about the band
Exactly 30 years ago a unique combination of professionals came together in the Portland, Oregon music market to form a band now called PIN & THE HORN-ITS. They were ‘Best of Friends’ performing as a smaller unit under that name in the beginning. They took the market by storm, packing the house everywhere they played, with soul, blues, jazz and funk. When one of the co-founders, Mike Cross, had to move to Pocatello to look after ailing relatives, the band took a 10-year hiatus. When Cross informed them he was moving back to Oregon in 2014, they re-organized and expanded the band with a full-time trombonist (now 6 horns), a percussionist, a female lead vocalist and with plans to back other artists on occasion. With six of the original members, once again, they are taking Portland by storm.
While most of the talented members of this assembly play multiple instruments, they currently perform in two six-piece sections. The rhythm section: Larry Pindar, guitar; Mike Cross, guitar; Leslie White, piano and organ; Ed Couture, upright and electric bass; Mike Klobas, drums; Vinnie Bargas, percussion and the horn section: Chris Mercer, baritone & alto saxophone; John Granger, tenor saxophone; Brad Ulrich, baritone saxophone; Rick Rier, lead trumpet & trombone; John Morrell, trumpet; and John Gordon, trombone. Newcomers to this band are vocalist Margaret Linn and Clifford Smith, vocals and harmonica. Larry Pindar shared, “we enjoy collaborating musically and personally with Margaret Linn when she is not at concert dates with Curtis Salgado and Nu Shooz. Harmonica wizard and singer Cliff Smith is not well known to the public locally, but he is great and a great guy and we’re happy to have him aboard.”
Back in the late sixties someone asked the famous Atlantic Records producer, Jerry Wexler, "What right have you to produce black people's music?" His answer was roughly paraphrased, "Because I have always loved it."
Sometimes it feels weird, as middle class, middle-aged white men, to realize that we are the prominent breed still perpetuating this rich black heritage in the Pacific Northwest (Norman Sylvester & Mel Solomon excepted!). It does not, however, feel strange playing it, because we grew up with it too, and love it profoundly. We would even go as far as stating that Rhythm and Blues, along with Jazz, is one of the great contributions that America has made to the world of music, America's 'Classical Music', so to speak.
But spin your radio dial in vain folks, you will not find much of it to hear amidst the hard rock and endless hits of the 70's, 80's or 90's. The vast repetoire of R&B that spanned the late forties to the late sixties has to be heard live in clubs, or on the few public radio stations hip enough to showcase it. Down at your local Blues clubs a host of bands soldier on, some Chicago style, some country, and some a mixture of everything and anything. In the summer we have our great four day "Waterfront Blues Festival", and so the tradition continues with live music at the grass-roots level.
When the band was founded, Pin & The Horn-its chose to emulate the mid-sized horn bands that emerged from the big-band era that lasted into the soul era. We are particularly fond of the Ray Charles late 50's band, and of B.B.Kings early 60's unit. On our cd "Stinging the Blues" we recorded everyday tunes from our stage book, so that when people come to see the band we sound like the record, and vice versa. We recorded the songs with the whole band on the studio floor, which although ugly for the engineer, gives us more of a live feel. Some of the solos and final vocals were added, but 'Drown in My Own Tears' for instance, was untouched save for the backing vocals at the end. 'She's Tough' and 'I've Got News' were recorded direct to stereo DAT on an earlier session, engineered by Doug Dubrow. We have fun playing this music, and hope this disc gives you the feel of our live shows.
- Pin & the Horn-its