Upcoming Live Shows

Previous events

Sep19

Art Showing - Wine Tasting

Broken Top Club, Bend, OR

Sep13

Wedding - Private Event

Lake Creek Lodge, Sister, OR

Sep6

Wedding - Private Event

Sparks Lake, Bend, OR

Sign up = free track for you

Join here

Singer/songwriter Laurel Brauns is best known, along with cellist Amy Mitchell, as part of the band Sweet Harlots, but now Brauns has moved back to Portland from Bend brandishing a beauteous solo record called House of Snow. Recorded in a small nursery school here in town, Snow features an enviable selection of guest musicians, including the Golden Bears' Seth Lorinczi, the Decemberists' Jenny Conlee, and plenty others. With equal hints of dusky bluegrass and clarion Celtic folk, Brauns has written a batch of tunes that are brimming with earthy pulchritude, highlighted by her remarkable vocals and subtle but involving production from Portland Cello Project's Douglas Jenkins. Remarkable songs like the gamboling "Maps" and the stirring, album-opening title track prove that Brauns has made a record destined to become an evergreen.” - NED LANNAMANN

The Portland Mercury

I much prefer Colorado to Cozumel. Everything seems clearer, cleaner and more alive up in the mountains. I know that some prefer the easy pace of tropical living, but I associate it with sunburns and itchy sand. I relax much easier on a cabin porch in the woods. Singer/songwriter Laurel Brauns’ blog is titledIndie Girl in a Mountain Town, and that aesthetic informs all of House of Snow. The album possesses a clear, crisp, refreshing sound that reminds me of my time in Colorado Springs: relaxed, unhurried, simple. From beginning to end, the album ripples with a pleasant, confident vibe. It’s the soundtrack to the montage of good moments before the real trouble of the film sets in. Brauns’ songwriting pulls from inspiration from the folk sounds expected of a rural, high mountains community, but there’s also a lot of modern singer/songwriter mixed in her sound. Highlight “Westfall” sounds more like Brandi Carlile than Mumford and Sons, and “Kaleidoscope Eyes” is very much the same. “Puppy Love” draws more from a ’50s pop groove than anything else. “Dreams” is reminiscent of angrier singer/songwriters like Ani DiFranco, Fiona Apple, and even Damien Rice. Throughout the tapestry of tunes weaves a few consistent threads: acoustic guitar, hefty string contributions, and Brauns’ dusky alto voice. The strings are the most surprisingly element of the sound, as they are employed in very different ways, from the forceful thrust of “Dreams” to the graceful swoon of the title track. The album would certainly not be the same without them. Brauns’ alto is most often the counterpoint to the strings, delivering melodies that ping off the strings and hook in the listener’s mind. She does have elements of more traditional country and bluegrass singers (Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, etc.) in her voice, but her songs are varied enough that she doesn’t get pigeonholed into anyone’s footsteps. House of Snow is a wonderful listen; in an age where the album is getting less and less love, this one is a whole and complete piece. There are standout tunes, but they sound even better in the context of the whole work. That’s something that I admire in a release, which is why I am so enamored with Laurel Brauns efforts here. If you’re up for a folksy, charming album, this one should be on your shortlist.” - Stephen Carradini

