August 23, 2020:
Time for another update re/ this musician's life in the pandemic. I've started playing some gigs, just being very selective regarding safety for myself, my fellow musicians, and our audiences. Primarily I've been accepting outdoor private engagements. Those have been with my own trio, with Lloyd Jones, and with the Mel Brown B-3 Organ Group. I'm still giving Skype lessons, doing some streaming concerts, and playing a few recording sessions. But there's no substitute for playing music for a live audience!
Going forward, I expect there will be more innovative ways to keep live music events safe. Based on the latest research I've read, the primary risk of contracting the virus is thru aerosols, and when we're masked and socially distanced, with plenty of ventilation, the risk of contracting the virus is apparently extremely small--less than the risk of getting in an auto accident each time we get in our car.
Still, these are challenging times for musicians and music venues alike. I hope everyone is able to stay afloat until a safe, effective vaccine becomes available.
June 25, 2020:
A lot has happened since my last update. As with most people on the planet, the biggest occurrence in my life has been the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. But my wife Tracy and I, along with nearly all of our friends, have been fortunate enough to stay heathy so far (knock on wood). And a silver lining has come in the way of a lot of home improvement & organization projects--the kind of stuff you normally put off for another day. Also, I'm happy to report that I've taken advantage of the pandemic downtime to write four new instrumentals that I'm excited about!
Where and when to PLAY those new tunes has been the question, but thanks to Dennis Carter and his Falcon Recording Studios, I now have a bit of an outlet. At at time when other recording studios in town have been hunkering down or actually going out of business, Dennis has doubled down by investing in some high end audio & video gear, allowing him to produce live streaming concerts that are far more compelling to watch and listen to than the norm. I've participated in two of those live performances from Falcon so far: on June 11 with the Mel Brown B-3 Organ Group and on June 19 with the Lloyd Jones Quartet. Yet another Mel Brown B-3 Organ Group performance is scheduled for July 9!
If you're interested in checking out those performances, below are the links. There's no charge to watch and listen to them, although you're welcome to tip (via PayPal or Venmo) if you enjoy the music and have the funds. But no pressure at all; most of all, we've all just been hungry to get back to playing some music!
April 14, 2020:
Well, here's my "News From the Pandemic" entry. My Hawaiian Big Island mini tour with Renato (March 12-15) was a big success, but it was poignant in that we realized these were the last gigs we'd be playing for some time to come. That's because we knew that gigs back home were about to start being cancelled due to the emerging Covid-19 pandemic. As it was, we just did get our four Hawaiian gigs in "under the wire," as the first case of coronavirus on the Big Island was diagnosed the same day that we flew home.
Now, like virtually every other performing musician in the country, I'm suddenly out of work: most of my gigs, recording sessions, organ lessons, and B-3 rentals cancelled virtually overnight for the foreseeable future. I'm hoping to eventually receive some unemployment compensation thru the federal stimulus program, but musicians--like other participants in the "gig economy"--are in an uncertain position there. I've begun giving a few Skype organ lessons, and I streamed a couple of Facebook Live Videos of solo organ performances from my "Shoug Man Cave Live Lounge"--putting out a virtual tip jar. That was fun, and I intend to do it again.
But if folks wish to support me and my music, an alternative way would be for them to purchase my recordings. I'm extremely proud of all my "Shoug Records" self-released CDs (the last three have been honored by Downbeat as among the "Best Albums Of the Year"), and I love sharing them. At this website, you can now either purchase the physical CDs, download the CDs, or download individual tracks. If you really love what you hear and have some funds to spare, there is an option to pay more than the list price for the CDs or tracks. But no pressure there.
Going forward, I'm hopeful that I'll be back in action--playing live music with live musicians for live audiences--by the Fall. But clearly a lot of things have to happen before that will be feasible. In the meanwhile, my wife Tracy and I have been staying busy with some major spring cleaning & home organizing. She's been cooking up a storm, and I've been doing my part by eating those delicious meals. :)
I've also been writing some new tunes that I'm really excited about. I've shared them with Renato, and he's eager to get into the studio with me to record them! (He's got a great tune of his own that we'd started to perform pre-pandemic.) That's definitely something to look forward to.
