Korby Lenker, Haley Johnsen, Jeremiah Clark

Korby Lenker

Haley Johnsen

Jeremiah Clark

Sat, January 10, 2015

Doors: 8:30 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

$10.00

This event is 21 and over

Korby Lenker
Korby Lenker
Korby Lenker is a sneaky-good songwriter. And singer. And multi-instrumentalist.

An abbreviated list of Lenker's achievements so far includes: a significant amount of airplay on the legendary Seattle indie rock station KEXP; a BBC 2 interview with Bob Harris, which is only about the highest honor a rootsy singer-songwriter touring the U.K. can get; opening slots for acts ranging from Willie Nelson to Ray LaMontagne, Nickel Creek, Keith Urban, Susan Tedeschi and Tristan Prettyman; a successful run with one of the hottest young West Coast bluegrass bands of the aughts; and wins in the Merlefest folk songwriting contest as well as the Kerrville Folk Festival's elite New Folk songwriting competition.

Lenker's composition "My Little Life" brought him the Kerrville honors this year. It doesn't seem possible that one song could work so well in such disparate worlds, but it also proved its powers as a galvanizing piece of indie-pop, drawing a small army of likeminded, rising Nashville artists and personalities—Jeremy Lister and Katie Herzig to name two—to make lip-syncing, ukulele-strumming cameos in Lenker's music video.

The song—which is on the Heart of Gold EP he co-produced with A-list keyboardist Tim Lauer this year—itself points to the uncommon mixture of abilities Lenker has honed. It's imminently accessible and effortlessly tuneful, plus the lyrics express a familiar idea in playfully unexpected ways while pointing to thoughtfulness just beneath the surface. You can tell the guy's well-read, but he never comes off as too clever for his own good.

"I like it simple," says Lenker. "I just do. As soon as there's a weird chord, I'm like, 'Why? That's all been done. Who cares?' What's really hard is to hit people in the heart and to reach them. That's what I'm trying to do: make music that's easily likeable, but with a kind of secret sophistication. I'm always trying to write a song that you can hum along with on the first listen. You're like, 'Yeah, I'd like to hear that again.' Then maybe you hear it 20 times and you're like, 'Damn, that's actually something I'm going to think about now.'"

But there's a lot more than that to his instinctual, unorthodox journey from being brought up as a mortician's son in rural Idaho to being recognized as one of the more innovative voices in Nashville's current music scene.

Back in high school, Lenker had a cover band that enabled him to try on various alt-rock identities. "We covered 'Under the Bridge,' by Red Hot Chili Peppers," he says, "and I didn't know this at the time, but I listened to it recently and I'm like, 'Whoa, that's Korby trying to sing like Anthony Keidis. And this is Korby trying to sing like Trent Reznor.'"

After that, he got really into transcribing Trey Anastasio guitar solos as part of his music theory studies at Western Washington University. He also spent a semester in West Virginia with only his Martin D-18 acoustic guitar for company.

Here's a bit of insight into the spontaneous spirit that makes Lenker's music so interesting: He picked up a bargain bin copy of the journalistic snake handling memoir Salvation on Sand Mountain, and, with that alone to go on, decided to drive until he found one of the mountain churches mentioned in the book.

Lenker got new perspective, and a song about a snake-handling preacher, from the experience. "I ended up going home with one of the families," he says. "We rode home with the snake in the box in the backseat. And I got to be friends with this kid who was my age—I was 23 at the time, and he was 23. We couldn't have had more different backgrounds. He had an 8th grade education. But we somehow also had a lot in common. We ended up trading letters back and forth for years."

Lenker returned to the Pacific Northwest inspired by his Appalachian adventures and fully immersed himself in the region's bluegrass scene, forming a band called The Barbed Wire Cutters that proved to be an immediate hit in those parts. And he found ways to apply his pop-honed sensibilities to that tradition.

"I like it tight," he offers about his experience fronting the 5 piece bluegrass outfit, which SPIN magazine called "The Young Riders of the bluegrass revolt". "I like the solos short and I like harmonies in tune…it was all song-driven for me."

All this time, Lenker was also making solo albums, and that became his primary focus with the folk-leaning Bellingham, which went over wonderfully in the U.K. and landed him on Bob Harris's BBC Radio 4 show. After a move to Seattle, he got the urge to plug in again, hooked up with Candlebox drummer Scott Mercado and made a nimble modern rock record called King of Hearts that got lots of spins on KEXP and a 4 star review in UK mainstay MOJO magazine.