Independent Clauses

Laurel Brauns plays in Bend by Ben Salmon In the run-up to recording her new album, local singer-songwriter Laurel Brauns dedicated herself to the study of her craft. A veteran tunesmith, she was tired of the “mopey, folky” sound of her first three full-length albums, so she decided to “start from scratch” and went about relearning how to write a song. “For so long, I thought I was so above buying (songwriting) books,” Brauns said in a telephone interview Monday. “And when I decided to do this album I was like, ‘Nope, I'm going to be humble and buy all the books and really start from the beginning and think about what makes a great song.' “I totally nerded out and allowed myself to revisit the learning process,” she said. She also formed a songwriting group with Franchot Tone and Eric Tollefson. “I sort of listen to music in a really different way now,” Brauns said. “And I really like that I can feel like I have all these tools in my belt.” For example? “Cliches are cliches for a reason,” she said without much hesitation. “Instead of running screaming from them, it's a good idea to think about why people use them all the time, but then twist them around so it doesn't sound like a cliche, but the sentiment is still there.” Speaking of cliches: Near the end of this month, Brauns' life will come full circle when she moves to Portland to further her music career. It's where she went to college, where she cut her teeth on open-mic nights, and where she left when she moved to New Hampshire years ago ... to further her music career. That worked. In New Hampshire — where Brauns, 33, grew up — she played regular gigs at colleges and coffeehouses, picking up steam until she just couldn't keep up anymore. In late 2007, she moved to Bend, where her sister lived (and lives) and the outdoor lifestyle beckoned. “I was really bogged down with my music career in New England, and I got kinda burned out,” she said. “I was basically like, ‘What's something else that makes you happy besides music that you can put energy into for a little while?' And it was being outside.” Four years later, Brauns has spent her share of time outside. She has hiked all over, used most of her vacation time on whitewater rafting trips, and learned to skate ski and kayak. “I still can't do Class 4 (rapids) nor do I have a roll,” she said. “But you know, I'll get there.” Tonight, Brauns will celebrate the release of her fourth album, “House of Snow,” with a show in Bend (see “If you go”). At 12 tracks and 42 minutes long, it's a compact slice of her life, merging Brauns' Central Oregon experiences with her love of indie-folk-pop and the independent artistic sensibilities of her soon-to-be home, Portland. The latter comes in the form of several Portland-based guest musicians, including cellists Skip vonKuske and Anna Fritz of Portland Cello Project, organist Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists, and multi-instrumentalist Sam Cooper of Horse Feathers. Additionally, Nathan Clark lends his sturdy baritone to the proceedings, Tone plays guitar on a couple of songs, and a chorus of locals take the second track, “Doldrums,” to an ethereal place. A twisted Okkervil River cover and Bend artist Kaycee Anseth's album art round out the impressive package. Brauns snagged many of the guests through Portland Cello Project ringleader Douglas Jenkins, who produced the album. She met him at a PCP show in Bend 18 months ago, then collaborated with the group at a Tower Theatre concert, and then toured with them for a week last summer. Brauns calls their connection “magical fate,” and you can almost hear some magic in the songs on “House of Snow.” First and foremost, they feature Brauns' easy-on-the-ears melodies and distinctively quivering vocals, which are guaranteed to mesh together and rattle around your brain for a good long while. But tastefully placed instrumental touches — Conlee's organ, John Whaley's trumpet and so on — give “Snow” a warm, full timbre perfect for a quiet evening inside listening to music or a night outside around the fire pit. It's that kind of imagery that not only colors Brauns' songs, but has colored her four years in Central Oregon. She said she considers Bend home, but that right now, a move to Portland makes sense. “I need to be there to make it happen,” she said. “You've got to meet the people, shake their hands, see ‘em face to face. They've got to hear you play. I think we all delude ourselves (into thinking) the Internet's this hugely powerful thing that can make all this stuff happen for us, but there's nothing like actually talking to somebody.” But as she returns to the town she once left and to a more spirited pursuit of her music, she's doing so in a more balanced way. “(In New Hampshire), I had just gotten out of college and thought, ‘Oh God, I have to do all this to be some famous whatever,'” she said. “And now I don't care about that. I just want to have great gigs and kind of be working toward something, but also make sure I'm healthy and staying outside.” Ben Salmon can be reached at 541-383-0377 or bsalmon@bendbulletin.com. Here is the song Kaleidoscope Eyes, from Laurel's CD Release in Bend at the PoetHouse:  ” - Ben Salmon

The Bulletin

House of Snow - Review   While she’s been best known as the face of the ever-evolving Sweet Harlots, Laurel Brauns still doesn't mind going solo, and she does so excellently on her new album, House of Snow, which she’s releasing this week with a big party at the PoetHouse on Friday night. The record, adorned with impossibly awesome cover art by Kaycee Anseth, is an indie folk gem and evidence of a songwriter with influences that are at the same time contemporary and classic. On the album’s title track, Braun’s folk sensibilities shine through an orchestral tapestry as brightly as her trademark streak of blonde hair. That song, as well as others, including the emotional “Named After You,” gets some help from a bevy of excellent Portland musicians, including The Decemberists’ Jenny Conlee and members of the Portland Cello Project. In fact, Douglas Jenkins, the creative director of the popular string ensemble that backs her throughout the album, produced and arranged the album. House of Snow is a follow up to Brauns’ last solo effort, Closed for the Season, but whereas that album featured an almost Ani DiFranco-inspired edge to it, this album is far smoother in its presentation, seemingly drawing on the folk rock sounds that have all but dominated indie music in the Northwest for the past few years. We hear this most on her cover of Okkervil River’s “Westfall” and the whimsical “Love.” It’s been a pleasure watching Brauns’ progress during her time in Bend and this album reveals an artist who seems to have found her footing. – Mike Bookey” - Mike Bookey

