The Not-So-Secret Family Show! feat. Mo Phillips, Jeremy Wilson

The Not-So-Secret Family Show! feat. Mo Phillips, Jeremy Wilson

Sun, October 22, 2017

Doors: 3:45 pm / Show: 4:00 pm

$8 per walking human

The Not-So-Secret Family Show!
The Not-So-Secret Family Show!
Introducing The Not-So Secret Family Show every Sunday afternoon from 4 to 6PM at the Secret Society!

Featuring a rotating lineup of Portland's finest family performers for the kids & showcasing Portland's best singer/songwriters for the grown-ups! Full bar& menu available!

$8 per walking human, all ages welcome.
Mo Phillips
Mo Phillips
Mo Phillips rides a cloud skateboard throughout the land, singing songs for crazy people and their parents, meant for laughin' and dancin'. If you like cuttin' rugs and crackin' up, then this is prolly the show for you. 
Jeremy Wilson
Jeremy Wilson
It has been said, by Courtney Love herself, that she first met her late husband Kurt Cobain at a Dharma Bums concert, at the now defunct legendary club Satyricon, in Portland, Oregon. Frontman for that Portland, Oregon outfit, which also featured The Decemberists' drummer John Moen, is Jeremy Wilson, a staple of the vibrant Portland music scene. And, just as Portland's music scene has changed over the years, so has Wilson, who has lived through - and weathered - the storms of the music industry the whole time. Which brings us to his forthcoming full-length, Empty Through Empty Space, his first true solo album (sans 2005's Independence Vol. 1: Demos And Out-Takes - a collection of demos and out-takes Wilson had recorded over the years).

But, to understand Empty Through Empty Space, you have to understand the road Wilson has traveled, both figuratively and literally.

We could go all the way back to 1982, when a 14-year-old Jeremy Wilson had formed The Watchmen (who would go on to be three-fourths of the band Dharma Bums), packing bars throughout the Willamette Valley of Oregon with a repertoire of over 250 cover and original songs. We could fast-forward to 1985, when members of The Watchmen (future Dharma Bums Eric Lovre and Jim Talstra) had graduated high school, and Wilson had not, so he formed the all originals-based, heavily R.E.M./Jesus and Marychain/Replacements-influenced Perfect Circle (which would feature future Dharma Bums' drummer John Moen, as well as two members of Wilson's post-Dharma Bums outfit, Pilot, with Patrick Gundran and Ric Johnson).

But, let's start the following year, 1986, when Wilson and Moen had moved to Portland and Perfect Circle had broken up. Honing their vocal style, which would be the trademark of Dharma Bums, Wilson went back home to Silverton, Oregon during the holidays to visit family. It was there he began hanging out, and jamming, with The Watchmen's Jim Talstra and Eric Lovre; the three of them wrote four songs, three of which ("Boots of Leather," "Hope of the Hour," and "Walking Stick") would find their way on Dharma Bums' debut, Haywire (and one, "Mother Found Out," would be released on a 4-track collection entitled Dumb: 4-Track Cassette Recordings 1987 in 2010 when the band reunited for the first time, following their disbandment in 1993. However, let's not get ahead of our selves).

With four songs written over the course of two days, Lovre, Talstra, and Wilson decided to form a band. At Wilson's suggestion, they added Moen, and Dharma Bums were formed. Soon they found themselves signed by Young Fresh Fellows' Scott McCaughey to Seattle-based indie PopLlama Records, releasing their critically lauded debut, Haywire, in 1987. With sell-out shows and laudatory press following the band wherever they went, prominent L.A.-based indie Frontier Records would soon sign the band, re-releasing Haywire as well as the band's next two records, 1990's Bliss and 1992's Welcome. Having toured the U.S. countless times, and a successful European tour, the band eventually broke up, sending Wilson to Costa Rica for three months to figure out what he was going to do with his life.

Returning to the states, Wilson immediately called ex. Perfect Circle alum Patrick Gundran and Ric Johnson to start a band and Pilot was born. Pilot would go on to record three full-lengths and one EP, getting signed to Elektra Records off the strength of their debut EP (1994's Fork For A Tongue EP), and recording a full-length for Elektra that would never see the light of day (1995's Hiss) due to corporate mergers and downsizing, which also saw label mates The Afghan Whigs and Violent Femmes being dropped.

Hiss, produced by Joe Chicarelli (Weezer, Frank Zappa, Tori Amos, Boston), and recorded on a $250,000.00 major label budget, still remains unreleased to this day.

