Below is a list of current bands, and a list of inactive bands from my past. The column on the right links to audio pages.
Hot Club of Hawthorne
This project is my greatest achievement as a bandleader, and one I believe I'll always have, while other bands come and go. The style is perfect for me, and it fits so well in many settings.
gypsy jazz and vintage swing acoustic stringband
lively acoustic swing stringband with gypsy guitars, upright bass, and either clarinet, violin, mandolin, and/or accordion, playing old-time jazz with exotic gypsy & multiethnic flavors
old-time swing and world music played on acoustic stringed instruments, with exotic Old World flair, a fiery delivery, and feelgood charm
gypsy jazz & vintage swing band in the style popularized by French gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli in the 1930s. From lively to mellow; from rootsy to sophisticated.
This is the band with whom I've played the longest!
Jenny Sizzler -- not a person, but a 7-piece comedy rock juggernaut -- is a fun-loving group doing humorous original ditties, plus disco, Phish, Grateful Dead, and whatever tunes we think would be fun!
I first starting playing with them in 2007. Since then we've played 1st Fridays at Mississippi Pizza (taking summers off), and gigs at Biddy McGraw's, the Blue Room, the Tonic Lounge, and the Garcia Birthday Band Festival. Booking agents have called us their consistently best draw, and "the most fun band we've ever had!"
After 8 years playing keys, I switched to guitar.
We produced one CD and have another arriving in 2017. See the website for details.
comedy rock, disco, bluegrass rock
electric guitar, MIDI; played solely keys for the first 8 years
Train River is a collective of amateur/semi-pro bluegrass musicians. The repertoire includes many traditional bluegrass numbers and fiddle tunes, along with more modern additions which have become standards -- tunes by Old & In the Way, David Grisman, and Phish -- and some nonbluegrass surprises thrown in for fun and variety. Like many other new bluegrass fans, I discovered the music through the Grateful Dead and offshoot bands, and contemporary jamgrass bands.
Train River is always looking for talent, so if you are looking to play, please get in touch!
The Hillwilliams are a high-energy bluegrass band. We put out a CD of originals and did an 8-day tour of California and Southern Oregon in 2014. We perform using a central condenser mike for a traditional, dynamic stage presence. This project features a lot of the best 3-part vocal harmonies I've been a part of!
On the CD is a condensed bluegrass version of the tune "the Hankerin'" that I recorded with Diggabone.
Performing in Portland, Oregon and across the Pacific Northwest since 2001, Ramblin' Rose is dedicated to the preservation of the uniquely American musical heritage that is the Grateful Dead, and the conservation of that fascinating, elusive species, the American Deadhead. Ramblin' Rose shows are about tapping into and sharing in the magical musical mojo that crackled in the air at every Grateful Dead concert, and providing a dance environment and gathering space for those of us for whom the music never stopped.
The Grateful Buds explore the music of the Grateful Dead with a rotating cast of some of Portland's finest musicians, including members of Ramblin' Rose, GBB, Hillwilliams, and more. Lately I've been playing guitar and singing leads, but I've also played keys and bass in the band. We usually play at the O'Neill Pub on last Thursdays.
The Yellers are an incarnation of the Old Yellers. Led by songwriter Michael Berly, the band includes bass, fiddle, drums, lead guitar, and harmonica, and I play keys. Bassist Joe Chiusano is a true force of nature on vocals, impersonating John Lennon, Elvis, Jim Morrison, and Robert Plant(really!).
The band often plays monthly at the Laurelthirst to a packed house. I play with them when my schedule allows.
I started playing with these splendid folks in 2016, and it's been too much fun. They have backgrounds in drama and create some tricky song arrangements, like might come from a musical; it's a fun challenge for me.
Music to plunder by! A collection of pirate themed music featuring traditional sea shanties, original compositions and familiar contemporary sounds, all woven together by dramatic interludes which tell the tale of a renegade life on the sea. Experience new arrangements of traditional songs of the sea, modern shanties derived from contemporary popular music, six-part a cappella harmonies, up-beat Latin rhythms and a Cajun song of freedom. Come sail the seven seas with the BilgeRats & Pyrettes and prepare to be boarded!
