Shed Incorporated


Have you seen Stephen Weis standing in the shadow?

All the bands and all the clubs in this town have had me curious for awhile. What do these gazillion bands sound like? What goes on in these venues? I’m lucky to live in a neighborhood that has a bar that doesn’t usually have a cover charge so checking out a band can be a low risk proposition. Through the word of mouth of my brother-in-law Paul (this blog is sure to make him the most famous brother-in-law in the world) I was motivated to check out Shed Incorporated who was performing  at the World Famous Kenton Club. Paul had inspired me to check out Muscle Beach and I blogged about their show at the Foggy Notion a couple of months ago.

Shed Incorporated turned out to be one of the loudest acoustic bands I’ve ever seen. They plugged directly into the PA system and let it rip. Throwing arena rock moves and strutting on the stage, they held up their guitars and brought bravado and enthusiasm to their act. What struck me was the variety of styles they worked into their songs from finger bending power chords to quick bursts of a bluegrass riff here to a nod to prog rock there. It was all done in fun and far from the usual folky trappings you might expect when you see two guys singing and playing acoustic guitars.

Band members, guitarist and singer Stephen Weis and guitarist and singer Thomas Diesel, were college rockers in Buffalo, NY who made their way to Portland. As Stephen mentioned on stage, and I agree, no one is really sure what an imprint is but it’s what the Portland Mercury is calling their new release entitled V or maybe Five, if you still want to believe in Roman numerals.

More info here:

Read about them in the Mercury too:

My apologies for the quality of the photo.  The club was lit with a chandelier not a tiki torch like it looks in the photo.  Indoor photography is limited when you’re using an old iPhone.

Legends Alive


I had heard bits and pieces of the legend of Fred and Toody. It came at me in strange ways like the bumper sticker at Mississippi Records that read Fred and Toody Not Fred and Carrie. I never heard their music and anything I read about them seemed only to cement their reputation deep in my subconscious. When I heard that Mississippi Records was hosting a movie about one of their bands, Dead Moon, at the Hollywood Theater I saw an opportunity to explore this phenomenon. The documentary Unknown Passage was shown on January 22nd followed by a performance by Fred and Toody. The movie screened to a sold out crowd. As I watched the legend became a real story about Fred’s beginnings in show business, his brief soul singing days as Deep Soul Cole and the bands he performed with in the 60’s that were eventually immortalized on the Nuggets garage band compilations. It may have taken Fred a while, but after years of being in and out of bands it occurred to him that the one person he could count on and get along with, his wife Toody, had the makings to be a good bandmate as well. So she became a bass player. She was also a great singer in their new wave band Rat, and I loved her singing on the choruses in the footage of Dead Moon playing their sludgy, bluesy rock. Unknown Passage has great show footage and captures the band traveling through Europe and dealing with the endless grind of touring.

I can’t recommend the movie enough. It looks like it’s available on the Dead Moon website. It gave me an appreciation of Fred and Toody’s humility and authenticity. Dead Moon drummer Andrew Loomis pointed out in the movie about how independent the band really was illustrated by scenes of Fred playing around with the lathe Toody bought him as he masters a record wearing his bathrobe. I didn’t fully understand the record recording process. I was thinking that what Fred was doing with the giant machine was making each of the band’s records by hand. But the band was doing most everything else from recording themselves to putting their recordings out on their own label—certainly as DIY as you can get. There’s the frugality to admire too. Fred talks about buying new used tires for the touring van after using the old ones years longer than he was told they’d last. Not to mention his building his house from scrap wood.

