Three hours before a live studio audience of 400 were to arrive for the Live Wire! taping, Langhorne Slim dressed in his stage duds, strolls up to the Alberta Rose Theatre prior to soundcheck. After quick introductions were made, we shuffle across Alberta street and grab a table at the Vita Cafe to talk about this former Pennsylvanian's new hometown.
When did you move to Portland?
I can’t remember the month [smiles] but... about eight months ago.
What made you decide to move here?
We travel about eight months out of the year. I was living with my girlfriend in Northern California. I’m 30 now and in my whole adult life I’ve never paid rent since we’ve been constantly on the road... sort of crashing here and there. It finally occurred to me that I want a place to call home. A place to keep my shit... a home base. I’ve lived in NYC, I’m from Pennsylvania. I’ve spent a lot of time in Philly and California, but out of all the towns we were hitting on the road, Portland became, very quickly, my favorite city. It was an easy choice. It’s obviously a friendly town to musicians and artists.
Where’d you play some of those early shows?
Doug Fir. [Pauses] We were really lucky man, we were embraced by the McMenamin’s people and did a McMenamin’s tour which really helped. And then Pickathon has been huge for us.
Have you recorded anything here?
Yeah, my last album Be Set Free. We recorded it at Type Foundry with Chris Funk. It was mixed by Tucker Martine at his place.
Did you write any of those songs here?
Most of the songs were written in a house-sitting gig in Napa Valley, Oakville. The first song on it called “Back to the Wild” was written on the toilet of the house I live in now [laughs].
Where do you live?
Just down the street. Alberta and MLK.
Got any favorite places to eat?
Yeah. I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years and now vegan for about a year. This town makes all that pretty easy. The Bye and Bye is the closest place to my house. And this [Vita Cafe] is one of my favorite places. I’m really still just exploring and finding my way around. I’m here so infrequently that I stick to this street [Alberta] when I’m home. Liberty Glass is another favorite spot of mine.
If you were to play here, what’s your preferred venue?
I don’t know. I like Doug Fir a lot. We’ve started an annual New Years show at... The Wonder, no wait, [pauses, a bit puzzled] no, the Mission Theater. I like that spot. There’s so many places here! We opened for Old 97’s at Wonder, another great place.
Any favorite Portland bands?
I’ve done one show with Y La Bamba and really like them, Mimicking Birds, Sallie Ford...
Do you Bike?
Have you seen Portlandia?
Are you working on new stuff?
Yeah, working hard. I’ve got about half of it written. I’d like to have more than enough material and just select from that. I’ve got about a month off and that’s my main priority right now.
Do you have a Portland moment?
Just of the top of my head, my new tour manager, Billy... we picked him up [at the airport] and got some drinks and on the way we see two girls with shaved heads playing banjo. Then we get into the bar and all these wild figures sort of embrace him, buy him drinks, and all sorts of wild shit was going on. He looks at me and goes 'What planet have I just landed on?' And my friend Nancy goes, 'Portland.'
I thought for awhile that I was a big city guy, I lived in New York. Then, I found out I wasn’t, so I moved to the country [Northern California] and that wasn’t quite right. But this place [pauses]... it kind of has everything. It has elements of all that. It sounds a bit corny but I've found people to be so friendly here.