Through my work with Funk Shui (which came about through friendship with Sean Nowland, which came about from playing the Laurelthirst open mike week after week after week in 98-99!), I played shows with the Tree Frogs as well, filling in for Fred. The Frogs included a couple more singers and more pop & singer/songwriter tunes by the great John Henry Bourke. There were some epic happy hours at the Laurelthirst!
In August of 1992, the Tree Frogs started out jamming in front of a handful of friends in a leaky basement in SE. Since then, the Frogs played more than 500 shows throughout the Western U.S., logging over 30,000 miles in their road-tested Ford Econoline van. The roots-rock band became known for their high-energy dance grooves, strong songwriting, tight harmonies and psychedelic musical improvisation.
Funk Shui is the Portland, Oregon-based six-piece funk and rock and roll band comprised of once-and-future, humble-but-mighty Treefrogs plus many other superstar players, sit-in soloists, and superhero special guests.
I had the honor of playing with them at many occasions -- including NYE, twice! -- mostly at Biddy McGraw's, where they were practically the house band.
Stellakinesis was my most original* band, and one of the most musically accomplished.
Rooted in funky jazz, but infused with fiery rock, uptempo modern beats, and exploratory psychedelic jams, Stellakinesis takes danceable rhythms, rich with percussion, and adds sophisticated harmonies and stimulating changes to make music more colorful and interesting than most dance music, while maintaining the momentum for the dance floor. The music includes improvisational stretches which add excitement and freshness to each performance, yet the band is careful to not allow them to get too longwinded or chaotic for the audience. The band is inspired by funky party bands, jazz virtuosos, rock heroes, and the jamband greats alike, and they strive to combine the best elements of these styles into a satisfying musical experience.
myself on guitar
Andy Ellis Valdini (Argyle) on keys
Andrew Clapp (Rich Man's Burden) on bass
Travis Ellison (the Mountain Ever) on drums
Rob Roy (Five) on percussion
Recordings of live Stellakinesis are on archive.org
Five was active 2003-05. (Five played 05-05-05 at the Goodfoot!) I was member #6...? The band played horn-driven, funky & Latin jazz with a solid 3-piece horn section. See also side project Salad, featuring Matt, John & I; the track Pass Me By is worth a listen!
I was invited to join these guys for their performance aired live on
KBOO's program Station to Station. Pieces included Jason Honl on bass, Jason Stewart on drums, Bryan Appel of Seven Year Tango on guitar and gadgets, and Tom Lageson on sax. I put the studio's Rhodes piano through my stereo effects unit (listen with headphones!). The music is psychedelic jazz a la Coltrane in space.
Check out these minute-or-two-long excerpts (the whole tunes are like ten minutes long each...):
Thermal Boogie played a variety of fun covers, including:
~ funky tunes ala Sly Stone, Billy Preston & Ben Harper
~ instrumental funky numbers ala Meters, Booker T., & Greyboy All-Stars
~ jam band anthems ala Grateful Dead & Phish
~ bluegrass/train beats & feelgood New Orleans rhythms
~ blues rock ala Hendrix, Cream, Allman Bros, Tom Waits, & Zappa!
The lineup included
~ me on electric guitar with MIDI, and vocals
~ Rob Sipsky (Shafty, Mars Retrieval Unit) on guitar
~ Chris Marshall (Marshall, Rare Diagram) on bass and vocals
~ Rhonda Piasecki (Klickitat, Jenny Sizzler) on drums and vocals
I played with these guys regularly for two years from 2006-08. They're all great players -- dedicated, experienced musicians. We built a set of funky, jazzy jam tunes, including covers by Jeff Beck, Miles Davis, and John Scofield.
We played our first full performance at the Clean Energy Fair in Sellwood Riverfront Park in August 2006; we played the Goodfoot in January 2007, three gigs at the Bethany Village Grill in NW, and also Pirates Tavern, Domenic's, and a couple of coffee houses in Newberg.
Here is a video clip of my solo during our version of the tune Cold Duck Time, performed at the Bethany Village Grill on August 3rd, 2007.
