Somewhere buried deep in a beat up, but solid green army duffle bag is a bunch of cassettes and 8-tracks. There’s some Beck, Sean Lennon, Flaming Lips, Elliot Smith and a copy of The White Album outtakes. You’ll also find a pair of vintage orange pants lost by someone in San Francisco back in 1967, a thin yellow scarf, a Speak n’ Spell connected by Bluetooth, a sombrero type hat, a small paperback copy of On The Road, a Harry Nilsson button and a “Feel The Bern” t-shirt. This is an official Jeff Beam overnight bag.
For about a baker’s dozen years now, Beam has been writing and performing a mind-bending blend of singer-songwriter based psychedelic music that can be found on about ten solo releases at this point. That’s a heck of an effort. That along with a quality stint in The Milkman’s Union that brought him everywhere, time in The Stereo Flys (Boston), half a year with the Rustic Overtones, Beatles Nights, that wonderful Bowie Tribute concert, various Clash of the Titans appearances, shows at just about every venue in town and possibly one or two in your neighborhood’s backyard. Jeff Beam is out there, always. He is writing and recording, always. He might not be all up in your face with his business, but that’s not his style. A bit shy, but hugely prolific with the goods. Plays almost every instrument in the room too. He’s one of the great people in our scene. No one has a bad word to say about Beamer. Folks like him, Dominic Lavoie, Myles Bullen, Kenya Hall and a few others from our local peace sign.
In my ongoing series asking local music people to share with us a “wow” or cool moment in their busy years; we’ve come to a real special story. Imagine covering one of your favorite band’s music and they show up! The extra coolness here is it happened in Portland. Stories like Jeff’s create a huge spotlight for our city on the big scale. This story became super buzzy in the following days thanks to social media. When artists enjoy our city and share that enjoyment publicly, people take notice. That's good for Portland and good for our musicians.
I got the idea to do this show from when Kyle Gervais (KGFREEZE, then Grand Hotel) did a Pixies tribute years ago at The Big Easy. A few of the Pixies showed up and watched. I'm a huge fan of Spoon; they were set to play the State Theatre back in June of 2015, so we decided the night of their show to cover two of their earlier albums, Girls Can Tell and Kill The Moonlight. I picked Empire because it was a closer walk to the State Theatre. The band playing with me then (Sam Peisner, Sean Morin, Jacob Wolk, Scott Nebel) was well rehearsed.
We tried a few different avenues to let the band know about the show. I think they all reached the band. Holly Nunan (Frank FM) was clutch. She connected with Britt on Instagram and let him know. We put a few concert flyers backstage at the State Theatre. Keyboardist Sean Morin's girlfriend won a contest on WCLZ to go see Spoon's soundcheck. So, Sean went to that with her and invited the band personally.
After Spoon’s show at the State ended, we started up our show down the street. There were about 50 people in the crowd. Just as we were finishing Girls Can Tell, Spoon showed up. A palpable excitement spread across the room. The band and I had kind of an "oh shit" moment when they arrived since we hadn't really planned on what would happen after that.
At one point, their keyboardist Eric Harvey jumped up on stage and joined in on "Back To The Life". We did one more song to finish the set, then the rest of Spoon jumped up, took our instruments and showed us how it's really done.
Britt (Daniel, Spoon frontman/songwriter) told my dad how surreal it was to see our gig because I was about his age (27ish) when he put out Kill The Moonlight, which is what we were playing when he saw us. Britt didn't really find success right away as a professional musician, and I kind of believe that can make all the difference in someone's temperament and ego. Make no mistake, he's a bonafide rock star on the stage, but to a couple that swagger with graciousness and humility — unreal, and a true role model.
Britt and I have stayed in touch a little bit since. He mentioned that he wanted to make me part of the show the next time Spoon came to town, and he's a man of his word. We're opening for them July 22nd at the State Theatre. Come early, we're on at 8 pm sharp.