But Job One right now--for me as well as everyone else--is to do my part to avoid spreading this nasty virus that's going around by observing social distancing, washing hands, etc. This situation definitely sucks, but you never know what good might emerge from bad times. At the least, we'll all have stories to tell our grandchildren and great grandchildren about the "Pandemic of 2020."
March 7, 2020:
Renato and I are excited to be returning to Hawaii's Big Island again in a few days. This time, we'll be appearing at a fundraising dinner event for the Hawaii veterans in Hilo (on March 12), as well as for a return engagement at one of Hawaii's top jazz clubs: Gertrude's Jazz Bar in Kona (on March 13). A couple additional gigs are tentatively scheduled for the following two evenings. As is a canoe trip off of Kona with Vancouver, WA restaurant owner Tommy Owens!
February 26, 2020:
Last week, I appeared on KGW t.v.'s "Tonight With Cassidy" show with Renato Caranto (sax) and Micah Kassell (drums). I joked around a little with KGW meteorologist Matt Zaffino about a tongue-in-cheek Facebook post I'd made complaining about one of his weather forecasts. Then we played "Teener" off of the King Louie Organ Trio's recent CD, "It's About Time." You can check out the show here: https://youtu.be/8gsutXMtXi8 (song @ 1:40 point)
December 26, 2019:
I just learned that the King Louie Organ Trio's debut CD release, "It's About Time," is being honored in the current (January) issue of Downbeat as one of the "Best Albums of the Year." That makes three in a row; each of the last three Shoug Records releases has received that same honor from the world's top jazz magazine!
November 18, 2019:
Renato Caranto and I just returned from our second Hawaii visit in the month of November. We played four gigs--two on the Big Island, then two on Oahu--and the reception was great. In fact, we've already been invited to return--tentatively in early March! Kudos to our booking agent & travel agent (i.e., my wife Tracy and Renato's wife Michele, respectively).
November 5, 2019:
We finished October with a bang, playing an exciting headlining set on the 26th in front of a packed audience at the Astoria Jazz Festival. (The performance was filmed, so watch for footage from that gig soon at this website!) Just a few days later, Renato and I flew to the Big Island to appear at the East Hawaii Jazz & Blues Festival.
This was not only our first gig in Hawaii; it was Renato's first ever visit to the islands. It will certainly not be his last, however! Renato flat tore it up, not only at our featured set but the following day as well, as we sat in with a group of festival all-stars and with a local dance band. I can't count the number of standing ovations that Renato's solos received; Hawaiian audiences simply went crazy for Renato!
Needless to say, we've already been invited back to the festival for next year. But we won't have to wait that long to get back to Hawaii; we have two more gigs scheduled on the Big Island for next week, along with at least one additional gig in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu. For all of these Hawaii gigs, we are using local drummers. However, we hope to bring the wonderful Edwin Coleman III with us next year!
October 14, 2019:
Since receiving a rave, 4-star review in the USA's oldest, most prestigious jazz magazine (Downbeat), a series of additional rave reviews have come in from overseas! Those have included reviews from Germany and French magazines, along with four different UK publications including Jazz Journal, the UK's oldest jazz magazine. To check out excerpts from those reviews, click here.
June 15, 2019:
We received the Downbeat review of the King Louie Organ Trio's debut CD, "It's About Time" today (the review will run in the August issue of the magazine). The review is a rave: four stars! [You can read the review here.] That automatically places the CD in Downbeat's year-end issue, "Best Albums of the Year."
It is so gratifying to get this kind of feedback for an all-original, all-instrumental project that we put so much effort into. We didn't overthink or overproduce the recording; we just went into the studio and did what we do. That's the way we like to hear our music, and it seems that lots of others do as well--including the world's top jazz magazine!
June 1, 2019:
Early reviews for the King Louie Organ Trio's debut CD, "It's About Time," are starting to come in, and they are all raves! Below are excerpts from those. We are looking forward to a review in the August issue of the world's top jazz magazine, Downbeat. We'll share that when we receive it in late June!
