Local Beats

Tired of your same old playlists?
Give a listen to these bands-on-the-rise.

Amber McKenna
Editor in chief

McMinnvillian Sean Lewis was tired of the competitiveness of trying to break into the music industry; for him it didn’t feel right. He came up with a new philosophy: Play music for the sake of playing music.
“I like the music that I like, I want to abandon the pressure,” Lewis said. “Music is what I see as a relief of
After starting out on his own, he slowly built a collection of fellow musicians who shared his ideals. Today these are the men of Auburn, with Lewis on lead vocals and guitar, Tyler Steele on guitar, Jesse Bearce on bass and Yehuda McKay banging the drums.
The group identifies with mid-90s glam, metal rockers. Lewis said his favorites range from Nine Inch Nails and Smashing Pumpkins to Green Day and Nirvana. Another philosophy of Lewis’ is sticking to the basics.
“We have a commitment to only play rock ‘n’ roll,” Lewis said of Auburn. “No synthesizers.”
Auburn released its first album, titled “Do Not Resuscitate,” last year, which can be purchased at 3rd Street’s Ranch Records and on iTunes. This year, the group will release one song at a time on iTunes and will be giving out free downloads of the singles at shows. At the end of the year Auburn plans to compile all of the single release songs into an album titled “Plague,” which is to be released on vinyl only. The group will also begin to record live at their shows soon, Lewis said.
Last week, Auburn played at Cornerstone Coffee Roaster and can also be seen performing in Portland next month.
“It’s been really fun,” Lewis said.
Check out Auburn’s music online at


Three and a half years ago Isaac Sturtevant was selling music behind the counter of a store in Portland, and now he’s making it.
His band, In My Opinion, is based in nearby Sheridan, and what began as one impromptu gig has developed into a group with one album on the shelves and a growing fan base.
The band’s style is a blend of indie and rock. The group is comprised of Sturtevant on lead vocals and guitar, Anthony DiRocco on drums and Mike Jenekie manning the bass. The guys started playing together under the name “Ornamental,” but after relocating a few times, the music had to be put on hold.
After a yearlong hiatus, Sturtevant said he missed playing with a group in which the music came easily, and brought the band back together. They changed their name, wrote all new music and hit the ground running.
All Northwest natives, the members of In My Opinion cite their inspirations as various.
“I listen to Radiohead and Muse and our drummer is into jazz and funk,” Sturtevant said. “Sometimes when we’re recording, we’ll add in piano and strings.”
Fast forward to present day, and In My Opinion has three tours lined up for the fall and is booking weekend shows at some of Portland’s more popular venues.
“It’s kind of scary getting encores and selling CDs; it’s just like ‘wow,’” Sturtevant said.
The group is currently unsigned and their first release is available at Ranch Records. For now, the band is enjoying its day job of writing music and taking it one day at a time in the Willamette Valley.
“It’s a great lifestyle and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Sturtevant said.
You can listen to them online at http://myspace.com/inmyopinionmusic.

When asked to describe their sound, the members of Jack Ruby Presents don’t find it simple to categorize it.
“Indie folk rock?” junior Chris Hernandez asks.
“Thrash,” junior frontman Jesse Hughey jokes.
“I call it rock ‘n’ roll,” junior Melissa Davaz said.
Home Skillet Records, a small label in Southeast Alaska, where Hughey and Hernandez hail from, signed the group last year. They then released “The Cardboard EP,” a compilation of five original songs by the group.
Jack Ruby Presents was born after Davaz and Hughey performed together their freshman year under the name Casino Queen. They, along with Herdandez, became serious about music their sophomore year. Hughey, Davaz and Hernandez each dabble in vocals, piano and guitar, among other instruments.
To round out the band, the trio recruited friend Aaron Owens, a sophomore at Portland State University, who Hughey calls “the best drummer I’ve ever met.”
The band is named after the man who killed Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President John F. Kennedy. Hughey said the character of Ruby always intrigued him because Ruby “killed” the ability for Americans to get revenge.
Jack Ruby Presents is a hybrid of many genres; one could call it a medley of instruments. The band holds no boundaries when it comes to trying different sounds and has so far featured everything from piano, guitars, vibraphone and tambourine to the mandolin, marimba, finger symbols and court organ. Its most original instrument: a self-created “party table” with bottles and cans attached that are hit to create funky percussion sounds.
As the majority of the group wraps up their junior year at Linfield, they are working on releasing a full-length album before the summer is done.
“Our goal is to release something more similar to how we sound now,” Hughey said. “Our EP was recorded in one week a year and a half ago, and we’re different now.”
Jack Ruby Presents recently performed on a bigger scale during a show at Portland’s Hawthorne Theatre on April 9.
“It was amazing; a lot of people came out for it,” Hughey said.
The band has a handful of shows lined up for May, ranging from Eugene to Seattle. They will perform again at the Hawthorne on May 14 and can be seen on campus in Ice Auditorium at 9 p.m. May 21.
No one can say what the future holds for the eclectic group, but Hernandez said he hopes the band will continue performing with progressively larger groups and maybe even hit the road this summer.
One thing is clear with the musicians of Jack Ruby Presents: They are passionate about what they do.
“I have no intention of ever doing anything else,” Hughey said.
Experience the music of Jack Ruby Presents online at http://myspace.com/jackrubypresents.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.