The Source Weekly, Bend, OR

Former Portsmouth musician Laurel Brauns and local band Wooden Eye join ‘Idol’ finalist Scott MacIntyre for a show to benefit the blind. By Matt Kanner It was almost exactly four years ago that singer-songwriter Laurel Brauns packed up and headed west to pursue the next chapter of her music career. The former Portsmouth resident has been living in Bend, Ore., ever since, where she’s been fine-tuning her skills as a songwriter and performer. Her fourth full-length studio album, her first since moving to Oregon, came out in September. “I really thought a lot about songwriting and basically studied it really hard,” Brauns said of her approach to the new disc, titled “House of Snow.” “I had a lot of time last winter to just dig in really deep with the songwriting process.” Brauns will have a chance to show Seacoast fans what she’s learned when she returns for a concert on Saturday, Oct. 8, at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Called “Voices of Vision,” the show will benefit the New Hampshire Association for the Blind. It will also feature local band Wooden Eye and Scott MacIntyre, the first blind performer to become a finalist on “American Idol.” Brauns became involved in the concert after her friend Andrew Leibs, a blind journalist, encouraged the association to include her. “When they decided to have this fundraiser, he swayed them into booking me,” she said. Brauns’ work as a musician has put her in touch with several blind people over the years, making the cause personal for her. She said the blind tend to have a strong connection with music. “That sense for them is so heightened,” she said. “They have an attraction to music, particularly, as an art form, and that has definitely gotten me connected with a lot of blind people.” Blindness is also personal for Wooden Eye front man Mike Rogers, who lost his vision more than 30 years ago. Formerly a teacher, Rogers gradually went blind around 1978. He agreed that being without sight can heighten one’s appreciation of music. “You learn to use your hearing,” he said. “It’s not that you’re hearing is greater than other people’s, but you make more use of it because you have to.” Rogers has participated in a number of benefits for people with disabilities, including work with the Maine Arts Commission’s Accessibility Task Force. He sings and plays harmonica for Wooden Eye, a bluesy Americana band that also features his son, Joe Rogers, on drums. A friend of his son’s who is involved with the Association for the Blind invited the band to take part in the upcoming concert. “We were happy to do that,” Rogers said. Both Brauns and Rogers have performed on The Music Hall’s stage before. Rogers has played there twice, once with John Perreault and once with Jim MacDougall & The Funky Divas of Gospel. Brauns opened for Patty Larkin at the theater in 2006. MacIntyre has toured across North America and around the world. The singer-songwriter and pianist finished eighth in “American Idol” in 2009 and released his latest CD, “Heartstrings,” in 2010. This will be his first show in Portsmouth. It’s been about a year since Brauns last returned to the Seacoast. Her parents still live in the Lakes Region where she grew up, and she tries to come home about once a year. She paid a visit in September 2010 and played a gig at The Red Door in Portsmouth, where she used to book shows in the Hush Hush Sweet Harlot series. After moving to Oregon, she started a band called the Sweet Harlots. “We did a lot of Americana and covers and stuff. People in this town like to dance and drink and talk and it was sort of more of like a party band,” she said. Her latest solo album represents a new summit for Brauns, with lush string arrangements draped from her stirring folk melodies and tremulous vocals. She plans to move to Portland, Ore., this winter and reignite her solo career. “A new album is a great starting point to jumpstart the solo thing again,” she said. Brauns is looking forward to the concert at The Music Hall, where she hopes to see plenty of familiar faces. “I feel really blessed. What an incredible opportunity,” she said. The concert begins at 8 p.m. on Oct. 8 at The Music Hall, 28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth, 603-436-2400, www.themusichall.org. Tickets are $25 in advance, $35 day of show.” - Matt Kanner

