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It's a Manns world

Guitarist-singer to share Park Place stage with Grodie Brothers


It took a dream to wake up John Manns’ inner musician.CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - John Manns will bring his original music to Park Place Cafe this Saturday.

“I started playing and writing about 20 years ago when I was 40 years old,” he says. “I had dreams where I was playing guitar, and I took it as a sign.”

Following his decision to make his night visions reality, he started jamming on a daily basis and has since written hundreds of songs, even winning “Performer of the Year” from the Portland’s West Coast Songwriters Association in 2011. Ironically, Manns says he’s not naturally inclined to be on stage.

“I never wanted to perform,” he says. “Performing was just the next thing to do since I had all these songs written.”

Inspired by such songwriters as Pete Townsend and Gordon Lightfoot, Manns’ vocal delivery sounds vaguely similar to John Denver.

“I love John Denver,” Manns says. “He took the solo folksinger status to great heights. His use of spirituality is what has stayed with my music. I think of my music as spiritual.”

Manns also notes he enjoys storytelling musicians like Guy Clark and Dave Carter.

“Now I like to combine songs that tell stories — this happened, then this happened — with songs that make the crowd smile and tap their feet and feel lively in their heart.”

Park Place to be

Music-lovers can judge Manns’ ability with both types of songs when he performs at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 28, at Park Place Cafe, 1288 S.E. 182nd Ave. Admission is free, and you can learn more at parkplacecoffee.com

Also on the bill are The Grodie Brothers — Piers Munro, Doug “Spud” Henderson and Rich Waggoner. The trio plays Park Place the last Saturday of each month and also performs as Nightfolk. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - The Grodie Brothers play the last Saturday of each month at Park Place Cafe.

This trio plays the songs of Jake Grodie (Waggoner), and feature Clem Grodie (Henderson) along with Munro. Waggoner mixes humor, social and political commentary with three chord progressions and has released such self produced CDs as “Open Mic” and “Family Tree.”

For more information, visit reverbnation.com/nightfolk.

Manns himself also performs with the band Sweet Home, who have released “Sweet Home — The Band’s in Town,” and has recorded three tunes as a soloist, two of which you can hear at reverbnation.com/johnmanns.

Among the places Manns has played regularly is the White Eagle in North Portland, where he would go to jam with fellow musician Chris Baron.

“The White Eagle was Chris Baron’s gig,” he says. “I just kept showing up. I wanted to learn to play to a crowd and not have to have them stop what they were doing to listen. I wrote songs that the crowd didn’t have to follow every word to enjoy. But if they did listen, they were rewarded.”

Interestingly enough, although he’s learned how to grab a crowd, he does no covers of other artists’ songs.

“I’m more of a writer,” he says. “I put together a playlist of original stories. Then I scrapped that and made a list of original lively tunes.”

He adds that he doesn’t so much rehearse as never stops playing.

“It has to be as fresh for me as it is to the audience,” he says of sharing his songs. “I like to feel the song revealed rather than recited. So I play everyday, but it is play, not practice.”

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