Following this intense two year period, Wilson remained undiscouraged, borrowing money from family and recording Pilot's debut full-length, 1996's When The Day Has Broken, which was released on Portland indie T/K Records, the same label that had released their debut EP. And, much like the EP, the critical and commercial success of When The Day Has Broken soon found Pilot being courted by major labels once again. Eventually signing with Mercury Records (the experience spawned the song "Mercury Records Rep." on Independence Vol. 1: Demos And Out-Takes), Pilot once again hit the studio to record their next full-length.

Releasing Stranger's Waltz in 1998 via a deal Mercury Records had cut with indie Thirsty Ear Records, corporate mergers and label downsizing soon found the band once again, and the album would be Pilot's last.

Residing in Seattle, Washington at this time, Wilson decided to move back to Portland, Oregon following the disbandment of Pilot in 1999, and start on a solo record. An expansive record that would send Wilson through more trials and tribulations, not to mention too many false starts, the experiences were priceless and helped Wilson to his final destination. But, the delays were numerous. One such delay found Wilson working with longtime hero Pete Townshend's former collaborator, Raphael Rudd, on two records: a solo record Wilson would only demo and the Rhino Records released Pete Townshend and Raphael Rudd's The Oceanic Concerts, a collaboration between Townshend and Rudd, released in 2001, that finds Townshend singing a selection of The Who standards ("The Seeker," "Bargain," "Drowned," even the comical "Tattoo") as Rudd accompanies him on harp. While working on a record together, Wilson helped Rudd restore old cassette bootlegs to put the album together before presenting it to Pete Townshend, who wrote Wilson a handwritten letter to let him know what a fine job he did.

Following the dissolution of Wilson's musical collaborations with Rudd, Wilson re-grouped and began working on his debut solo album, Honey/Moon/Life. However, while working on the album, Wilson would face massive setbacks, starting with a joint business venture - a film company with Jacob Pander (of the Pander Bros.) - which would be a major curve in the road for him. However, it would lead to him building MastanMusic Studio, a recording and production studio, which he literally built with his own two hands and still owns and operates today. The profits from the video company, and tech skills he learned, would allow him to make films for other people, as well as himself, and produce other people's records, ultimately helping him in the end (both financially and artistically) - but delaying Honey/Moon/Life in the process.

In 2005, with the studio in full force and several engineering and production credits to his name, Wilson was itching to once again focus on his own music. To get his name back on the musical map, and get some recordings out there, he culled together old demos and out-takes of songs he had recorded over the years and released Independence Vol. 1: Demos And Out-Takes.

It was now time to re-focus on Honey/Moon/Life.

However, health issues would arise a short time later, once again putting the ill-fated album on hold. In 2006 Wilson would wake up in a hospital bed, after passing out in downtown Portland at a restaurant, on his way to a show to meet with friends. Diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a rare and deadly heart condition, he would have to put his music, and even the studio, on hold while he focused on his health.

With no health insurance and mounting medical bills from his diagnoses, and subsequent four operations (the last one as recent as May 2013), Wilson soon found himself being approached by other musicians, asking how he was handling the health problems with no insurance and mounting bills. Having literally lived through it, he soon started engaging in several benefit concerts to help his friends in similar situations. This lead to friends and musicians encouraging him to start his own nonprofit with the specific purpose of helping those like he and his friends.

In 2010 he formed the Jeremy Wilson Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit musicians' health and service organization dedicated to providing emergency healthcare assistance and improving the overall well-being of individual musicians and their families. In its first three and a half years it has given out $146,000.00 in financial emergency assistance to musicians and their families facing medical crisis.

"Working with the foundation, it is humbling," comments Wilson. "It is a humbling experience getting sick and needing people's help. Then there is humbling experience numberer two, which was being in contact with people that have similar, or much worse, situations than my own and working with them, helping them, and seeing these kindred, artistic spirits. Seeing these dedicated, hard-working musicians, who do it for the love and for themselves, but also seeing how we make art for each other, so we can feel more connected."

Meanwhile, in Wilson's personal life, he had very much fallen in love. But, when his girlfriend took a job opportunity in Florida and moved, Wilson jumped at the chance to help her move all her stuff cross-country. Deciding to take up residency in Florida half time, instead of having a purely long-distance relationship, Wilson and his girlfriend found Florida a nice change of pace (and weather).

Wilson couldn't be happier, though in the back of his mind he hadn't given up on his true passion, writing and recording his own songs. However, he was happy to put that all on hold in the name of love.

