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An Interview with Shana Morrison

One of Portland’s best seasonal shindigs took place last weekend: Kell’s St. Patrick’s Festival. The downtown venue had a hefty lineup of musicians and events on March 17. Among them was Shana Morrison, who is no stranger to the festival. I had the chance to meet with Shana Morrison and ask her some questions before the Friday night show.

Q: Will you be playing any Irish-influenced music for the show tonight?

A: Actually they’ve asked me to perform some upbeat, rock n’ roll instead tonight. Kell’s has a lot of Irish performers and since the show tonight is the last on the list, they’d like to get people dancing a bit. I suppose the most Irish influence I’ll be playing is from a few Van Morrison songs.

It should be noted that the legendary singer, Van Morrison, is Shana Morrison’s father. He was raised in Northern Ireland, but Shana Morrison grew up in the San Francisco area.

Q: What’s your favorite St. Patrick’s Day memory?

A: Oh, I have so many good memories at Kell’s. This is probably my fourth of fifth time performing at the festival. It’s hard not to get into the spirit. I’ve had a lot of great memories meeting up with friends from Portland and seeing the bagpipes.

Q: How has your band changed over the years?

A: I’ve been playing with our bass player and drummer for about 15 years now. Wow, time flies…We also have a local Portland keys player filling in named Dave Flechner. He’s amazing. He came in and practiced with us a few times and learned all of our stuff within a few tries. But a lot of being a musician is playing with multiple bands and picking things up quickly. A few members of our band go out and play shows with other folks almost every night of the week.

Later that night, Morrison’s routine went exactly as planned. Folks got up and grooved when she played her father’s hit “And It Stoned Me.” The folky song was revived with her strong, female vocals. Some of the lyrics were easily relatable for locals: “Oh, the water. Oh, the water. Hope it don’t rain all day.”

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The younger crowd hollered when they recognized Morrison singing a cover of “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. The lead guitarist played and sang the male part of the loving duet.

Morrison and the band finished with some classic covers like, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” and “Pride and Joy.” It was rocking out as it was meant to be. The lead guitarist encouraged the crowd to get louder before his skillful solo. Even Dave Flechner, the Portland pianist, got into a fun and upbeat keys solo.

Once the final note was played, everyone clapped and whistled. Morrison thanked the crowd for an exciting show and took a bow. Kell’s and Shana Morrison both know how to put on a great show, and Friday night, they did just that.

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