“The King Louie Organ Trio is a stellar group. They have their own thing going on, very good! I like how ‘It’s About Time’ is two albums in one.” --email from Frank-John Hadley, Longtime DownBeat critic/Grove Press author
"King Louie strokes his keys like a lover one moment, then attacks that B3 like a barracuda the next. His trio is second to none and the new album is an amazing trip through the musical minds of inspirational musicians doing what they do best...exposing their soul with each and every note." - Steve Pringle / Sunday Night Blues Room, KGON FM, Portland OR
"This all-instrumental album crosses genres, mixing jazz, blues, and soul, and is definitely a keeper. Filled with contagious riffs that are heavy with groove and swing, it delivers a complete knock-out punch…This trio has got the goods. Great tunes to be found here." —Greg Johnson, Cascade Blues Association Blues Notes
“Blues organist Louis Pain and his trio are releasing a new CD of original songs, ‘It’s About Time,’ this week. It’s been worth the wait.” —John Foyston, Oregon Arts Watch
“’It's About Time’ presents Louis Pain right where he belongs -- at the intersection of jazz, blues and R&B, playing brilliant originals with his King Louie Organ Trio augmented by masterful guests Bruce Conte, Dan Faehnle and Mel Brown.” —Lynn Darroch, author, performer, radio host.
“Contemporary jazz fans will know that ‘King’ Louie Pain is a modern Hammond B-3 maestro- keeping alive the spirit of Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Brother Jack McDuff et al. ...However, he's never released an album in the classic trio style – till now – hence the title 'It's About Time'...Guests and core players have a wealth of experience and totally understand the genre. Result – authentic soul-jazz. —William Buckley, Soul and Jazz and Funk (UK)
May 11, 2019:
On May 9, a nice piece about me and the King Louie Organ Trio's CD project in the Vancouver/Clark County newspaper, The Columbian. The occasion was our upcoming May 10 Clark County CD release at Salud Wine Bar in Camas, WA. The article includes photos taken in my "man cave." Check it out here!
MAY 8, 2019:
My latest news concerns the ongoing launch of the King Louie Trio's debut CD, "It's About Time." Both CD release events (April 8 @ the Lake Theater & Cafe and April 10 @ the Jack London Revue) were big hits. And a rave review of the CD will be appearing in the August issue of the world's top blues/jazz magazine, Downbeat! (In an email, the reviewer told me that our group is "stellar!")
Today marks the on-line release of the CD. Folks can now purchase or download the CD at cdbaby. It will be available very soon at Amazon, etc. Stay tuned for more news about our exciting recording!
APRIL 7, 2019:
My latest news is that, completely out of the blue, I suffered a major heart attack. I was playing a “King Louie & LaRhonda Steele” gig on Friday, March 22 at a Pearl District restaurant called Bluehour. It was an exceptionally fun gig, with patrons up dancing and the band really in synch. Then, in midsong, I began feeling some serious heartburn coming on. A minute or so later, I started feeling a little flushed and queasy as well. I thought, “uh, oh: this could be a heart attack.” I still finished the song, but then I turned to Edwin the drummer and told him what was going on.
I was more uncomfortable than in real pain, and it took awhile to decide that I really needed to go to the hospital then and there. But eventually my wife Tracy Pain convinced me, and friends made arrangements to store my gear and to get my van pulled around in front of the venue. Then Tracy drove me to a hospital we were familiar with and that was relatively close to our home: Peace Health on 87th Avenue in Vancouver.
Knowing what we know now, we should have called 911 the moment I suspected heart attack, and we should have taken an ambulance. But we did get to the hospital within about 40 minutes of the beginning of the attack, and the medical staff there assessed me and got the blockage cleared very quickly, saving my life. It turned out that I had suffered a “widow maker” heart attack: a complete blockage of the LAD artery.
They kept me in the hospital for the standard length, 72 hours, to test and observe me. Then I was sent home with instructions to avoid strenuous activity for 2 weeks, to take my new medications religiously, and to adjust my diet & exercise. Fortunately, the two scheduled CD release parties were both 2 weeks out, so I’m good to go!