Flying Colours was based around a partnership between songwriter Tom Villone and keyboardist Erik Zapata in Eugene in the mid 90s. They shared a love of prog rock; Tom's songwriting is reminiscent of Peter Gabriel and early Genesis. The project became two separate projects: one recording, and one live. Tom had a great home studio out in Veneta, and we spent many a night layering tracks; I had the luxury of taking many takes until I got a good one, so there is some quality guitar work on the resulting CD, entitled Shine, released in 1998. I have a box full of the CDs; drop me a line and I'll send you one for $5 + $2 shipping!
A couple of years later, a band was formed to do some gigs; I had already moved to Portland, but I did some shows, including Sam Bond's and Taylor's in Eugene, Mt. Tabor Theater and Ash St. Saloon in Portland, and the North Shore in Bingen, WA.
original rock, prog rock
electric guitar, classical guitar, bass
I played with Ashbury Park in 2005-06. AP was founded by southern gentlemen Big E (Sugar Cane String Band) and John Becher (Resolectrics) in '93 back in Indiana. In the late 90s they had a huge jam band following in Portland. They were road dogs for years, and I got to go on two tours to Montana, WA and ID in their giant school bus: quite the adventures! The music was rootsy, bluesy and country and really resonated with audiences. I was lucky to step into it and play great gigs at the Goodfoot, Fez Ballroom, and the Summer Meltdown Festival.
Lowell J. Mitchell plays a fun mix of blues, ragtime, country, & gospel music -- "B-sides" from various twentieth-century Americana, along with soulful originals. "Lowell brings a grass-roots jug-band sensibility to an upbeat blend of rock, blues, rockabilly, soul, island and gospel flavors." He plays guitar and sings, sometimes on acoustic, sometimes a fired-up Strat.
I met Lowell at the old Snake & Weasel when he played there with his band Heavy Petting Zoo; I sat in on piano that evening. Since then, I have also played guitar, mandolin, & bass with him, as a duo and in bands with many a sideman. Mostly, I played the piano. Lowell & I played as a duo every Monday night from spring 2006 to summer 2007 during happy hour at Biddy McGraw's; I played their house piano, miked up. We have also performed at the Laurelthirst, Mock Crest Tavern, Portland Saturday Market, Mark's On the Channel in Scappoose, and the Goble Tavern in Goble, Oregon.
You can find out more about Lowell, as well as hear audio samples of us, from his website at www.lowelljmitchell.com. I created the website, BTW.
Rich Man's Burden is the band centered around
Jeremy Serwer's passionate songs and marvelous soul singing. His songs range from bittersweet ballads to fiery, haunting rock. The rhythm section is rock-solid and powerful, including
Andy Clapp on bass and
Jess Goodwin on drums.
Listening to the song "AJ" gives me sweaty palms...it rocks. Here is the version of it performed live at the Fez Ballroom in 2006:
Diggabone played rock with flavors of funk, jazz, & bluegrass, with plenty of vocal harmonies & jams; mostly original, featuring the songwriting of bandleader Eric Bohne. We traveled quite a bit, making several excursions to Hood River, the Coast, and Puget Sound. Fun guys to work with, and we had many enjoyable times. I played with Diggabone from August 2001 until February 2004.
You can pick up a copy of the CD, entitled Headspacewalking, via Paypal by clicking this button:
This is my one song on the album. Prog-grass?!? A simplified acoustic version would later be recorded by the Hillwilliams. This version has the lost bridge -- with modulations!
Salad began as a trio consisting of myself on flamenco and electric guitars, Matt Burlin -- who later I would work with in Five -- on vocals and guitar, and Bert on conga. Most of the tunes played were originals of Matt's, flavored with flamenco, jazz, funk, and blues. We played every Sunday for a while at the Snake and Weasel. Other musicians involved later included John Schurman on trumpet, Kevin Cowan on bass, and David Lipkind on harmonica.
We recorded Matt Burlin's sweet tune Pass Me By in a couple of hours in Griff Bear's studio, and I love the results. I played bass on a keyboard.