I met Brian a bit before I met Callie. I had moved to the Bay Area from Scotland six months earlier, and still didn’t really have any close friends here – I was reeling from culture shock and feeling deeply homesick. I had tried out a few open mics in the area, but hadn’t really found one that felt like a community.

Finally, I tried out the open mic at Bec’s Bistro, this weird bar on Shattuck with an eccentric owner who would ship in truckloads of sand for an annual “beach party” inside the bar (with predictably gross results), where Brian was the open mic host. As many people have mentioned, Brian has a special talent for creating community, and that open mic wasn’t just a group of disparate musicians hoping to be heard, it was an instant bond of support and friendship. Suddenly, my life opened up. Nobody has come even close to booking me for as many shows as Brian has! I also remember, fatefully, one time at open mic, I convinced Brian to let me duet with him on his song Boggled Whiskeydream right before he went up to play, him having no idea what I was about to do, which led to some of my most very favorite experiences performing together in Chonk over the next 7+ years.

More importantly, I found real, cherished friendships not only in Brian, but also through him in Mady, Robb, Taylor, Greg, Tess, Brady, Omar, Heather, Kamran, Kat, May, Mel, Brian, Brian, and Brian, and, well, just about everyone I` know including all of the original and current members of Django Moves to Portland, Brian, Sadie, Boone, and Ariel. To this day, most of my Bay Area friends are people I met through Brian and the Bec’s open mic. As you can imagine, I am deeply grateful.

Callie, too, makes it incredibly easy to love her. We bonded over a love for natural sciences and the outdoors, and Callie’s immense and generous warmth, goofy renditions of old classic song lyrics (as an aside, I don’t think any person on earth knows as many songs as Callie does), and her ability to see and really value the things that make oddballs so odd, quickly made it obvious that she is a person to cherish. Early on I didn’t know about Callie’s photographic tendencies, but one night at a Chonk show she took some photos with Kamran’s camera, and from the amazing results it was obvious that this couldn’t be just an idle habit. Just a few years on, and Callie’s live music photography is the best I’ve ever seen.

Being friends with Callie and Brian is honestly a gift. And one that brings backyard bonfire jams, moonlit walks in gold country, hungover brunches, Russian River flotillas, way too much Fireball whiskey, camping with chickens, and howling at the moon! One of my favorite memories is hiking with Callie and Brian and my brother Ben up to the top of Mount Tam. I turned around and saw Brian was lying on a picnic table with his eyes closed and a blissful smile on his face while Callie sat next to him, and as I got closer I could just hear Callie whispering earnestly into his ear “… and you have beautiful earlobes …”. So perfect.

Together, they have grown a dream that others might have mistakenly thought was just that. But, together, they have actually built their music recording/videography/photography/creative media enterprise Shady Pines Media; and they have actually made biographical films of Chris Ballew (of The Presidents of the United States of America), Dave McMacken (album and poster artist for The Beatles, AC/DC, Frank Zappa, The Beach Boys, The Temptations, etc.), and Calvin Johnson (founder of K Records, who produced and features heavily on Beck’s album One Foot in the Grave); and they have actually recorded and filmed and photographed and performed with the likes of Bridge City Sinners, Whitney Flynn (of Days N Daze), Anis Mojgani (Oregon’s poet laureate), Trill LeBeau (of Cosmic Serenity), Roselit Bone, Kendra McKinley, Tal Turner (of Yes Ma’am), Chasing Ebenezer, Ezra Bell, Blair Borax, and SO MANY independent and innovative artists who are rarely given a spotlight; AND they have actually had David Bloody Lynch send them a wedding present consisting of a boxset of his movies and a copy of his autobiography, signed and wishing them a happy marriage!

In short, Brian and Callie are the perfect example of a sum equaling more than its component parts. Together, their potential expands, and their limits are seemingly, terrifyingly, non-existent. It has been an inspiration to watch Brian and Callie grow with each other, and I am so excited and grateful to be their friend and witness the amazing things they will do together.

