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Scott Jeffries to debut solo songs with a full band at Alberta Street Pub

By PHIL FAVORITE// Portland singer-songwriter will play songs from his solo debut 'Bloom' at Alberta Street Pub in Portland on Thursday, April 29

Scott Jeffries is a restless sort, and like any good songwriter, he’ll take inspiration where he can find it.

Over a goodly stretch of 2020’s pandemic-induced slowdown, Jeffries took a handful of prompts from a weekly online songwriting challenge and compiled a collection of 10 country-rock songs that blossomed into his solo debut, Bloom. Now he's ready to show off the new songs with a full-band performance Thursday, April 29, on the outdoor stage at Alberta Street Pub in Portland.

Jeffries will be joined by the three other players featured on Bloom: guitarist and vocalist Rich West Blatt, bassist Hilary Hanes and drummer Chris Palmer. A pair of Oregon Music Hall of Famers, Hank Rasco on keyboards and Paul Brainard on pedal steel guitar, round out the live lineup.

The show is the culmination of a process that took Jeffries out of his comfort zone as leader of the local band Stars of Cascadia and into new territory as a solo artist. He credits the weekly songwriting prompt and performance deadline from a Facebook group called “Laurelthirst Open Mic Folks” for helping him power through a process that normally would take him weeks or months. 

"When you don't linger on things and just trust your instincts, you can actually write some really good songs," Jeffries said. "The song prompts were super helpful because it gets you thinking, 'What is this song about?' And with a tight weekly deadline, you don't have time to be too critical of yourself. It's more like, 'Here's the first idea I have, let's build off this.' It was really gratifying to know that I could write on cue like that."

Jeffries said the global pandemic provided plenty of songwriting fodder to wrap around the song-prompt themes.

"All these songs are about what we're all going through," Jeffries said. "I'm a 40-year-old, middle-class office worker. But you can't write country songs saying, 'I've got a good job and a retirement plan, and I've been married for 10 years’ — that's not a country song. So now it's like, 'Hey, the whole world is crashing down around us.' That's a country song."

"There are some country themes, but what we made really isn't a country record,” said Blatt, who took a big hand in the recording and mixing of the songs on Bloom. “Sure, there's some pedal steel on there, but it's more of a indie-rock record.”

Bloom provided a worthy distraction for Jeffries while he waits to resume full activities with Stars of Cascadia.

"Stars is in kind of a holding pattern,” he said. “We have a sort of Spinal Tap drummer situation going on. But we already have too many songs to record. So my first thought was to record these songs solo, but after talking to some people we decided to try a band thing. The songs are about what's happening right now, so I didn't want to wait."

Jeffries credits the core members of the band — recently dubbed The Essential Workers ahead of the release show — with bringing Bloom to life.

”When the songs came to the band they were just a guy with an acoustic guitar,” he said. “We spent time working on them together and every song was changed for the better because of these guys. There was a lot of collaboration.

"I released it under my name, and everyone's calling it a solo album, but it really was a band album. We just couldn't decide on a band name."

Scott Jeffries and the Essential Workers play songs from “Bloom” on Thursday, April 29, at Alberta Street Pub, 1036 N.E. Alberta St., Portland; show runs from 6 to 9 p.m.. The Colin Trio and Jason Morgan (of J Moses & The Ragged Sunday) are also on the bill. SOLD OUT. 

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Gma Dottie

Good luck to a special grandson. My heart is with you tonight! XXX

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