Portland to beautiful Willamina, OR, for the third annual Wildwood Fest, which opens this coming Friday.

This year’s event is bigger and better than ever . . . but again, not too big. The intimacy of the event is what makes Wildwood a special weekend for all involved: a great team of organizers and volunteers, the wonderful cast of talented performers and the good folks who buy the tickets, set up camp and take in the great sounds and sunshine.

Our That Much Further West Podcast hosts will serve as MCs for the event and also will be gathering interviews and private performances throughout the weekend to share with you on later podcasts. As usual, this year’s musical lineup includes not only some of our best friends and favorite local artists, but a bevy of great new national acts that we’re looking forward to seeing and learning more about. And the guys can’t wait to see you there!

For the record, sources confirm there are still a handful of tickets available for the festival. You can buy them and also get all the important information about the festival at www.wildwoodmusicfest.com.

If you’re heading to this year’s festival, Episode #31 is a chance to familiarize yourself with a great number of the acts that will be performing. If you can’t make it, well, you have our sympathies but at least you can dig into this podcast to hear what you’ll be missing.

So have at it folks. Here’s the playlist for our Wildwood Music Fest 2014 preview.

Keep On Crowin’, The Resolectrics
The Wind, Brothers Of The Last Watch
The Illness Song, Right On John
Angelyne, Fernando
Make Me Wanna, C.W. Ayon
Victory Dance, Lone Madrone
Sara Jean, Jonathan Warren and The Billy Goats
Roll My Head Around, Otis Heat
Wall Flower, The Grizzled Mighty
15 White Horses, Hillstomp
The Travelin’ Kind, Tom VandenAvond
Midnight On A Monday, Anna Tivel
Let Me Drink Alone Tonight, Graham Lindsey
Mojave, Hymn For Her
Don’t Take My Baby Away, The Haunted Windchimes
Life Is Beautiful, Willy Tea Taylor
Westbound Rattler, Charlie Parr
Dead Man’s Hand, Root Jack
Tired Oak, Jessica Hernandez and The Deltas
Closed Doors, Larry And His Flask

 

Review of Oasis Motel by Root Jack

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Root Jack, Oasis Motel (2014, self released)

What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. Sometimes it sticks with you for the rest of your life.

Kris Stuart — leader of the rootsy Portland-based riff-rock trio Root Jack — once thought it would be a good idea to move to Las Vegas. But as he likes to tell the folks attending his live shows these days, “It turned out to be a terrible idea.”

Still, there are lessons to learn and inspiration to draw from the deep, dark side of The City of Sin. On Oasis Motel, Root Jack’s recently released sophomore CD, Stuart brilliantly mines the more troubling aspects of life in Las Vegas to deliver a set of songs full of caveats, crushed dreams, seedy characters and enough good humor to form a collection that equals or eclipses the band’s sparkling debut, In The Pines.

“Whatcha gonna do when the money’s gone?” Stuart asks in “The Rent,” a slow-burner from the new disc that features Root Jack at its whiskey-soaked best. Drummer Chris Hutton and bassist Kevin Cowan lay down a gooey groove that moves and sticks like molasses, and Hutton’s soaring harmony vocal in the chorus helps drive home that musical question like a dagger to the ribs. Stuart gives the knife an extra twist with a greasy slide guitar solo that displays his Southern rock background and prowess.

Listen to “The Rent”  The Rent by Root Jack

Stuart’s move to, brief stay and subsequent exit from Las Vegas are all at the heart of Oasis Motel, which kicks off with “Dead Man’s Hand,” a cock-sure musical parable that should be instantly recognizable to fans of the band’s first CD. “If pleasure and treasure ain’t all that you hold dear/Turn that thing around right now and just head on out of here.”

On the instrumental “The Strip,” the band lets the music do the talking with the help of a sinister organ solo by ace guest Edward Connell. Add in more killer slide work from Stuart and you have a quick, minute-fifty of Root Jack at their most funky.

Of course, you can take the boy out of the South but you can’t remove those Southern roots. On “Rise Again,” Stuart opines that Mother Nature always will have the last word even when unnatural disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe threaten a people’s heritage and way of life. “Rise Again” ranks right up there with the best songs in the Root Jack catalog so far.

Listen to “Rise Again” Rise Again by Root Jack

The message on Oasis Motel is pretty clear: greed and selfishness, they’ll only get you so far. They’ll leave you jealous, broke and alone. But “when you give all of yourself, you bring the heaven and chase the hell,” Stuart sings in “Think To Much.” (sic)

The CD wraps with a stunning interpretation of “Oooh Las Vegas,” the Gram Parsons-Rick Grech-penned classic that’s been covered many times but never quite like this. It’s the perfect end piece for a terrific CD that gives the listener a peek into the dark soul of Las Vegas while providing a thrilling, top-down joyride through the Valley of Fire.

— PHIL FAVORITE
That Much Further West Podcast

Catch Root Jack live this Friday, Feb. 28, when they perform at Secret Society in Portland as part of The Low Bones album release party, and learn more about Root Jack at their website.