During the screening I saw my inner critic taking over. After ten to fifteen minutes I was telling myself that I didn’t think the movie was any good but that is was being screened for it’s historical virtues. It seemed disjointed starting with a trailer followed by a long performance and some random interviews. Then the movie faded out and the theater went dark. I’m pretty sure it was Eric Isaacson from Mississippi Records who made his way to the stage in front of the screen. He announced that they had made a mistake and started the screening with the DVD extras.Then it was on to the main feature. After the movie, Fred and Toody performed. I didn’t know the songs but they felt like familiar,  down and dirty rock. Toody sang “Johnny’s Got a Gun,” followed by a song with a chorus that included the phrase “running out of time.” I had just watched Fred and Toody’s lives passing through time and could really feel that sense of everyone getting older but the song’s urgency and beauty hit home. Since I get up early, I usually don’t stay out late. I was cutting out of the show, but I made a point to run down both aisles to get close enough to get these fanboy fanzine-style performance photos from each angle and then I kept running, out of time and out of the theater to make my way home.


For more info and to order the film see:

Muscle Beach Night


I don’t get out much. If I didn’t have a job or a dog to walk three times a day you’d think I was agoraphobic. So when my brother-in-law Paul suggested I meet him at the Foggy Notion to see the band Muscle Beach last Saturday Night it seemed as good a reason as any to get out of the house. I’ve been interested in the goings-on at the Foggy Notion and Paul offered to pay my three dollar cover charge–an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Muscle Beach turned out to be a blast. Not only did they blast my ears off as evident by the over modulation of my field recording, but they were unpretentious in their performance approach. They threw out shards of music, sound and noise. Two guys played electronic boxes with effects, along with a drummer and a singer down on the floor in front of the band. All of the band members had a microphone they used to yelp, grunt, shriek and do a little singing. It added up to a heavy, grungy, fragmented, psychobilly, caterwaul. It sounded like Pussy Riot meeting Nirvana without the guitars. They had the kind of swagger that makes a blogger reach for way off descriptions like that. There was the classic changing into show costumes on stage. The singer stripped down to his under shorts, climbed out of his wheelchair and crawled around on the floor in front if the stage. The drummer had a big beard and wore a fox head hat–a total mountain man look. He spouted funny one liners at the show’s end. The joke I considered cracking about four part harmony wouldn’t have gone anywhere. This is a band that’s about anything but harmony.

Paul told me they were a fun band and I enjoyed seeing them trash my preconceived notions of what music is supposed to be.  It was refreshing to see something completely different and unexpected. Maybe there’s more of that around Portland, but like I said, I don’t get out much.

Here’s some audio and photos from the show:

Rocket 3 Blasts Off!

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 5.47.53 PM

I met Ramune Nagisetty through a contact at what was then called Suck My Flix, a monthly film screening series that later changed it’s name to Attack of the Flix.  She was looking for a video director. The name was mysterious to me so I asked my neighbor, who played in a band, if she knew anything about this band Ramune. It turns out Ramune, at that time, was more of a solo act who was playing under her first name. She was forming a band and wanted a video to promote the ep she had recorded. After sending her links to previous videos I’d made, I was hired.  With equipment loans and post production assistance from Jeff Dodge, I was able to produce a video. Ramune pitched in with production assistance borrowing a house for the main location, wrangling extras, including her dog, and driving us around downtown Portland for other locations. The song for the video, Shiny Suburban Day, had a booming arena mix, full of crunchy, distorted chords that’s so catchy that I never got tired of the song no matter how many times I heard it during the editing process. The song’s theme of suburban malaise was right up my alley.

I’ve been impressed with what Ramune has accomplished with her music. This is someone who picked up the guitar years after playing a bit when she was younger and then getting serious, writing songs, recruiting bandmates, suffering through a challenging early show that featured a disappearing sound man, recording and other rock and roll stuff like the band’s drummer getting in motorcycle accident. He’s fine now. The band’s name was changed to Rocket 3 and they’ve played over 100 shows since the video was produced. Rocket 3 is throwing a release party for Burn, their new CD, at Secret Society, 116 NE Russell St, Portland, OR on Saturday, November 15. They’re set to perform at 10pm. $8 admission.

See the video for Shiny Suburban Day:

Hear music by Rocket 3:

See another video directed by David Craig: