Billy Triplett died of a heart attack on Sunday, August 11th. Anyone who knew Billy knew him to be in every way a gentle giant of a man. He was physically massive—tall and very heavy. But he was the friendliest guy you are ever likely to meet. Exceptionally helpful. Incredibly kind. A real sweet man.
Billy was a sound engineer of the highest order. He was so good at his craft that he wasn’t around Portland very much after the mid-90s. He ended up touring with the likes of the Goo Goo Dolls, Prince, Paul McCartney, Pat Benatar and Joe Walsh and the James Gang, as well as working on projects with countless other musical acts over the years.
But pretty much any musician playing in town prior to the mid-90s has a Billy Triplett tale to tell.
The first time I met Billy was at Luis’ La Bamba club in 1982, when my band opened for Billy Rancher and the Unreal Gods during the height of the Rose Festival. That was our very first gig and we were excited to be opening for the Unreal Gods, the city’s most popular band, but completely disorganized. Billy was the first person I met when we were setting up. His aura of unruffled tranquility becalmed those around him. He calmed us right down and got us set-up on stage in front of the Gods’ gear and all mic’ed up, hooked up and dialed in without a care.
He handled the main soundboard at the back of the room, while Mick Boyt manned the monitor board. Billy and Mick made doing a sound check seem so simple that we naively assumed it was how all sound checks were supposed to go. Ha! A musician should be so lucky. By all accounts our gig that night was the best sounding we ever had. That was the only time Billy Triplett was our man at the board. It was three years downhill from there. And we had a damn good sound man of our own.
Billy and the Gods were that lucky. They had Billy Triplett doing their sound for every one of their gigs. Most certainly he was a key component in the Gods’ success. He played the board and the attending rack of effects as expertly as any musician plays his instrument. He was an artist. And that was thirty years ago! He only got better at his craft with every one of the thousands of gigs he engineered since that time.
He often did sound at Key Largo in the late ‘80s and into the ‘90s. I played there with two different bands with him doing the sound, and the whole gig was like butter. Everything was just warm and toasty and copacetic. It was Billy Triplett’s world of sound engineering and we were welcome to it.
Billy began working with Troy Williver and his band Bombay when they played at Key Largo around 1995. Not long after that he signed a contract with Williver, and headed with Bombay to LA in search of gigs that would lead to a recording contract. Williver is a true professional musician, and while in LA, he introduced Billy to many influential musicians, technicians and industry contacts.
Billy ended up staying in LA circa 1997 and he lived there for over ten years. In 2009 he moved to Sturgeon Bay,Wisconsin, where he stayed at the Holiday Music Motel—Jackson Browne’s recording studio/motel complex—working on numerous projects from there. By the end of 2010 his health had begun to deteriorate and he was hospitalized for a time, in critical condition.
Unbeknownst to most local musicians, Billy returned to Portland at Christmas 2010, staying with Troy Williver and his family. Billy convalesced there for many months. He returned to Sturgeon Bay where he worked at the annual Steel Bridge Songfest last June.
Every time I met with Billy over the years I was continually struck by his benign demeanor, his reverential humility. I will always remember those qualities in him. But most of all I will remember the countless live music gigs I attended around town where the sound was absolutely perfect. You’d look around to see who was doing sound—and sure enough—it would be Billy Triplett. Hopefully Billy is even now reunited with his old friend Billy Rancher, creating music in the great hereafter.
by SP Clarke
Editors Note:Please share your memories of Billy with us and everyone, and he will always be with us.
Wednesday, August 14th, 8:00 p.m. INTERNATIONAL POP OVERTHROW/PORTLAND Alhambra Theatre, 4811 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, 97214 (Full lineup at International Pop Overthrow)
Thursday, August 15th, 7:00 p.m. HOUSE CONCERT/featuring Ivan Pyzow!
