I traveled to Portland, Oregon a couple of time over the holiday season, which is always a fun trip.
The city seems to me to comfortably combine the best elements of the Midwest (friendliness, lack of pretension) and the Pacific coast (sophistication, supportive of the arts).
So it is no surprise that many independent-minded artists, such as Stephen Malkmus, Elliott Smith, James Mercer of the Shins, Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, Britt Daniel of Spoon, Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney, etc. have spent significant time there.
Morgan Geer is another Portland-based artist who seems to take much of the city’s aesthetic into his own music.
Recording under the name Drunker Prayer, he invokes the strong songwriting persona of predecessors like Randy Newman and Warren Zevon and marries it to a rugged Americana musical backdrop.
On Drunken Prayer’s latest single, he covers “Satin Sheets” from cult-favorite country singer/songwriter Willis Alan Ramsey as the b-side, and it’s a pretty quintessential slice of backwoods poetry that should appeal to fans of the Band.
And although Geer splits time in Asheville, NC, Drunken Prayer demonstrates Portland is still a reliable fount of great music.
ERIC J. LAWRENCE