I’d circled Nov. 29 on my calendar several weeks ago, waiting patiently for the return of singer-songwriter Liz Longley to perform live in Portland.
The date finally arrived and I was delighted to be part of a small but appreciative crowd that showed up at the Alberta Rose Theater for a Tuesday night concert. (Lori doesn’t attend midweek concerts owing to her early-bird hours as a personal trainer.)
Liz is most likely under the radar for most people. But no matter. I think she’s equally talented as a lyricist and a performer, toggling back and forth between acoustic guitar and piano and singing with delicacy or verve, depending on the song.
My longtime friend, Mike Granberry, is the one who first told me about Liz. He’s a music critic for The Dallas Morning News and sees plenty of acts come through that city.
I checked her out at a May 2015 show at Mississippi Studios and was suitably impressed. She was touring then in support of her self-titled CD, her first since relocating from Philadelphia to Nashville.
This is the first track from that album:
Last night Liz played several songs from her newest album, “Weightless” and made sure to perform a few older favorites, including “Camaro” and “Bad Habit” — both songs about ex-boyfriends — and “Unraveling,” a ballad about her grandmother’s battle with dementia.
She was joined on stage by Brian Dunne, a classmate from the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, who performed a solo set and then came back for a few songs with Liz.
Tuesday was my first time at the Alberta Rose Theater, a renovated movie theater in Northeast Portland known for presenting live music, comedy and vaudeville. It’s an intimate space with general admission seating and a bar serving beer, wine and snacks.
I was four rows from the stage, maybe 30 to 40 feet away, so I had a great view. After the hour-long concert, Liz came out to the foyer to meet with fans, pose for photos, and sell her merchandise. She’s released five CDs and she’s still in her 20s.
As I approached after a short wait, Liz stopped me in my tracks and said, “Wait, I know you.”
“You have a great memory” I said. “I’m Granberry’s friend. I saw you at Mississippi Studios.”
“Oh, yeahhh!” she said with a smile. “I remember that show.”
Liz performed in Dallas in October and, according to my friend Mike, put on a great show. You can read his review right here.
An excerpt: “Bad Habit” chronicles her failed relationship with a chain smoker: “The night we first kissed/on the balcony alone/Well, he tasted like trouble/But he felt like my own bad habit.”
Tuesday night was the first date on Liz’s West Coast leg of her national “Weightless” tour, which began in mid-September. She performs tonight in Seattle and finishes up in southern California on Dec. 10.
I’ll be keeping an eye out for her next visit to Portland.With any luck, it’ll be a weekend show and Lori can join me. And maybe by then, Liz Longley will be a better known name.