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 (

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 (

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.

Episode #65 featuring Willy Vlautin of Richmond Fontaine

Willy Vlautin-5

Willy Vlautin of Richmond Fontaine making himself at home in The Helm. Photo by Anne Marie for Local Hero Media.

Stream or download Episode #65: Episode 65 w/ Willy Vlautin

For 20 years, Richmond Fontaine has been the vanguard for Portland’s alt-country scene, earning worldwide acclaim for their dramatic, steel-infused Western soundscapes and the one-of-kind storytelling of singer Willy Vlautin. That’s why we are thrilled to share this interview and performance by Mr. Vlautin, recorded at our home base, The Helm.

Now entering the last chapter of their fantastic run, RF has just released their final album, “You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing To Go Back To,” available now on Fluff & Gravy Records. On this episode of That Much Further West Podcast, Willy shares a few solo performances of songs from the new record as well as some thoughts on the end of the Richmond run and the impact the band has made over the years.

Willy takes us back to his roots growing up in Reno, Nevada, and how he came to find great music from the Los Angeles underground during his teenage years. Asked to pick a few tunes that were influential during that period, he selected songs by Los Lobos, Tom Waits and The Pogues (this episode was taped on St. Patrick’s Day).

Willy Vlautin-4

Willy the lefty sharing a few of the instant classics from the new Richmond Fontaine record, “You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing To Go Back To.”

He also talks about the evolution of his songwriting, introducing different storytelling techniques and voices and shifting points of view to advance his richly detailed lyrical ideas. As author of four critically acclaimed novels, Willy talks about how many of his longer literary stories start as song ideas — indeed, many of the characters from his great books first show up in songs by Richmond Fontaine. Listen closely as Willy reveals the title of his next novel.

We wrap up the episode with the handful of RF classics from the body of their 10 great albums — a quick primer for what is unquestionably one of the greatest bands in Portland history (see the playlist below). Also, check out the video for one of the band’s awesome instrumentals, “El Tiradito,” from the album “Thirteen Cities,” captured at WaveLab Recording Studios in 2007.

The band will be heading to Europe this spring to promote the new record and will do some touring over the rest of the year in what appears to be Richmond Fontaine’s swan song, so be sure to pick up a copy of the new record and keep an eye out for when they roll into your town. You want to miss one last chance to see this legendary band.

Here’s the playlist from Episode #65 featuring Willy Vlautin of Richmond Fontaine:

$87 And A Guilty Conscience That Gets Worse The Longer I Go, Richmond Fontaine
Wake Up Ray (Live In The Helm), Willy Vlautin
Three Brothers Roll Into Town (Live In The Helm), Willy Vlautin
Will The Wolf Survive, Los Lobos
Shore Leave, Tom Waits
A Rainy Night In Soho, The Pogues
Don’t Skip Out On Me (Live In The Helm), Willy Vlautin
Lost In The Trees, Richmond Fontaine
The Warehouse Life, Richmond Fontaine
Give Me Time, Richmond Fontaine
Always On The Ride, Richmond Fontaine
Winner’s Casino, Richmond Fontaine
The Kid From Belmont Street, Richmond Fontaine
Through, Richmond Fontaine


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