I don’t normally write reviews for small shows I end up at, such as running into a coffee shop, or free sessions I get a last minute invite to. My usual process is to review the shows that I have been hyping up online for quite some time. However, this particular set begged to be mentioned. So, here I am, reviewing, or more preaching, this little set and why you should care.
I was recently invited by a few family members to attend a free little show at a coffee shop in Canby, OR, not too far out from Portland. It was earlier in the evening, so I decided to go. If nothing else, I couldn’t turn down a hot café au lait.
Upon my arrival, I was greeted with a sign on the door advertising the free show held by local band Mulino Road. I had never heard of them before, save the mention of the name in the invite I got. This brought forth thoughts that maybe I hadn’t heard of them for good reason. I expected a couple with a guitar that sung slightly off pitch covers of folk songs nobody knew or understood. What you’d expect at the stereotypical coffee shop show.
Inside, it looked a little different. There was a full stage setup, complete with bass, guitar, drums, mics, keys. It looked like an actual show. It took me off guard a bit. My expectations rose and I decided to grab a table closer to the action.
The night kicked off with a friend of the band, a young man named Justin Hoskinson, and his guitar. This was kind of what I was expecting at the beginning. Someone with their guitar, pulling out folk covers. However, things took a quick turn when he announced his first song: a Foo Fighters cover. I was blown away by how much talent was hidden in this everyday human. His guitar work was amazing, and his voice and ability musically was top notch. Not only did he pull out some Foo Fighters, he also laid out some covers of Mumford & Sons, Pearl Jam, and even some original songs, one of which was a rap about facing your inner demons. I was surprised. For a free coffee shop show, it was an amazing set so far! And also, why have I not heard of him before?
The headline act of the night had the same effect on me. Mulino Road is a diamond in the rough, a bluesy alternative rock band that has as much capability as an act set to headline a Crystal Ballroom show. They opened up their set with an original song that really showed how much rock force this local band could bring. Lead singer Sedona Garcia has a very unique voice fit for their style, reminiscent somewhat of Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane. This combined with the ripping guitar work of Jake Bassen, and the heavy drum and bass work of the Clawson Brothers made up a band that got me thinking one thing, “Why has nobody heard of these guys?”
The only reason I say this is because, after hearing them rip through a set of golden original works, as well as cover songs by Adele, The Black Keys, Neon Trees, Fleetwood Mac, and even Paramore, I decided to go give them a follow on Twitter and spread the word. I noticed something that surprised me: they only had one follower.
Now, it is apparent to me that there are other way to measure success. Say Facebook likes, or even record sales, and that there are plenty of people in other places who had heard of them. But, I can bet that you reading this article right now have never heard of Mulino Road until you opened up this page.
This brought my train of thought to an issue in the music business today, and something that has always been a problem for new groups of musicians. It takes a lot of work to get known. Even bands like Haim took years to get to the status they’re at now. Every band goes through the stage of playing little coffee shops to a group of people who have no idea who they are, and will unfortunately not care come tomorrow. Sure, it’s perfect practice to go through this. You can test the waters, expand your sound, and polish and polish and practice and practice until someone, somewhere, somehow, finally notices you.
It’s not bad to take a long time to find your big break, but it’s a strange and exciting thought to think that these little bands making short EPs to post online out of their bedroom, or that couple at the coffee shop you went to Wednesday night, could be the next big name on the scene.
So, this is what I ask of you, the reader. You all live somewhere, whether it be in Portland itself, or somewhere else, like Canby. You may even be out of Oregon, but that’s not the point. The real point is, there are local bands in your town. Bands that are playing little coffee shop shows, bands that only have one follower on Twitter, and bands that truly deserve more love. Find these bands, and help them out. Go to those little coffee shop shows, support them by buying an album, or even just spread the word on your social networks.
Mulino Road is one of these bands, and you can guarantee I will do everything I can to get them the recognition they deserve. I started by posting this article, and I continue by asking you to show them a little support as well. Give them a follow on Twitter, a like on Facebook, maybe even buy their album on Amazon. Or, if you’d rather, just check out their Soundcloud and give it a share.
It’s these little local bands that need the most love. They deserve it more than anyone else. You never know when you could be supporting the next big thing. Then you can be that proud hipster that stands and says, “I knew them when…”