Historic Irvington, Portland (seating is limited – please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
with the number in your party & for the address)
Saturday, August 17th, 3:00 p.m. MUSIC MILLENIUM 3158 E. Burnside St., Portland, 97214 503-231-8926
January – produced by Anny Celsi & Kevin Jarvis (Ragazza Music, 2013) Featuring Carl Byron, Jason Chesney, Kirk Swan, Ivan Pyzow, Doug Freeman, Adam Marsland, Teresa Cowles, Evie Sands, Nelson Bragg, Stan Behrens, Rich McCulley, Kiara Perico, Paul Lacques, Bobby MacDonald and Kevin Jarvis
“These are pop songs for which the phrase ‘perfect pop song’ was invented.” – Freddy Celis, Rootstime
“…familiar styles -sunshine pop, country flavored rock -but done with a fresh approach and melodies that sound like instant hits.” – Cabin Essence
“Fans of Aimee Mann, Lucinda Williams, Suzanne Vega and Jackie DeShannon will find much to enjoy … the tracks on January turn back the clock to a time when pop music was taken seriously” – Kevin Mathews, Today Online
“Anny Celsi…has been churning out first-class handmade music with songs that run deep enough to appeal to the folk & roots crowd while the arrangements are a far cry from morose traditionalism. With her mellifluous, well-tempered voice with a subtle hint of melancholia, Celsi draws us in while her poetic lyrics touch upon travel experiences, relationships and personal matters…What I’m trying to say: Anny Celsi is an original artist with a unique sound.” – Chill@Blue Rose
“A classy and enduring slice of laid-back pop” – Steve Ferra, Absolute Powerpop
On March 23, 2013, Portland, Oregon-based pop-punk band Smoochknob will celebrate the release of their seventh full-length, Drive By High Five (DRD Records), at DRD Records’ new restaurant, bar, and theater, The Analog Cafe & Little Theater (720 SE Hawthorne, Portland, Oregon), for their grand opening weekend.
Doors are at 8pm, show starts at 9pm. Tickets are $10.00 in advance via Tickets West and $16.00 day of show, or free with the purchase of Drive By High Five via the band’s website, www.smoochknob.com. Also on the bill: Crown Point’s Jon Davidson, Cellar Door, and Elora.
Late in 2012, Smoochknob released Drive By High Five’s first single, “Meet Me Half Way,” a song that featured a growth in songwriting and a more pop leaning, accompanying it’s release with a video:
Written by Smoochknob front man/drummer, Donnie Rife, the song was conceived when Rife’s wife was eight months pregnant with their first child, who is now four years old. Although the single showcases a deeper dimension to Smoochknob, one listen to Drive By High Five will prove that the band still has bite and doesn’t let go of their hard-hitting, feral sound. Instead, choosing to focus on stronger pop hooks with a wider pop span.
“Our philosophy with the album was to just record the best songs we had, regardless of them fitting into our normal style,” says Rife. “I had a back log of pop songs and song ideas that Javier Canteras [the band’s lead guitarist] and I just started working on.”
The end result is what many have described as Smoochknob’s most sonic-sounding album to date.
“We wanted to record an album without worrying about sounding like the previous albums,” continues Rife. “We all love and write so many different types of music. We wanted to showcase this on our new record. Javi and I – and I think most artists are in the the same boat – have tons of songs that we put into that, ‘someday I will do a side project with these songs’ folder. This release allowed us to explore that folder, and be true to ourselves as songwriters.”
A few weeks ago, Portland stalwart musician Pete Krebs was diagnosed with cancer. Pete had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in his early 20s, and through radiation and removal of some lymph nodes, he beat it. However, Pete has now been diagnosed with another type of cancer known as desmoplastic melanoma. Pete goes into surgery next week and will have a second biopsy taken from his neck. From this surgery, we will know how far the cancer has spread and what Pete’s chances are for survival.
This sad news has rocked the local music community. Pete has inspired so many of us over the years, through his direct musical partnerships and his ever-evolving, Herculean contribution to the music scene that is Portland. Portland’s musicians have swiftly rallied around Pete to help his family offset some of the immense costs of medical care and lost wages incurred while Pete is in recovery mode.
Three separate benefit shows have been scheduled, with donations administrated by the Jeremy Wilson Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps provide a safety net for musicians in times of medical crisis.
As many of you know, Pete has genre-hopped over the years, with his past bands Thrillhammer, Hazel, Golden Delicious, The Gossamer Wings, The Kung Pao Chickens, and current projects The Stolen Sweets and The Portland Playboys . He may be the only person alive to have headlined both CBGB’s and Preservation Hall. Not surprisingly, Pete’s benefit shows reflect the divergence of his musical paths, and there’s something for everyone.
SWING FOR PETE
Wednesday, February 20, 2013 Doors at 4:30 pm; Show 5:00-11:00 p.m.
Featuring: Brent Martens Combination, Boy & Bean, The Stolen Sweets, Swingtime PDX, Itty Bitty Bang Bang!, Nina Nightshade, Pink Lady, Hai Fleisch, Everything’s Jake, The Jenny Finn Orchestra, The Midnight Serenaders
Sliding scale donations starting at $20.00. All donations are tax-deductible.
ROCK FOR PETE
Thursday, February 21, 2013 Doors at 5:30 pm; Show 5:30 pm-12:30 am
PORTLAND, OREGON — In the fast-paced world of independent music video production things can go from major to minor in a heartbeat. Soon after completing a music video for a New York-based artist, filmmakers Glenn Scott Lacey and Steven Dempsey of Portland-based Americonic Films got word that the musician had decided to go in a different direction, leaving them with a beautiful video and poignant story, but no music.
