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Jan 192006

My lovely Louisiana friend Skip and his cadre of bay area troubadours came through town last weekend and put on a gorgeous musical display at the Towne Lounge. Then, they stayed over at the rock hostel and we had a nice homemade blueberry pancake brunch in the morning. They were too polite to mention that they’d had blueberry pancakes the previous morning. If you like sparse, subdued and gorgeous music, I highly suggest you request a copy of their cd. It’s homemade and cheap! Here are some pictures I stole from Skip’s MySpace page…

Los Hellpetos del Norte.

El Estereo.

Yumminess, warmth and showers at the rock hostel.

Opening the show was Day of Lions (aka Gena) whose music was equally gorgeous! She lives here in Portland, not that you’d know it since she actually spends months at a time doing solitary solo tours around the country.

We played the middle slot at the Towne Lounge and, once again, generated as much fun as any band who sings about war and corruption. Frankly, I’m thinking of switching back to love songs. New Towne Lounge booker Chantelle Hylton was in attendance and told me that my band made her “want to go out more”. I chose to quit while I was ahead rather than ask for an explanation. Meanwhile, our two new albums continue to move copies thanks to cdbaby word of mouth. Check them out here and here!

Lastly, we’re finally planning another tour: a four-day affair into the rainy north with our pdx pals Curious Hands. More details to follow. And speaking of the rainy north, we’re invading the state of Washington, if just barely, next month as we open for Minmae at the 15th Street Pub in the ‘Couv.

I’ve seen quite a few kick-ass local shows lately. A delirious Per Se charmed the Doug Fir on the day Anne twisted her ankle, leaving her to hop precariously from one microphone to the next. At that same show, I had my senses slayed by the expanded lineup of The Sort-Ofs. My friend Chris Piuma of The Minor Thirds gave a hilarious poetry reading at the downtown Borders bookstore, one poem of which will probably be in the liner notes of my next album. Captain Bogg & Salty did their usual thing with their usual skill at Dante’s. Levi, bassist of Heroes and Villains, performed his debut solo set at Berbati’s Pan before being joined onstage by this H&V bandmates Adam and Scott (who I swear sounded just like George Hurley from the Minutemen). This was followed by the high-energy enthusiasm of Sounds Like Fun.

 January 19, 2006  Posted by Ross at 8:32 pm Posts, Tour Diaries No Responses »
Jan 052006

Much has been going on Hellpet-wise. The Countess spent a month in India, acquiring along the way a harmonium, which will shortly become a prominent component of our sound. We played a great show at the Acme in early December with Curious Hands and The Odditors. My solo show at Mississippi Pizza with Ana Cooke and Jesus Burger got snowed out. Along with The Draft and Binary Dolls, we celebrated the release of our CD at the Doug Fir, delivering what some people described to me as our best, most high-energy performance ever. We helped ring in the new year with Minmae and Ape Shape at a packed and raucous basement show, complete with three kegs of beer and explosives — a combination I wholeheartedly endorse.

The Hellpets bust out with a cover-heavy subterranean party set.

The Countess Von Hellpet associating with famous rockers in North Portland.

Me associating with soon-to-be famous rockers in North Portland.

Then, yesterday we were savaged in a Willamette Week concert review by Mark Baumgarten, a man who I’ve played many softball games with, who has used me multiple times as an ear for his personal woes, and who, last time I saw him, took a flying, drunken hug at me at Pt. Juncture’s Wonder Ballroom show. All that aside, you’d think he would at least make the editorial choice to *not* write about a small-time local band that he thinks sucks.

His main points seemed to be: 1) We didn’t maintain a big enough crowd at 11pm on the Wednesday night after Christmas. 2) The audience we had was not enthusiastic enough. 3) I play too many eighth and sixteenth notes for his taste. 4) The Countess can’t sing. He put it considerably more harshly.

“Oh, there’s the phone again. Probably another person who pities me,” remarked the Countess during rehearsal that night.

“At least it’s a good picture.”
“No, it’s not!”

We recalled our friend Kimberly, the San Diego-based lesbian spoken-word performer. She received a vicious newspaper review a few months ago asserting that her act was cliched, dated, boring and a number of other choice assessments. On the upside, they also reported that she was “pretty”. For weeks afterward, people would come up to her saying they saw her in the paper. No one seemed to remember the content of the article. Thank goodness for the embarrassingly short American memory!

Many people offered unsolicited opinions about our performance at the Doug Fir. Quite a few of them were from strangers. They all differed dramatically from Mark’s opinion. Then again, Mark gets paid for his opinion.

I guess he showed us, or something. I did accidentally hit his housemate in the side with a softball last year, so maybe it was that.

 January 5, 2006  Posted by Ross at 8:35 pm Posts No Responses »
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