By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Lately, some of the shows popping up on Dan's Silverleaf's concert calendar have seemed a little out-of-step and more lo-fi, ambient and/or indie-trendy than the typical folk, roots and Americana fare the venue usually books. So far, it's a welcome refinement of Dan's docket—and there's a perfectly good explanation for the recent shift in the venue's booking.
A few months back, Dan Mojica approached Baptist Generals' frontman and NX35 Grand Poobah Chris Flemmons about some help with booking shows that appealed to a younger, hipper crowd. But, obviously, with NX35 and other commitments, Flemmons says he was reluctant to add "booking agent" to his list of hats.
"When we talked about it again this past summer," Flemmons says, "that's when I told Dan to talk to Matthew [Gray]."
In recent weeks, since Gray said "yes" to Mojica and started helping out, Dan's has played host to several talented acts who had yet to darken the Silverleaf's door, like Asthmatic Kitty's Half-Handed Cloud, Burnt Toast Vinyl's Unwed Sailor and, in January, Gray says, Goldmund, which is the piano-based project of Keith Kenniff, Portland's prolific artist who is also behind the atmospheric, more-electronic sounds of Helios.
"We'll have to rent him a piano for the show," Gray says. "But it'll be worth it."
Though Gray had dabbled with booking shows in the past, he says, it wasn't until launching The Bee's Fifth Collective in January '09 that he did it with any regularity (by booking gigs at the collective's own Bee's Manor as well as other area venues). But by adding Dan's to his growing list of responsibilities, Gray still won't be taking time off from the other hats he's wearing; he'll continue juggling duties with both his Matthew and the Arrogant Sea and Matthew Gray Delves Into the Humanity Pools... while also managing a few other area acts. In fact, he's adding even more to his to-do list: Gray won't just be booking for Dan's, it turns out; Flemmons says that Gray is "one of about four or five people helping us out" with booking acts for NX35.
Speaking of the conferette, Gray says the Arrogant Sea is prepping You Can't Tame a Wild Rabbit, the band's follow-up to 2008's great Family, Family, Family Meets the Magic Christian, for a NX35 release show.
"Right now, we're about nine songs in," Gray says, "and we hope to be finished by the end of the month."
There's mention of a record label—not really a surprise if you know this band's history—but Gray's not even giving off-the-record clues yet.
So, does Gray think he's adding one too many irons to the fire? His simple answer: No.