“It was devastating because this was some of the most meaningful and personal footage I had ever shot,” said Dempsey, Americonic Films’ director of photography. ” The idea that it might never be seen was heartbreaking.”
Determined not to let the project go by the wayside Lacey and Dempsey turned their attention to Portland’s up-and-coming musicians, conducting an exhaustive search in hopes of finding the perfect partner to complete their project.
They found that person in Tyler Stenson, a musician with a song in search of a video.
Twice-named Portland’s “Performing Songwriter of the Year” by the Portland Songwriters Association and named “Best Male Artist” at the 2011 Portland Music Awards, Stenson’s song “This Too Shall Pass” perfectly complimented the story told in the Americonic video.
“Tyler’s song not only fit the imagery in the video, but it carried the same message.” said Lacey, Americonic Films’ director.
Lacey made contact with Stenson, and the next day, they met. “Glenn just rough-synced my song to the existing video and it was unbelievable how well it visually aligned with the lyrics and music” said Stenson. “I try to take big issues and ideas and personalize them, and it was amazing to see the story I was telling with music come to life on the screen.”
After a one-day shoot of Stenson’s scenes and a late night of editing, the video was completed just in time for Stenson to release it to his fans. This was crucial, as he was entered in a national contest sponsored by Zazoo, in which fan votes pared down 3,594 entries to just ten. Stenson made the cut.
Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz would review the top ten and pick the winner, who would open for the band at the Outlaw Road Show, part of the prestigious South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas on March 9th. Once again, Stenson won.
“Steven and I couldn’t be more thrilled, especially because we may have played a small part in getting this amazing artist’s music noticed.” said Lacey. Like the message of Tyler’s song, “this too shall pass”, there are happy endings.
Portland’s own Esperanza Spalding has secured two coveted prizes at the 55th Annual Grammy Award ceremonies—one of which she shares with longtime local musical treasure, Thara Memory. Spalding’s fourth studio album, Radio Music Society was selected as “Best Jazz Vocal Album” Sunday night in Los Angeles. In addition a track from that album, “City of Roses,” a composition she produced with Memory, won a Grammy accolade for “Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist.” Memory was also in attendance at the ceremony.
Esperanza Spalding first came to light as a teenager in a November 2001 Two Louies review by SP Clarke, wherein he praised her first band, Noise For Pretend, and made prominent note of her auspicious talent. Again in June of 2002 SP predicted that she would one day “accrue widespread recognition,” which eleven years hence seems prophetic to say the least.
These are Spalding’s second and third Grammy victories. In 2011 she won the award for “Best New Artist,” defeating Justin Bieber, among several other very noteworthy candidates. She is the only jazz artist ever to win the honor. All of this for a brilliant young woman still only twenty-eight years old, with a portentous future ahead of her! The best is yet to come for Esperanza Spalding. We are fortunate to be able to claim her as one of our own.
A fixture in the Portland music scene for the past twenty years, singer/guitarist Pete Krebs has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, desmoplastic melanoma. It is known to appear in the head and neck regions of individuals with sun-damaged skin. Pete’s doctors have determined the extent of his illness to be at Stage II, which means that (for now) the cancer appears to be localized. Because this form of cancer does not respond to chemo or radiation therapies, surgery is the only alternative. In an effort to quell the advance and to ascertain the extent of the disease, tissue in his neck is to be removed and a biopsy is due to be performed.
Pete Krebs first appeared on the local radar screen in 1992 with Hazel—one of Portland’s most influential alternative bands. Since Hazel’s disbanding in 1997, Pete has explored a variety of musical styles with bands such as Golden Delicious, Gossamer Wings, Kung Pao Chickens, Stolen Sweets and Pete Krebs and the Portland Playboys.
For the past several years, Pete has been working full time as a musician, while his wife Rebecca attends grad school. Together they were buying a house, which they are now forced to sell in order to contend with the mounting medical bills. The family is already experiencing severe financial strain and they haven’t even received a diagnosis for Pete’s illness yet.
It is in times such as these when all of us within the local community need to pull together to help a fellow musician in dire straits. Anyone who remembers the plight of Billy Rancher can certainly sympathize with the position that Pete Krebs and his family are in.
Those interested in contributing to Pete Krebs’ cause, should click here:
As always, there are a million reasons to shop at Music Millennium. Now there’s one more, and it may be the most important reason of all. The details are not mine to tell, but confirmed word is out that MM got pinched for a substantial amount of money- apparently enough to nearly close the store…