Toward the end of the last decade, Lenker followed his muse down to his present home of Nashville where he's not only continued to hone his own unique artistic voice, but launched a stripped-down series of performance videos dubbed Wigby, spotlighting kindred musical spirits he's found.

"I love those videos," he says, "because it's just people being great. It's not production—it's just, 'Can you sing? Can you write a great song? Can you play your instrument well?'"

Deep down, Lenker is drawn both to the sort of unadorned expression the discerning folkie crowd treasures and to the sort of playful pop embellishment and electronic textures that may land one of his tracks in a primetime T.V. show or film any day now.

And there's nothing at all wrong with having it both ways musically when it comes this naturally. "I can't abandon either one of them," Lenker says, "because they're both so me. One of my favorite musicians in the world, bassist and composer Edgar Meyer once said in an interview 'The boundaries of music have been and always should be limitless.' I couldn't agree more."
Haley Johnsen
Haley Johnsen
Haley Johnsen is a singer songwriter best characterized by her powerhouse vocals and unique lyrical perspective. Drawing inspiration from acts like Bonnie Raitt and Grace Potter, and Brandi Carlile, Haley writes and sings with a determination that is willful, playful, but never forced.

Haley recently finished touring as lead support for The Wind and The Wave all across the United States. Her second EP, When You Lit The Sky, was released in the spring of 2017. Tracks like "When I Loved You" and "Weekend" showcase Haley's blues-rock style and ability to belt a sultry anthem, while tracks like "Let's Go To The Moon" and "Carry On" carry both the strength and femininity of her full vocal range.

Born in Oregon to musical parents, Haley grew up around everything from pop, classic rock, country, and gospel, an appreciable quality that is easily recognized in her original songs. As a student, she began to learn the guitar, quickly shifting her focus from choral and a cappella ensembles to her solo work. Her first national attention came from a strong run on a reality music competition, and has since maintained a strong following that stretches well beyond her hometown of Portland.

She is currently back in the recording studio, having just released her two new singles "Lift Me Up" and "Close to You", two songs that represent her duality as a rock performer as well as emotive and powerful pop singer.
Jeremiah Clark
Jeremiah Clark
Growing up in a Southern Baptist family deeply-rooted in the soil of Memphis, Tennessee, it’s no surprise that Jeremiah Clark’s passion for music has been handed down through several generations. “Music surrounded me from my very first memories. The joy, the drive, the love of music and making it was always celebrated in our home.” If you had asked him what he wanted to be as a grown-up, “musician” was always the answer.

Early in his adolescence, this young pioneer found himself standing before crowds of hundreds of people singing in local, regional and state choirs winning competitions and praise from many classically-trained professionals. In between long school days and extracurricular activities, when most teenagers were going to parties, dances and the like, Jeremiah was cutting his first demo at 14 followed by three self-produced albums before leaving for college.

In the years to follow, Clark found himself in musical cities like Atlanta and Nashville before journeying to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he settled and made quite a name for himself with a new disc in 2008. The "Leaving a Broken Heart" EP revealed a more mature perspective of acceptance, growth and understanding from the self-taught pianist and guitarist. Just months after re-entering the industry, Jeremiah joined DC-based Tom Goss on a national tour.

From Seattle to San Diego, Ft. Lauderdale to Portland, Maine, audiences embraced the new voice in their ears, and it would be heard for the next three years all across the country, only now, as a headliner. Playing over 400 shows in 75+ cities, Jeremiah Clark is what you would call a road warrior. He's taken planes, trains, automobiles and even a kayak once, playing everything from amphitheaters at music festivals to intimate, house concerts...and it doesn't end there.

A relocation to Portland, Oregon in late 2012 has allowed the singer-songwriter to fulfill his lifelong dream of opening an independent label, Mariposa Records Group, and publishing company, Fifth & Madison Publishing. The company will drop it's first album, Jeremiah Clark's self-titled debut later this year. The first single, "Practicing Lines," is accompanied by a music video shot on location in Los Angeles.

It's clear that he's here to stay, folks. Jeremiah Clark is a name you'll want to remember with a voice you'll never forget.
Venue Information:
The Secret Society
116 NE Russell
Portland, OR, 97212
http://secretsociety.net/