But, like many stories behind some of your favorite albums, there was heartbreak. The relationship didn't last and Wilson soon found himself embarking on a solo road-trip cross-country, heartbroken, as he traveled back to Portland, Oregon in his car.

Once back in Portland, Oregon, Wilson, who had used the journey to look inside and find himself, had a collection of photographs he had taken while on the road, all the memories, and a bunch of songs in his head.

Deciding the urgency to record these songs and put these feelings into music so he could deal with them was more important than picking up Honey/Moon/Life and finally finishing it, Wilson delved head-first into what would become Empty Through Empty Space, an album that tells the tale of his journey from Florida to Portland, the heartbreak, as well as the roads he had traveled from his musical beginnings up until the present.

"The album is a metaphor for an internal journey that is also going on as I was overcoming heartbreak and trying to grow and move forward at the same time. So every emotion was felt during this road trip, as I was writing these songs," he says of the experience. "I took the album title from a line in one of the songs, 'I'm driving on empty through empty space.' I could see change coming down the pike, inside myself, as I was driving, all the while processing all these emotions and thoughts I was having."

The twelve track album, which will be released in the spring, finds Wilson delving into influences such as Jeff Buckley, Leonard Cohen, Cat Stevens, and Harry Nilsson, moving away from the heavy R.E.M. and even John Prine influences of all his previous work.

Described by Wilson as "epic minimalism," the album features, as the title would suggest, Wilson manipulating space as a vital instrument, allowing the songs on the album to breath and roam freely, sweeping soundscapes both epic and sparse, allowing the listener to re-visit the journey Wilson was on, as he traveled down dark, desolate rural roads as the wind crashed around his vehicle and the rain poured down on him, or as he let his mind wander, the car virtually on autopilot as it cruised down the highway, it's driver in a tunnel vision state of mind.

But, the album, while a new direction for Wilson, still features powerful elements of both Dharma Bums and Pilot.

"I think there is a little bit of the epic-ness of Pilot and some of the folk and organic rock of Dharma Bums mixed together on this album," Wilson says proudly. "All my past albums have been done on 24-track, 2 inch tape, and I decided to stick with that format with Empty Through Empty Space. It's still guitar-based, bass and drums-centric. The standard band formula. But, it's different in terms of the blend of rock and folk, in the way it's a more folk-centric album than anything I've done in the past."

"It's still fairly epic and broad with all the songs, but even though it's epic, it's really sparse and has space. As open as they need to be," he furthers. "A lot of the album is live performances, both vocal and guitar-wise, as well as the rest of the band, and I think that's a neat aspect of it. I love the the limitations that analog recording puts on you, so the musicality of the album is coming from the artists and not through tricks of the trade Also, the subject matter, like on previous albums, is very self-reflective. But, I hope there is some optimism in some of these songs that feel fresh in a very sincere way."

Highlights on the album, for Wilson, include "The Whisper," "A Softer Calling," and "Hey, Jerry!," the latter featuring one of his favorite choruses he has ever recorded.

"I love the horn section and the chord changes on the chorus," he says with a smile. "Plus, the lyrics, 'everything comes and goes, ebbs and flows,' is very meaningful. That is a major theme of the album."

"A Softer Calling" really resonates with Wilson because it features his two core band mates, guitarist/backing vocalist Dylan-Thomas Vance and bassist Matthew Rotchford, adding the missing touch to a song he was originally unsure of.

"The harmony notes that Matthew and Dylan are singing against my vocals just resonates deeply with me. It was the missing element to the chorus that I was looking for. They did it spontaneously."

Wilson heavily credits Rotchford and Vance for helping make his new batch of songs, and the album, come to life.

"The Arco bass playing, which is a bowed bass style, is featured prominently on the album, which is all Matthew," he says. "Also, the masterful lap-slide/fingerpicking guitar playing of Dylan, it's all over the album, across the board. Their minimalism, their subtlety, and their masterful command of their instruments helped make this record. Matthew and Dylan create some of the most beautiful musical beds that I could have ever wished for with my compositions."

Besides his two core band mates, the album features many of Wilson's friends helping him flesh out the album, including all three Dharma Bums members, with drummer John Moen on a good portion of the album, and the entire band on the track "I Can't Bury You," a sweeping hybrid of guitars and folk elements, culminating in a song best described as space-rock-folk.

