Couple puts heart, soul into JT Wise Band
Musician Margaret Wise and her husband, JT, consider persistence and a willingness to endure the process of trial and error key ingredients in the song-creation process.
"You've just got to keep at it, and it'll come," said Margaret, who sings and plays bass in Oregon-based JT Wise Band. "I come up with some duds and some gems. I try to think of a story."
As far as subject matter, it's anything goes — but it's hard to beat a relatable narrative in which boy meets girl and, — after a series of tribulations — boy and girl part ways.
"It's kind of easy to write a love-gone-bad song," she admitted. "As long as the rhymes will fit, I try to write a story where the words aren't corny. Those songs go over well with the audience. They can tell when you put your heart and soul into it."
The JT Wise Band will share their store of heartfelt original songs and Americana-tinged cover songs in Oregon City, from 7:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at the Feckin Brewery and Smokehouse.
Rounded out by JT Wise on lead guitar, Jim Stein on rhythm and slide guitar, and Ken Woodside on drums ("We all sing and harmonize," Margaret said), the band will perform as an electric rock ensemble at Feckin.
"(Our songs) are a mix between rock, Americana and blues. We also cover other bands," Margaret said, mentioning the influence of classic songwriters like Townes Van Zandt and Richard Thompson. "We do one or two (Grateful) Dead songs. There are so many Dead fans (around Portland), we throw them in the mix, and they go over well. We have a bit of a jam band thing going on: Phish, the Dead, Cream. The audience seems to really like that."
The band formed about five years ago after JT and Margaret — who've been married for more than 30 years — took a break from playing in bands to raise their family. As co-owner of the former High Tech Recording Studios, JT cut his teeth on Portland's vibrant late 1970s-early '80s scene that saw local ensembles like Quarterflash and Nu Shooz break nationally.
"My husband owned (High Tech) with Jack Barr," Margaret said. "Quarterflash and all those bands that were around at the time worked there."
JT's professional experience behind the board, she added, comes in handy.
"We do our own recordings, write our songs and record ourselves. We're trying to work on a CD."
To keep themselves grounded — and able to maintain day jobs and families — the band tries to keep their work steady but manageable.
"We try to play only once or twice a week," Margaret said, adding that the number can ramp up to five or six when summer rolls around.
If you go
What: JT Wise Band presents an all-ages show
Where: Feckin Brewery and Smokehouse, 415 S. McLoughlin Blvd., Oregon City
When: 7:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2