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Multnomah County Lineman

Chuck Westmoreland
Chuck Westmoreland

I was born in 1976. Early memories I retain from around that era include a black van my parents had with actual carpet inside of it, Star Wars action figures,and watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and The Muppet Show.

Occasionally The Muppet Show had musical guests like Loretta Lynn, Roger Miller or Johnny Cash — my first introduction to country music, and specifically the country music of the 1970s, a time when cowboys gave up horses and whiskey for long-haul trucks and the white stuff.

Portland musician Chuck Westmoreland’s 2016 solo debut takes me right back to that period with weepy ballads like “If I Were There You Would Be Home” and honkytonk freak-outs like “Satin.”

“A lot of artists that I really enjoy were at their peak at that point in life,” Westmoreland tells me over the phone, mentioning Townes Van Zandt and Waylon Jennings. 

“That was the stuff that really resonated with me,” he adds. “I think of it as the high-water mark of songwriting.”

Westmoreland is now in the process of making a new record. “I’m mixing the new record as we speak,” he says, and he calls it “a little more rockin’, high-energy, a little less folky.” 

“It reflects that stuff I’ve been listening to,” he explains. “Tom Petty, Steve Earle, Spingsteen, more rockin’ stuff. I wanted to bring in more instruments, amp the energy level up a little bit.”

Chuck Westmoreland plays with Mission Spotlight 9 pm Thursday, Sept. 7, at Sam Bond’s Garage; $7, 21-plus.