Episode 6: Brandon Nikola


2 1/2 years ago, Brandon Nikola, an underground house show promoter and musician, heard of an opportunity to run the bar and events at Habesha Lounge.

“I needed a spot for a show because we were having too many and our neighbors were gonna kill us”, Nikola said. Nikola became Habesha itself, the sole employee, producing hundreds of shows while acting as the bartender, booker, sound tech and janitor. A year and a half ago Anthony Lusk came on board as well, a role Brandon describes as “door guy/sound tech/savior”.

As other smaller underground venues in the SE and around the city started closing: Langano Lounge, Blue Monk, Slabtown and recently Alhambra, to name a few, Habesha’s small space took up the slack with a fury. On any given Friday night, you could catch some of the hippest bands in Portland playing to a very packed and sweaty room. Mascaras, Grammies, Old Light, Minden, Talkative, Ah God, Souvenir Driver, Grandparents, Johanna Warren, Consumer, Hollow Sidewalks, Havania Whaal, Sister Mamie Foreskin amongst hundreds of others.

The emotion of the room, which was named as one of the top bars in Portland by WW this spring, was always one of safety. You could see Holland Andrew’s Like a Villain to a packed room and hear a pin drop or dance with abandon to frantic light displays with Talkative and Ah God. Through it all, Brandon was always there, with a hug and a PBR, the dollar brushed aside.

I sat down with Brandon the Sunday after Habesha closed for an emotional interview to talk about his years at the venue, it’s highs and lows, favorite shows, what can be done to keep our small venues open and the incident the final night of Kareoke that closed the venue early.

Featuring music by some of Brandon’s favorite bands and voicemails from listeners telling their favorite Habesha memory.

Recorded and mixed at Open Roads Studios by Jeni Wren Stottrup
produced by Jeni Wren Stottrup
sponsored by Vortex Music Magazine
Photo by Todd Walberg
Underscore, in order:
“Work Better” by Consumer
“Follow” by Joanna Newsom
“What’s More Than Appropriate” by Minden
“Whiskey Shakes” by And And And
“Pink and Black” by Old Light
“RBK” by Grammies

Special thanks to Vortex Music Magazine
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For all inquiries: grittybirds@gmail.com

Episode 5: Theo Craig


Talent buyer, artistic director, curator, bassist and radio DJ are just a few of the titles that Portland tastemaker and self-described “gatekeeper” Theo Craig claims to his name.

After a particularly spicy breakup, Craig set his bass down for years—until one fateful night at Pickathon when a washboard, a Pendleton blanket and a late-night jam session reconnected him to the passion he thought he’d lost as an artist.

Hardly keeping to himself when he’s not playing, Craig has made a name for himself as the man behind Rontoms Sunday Sessions,XRAY.fm’s Take It To The Bridge!, and as the artistic director for PDX Pop Now!—all this after moving to Portland from Seattle, where he was the sponsorship director for KEXP.

Today, he continues to be a vital piece of the Portland music community, working to not only break new bands but also his own bands, like psych trio Máscaras while also backing psych-pop chanteuse Cat Hoch.

Craig sat down with The Gritty Birds to talk about his projects, finding lost things, our favorite festivals, and his advice for artists.

Recorded, Mixed and Produced by Jeni Wren Stottrup at Open Roads Studios at the Independent Print Resource Center

Featured song: “Desert Masks” by Mascaras

Special thanks to Vortex Music Magazine

Episode 4: Jeremy Wilson


With more than 30 years in the Portland music scene as a seminal artist, activist and, most recently, head of the healthcare nonprofit The Jeremy Wilson Foundation, Wilson’s experiences move from the mythic—like the first time he met Kurt Cobain after the release of Bleach—to the humbling, with the diagnosis of his congenital heart condition. His story and experiences are a testament to the artist’s journey, from past to present and moving onward.

After the mic was turned off, Wilson told the story of his band, Dharma Bums, in East Berlin. One of the first Western bands to ever play after the fall of the Berlin Wall, they performed to a packed, silent theater. Wilson said that he could hear a pin drop as the audience stood transfixed. As the night ended, the last sound was the buzzing of an amp, lethargically echoing through the room. A slow clap began, which swelled into a thunderous applause. The fervor of a world expanded, in a time of huge change.

Today, Wilson continues to move forward and create change in the music world with his foundation, one that provides support for musicians in times of medical emergencies.

Recorded and mixed at Mountain Air Studios by Mike Woodman Johnson
Produced by Jeni Wren Stottrup

Featured Music: “Rushing Out” by Jeremy Wilson

Special thanks to our sponsors at Vortex Music Magazine

Episode 3: Peter Vaughan Shaver


A life time lover of music, Peter Vaughan Shaver found his release through the challenges of youth listening to records. Today, he is the top arts and entertainment lawyer in Portland, offering advice to the artistic world. “Let them do the music and I’ll do the business”. Through preventive dentistry, Peter helps artists do what they do best, be artists. We sat down with Peter to discuss the ins and outs of law and music, talk about some of his favorite artists and find out what exactly a “glass harmonica” is.

Recorded by Mike Woodman Johnson at Mountain Air Studios
and Jeni Wren Stottrup at Open Road Studios
Mixed and produced by Jeni Wren Stottrup

Featured Music: “White Flight” by Catherine Feeny and Chris Johnedis

Special thanks to our sponsors at Vortex Music Magazine


Episode 2: Ingrid Renan



Shortly after having her now 11 year old daughter, Ingrid Renan was itching to get back into the music scene, coming on as the production manager for Kill Rock Stars and eventually a day manager for the label. Nearly a decade later, after leaving KRS, she has forged a lasting legacy in the Portland scene as a manager for some of the most recognizable artists out of Portland including Starfucker, Typhoon, Blitzen Trapper, And And And and Y La Bamba, After taking a nearly year long break from managing, Ingrid has come back into the forefront as the manager for the newly revived Y La Bamba and Kill Rock Stars Red Bull Sound Select Curator. Ingrid came in and chatted with us about management, photography, music and why she thinks there should be equal objectification between the sexes.

Recorded, Mixed and Produced by Jeni Wren Stottrup at Open Roads Studios at the Independent Print Resource Center

Featured song: “Crystallize” by Coco Columbia

Special thanks to Vortex Music Magazine

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