Bar Band of the Year
Run and Tell That
In what’s planned to be an annual declaration, the Indulge Yamhill Valley Bar Band of the Year highlights a group busting its hump to provide quality entertainment for the local nightlife scene.
It was pretty easy determining who to honor first.
Run and Tell That is comprised of brother-sister duo Freddie and Hannah Lamb, who have been performing together more than a decade. With just an acoustic guitar and vocals, they can set up in the corner of the smallest venues, but can fill far larger stages, with Hannah’s soaring vocals and Freddie’s rock ‘n’ roll style. Aside from being two of the most likable people you will meet, the group appeals for its flexibility to play to any crowd.
“We try to have something for everyone in the crowd. We try to cover everything from the ‘50s up to today, along with our originals,” Freddie says during an interview at the Cellar Bar inside McMenamins Oregon Hotel, where he hosts Underground Open Mic every Thursday. “If you know the right song, you can trigger a memory for anyone. That’s my favorite part about music.”
“We’re better than Pandora radio,” Hannah quips.
“It’s amazing the power music has and what it can trigger,” Freddie adds. “Feelings, emotions and thoughts.” Freddie, a Dayton High School graduate, has been a part of the local music scene for two decades, playing in ska and punk bands in and after high school and then transforming into the acoustic singer/songwriter gig. Around 2006, he was booked to play a wedding, but had recently blown out his voice.
“I said, ‘Hannah, you’re my little sister, if anyone knows my music it’s you,’” he said. “So I hummed her all my melodies. We performed at the wedding, and really never stopped since.”
Hannah moved to Lincoln City, and the two usually gig between McMinnville and the coast. Through their gigs, they’ve earned a following of both locals and out-of-towners. Visitors stopping through have invited them to play private events in Washington, and others make a point every month to drive south to catch them play. It’s a testament to how a music act can become its own mini-tourism promotion agency, and numerous types can grow into something significant for the vibrancy of a community.
“It takes a lot of work to build something up,” Freddie said about the growing music scene in McMinnville, still yet to reach its potential. “It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to constantly be putting yourself out there.”
But the number of bars, tasting rooms, wineries and restaurants in the area providing at least occasional live music is increasing. Run and Tell That has played most of them. Even The 411 Eatery & Lounge — which one would step into and wonder how a band could fit — arranged a place for Run and Tell That to perform last New Year’s Eve. They also perform at the Bitter Monk and were hired for Mac Taps’ one-year anniversary. “Mac’s awesome. There’s a lot of good opportunities to play music around here,” Freddie said.
“We play so many different venues, every bar is different and brings in a different crowd,” Hannah said. From upscale to seedy, Freddie and Hannah can work any crowd. When it comes to the latter, dealing with some unruly patrons comes with the territory.
“There’s always one at the Snug,” Hannah said, referencing Snug Harbor in Lincoln City, where the band frequently plays.
“When you play dive bars, there’s always one,” Freddie added.
“I had one guy walk up (to the stage) and just stare at me. I didn’t know if he was going to punch me, stab me, or what,” Freddie said. “Then he just started banging his head. But we were playing acoustic. He was just staring at me so intensely, I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
But like most audiences at their shows, the guy was just having a good time, Freddie said.
“We just want you to have a good time.”
The performers also must watch their intake while performing in bar settings. For that Freddie has a mantra: “If it’s liquor then I will probably play a little less slicker. If it’s beer I’ll probably keep it together better and we’ll have good cheer.
“You try not to do it, but sometimes you have too much fun. “
What one drinks can be as important as the quantity before going on stage.
“I try to do a light drink, maybe a Lemon Drop. I like mixed drinks,” Hannah said. Occasionally, she’ll go for beer, but that can encourage her biggest fear on stage: burps.
“(Freddie’s) a guy and played in a punk rock band and (burping) is cool,” Hannah joked. “For me, what I’m doing, I feel like when I sing it’s an art to me, not just an entertainer, I feel like I reach out to people’s souls when my voice carries. I want it to be beautiful. So I won’t eat usually before I sing and I watch what I drink, because I really don’t want to end up burping (into the mic).”
For many performers, even veterans, a little liquid confidence can benefit a set. That’s especially true during the open mic nights like the Thursday ones at the Cellar Bar Freddie launched in May 2016.
“I wanted it to be a springboard for people who may need those couple shots or couple beers to get up and play to get over that (stage fright) and get used to hopping up there, doing their thing and get rid of those butterflies,” he said.
It can also be a nice way for performers to get their foot in the door. For example, Hannah’s first open mic was at the Wildwood Hotel in Willamina, which has become a regional gem for live music. Run and Tell That has since played a couple shows there.
Pretentious musicians Freddie and Hannah certainly are not. They know not everyone ends up at the venue wanting to hear them. So while they belt out classics like Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” or 4 non Blondes’ “What’s Going On,” they remain mellow enough for the patrons to converse.
“Some musicians get mad when people are talking. But, you know what, they came to the bar to drink and may not know there’s music,” Freddie said. “So if we can draw you in by just being mellow enough, that’s great.
“We just want you to have a good time.”
Find upcoming shows for Run and Tell That at facebook.com/RunAndTellThatDuo. Catch Underground Open Mic every Thursday from 8 to 10 p.m. at Hotel Oregon, 310 N.E. Evans Street. Freddie also livestreams them on the band’s Facebook page.