Acoustic Music That Grooves

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Photo Shoot For Radio Stranger 

The Kelly Brightwell & Woody Moran song co-write is starting to take on a new life as a recording and performance project under the name, Radio Stranger. As previously reported a new five song EP has been recorded at Rob Stroup's 8 Ball Studio and is currently being mastered by Ed Brooks at RFI Mastering in Seattle, WA. A CD Release Show is scheduled for Saturday, April 2, 2016 at Cafe Artichoke in Portland, OR. But first... we need a photo or two. Kelly quickly rejected my idea of a selfie and brought in Miri and Darka from Mirifoto. Kelly had worked with them before and I quickly understood why she wanted them to do our photos. These two rock!

Let me just say this, we had such a great time with Miri and Darka and we can't recommend them highly enough. It was a long session, partly because we kept coming up with cool photo ideas. Kelly and I played some songs to try and capture a little of the songwriting enthusiasm we share when writing together. This is a photo while we were goofing around with a few songs. After Miri and Darka had packed up and taken off, Kelly said, "I had no idea that smiling was such hard work."

The Spiritual Side of Recording an EP 

Kelly Brightwell and I started writing songs together a little over a year ago. We get together about once a month and usually write a song each time we get together. "Okay, so what have you got?" has become our standard greeting for these sessions. So with about a dozen songs written, we decided we needed to record an EP of the best 4 or 5 co-written songs. I personally love the concept of the EP because from a spiritual side, it feels like you are always giving your best songs. There's no room for filler songs, only the best that we can offer at that moment.

Rob, Kelly, Woody at 8 Ball Studio

So we worked out the song arrangements and started recording scratch tracks of vocals & guitars over a couple of days in October with Rob Stroup at 8 Ball Studio. We brought the entire band in for a long day in November to record the songs live with no rehearsal. All of these musicians are awesome and we wanted to capture any magic that might happen between them as they played the songs. The magic was there and the songs started taking on a life of their own as we heard them develop and take shape. We are back in the studio in December to record our "keeper" vocals and we should have it mixed and mastered by early 2016. How cool is that?

These songs are unlike anything that Kelly or I might write individually. But if you like Kelly's songs or my songs, we think that you will really enjoy this EP. We can't wait to get it out there.

Woody Moran’s CD Release Show for "Sitting In Aztec Chairs" 

It is strange how adversity can help deliver the most amazing results. I had wanted to have the CD release for Sitting In Aztec Chairs at Portland’s famous acoustic venue, Café Artichoke. So I booked a date for March 2015, then I got an email that they would have to reschedule and I got pushed back to May. That was okay, the recording process was going a little slower than I had anticipated. Then I received a 2nd email that the date May date had been double booked and would I reschedule again, but the only date that fit my schedule was July 11th. Much later in the year than I wanted, but I took the date.

Then I started rounding up my band and one after the other the band members from the recording told me they already had other commitments. I called up keyboardist Dave Aston, who I had played with at several street fairs so he already knew a bunch of my songs, and he was available. I thought, well I’ll just go and do the gig with Dave. It will sound totally different than the album but that’s okay. Then my great friend Michael Henchman, who played bass on the project, phoned and told me that he would be available after all. Things were shaping up.

Then I got the word from Artichoke that the house sound engineer was not available and did I have someone that I could provide. I had worked with a wonderful sound engineer, Marty Gallagher, at the three street fairs I had played and gave him a call. Marty was could make the date.

I started looking for an opening act and again, I found that many of my musician friends already had commitments for that Saturday night or were out of town. Then I thought about inviting John Rankin to open for me. John had just returned from SxSW down in Austin, TX and had won some contest that had him opening for John Legend’s show. John told me that he was available, so I asked him if he would like to join me on stage for a couple of numbers on 2nd guitar. John said sure, then asked me if I would like a little violin on any of my tunes. “What? You play violin?” John told me that violin was actually his first instrument. Now the band was really taking shape.

So I started to promote the event, and wouldn’t you know it, pretty much all of my friends, neighbors, and even my dentist and the grocery store clerks were going to be out of town. Yes, I was getting desperate. Would there be anyone at the show?

The night of the show rolled around and the room started to fill; some friends, some family, and a lot of strangers. My promotion efforts had worked after all. John Rankin just killed it as the opening act; he was so good. Now it was my turn. The show came off as close to perfect as you can get. The band found a great groove on every song, even without a drummer. Marty played the sound board like an instrument, making sure that every instrument was fine tuned for every song and adding little reverb or delay “sweeteners” as well. Sure enough, it didn’t sound anything at all like the album, but it had a wonderful identity all its own.

Here is a video from the show titled, Light It Up. It was written with Phoebe Blume as a song of affirmation. However it seems to have been picked up locally as an anthem for the legalization of marijuana in Oregon. Hahaha, well whatever works.

Molly's Valentines Day 

I was rehearsing for my gig at Slim's in the St. Johns district of Portland, Oregon and I broke a nail. Yes, I have guitar nails on my right hand. Yes, I was actually rehearsing. So, I went to my local nail shop where they know me by name because I am the only guy that ever comes in there, to get Molly to fix me up with new nails. Molly is a really cute 40-something divorced Vietnamese woman who is always happy and full of energy, but I could tell that something was wrong. I mentioned that I hadn't seen her since before Christmas and asked her about her kids and her holiday. "Oh... everything go okay," she said. "I have my dog. I have my children and we had a good time together. But now it is Valentine's holiday." Then out of nowhere Molly said, "I was married for 23 years, but my husband never give me flowers. 23 years and he never told me that he loved me," and a sob caught in her throat. She pushed back a tear, but didn't apologize for revealing her private thoughts. I tried to lighten the mood and with a little smile I told her that she had to be careful what she said in front of a songwriter because it could wind up in a song. She managed a weak smile and said "that's okay. It can be Molly's Valentine's Day Song."


Recording Sitting In Aztec Chairs 

This five song EP was recorded at 8 Ball Studio in Portland, Oregon with a small band playing "live" in the studio, just the same way they made recordings years ago (you know, back in the day), playing live because they simply didn't have enough tracks back then. You can feel the energy as the musicians play off of each other's performances. It's an all star lineup of local Portland, Oregon players including Jeff Anthony (Sheryl Crow) on drums, Jean-Pierre Garau on keyboards, Michael Henchman on bass, and Bob Dunham on electric guitars. We recorded all five songs in one long afternoon. The only over-dubs were JP's acoustic piano solo on Chasing Midnight and a real Hammond organ on Light It Up and producer Rob Stroub adding some extra percussion. Then Kelly Brightwell came into the studio and added her amazing backing vocals. It seems like everyone in Portland wants to get Kelly to sing on their recordings. Rob did a fantastic job engineering the performances, especially since there were so many "moving parts", and the mix stands up to repeated listenings, sounding close and intimate; like you are sitting in the middle of the band for the recording. I couldn't be happier with the final results. I hope you enjoy the songs.

Woody Moran, JP Garau, Bob Dunham, Jeffrey Anthony, Michael Henchman

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Radio Stranger Performs at Art In The Pearl

Pearl District, between W Davis and NW Flanders at NW 8th Avenue, Portland

Art In The Pearl has been named one of the best arts and crafts shows in the country. Both Kelly & Woody have performed individually at Art In The Pearl, but this will be the 2nd Radio Stranger performance on the Singer/Songwriter Stage. Over one hundred artists showing and selling their work. Singer/Songwriter Stage presents a variety of original music An Education Pavillion featuring hands-on art activities for children and adults Delicious food to enjoy