"Each time a different group of friends would come in and help add something to the album," Wilson says of the experience. "The horn players or the choral group, they just took the ideas and took them to a higher plain than I expected. I am so grateful to the musicians who played on this album. Who seriously seemed to be inspired by what they heard in the studio. That is one of the biggest, and best, things about this album for me."

Wilson, who's songs have previously never featured female backing vocalists, loved the fact that some of his friends came in and sang on the record, adding a different angle to them, and symbolically adding the voice of an antagonist to his stories.

Now, with the album complete, and ready for release, Wilson looks back on it with pride - and anticipation to see what his fans, new and old alike, will think of the record.

"Before I recorded note one, I knew that I wanted there be a lot of space in this album. I didn't want every nook and cranny of the soundscape to be filled, I wanted there to be empty space," he says, listening back to the completed album. "When you allow things to resonate and don't fill every note, you can let things breath. I didn't want a bass note or drums to fill everything. I really appreciate how producer/engineer Sean Flora agreed and facilitated that vision and idea."

Further commenting on the organic nature of the record, Wilson is quick to point out that, "we didn't do any old school double or triple tracking of guitars or vocals. We allowed each part to do it's part. We didn't want to clutter up the sound. I love the tone and openness of this album. We submitted the tracks at negative 12db, so that the mastering process could really be done on the tracks that we recorded analog, because they deserved a real mastering job."

Everything, from the mastering on back to the way they recorded certain instruments was deliberate, says Wilson. "I wanted there to be a sense of ominous and I wanted certain instruments to play certain roles in the presentation of the music. So, for instance, when you hear the low-end drums that almost sound like timpani, that represents the ocean and sky, in earthly movements. The very locked-in rhythm of my acoustic guitar, it was consciously meant to be the road lines, the dividers of the road underneath the car, the rhythm of the way the car would swallow the lines of the road, as it was driving forward. The soaring guitar parts were meant to represent the soul on it's journey. We wanted to consciously make a record that you would listen to while you were on a road trip."

Looking back on the actual road trip, and comparing it to previous road trips and tours he's been on, Wilson states that, "even though I've traveled every mile on every major interstate in the United States, I've never taken before such a long drive by myself. I was deeply moved by the open road, the open sky, and the setting sun. The big night skies of the open dessert. The storms that I was traveling through."

The lesson of this record, and his experiences leading up to this record, are reflected in the lyrics to the song, "The Whisper," where Wilson sings, "The greatest gift I ever received came from the hardest bargain," something that holds deep significance for Wilson.

"As hard of the life experience I was going through at the time was, I do feel I came out on the other side of the experience more grounded and focused, but it came from a lot of heart and psyche ache, if you will."

But, in the end, he's happy to report that, "I had more fun making this record than I've had making any record previous."

"I don't always like to admit that you need tragedy and adversity to spur the creative process, but this album is a bit of a testament to going through hard times, and getting back to the music," he says with a smile. "It was so nice to come back to the music. To come back and process it all, having gone through a difficult thing and having a collection of new songs that really do help."

The ease and relaxation he felt making this record with his friends shows, both in the songs and the performances.

"Through everything, I've always kept the thought that the glass is half full, and taken the journey to the end. I love turning life's lessons into songs that not only help me personally through something, but that might actually touch someone else and bring language and ideas to their life. I never want to become jaded."

"My life had been on hold for seven years," recalls Wilson. "At the same time, it was moving forward at lightning speed. All because of a congenital heart condition that, four surgeries later, has dominated my day-to-day life. Today I'm finally healthy, running a successful non-profit helping other musicians though medical emergencies. And I'm still working as a musician out in our community. I feel as optimistic as I ever have. Making music these days is a pure joy. Even though I have to work at it, it's something that really flows out of my veins and from my heart. And, to tell the truth, I just love to sing, more than anything else in the world. Also, I absolutely love it when people want to come celebrate music with me."

"No matter how much we want to destroy the ones and things we love, we really do need each other. That's where lines like in 'Let A Poor Man Beg,' come from. When I sing, 'I let new friends hold me up,' even through they were strangers, they were people, and I let them hold me up throughout the process. And I made a lot of new friends because of it. This record is a testament to friendship and love, and how with the help of those around us, we can persevere."

With his outlook on life being, "To fear no change and try to realize that whatever life throws at you is what you're meant to experience," Wilson can't wait to release Empty Through Empty Space out into the world. He hopes his life-altering experiences, which he put to music, will be a life-enriching soundtrack for others that resonates with the miles.
Venue Information:
The Secret Society
116 NE Russell
Portland, OR, 97212