What could be better than two nights of high intensity improvisational music, featuring an eclectic variety of musicians from both national touring stage as well as the local Oregon music scene? Where each musician is given equal status with the ambition of creating a band where everyone is involved and their individual voice in the common language of music is heard? On July 18th and 19th the Everyone Orchestra will be taking its ever-evolving and rotating cast of talented musicians to the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon.
The overall goal in these collaborations is to take everyone’s individual talents and fuse them into a cohesive organic musical experience where each artisan’s vision is given a chance to shine. Musical improvisation, environmental consciousness, and community collaboration are at the heart of this ambitious project. Music is a universal language that transcends cultural differences and time, and this concept has been the spark behind the creation of the Everyone Orchestra.
Steve Kimock is the most recognizable name in this particular incarnation. He is a self-taught guitar virtuoso, and his incendiary licks and finely tuned ear for music make him a tremendous addition to this weekend's festivities. Currently he has been the frontman of the wildly successful Steve Kimock band. He has also achieved national success with his former band Zero, and the short lived but immensely popular KVHW project. Steve has also received recognition from his many years as a guitarist in a multitude of Grateful Dead-related side projects, which most recently included a brief tour with Bruce Hornsby and the legendary Phil Lesh and Friends shows from '99-'00.
Joining Kimock in this diverse group is saxophone soloist and composer Jessica Lurie. She is best known as an integral member of jazz/funk trio Living Daylights, and has gained recognition through her ability to be able to comfortably and confidently play with almost anyone who invites her on stage. Her soloing ability is absolutely incredible, and the range of sounds and tones that she can produces from her horn needs to be heard to be believed.
Hammered Dulcimer maestro Jamie Janover will be adding his unique talents to the mix as well. He is a musical pioneer of his craft, and as a self-taught musician he has learned to listen to all types of time signatures. Which is integral in his ability to being able to fit his unique sound into a complicated arrangement, which is an ideal trait for this project.
Scott Law will also be bringing his personalized skills with the mandolin and guitar to the stage for these shows. A veteran member of Hanuman, as well as the frontman for his recent project known as Code Green, Scott’s musical talents and sound will be a perfect fit for these two shows, and he should be a great addition to the overall tapestry of sound.
ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra) has been a core member through the multiple incarnations of the Everyone Orchestra. Based out of the Bay Area, this power ensemble will be sure to lay down the tight backbone for the night's funkiest grooves.
Jarrod Kaplan, who can currently be seen in the incredibly energetic and musically diverse acoustic trio known as Taarka, is an incredible percussionist to experience live. His rhythms can weave in and out of other musicians' streams of consciousness with great ease, and he adds so much subtlety to the dynamics of the overall sound. His addition to the rhythm section will be felt by all in attendance without a doubt.
Local legend Asher Fulero, who is the front man of Oregon’s own electronica explosion Surrounded by Ninjas, will be bringing his skills on the keyboard as well as his unique twists of sounds that he produces with electronic samples to the diverse mix of talent and should add to the complexity of the music.
Hamsa Lila, a Moroccan trance band, might be the most intriguing musical dynamic in the mix. Fronted by two female vocalists and an array of unique Moroccan instrumentation, the overall musical concoction of the evening will take a dramatic and incredible twist when these musicians take the stage.
Although the goal is deep improvisation and freedom of musical expression, there needs to be some order to allow each musician the time to express themselves. That is where Portland’s own Tye North comes into play. Best known as the former basest for Leftover Salmon, Tye will be handling the conducting duties. His uniquely developed ear for music and layering sound will help him to lead the musical journey. And don’t be too surprised if he also has an opportunity to pick up his trusty old bass at some point to lay down a groove.
Matt Butler is the driving force behind this ambitious project in more ways than one. On the stage, Matt is a force behind his drum kit with his incredible playing style and sense of time. Matt is also the man behind the scenes, organizing and arranging the convergence of all of this all star talent. Matt explained that the original inspiration behind this project was born during his trip to India, where musicians from all over the world would play together at an open mic. The musicians might not have been able to communicate verbally with each other, but there was no doubt that the language of music connected all of the participants. Matt took these lessons with him as he returned to the States, and looked for ways of recreating this experience.
Matt began his dream of creating a communal musical experience where everyone - audience and musicians - is a part of the band. Matt arranged for a group of musicians to gather and jam for New Year's Eve in Northern California in 2001-2002 to attempt to recreate the sense of musical community seen in his travels in India, as well in the yearly musical experience known as the Zambiland Orchestra. By all accounts that night in Northern California was a complete success, and Matt should have felt incredibly satisfied with his project, but he was unfortunately unable to attend his musical meeting of the minds. A few nights before the first Everyone Orchestra jam session, he fell ill with appendicitis and had to have life saving surgery. Maybe this fueled his passion for this project, since he then began to schedule musical gatherings around the nation. There were shows in Portland, Cincinnati, and New Orleans, each of which had its own rotating cast of brilliant musicians. Each performance was accompanied with rave reviews from both fans in attendance and musicians who participated, which has only fueled his desire to continue along with this project.
The Everyone Orchestra is also dedicated to social and environmental threats to our beautiful community. The EO donates a portion of the proceeds from the concerts to the Cascadia Forest Alliance. This environmental movement strives to inspire grassroots involvement in forest protection through education, creative expression, and alliance building across many political and social spectrums. Being able to take part in an amazing night of inspired music, while supporting our environment, seems like a win/win situation for all in attendance.
The ensemble that will be taking over the Crystal Ballroom in Portland is chock full of heavy-hitting musical talent, and should lead to a weekend of unbridled musical euphoria. Since Everyone is in this Orchestra, how could you possibly afford to miss these shows? I know I’ll be there...
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