Not to suggest that the heart attack was not a big deal. As the expression goes, it was, "as serious as a heart attack": absolutely and profoundly life-changing. But that change has definite positive aspects. Tracy and I had NEEDED to improve our diet and to exercise more, and we are now making those changes. And thanks to the overwhelming support I've received, I now realize how very many people care about me.
Here’s the link to a great article about me and the King Louie Organ Trio’s debut CD, with some mention of the heart attack towards the end. The author is John Foyston, the former head music critic at The Oregonian.
And here are links to a pair of radio interviews I did between my release from the hospital and our CD release parties on April 8 & 10. (Fear not: I wasn't overdoing it. Tracy did the driving; I just did the gabbing!)
MARCH 1, 2019:
My big news is the debut CD of my instrumental trio, King Louie's Organ Trio, featuring Renato Caranto on sax and Edwin Coleman III on drums. The CD, appropriately titled, "It's About Time," features all original material: 11 tunes composed by me--primarily over the past few months--and one each by Renato and Edwin. Each song on the album is named after and inspired by an important person in our lives. We are being joined by three very special guests: Portland legend Mel Brown on drums, and a pair of truly amazing guitar players: Dan Faehnle (Diana Krall; Pink Martini) and Bruce Conte (Tower of Power). Needless to say, we are super excited!
We've already recorded all thirteen songs; that took just two days! The only other thing to do is a couple percussion overdubs, then we will be ready to have the CD mixed, mastered, and sent off for manufacture. The CD really captures our spontaneity and sound. It was recorded on tape--with zero editing--by Long Play Recording's owner & engineer Jim Hage, who is a sticker for natural-sounding, retro recording.
The 2018 release (honored as one of Downbeat's "Best Albums Of the Year"), “King Louie’s Blues Revue: Live At Riverhouse Jazz,” features an all-star line-up of Portland’s top vocalists (LaRhonda Steele, Andy Stokes, Lisa Mann) & instrumentalists (Peter Dammann, Renato Caranto, Edwin Coleman III, Louis), plus Bay Area trombone great Danny Armstrong. The recording captured all the magic of one of Louis’ all-time favorite gigs as his 8-piece “dream group” entertained an ecstatic audience in a sophisticated nightclub setting. Check out what the reviewers wrote:
"Portland-based organ player Louis “King Louie” Pain, one of the most soulful sitting at the console today, directs the spontaneous big fun of a gig in Bend, Oregon. Veterans Andy Stokes and LaRhonda 'Portland’s First Lady of the Blues' Steele set their vocals strongly in the intermixed blues, soul, jazz and r&b instrumentals of a specially assembled band that includes venerable Bay Area trombonist Danny Armstrong and bassist-singer-songwriter Lisa Mann. The set takes a provocative turn with ultra-sensual songs by James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Willie Dixon and B.B. King." —Frank-John Hadley, Downbeat, February 2018 (4-star review)
“If you love old soul and funk you need to hear King Louie’s Blues Revue.” —Richard Ludmerer, Making a Scene!
“A spontaneous, fun-filled celebration of old style soul, blues and funk.” —William Buckley, Soul and Jazz and Funk (UK)
“Boy, did Louis Pain ever put together something magical…Live At Riverhouse Jazz is one of those exciting moments on stage where everybody is bringing their best and then some. If you have attended one of these shows, you’re going to smile from the memories retained from being there. For those who have not, this is going to be the next best thing until you can make it to one yourself.” —Greg Johnson, Blues Notes, Cascade Blues Association
To purchase the CD, or just to read more about it and listen to sample clips, click here.
Louis and vocalist LaRhonda Steele released their first CD together in 2016, and it generated a lot of buzz! Downbeat gave the CD four out of a possible five stars. The prestigious magazine also made the CD one of the handful of nominees for "Blues Album of the Year" in the 2016 Downbeat Critic's Poll and later honored it as one of the "Best Albums of 2016." Longtime Downbeat critic/Grove Press author Frank-John Hadley wrote, “Rock Me Baby, with its indomitable uprush of high-quality blues and jazz, is one of the few truly outstanding albums of 2016.” Additional rave reviews poured in from France, Italy, the UK, Germany, Croatia, and Spain!
To purchase the CD, or just to read more about it and listen to sample clips, click here.