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The Junebugs pay a visit to The Portland Playlist; put your hopes in a mason jar

By | Teri Briggs

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Photo by Teri Briggs

Who are The Junebugs you might be wondering? According to their Bio, “imagine if you put R. Kelly through a banjo.” Led by frontman and beard enthusiast, Moses Barrett, The Junebugs combine “high-energy pop with Pacific Northwest folksy goodness to create a genre-bending sound you can kick up your heels to. Covering everything from Tom Petty to TLC to Lorde, the eclectic taste of the trio ranges from turn-of-the-century Americana to modern Hip Hop, with a strong emphasis on vocal harmony. Their original tunes have a dreamy, sweet quality reminiscent of Neil Young and Iron & Wine, peppered with fiery banjo lines.” This is a trio that has something for everyone which keeps their performance schedule quite busy between corporate events, weddings, and music venues around town. The band, Moses Barrett (guitar and vox), Kyle Owen (drums and vox), and Sean Vinson (bass and vox), are a merry bunch who believe in having fun together on and off the stage which is evident when you look at pictures on their Facebook page. The way their voices harmonize is another instrument put to good use in the clever way they enhance the cover tunes they like to perform.

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Photo by Teri Briggs

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Photo by Teri Briggs

We spent the first hour listening to their musical influences which included Blues Traveler, Foreigner, Neil Young, Foo Fighters, The Band, Benny Goodman, Jaco Pastorius, Zac Brown Band, and Kate Wolf. We heard stories of Moses’ upbringing in the woods with “hippies” for parents, falling asleep around the campfire, learning to sing as soon as he could talk until his Dad gifted him with a guitar for his 12th birthday, and his Mom taught him some chords. Kyle reminisced about hearing Foreigner’s, “Hot Blooded” which he credits as the song that changed his approach to the drums. He also told a wonderful memory of Benny Goodman’s, “Sing, Sing, Sing,” a performance he saw as a young boy at the annual Coos Bay Clambake that his Grandfather, also a drummer, took him to every March. We heard Sean tell the story of the Foo Fighter’s, “Everlong” a video that blew him away from the album “The Colour and the Shape,” and was the first album he bought with his own money. He also credits Jaco Pastorius with changing the way he viewed the Bass.

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Photo by Teri Briggs

Moving into the second hour, we heard tracks off last year’s release of their first EP, “Home to Me.” Patrick Hammond, from Portland Notes, wrote a great review of the album which you can find at, http://portlandnotes.com/?p=761. The Junebugs stopped by Rob Rainwater’s, “Songs from the Source” at PRP in February, and you can listen to that session at, http://prp.fm/drop-in-session-the-junebugs-on-songs-from-t…/. “Quittin Store” and “5 AM” were performed live, along with the brand new, “The Grind.” Quittin Store evokes a nice image of storing your hopes in a mason jar by putting something in that jar every day. 5 AM is about being on the road and missing your loved ones back home. We really enjoyed new song, The Grind. With elements of the Blues and Jazz, it’s about those rough gigs all musicians can relate to. When they unleash those harmonies, goosebumps erupt all over!

Wednesday nights are such a fun time at The Portland Playlist. Each week we think that one was the best, and then another comes, and we find ourselves saying it yet again. Wednesday’s session with The Junebugs was no exception. They have a couple of local shows coming up starting Tuesday, April 26th and we can’t recommend them enough!


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Luke Neill

I host "Sounds of PDX" every Tuesday from 7-9pm.

At my core, I am a musician, songwriter, producer, studio owner/engineer, and, most importantly, a lover of all things music. It is my goal to help connect listeners to local artists by providing music and live show reviews. I believe we should all be searching for the next thing that inspires us.

I am originally from Arizona, where over many years, I played in several different independent bands in the Phoenix and Tucson areas. I put in many, many hours of grassroots-style promotion in order to get my bands heard. I am extremely lucky to now live in Portland, OR, where we have one of the most vibrant music scenes in the nation.

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