Drunken Prayer – Tickets – Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR – July 26th, 2019

Drunken Prayer

A release show for the outlaw PDX/North Carolina country project's fifth album, 'Cordelia Elsewhere'

Drunken Prayer

Chuck Westmoreland, Redray Frazier

Fri, July 26, 2019

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

$12 ADV / $14 DOS

This event is 21 and over

Mostly Standing / Limited Balcony Seating

Drunken Prayer
Drunken Prayer
Morgan Geer, the songwriter behind Drunken Prayer, was born in San Francisco and grew up traveling around the US, following his folksinging mother. Today he splits time between Portland, OR and Asheville, NC. He’s lived in nearly every region of the country and sounds like it. His is American music - straight, no irony chaser.

Drunken Prayer will likely bring to mind The Band for a lot of listeners, with the sense of place and history. But Morgan Geer’s songs and his singing often suggest a kinship with artists like Bobby Charles or Doug Sahm, musicians with Southern roots, with a yip and break to their voices, and notes of sadness offset by a wicked sense of humor.

Over the past two years Drunken Prayer has played hundreds of shows across 18 countries and across the US at venues such as the Pickathon Music Festival and San Francisco's Great American Music Hall. Geer's music has been featured on AMC, NPR, WFMU and SiriusXM.

The new Drunken Prayer album, Cordelia Elsewhere, was mixed by Mitch Easter (Let’s Active, REM) at The Fidelitorium in North Carolina. An eccentric descendant of outlaw country, these songs bare witness to life on earth in uncertain times.

Morgan Geer is the current guitar player for iconic alt-country goths Freakwater. Recently Morgan has been touring internationally, solo with The Handsome Family
Chuck Westmoreland
Chuck Westmoreland
The mind is the greatest escape. Chuck Westmoreland should know. Having already garnered acclaim from Noisey, the AV Club, & more with his eponymous 2016 debut, and having shared stages with the likes of Justin Townes Earle and Whitney Rose, Westmoreland is poised for a breakout with his forthcoming second album Long Winter Rodeo. Proud owner of a Portland, Ore., bar named The Red Fox, which he compares to the creepy watering holes of Twin Peaks, Westmoreland weaves his story songs from years of regulars shuffling through his doors, his characters drawing from a deep, personal well, while also pulling bits and pieces from his relationship with bar patrons with all the understanding of an old friend.

“He knows that there’s nowhere to go when you’re gone / There ain’t no direction,” Westmoreland sings with desolate beauty on Long Winter Rodeo’s title cut. Inspired by the real-life Tygh Ridge Rodeo Grounds (featured prominently in Westmoreland’s “Sharp Rocks” video), the sparse track unveils a simple love story. “A guy falls for this woman,” he says, “but she’s already with somebody else.” In an act of serendipity, the two finally end up together. Ultimately, it’s a hopeful tale, though one laced with an inescapable sadness. The song’s guitars ebb and flow beneath Westmoreland’s vocals, walking the line of solemnity and jubilee. “In the morning, you can see the outline of the rodeo, but it’s shrouded in mist—a lonely, desperate looking thing,” he says, detailing the colossal presence of the song’s Tygh Ridge backdrop. “When you drive by it after you’re done fishing, the fog is all burned off, and it turns into the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen. Every single mountain in Oregon is visible standing there in the arena.”

The same majestic grandeur pulses through much of Westmoreland’s new record. “Long Winter Rodeo” rises as the album’s backbone, and the other narratives are bred and born from an equally raw and moving center. “Mama Be Eternal,” written only hours after his aunt’s funeral, blends tender balladeering with a honky-tonk strut: “Mama, can you carry me?” he pleads, an almost gospel-style choir coming to his aide. And "Prisoners" unpacks the harrowing story of a refugee family fleeing its home, transcending politics with a grizzled meditation on the human experience."

The songwriting on Long Winter Rodeo is the foundation, especially on tracks like the album’s searing bookend “Slaughtered.” “I’m ready to go,” Westmoreland sings, “and I’m ready for salvation.” Armed with only a guitar, his voice cuts to the bone, conjuring a romantic tale inspired by his grandparents, who lived on the Texas-Louisiana state line. It’s a story about a hired hand working the land for an older couple, whose daughter happens to be away at college. He’s 19, young and rugged. Not only does he grow fond of his employers but of the many photos of their daughter along the walls. “It’s in a very genuine way,” Westmoreland clarifies. “He doesn’t meet her for years. Time goes by, and her parents get sick. She finally
comes back for her dad’s funeral, and he ends up holding her hand and being with her in her time of mourning.”

When you listen to the songs on Long Winter Rodeo, aside from Westmoreland’s weathered vocals and vivid storytelling, it’s the instruments—in particular, a set of electric guitars Westmoreland crafted himself—that bind everything into a cohesive set. “I made six of those guitars, he says, highlighting his love of woodworking. “It gets pretty addictive.”

Originally hailing from Shreveport, La., Westmoreland came of age in the Bay Area. He picked up the guitar at 13, played in several bands in high school, and by the time he was 17, relocated to southern Oregon, eventually making Portland his home. While there, he issued several lo-fi, four-track-recorded psych-pop solo albums. Before long, he formed indie-rock outfit The Kingdom, who signed to Greg Glover’s Arena Rock label. They scored coverage at Pitchfork and toured with Silversun Pickups, earning a respectable place among contemporaries such as The Thermals and Blitzen Trapper.
Before long, though, the band unraveled, and Westmoreland began focusing on his watering hole, The Red Fox. There was a time he believed he might never make music again. When his wife was diagnosed with cancer, life came into clearer focus. She beat the disease, thankfully, but something had shifted inside Westmoreland. “I was like, ‘Screw it, I’m just going to write a record,’” he says of his first album, 2016’s self-titled debut. “I was just going to record it on a four-track cassette recorder and have it be a homespun sort of thing. But we got carried away, and it ended up getting blown up a bit, which was fun.”

