Think choral karaoke, without that annoying mic hog.
The Low Bar Chorale is a twice-a-month extravaganza that transforms a local bar into a drop-in alt/indie sing-along backed by a live band of rotating musicians from Blind Pilot to Brandi Carlisle’s band, and no one cares what you sound like. We've sung over 200 alt-indie, pop and rock songs in bars and stages all over Portland. It welcomes no experience and no commitments, it’s a perfect for anyone from show choir megastars to the “karaoke scares the crap out of me” crowd.
The Low Bar Chorale was jointly founded and run by Music Director/Producer Ben Landsverk and Creative Director/Producer Kate Sokoloff.
HOW IT WORKS We choose 2 songs and post them ahead of time. We practice each song for about 30 min, and then perform for ourselves…and maybe for a video camera. There’s a $10 fee and events are generally 21+.
ABOUT THE SONGS Song choices are usually posted one week in advance and lyrics are posted when available. Songs focus more on the new, from artists like the Fleet Foxes, Sia and Milk Carton Kids, as well as much-loved pop tune classics from artists like Tears for Fears, etc. Keep this in mind when suggesting songs! SAMPLE SONGS
HERE ARE THE FAQS When do you meet and where? A: The Low Bar Chorale meets in the Show Bar at Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark St., in Portland. See www.lowbarchorale.com for schedule. Come early for food (we recommend the fries).
2. Q: When do you meet? A: We usually meet twice a month on a Tuesday. Check www.lowbarchorale.com.
3. Q: Why do you meet in a bar? A: That’s where they keep the alcohol. There are plenty of alcohol-free options, too!
4. Q: Why does it cost money? A: We believe professional musicians should be paid for their work, so we pay them. That they love playing for you is a bonus!
5. Q: Why no kids? A: Everyone deserves a night off at a bar. And the band swears. A lot.
6. Q: Do you have to know how to sing? A: We believe that if you want to sing, you can. No matter what.
7. Q: Do you have to know how to read music? A: No, we learn by ear.
8. Q: What if I’ve never been in a chorus before? A: Have you been in a bar before, or can you be in a bar? You’re in!
9. Q: What kinds of songs do you sing? A: We sing a range of pop, rock and alt indie songs from the mid-seventies to today. We look for songs with great harmonies, and the occasional anthemic fist-pumping power ballad.
10. Q: Why can’t we sing “insert any song here” ?: A: Not every song works for a group. The leaders have an uncanny superpower of choosing ones that do.
11. Q: I play an instrument. Can I play in the band? A: The Low Bar Chorale Band is a core group of professional musicians who rotate when members are touring, recording or otherwise engaged.
12. Q: How do I start a chorale in my community? A: Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. Producers Kate and Ben have a dream of singing in bars everywhere. Give them a shout. They’ll be happy to tell you how they did it.
13. Q: Will you come play in my town? A: Contact email@example.com. She’ll know what works.
14. Q: Will you play for free? A: No. We believe all artists should be paid for their work.
15. Q: Don’t you want the exposure? A: People die of exposure. That’s what parkas are for, parkas our musicians pay for with compensation for their talent and time.
16. Q: Will you play at my party for $200? A: Nope. See all money questions above. WE PAY OUR BAND! Sorry to get shouty. We are passionate about this.
17. Q: How do I hire you to play at my event? A: Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. To date, The Low Bar Band has played to over 5,000 people for the Mississippi Street Fair, Pioneer Square’s “Singin’ in the Square,” Kruger’s Farm and Suttle Lake Lodge in Central Oregon.
18. Q: What’s up with these special ticketed shows I keep hearing about? A: Our shows are usually thematic, always interactive, usually include special musical guests, and other artists such as storytellers, comedians and whoever else Kate and Ben decide to throw into the mix. Past shows include the annual holiday event Cheer the F**k Up, Singin’ in the Square-Prince Edition, and a Jesus Christ Superstar Singalong.
19. Q: Why should I come to the Low Bar Chorale? A:Why not? Just like that weirdo hippie freak you dated in high school, we don’t believe in commitment, so just come try it out!
Ben Landsverk, Music Director, Arranger, Producer, Founder and Bar Tender Ben Landsverk is a well-known Portland musician who’s performed and/or recorded with Holcombe Waller, Rachel Taylor Brown, Alela Diane, Priory, Sean Flinn & the Royal We, The Portland Cello Project, Storm Large, Pink Martini, Smokey Robinson, and many others. He plays in a number of Portland bands, including Wonderly, Blue House and The Heritage. An experienced choir director, Ben’s worked with numerous church choirs. So he’s used to rowdy.