The Wire, Portsmouth, NH

Voices of Vision concert this Saturday by Chris Hislop It's been nearly four years since Laurel Brauns last released a record — 2007's "Closed for the Season." What's more is it seems like an eternity since Brauns left the N.H. Seacoast for great adventure in the Pacific Northwest. Brauns, who grew up in the Lakes Region, called Portsmouth home for many years, booking the Hush, Hush, Sweet Harlot series (she now has a band called the Sweet Harlots out in Oregon), and working the local and regional circuit as well as a singer-songwriter, releasing three albums while residing in the great Granite State. Her departure left a void in the hearts and ears of many local music fans. Fast-forward to 2011, and Brauns is back, offering up her latest, "House of Snow." To say the album is "much anticipated" is an understatement. For a little while, it wasn't clear if she'd be hitting us with new sounds again. But fear not, her travels in the West have provided her the inspiration to put out some of her best work to date. Though she's not heading back east to dwell and reside among us again (just yet), she will be in the area for a performance in celebration of the release at The Music Hall on Saturday, Oct. 8 as part of the "Voices of Vision" fundraiser to benefit the N.H. Association for the Blind. House of Snow" does not disappoint. Brauns' blend of indie-folk with gothic chamber-pop undertones has long been her staple, but she has seemed to refine this sound and has made it more accessible this time around. That's not to say it wasn't solid before. It has just aged rather well with years of wisdom and worldly experience that now reside within her being and soul. Her conspicuous vocals tendencies paired with contributions from Sam Cooper (Horse Feathers) — banjo, drums, piano, Jenny Conlee (the Decemberists) — piano and organ, Skip VonKuske (Vagabond Opera) — cello, John Whaley (Run On Sentence) — trumpet, and Franchot Tone (Culver City Dub Collective) — guitars; really set the tone for an album that flows like a piece of literature. The ethereal imagery that Brauns so expertly weaves into the lyrical content of her songs is evocative and inspiring. "House of Snow," hits the listener on several levels. I hope people can realize a greater appreciation for being alive and the depth of the human experience," Brauns said in a recent interview. "There are sad songs on here, happy ones, songs about murder, and love, and dreams and rivers, feeling desperately in love, and feeling whimsical and not caring. I think there are some really solid songs on the record that have the potential to take on a life of their own. I'm also really happy with the production. It was produced and arranged by Douglas Jenkins of the Portland Cello Project, and I think he did a killer job on the string arrangements and production in general, and we had a string of Portland's finest musicians, so it has been cool to have that association with those folks. The 12 tunes (11 originals, and a cover of Okkervil River's "Westfall") that make up "House of Snow," are a beautiful depiction of a woman who has spent years riding casually down the river, through the calm and the rapids, experiencing serenity and trepidation — gaining wisdom and a new-found perception on what it is to be alive and living. Whilst this record may prove to be the culmination of the adventures and guise of the singer who penned and crafted these tunes, I'd like to think it's just the beginning.” - Chris Hislop

The Portsmouth Herald

House of Snow - a Melodic Album from Laurel Brauns by Renee Patrick   With the release of her fourth album and an imminent move to Portland, Laurel Brauns is poised to fully pursue a career in music. The album, House of Snow, is a thoughtful and melodic work recently launched on September 16. Brauns’ lyrics evoke her love of the water and the beauty found in simple nature scenes. Her song writing has evolved from the past few albums with her desire to write for the listener rather than herself. What has resulted, she explains, is a happier album. “I want to be more mature in the song writing process. It’s a competitive industry, it’s hard to get traction, and I feel that I have more potential of progression if I make music that is accessible,” Brauns said. She spent the winter crafting her writing process with the help of local musicians Franchot Tone and Eric Tollefson. Brauns is proactive about collaborating with other artists on House of Snow, and the effort has added layers of texture to her songs. Track two, Doldrums, features a chorus of local musicians, Erin Cole-Baker, Mark Ranson, Patrick Pearsall and Katie Brauns; the effect is a haunting ballad of longing in one of the strongest songs on the album. Dreams has the most distinct sound with Brauns’ voice backed by rhythmic strings and percussion with influences of the Decemberists’ style. Unlike Brauns’ previous three albums, she had creative director of the Portland Cello Project, Douglas Jenkins, produce and arrange House of Snow. On Swimming, Periphery and Closed for the Season, Brauns created the songs much more haphazardly with extended jam sessions that evolved into the recorded music. Jenkins’ structure resulted in a well crafted album with tracks that create her most cohesive work to date. Since she works as a freelance writer and marketing professional, Brauns has the flexibility to start focusing her efforts on touring, specifically among the wineries in the valley. While we will miss her influence in Bend, Brauns is certain to take the success of House of Snow over the mountains. Take the time to listen; her album is the perfect accompaniment to a fall evening sitting on the back porch with a glass of wine. www.laurelbrauns.com” - Renee Patrick

Cascade Business News