To a life full of joy, adventure, silliness, and so many dreams!

Love you both so much, Brian and Callie. ❤️

This year, music and I needed to have a chat. I’ve always been an active participant in music — singing rowdy sea shanties with my family since before I can remember, writing and performing my own songs for over 20 years, and attending beautiful slap-dash shows in improbable venues. This year, however, thanks to my dumb irreplaceable back and all of its nebulous, painful parts, I’ve had to adjust to life on a more horizontal plane. I haven’t been able to attend and perform all the shows I wanted to, which is a bummer, but I’ve had a lot more time to listen, which is a cool consolation. 

This year I listened to thousands of new artists and tens of thousands of tracks across genres (skewing heavy on the independent women-fronted irreverent folky punky freaky acts as per my personal preference), and wanted to share some really great ones. Below are the 353 tracks by 278 artists that were my favorites released in 2019. You can also listen to a Spotify playlist of 600+ of my favorite tracks of 2017-2019 here (I widened my margin to three years because this is the first time I’ve done a yearly run-down), but not all tracks are available on Spotify.

Happy New Year! I hope you find some new music that you love!

(Quick note: I’m doing this purely for the fun of it. If you enjoy this list and are feeling generous, check out my band Django Moves to Portland‘s track I’m a Bear, sign up to our mailing list here, or feel free to Venmo me a buck at @Hannah-Werdmuller.)

Hannah Werdmuller’s favorite tracks of 2019:

0 – A ·· B ·· C ·· D ·· E – F ·· G – H ·· I – L ·· M ·· N – O ·· P ·· R ·· S ·· T – V ·· W – Z

0 – A:

*repeat repeat (Nashville, TN) – Apocalyptic, indie pop from the album Glazed.

A Giant Dog (Austin, TX) – The Well and the Lighthouse, and No Cars Go, garage rock from the album Neon Bible.

Actionesse (Seattle, WA) – Self-Subterfuge, hard rock with a horn section from the album The Deep, Bridge Below.

Afrofunk Experience (San Francisco, CA) – Killer, afrofunk single.

Emily Afton (Oakland, CA) – Back in San Francisco, indie pop from the single Thinkin Bout You.

Alice Phoebe Lou (Cape Town, South Africa) – Skin Crawl, dreampop from the album Paper Castles.

Alien Birth (Philadelphia, PA) – Can’t Stand a Punisher (Can’t Stand Myself), hardcore punk from the EP Alien Birth.

Alih Jey & Cuñao (Los Angeles, CA) – Esperanza (ft. Jarina De Marco), Latin ballad from the album Soy de Peña.

Lex Allen (Milwaukee, WI) – I.D.E.N.T.I.T.Y., from the EP I.D.E.N.T.I.T.Y..

Annabel Allum (London, United Kingdom) – Altar to Alter, indie rock from the EP Gravel Not the Grave.

Najee Amaranth (Oakland, CA) – Shut Up, hip hop from the album Father of the Year.

And the Kids (Northampton, MA) – No Way Sit Back, indie from the album When This Life is Over.

Laura Jean Anderson (Los Angeles, CA) – Lonesome No More, and Who Am I to You, folk jazz from the EP Lonesome No More.

Nels Andrews (Santa Cruz, CA) – South of San Gregorio, folk pop from the album Pigeon and the Crow.

Apes of the State (Lancaster, PA) – Snowflake, and Internet Song, from the album Pipe Dream.

Anaís Azul (Boston, MA) – Healing, indie folk pop single.

Ariel View (Ontario, CA) – Pretty Flowers, New York, and Midnight, indie pop rock from the album Until My Lungs Are Cleared.

0 – A ·· B ·· C ·· D ·· E – F ·· G – H ·· I – L ·· M ·· N – O ·· P ·· R ·· S ·· T – V ·· W – Z