Westmoreland continued his creative streak even before the album’s release. Long Winter Rodeo began taking shape earlier that July during quick songwriting getaways to a duck blind at a local wildlife area. Teaming up with the same slew of friends and players the album came together like clockwork.

Westmoreland’s music is barbed but easy to swallow, like a smooth shot of bourbon. He inhabits these character sketches with a worn, whiskey-soaked wisdom, drawing upon a wealth of misery and pain, love and joy, hope and strength. He’s the everyman, expertly imparting real stories about real people going through real struggles.

Long Winter Rodeo is out June 1 on Black and Gold Records.
Redray Frazier
Redray Frazier
Over a solid groove and razor-sharp DJ cuts, Redray Frazier lays it all out on the title track of his new album, Blood In The Water. The artistic process can be a difficult struggle, Frazier tells us over the thick slow-boil, but the results are worth the battle. "I’ve been making music for a long time, but maybe I was worried about what people may think," he says of the song's origins. "And so 'Blood In The Water' is about feeling that vulnerability, but also getting it together and doing what you have to do. Sink or swim."

Frazier was born in Harlem and raised in Queens and Jersey in an exceedingly musical family. His father is a Baptist minister, his mom a classically trained vocalist, one of his uncles a saxophone player, and everyone else was always at the ready with a tune. "At family gatherings, it was really something else," he says. "If any one person sung any one line at any time, there would be a three-part harmony joining in." Music wasn't Frazier's original career plan, but a knee injury disrupted his athletic ambitions. "I knew that I wanted to do something that gave me that same rush of running down a football field, or getting a basket," he says. "Music was right under my nose the entire time. And I finally realized, okay, this is something that I can do." He formed a band with his brother and cousin, and played every party he could.

Frazier worked with a few different groups, and in 2007, he released his solo debu tFollow Me, a half acoustic, half electronic-music experiment. "It was so Frankenstein-like. I was just getting some demo songs together to play clubs," he says. "I never meant to release it as a record." But he liked the way it came out, and decided to put it out officially. Another person who liked the way it came it out was David Byrne. After hearing the album, he invited Frazier to sing and play guitar on his Everything That Happens Will Happen Today tour. "The chance to learn from David," he says, "that’s something you can’t pass up."

After the tour wound down, Frazier returned to his home in Portland, and started playing out with some friends. Before long, he assembled the illustrious group of musicians that he's been touring with for the past few years and with whom he recorded Blood In The Water: Jeff Baxter (Curtis Salgado, Dr Theopolis, The My Oh Mys, Jive Talkin Robots, Five Fingers of Funk) on keyboards, Matt Brown (She & Him, Storm Large, The Motels) on lead guitar, Ezra Holbrook (The Decemberists, The Minus 5, The My Oh Mys, Dr. Theopolis, KMRIA, Casey Neill & the Norway Rats, Little Sue, Jeremy Wilson, The American Girls) on drums, Tom Nunes (Jive Talkin Robots, The My Oh Mys, Little Sue) on bass and DJ Radical Klavical (Salem's Lot, Sick Mediks, Abangatang, Mic Crenshaw) on turntables. Over time, they've become a locked-in unit, as comfortable with smooth, in-the-pocket slow-burners as they are with firey rock 'n' soul bashers.

"When you get together with these guys to play, you don’t want to make them do something that’s unnatural," he says. "My voice is a soulful voice. But my lead guitarist, he’s a rocking dude. So if you have this thoroughbred, why are you going to keep him in the stable? "I grew up listening to soul music, rap music, rock 'n' roll. And to have a DJ in the band who has all those sensibilities, let him do what he does. Our drummer is an amazing vocalist, and a multi-instrumentalist," he says. "He wants to hear drums played if he’s playing bass, or if he’s playing guitar. And that’s the common thread with all these guys. Everyone has respect for the land that everyone else is thriving in. But there’s still room for them to do what they do naturally." Frazier knew he had something special with his crew, but he was in no hurry to hit the studio, and was instead content to focus on writing songs and touring. Early in his career he'd been signed to a few different major labels, and the experience left him with an aversion to the business part of the music business. ("When you sign to a major label, you have to do whatever they say," he says. "But sometimes everything they say is not in your best interest.") But eventually, he realized what he had was too good not to share.

"I knew that I was always going to play music, but I didn’t think I was actually going to record music anymore," he says. "And I think through these songs, through these guys, it feels new again. I mean, I have no faith in the record business anymore. And for a long time, I didn’t want to be part of it. So this record saved me."

He's releasing Blood In The Water independently, which he admits is not an easy thing. "But every step of it, I know that I’m doing it because I love this." That defiant spirit and ability to shake off past struggles and push on for the love of music fuels the album, which crackles with analog warmth, but also feels distinctly modern, especially on "Ain't No Way," the emotional centerpiece of Blood In The Water. "The lyric is, 'Ain’t no way I’m going to be that man/I’m going to get up again and again,'" Frazier says. "It’s about fighting. If you lay down, you’ll never get off the mat. So it’s definitely about being a survivor."

That indefatigable spirit is on every song on the new album. Some things are worth fighting for; the songs on Blood In The Water inspired Frazier to keep pushing onward, and the finished album is both his ultimate reward, and only the beginning. "This record is coming about because I dig the guys that I’ve been playing with, I dig the songs that we’ve been writing, and I really think that we’re not alone in this," he says. " I feel like this music is going to touch a lot of people. So it’s time to share it."