Kate Sokoloff, Creative Producer, Founder, Bar Tender www.sokoloffcreative.com/ Kate Sokoloff is an experienced creator and producer: she founded and co-created the public radio show, Live Wire! She's also produced story events with Back Fence (where she's a consulting producer) and Mortified. She’s a brand strategist and creative director. A former theater kid, she likes to sing pop songs in bars with other people, whether they like it or not.
OUR BAND We are lucky to have a revolving roster of some of the top musicians in Portland and beyond. On any given night or gig, some of the following will be your back-up band:
A.G. Donnaloia, guitar A.G. Donnaloia is a local performing, touring and recording musician, composer, and guitar teacher for over 20 yrs. He plays and teaches a wide range of music styles including Jazz, Latin American, Soul, R&B, Rock and Hip Hop. He’s played with Liv Warfield and Freddie Trujillo, among many others. And, he always has the best eye wear.
Allen Hunter: Bass Allen has been playing in bands around the Portland area since 1986. Since 2005, he tours regularly as the bassist for LA-based band Eels, playing at such storied venues as Royal Albert Hall and The Apollo, in front of crowds of 60,000 and more at the Glastonbury and Rock Werchter festivals, and on the teevee on the Stephen Colbert, David Letterman, Carson Daly, and Jools Holland shows. He also tours the US, Europe, and Japan, and entertains the Portland crowds with bands and artists like The Mistons, Kathryn Claire, Michael Dean Damron, and Anita Lee & The Handsome 3. Allen is also a regular contributor as a studio musician. He is easy to find in a crowd. He speaks Japanese. He is Maya’s grampa.
Dave Jorgensen: trumpet player, keyboardist Dave arrived in Portland from Wisconsin in 2001 and has been playing trumpet, keyboards and drums in bands ever since. In addition to appearing on recordings by Alela Diane, Don Henley, The Von Trapps, A Year Afar, Rm. 101, Kieskagato and Kristin Hersh, his eclectic jazz-based original music can be heard on 2 recent EPs: Astoria Sessions (2017) and Road Songs (2016). As a member of the indie-folk group Blind Pilot, Dave has toured extensively over the past decade and appeared on The David Letterman Show, Ellen, One Tree Hill, CBS This Morning and NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts.
Kyleen King: viola, violin, vocals, bass Kyleen King has over 30 years’ experience as a classically trained violinist and violist. Armed with a formal education in music (Springfield, MO) and audio engineering (Nashville, TN), she has followed a passionate path towards multi-instrumentalism (guitar, electric bass, keys, percussion, and vocals). As a long-standing member of the Portland music community, she has also performed and composed alongside dancers, visual artists, filmmakers, and writers. Kyleen performs and tours regularly with her art pop trio, Swansea, along with other bands, including a recent year on the road with Austin, Texas-based Heartless Bastards and, oh yeah, this other musician, Brandi Something….Brandi Carlile? Yeah, that’s it.
Ned Failing: drums Ned Failing is a veteran touring and session drummer in the west coast music scene. He’s a busy guy: Mexican Gunfight, Kris Deelane & The Hurt, The Next Waltz, Live Wire House Band, Floydian Slips, Taylor John Williams, Jerry Joseph, Dirty Martini, Stephanie Schneiderman, Box Set, The Renegade Saints, Lea Krueger and Nicole Campbell. Off stage, Ned’s a co-owner of the Pickathon Music Festival, as well as outside promoter and special events booker at Revolution Hall, and an active participant in shaping the new music industry model. In other words, he’s very very busy.
Jeff Langston: bass Jeff Langston grew up in Eugene, Oregon and started playing bass in local bands at age 16. He studied at Berklee College of Music and then later moved to New York City. He’s played venues ranging from living rooms, to CBGB's, to Carnegie Hall with many diverse artists, including Antony and the Johnsons, Lou Reed, Boy George, LP, and many more. Some highlights of his television performances include the Late Show with David Letterman, The Jonathan Ross Show, and Live at Abbey Road. In 2009 he came to his senses and relocated back to the Pacific Northwest. Look for him with artists like Rachel Taylor Brown, Red Bird, Mo Phillips, Eleven Eyes, and other regional folks. He’s (usually) the tall one.
GUEST PERFORMERS Kasey Anderson Gil Assayas Chris Brown Rachel Taylor Brown Jim Brunberg Kathryn Claire Courtenay Hameister Casey Neill Rich Ray Jason Rouse The Sama Dams Matt Sheehy Stephanie Schneiderman Shook Twins Edna Vazquez
Take your shower singing to the next level. Join us!