There is a general absence of an old style of music in Portland. It's music that celebrated being alive and the pitfalls of being human without a ton of unnecessary moaning, back when songs about heartbreak really broke your heart and songs about rising above took you to that other place. Horny sections and groovy bass, shuffling drums and magic guitars--music for the inner world. In one word: SOUL.
I have a message for all you cats and kittens. The answer is simple: The Redeemers! They're pulling the Portland scene out of its own arsehole and healing folks with the power of music! (And, yeah, before you say it, I know that metaphor is obvious, but come on, you don't think they picked that name for a reason?)
Fed up with punk rock and indie schlock, this local seven-piece is a soul band. Soul. As in Aretha, Curtis, and Etta. As in you can dance the night away and feel like you've been spoken to and about and for. Though The Redeemers only perform originals, you'll swear you heard each song before. This collective, whose ages range from 19 to 58, doesn't cut corners. When they sing about heartbreak, the feeling is real, and you can catch the bittersweet tones in every saxophone lick. Their pain is your salvation.
Formed a little over a year ago, The Redeemers are a band that doesn't necessarily look like hopped-up mods ready to rumble with some rockers down by the riverfront. That's part of their charm. The Redeemers aren't putting on a pose, but rather are living their passions (and you can't fake this shit, anyway). "This is the kind of music I love," says Shea Mossefin, the band's young vocalist, "and since you don't see this kind of band in Portland, I thought it would be cool to be in one. I love Aretha Franklin. My mom used to listen to her a lot when I was younger. I liked old Jamaican music, and I just got into soul--even if it's not the sort of music you would expect from your typical white, 19-year-old female."
True to the classic that inspires them, The Redeemers are making sure their tunes connect with the audience. "We're trying to have a pop sensibility, a real pop edge," says bassist Erik Harper. "People like accessible music. They like it simple, and they like to dance. That's why pop music is so popular."
But why this music? Why go against the grain so willfully? "Soul's influenced a lot of current music and our culture," Erik explains. "Curtis Mayfield is everywhere, and it's such powerful, liberating music."
"I find it challenging both musically and emotionally," Mossefin adds. "It's something big I can chewOne of the few covers we do is an Etta James song. She's a big influence on me, and trying to do her justice is a challenge. The purpose of the music, to me, is putting yourself into it, and that's what we do."
And the result, my friends, is no less than what your ears desire. People like to talk about the underground, but you can't get any further down under than this. "I know that when we get in front of people, they'll like it," Erik concludes, sporting his best power-to-the-people-y'all suit. And really, can it get any simpler?