Americana songstress debuts at the Park Place Cafe
Portland songwriter Kelly Brightwell will join Night Folk and Dan Dover at Gresham's Park Place Cafe for a night of music on Jan. 28
If you're a regular to Park Place Cafe's Night Folk show, you're in for some new blood this month. Kelly Brightwell, a Minneapolis transplant who's since set down roots in the folk music scene in Portland, will headline the Jan. 28 event.
Brightwell, Americana and folk singer/songwriter and guitarist, will bring her ethereal, earnest charm to the monthly show at Park Place, 288 S.E. 182nd Ave. There is a $5 cover, and musicians will perform from 7-9:30 p.m.
Her performance could provide a more melodic calm to balance the upbeat contemporary folk of the house band, Night Folk, led by singer and guitarist Rich "Waggs" Waggoner and featuring vocals by Doug "Spud" Henderson and vocals and harmonica by Piers Munro. Dan Dover, another regular artist at the cafe, also will perform.
Brightwell is excited to play for the first time with Night Folk, having known Henderson in the local music community for some time.
She's also looking forward to playing at Park Place, as she admires the venue for providing a hub to draw local musicians out beyond the Portland scene.
"It's a really intimate space so I really like that," Brightwell said. "It's great that there's a little outpost of music a little further east."
She'll be performing oft-requested songs like "The Rain and the Radio" and others off her 2013 release, "Hearts and Home." She'll also play a good amount of new material in her set.
Finding a new music family in Portland
Brightwell's career gained traction back in 2004 after the release of her debut EP, "Waiting for Spring." Soon after, however, a stress injury caused her to take a hiatus from performing before moving from Minneapolis to Portland in 2007.
There she found a job with the music distributor CD Baby. After a few years, she again took time off when another life event, the birth of her daughter, led her to refocus her energy on motherhood.
Yet she continued craving a musical outlet, which she found in Artichoke Music, a nonprofit music community center based in Portland.
Despite an early desire to meet fellow moms, she ended up establishing stronger connections with older men pursuing a fresh career in music at Artichoke, connections she called "unexpected and wonderful."
Brightwell says Artichoke provides a safe place for her and others to take creative risks while receiving feedback with a positive perspective, what Artichoke teachers describe as "generous listening."
"It's listening for what you like and not focusing what you don't like; listening for the best of what you're hearing" she said.
She's worked with many local artists, and in 2014 released an album co-written with Portland's Woody Moran. She continues to write with Moran, and frequently performs and collaborates with other artists from Artichoke and the surrounding area.
Brightwell lists influences such as Shawn Colvin, Tracy Chapman and especially Sarah McLachlan.
When speaking of her songwriting, she admitted when she started out her music had a lot angst and emotional weight, and that her new songs have a "wider perspective."
"Not quite happy, but saying life's pretty good and we'll all get through," she added.
Brightwell anticipates releasing another co-written venture with Moran sometime in late spring of this year, with additional solo studio work tentatively scheduled for early 2018.