If you’re planning on going out this Halloween, why not see Pirate Jenny, a band that treats every performance like it’s Halloween? Clad in billowy shirts, striped apparel of all sorts, scarves, and skull-and-crossbones bedecked hats, this Portland quartet will get you in the mood to shake your booty before the music even starts. (C’mon, you had to see that coming.)
“We basically act like pirates who are shipwrecked in Portland and are playing in bars,” says band member Kevin Hendrickson. “We definitely create an environment. You will feel like you’ve landed in a small pirate village. You will get that feeling.”
But beyond the kitsch value, Pirate Jenny is a band that takes its music seriously. Together for almost 10 years, with a repertoire of nearly 100 songs, they turn out upbeat, danceable rock music.
“It’s a little bit like fantasy rock mixed with sea shanties,” Hendrickson says. “People have compared the sound to everything from Ween to early British rock like Jethro Tull. It’s definitely a mix of different styles. The only thing that holds it together is pirate themes.”
Playing on Halloween has become somewhat of a tradition for the band. They have played the past nine, and this is their third at downtown restaurant and bar Jasmine Tree. To get in the spirit this Friday, Hendrickson urges show-goers to dress up. Though any type of costume will do, he says, sea-faring attire would be fitting.
“It’s definitely a costume event,” he says. “We encourage pirates, mermaids, sea captains, sea creatures, sea monsters. … Mainly we encourage the nautical theme.”
Though its lineup has changed over the years, Pirate Jenny was founded by Hendrickson in 1994. His love of storytelling through song generated 20 or 30 pirate tunes, which he decided to take public by forming the band. He says the name was inspired by Jenny, a friend who loved the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.
The band now consists of Paul Iannotti on xylophone, guitar, keyboards and vocals; Ron Lee on bass; John Morgan on drums and occasional vocals; and Hendrickson on guitar, vocals and keyboards.
The pirate-band genre contains few specimens, to be sure, but Willamette Week once dubbed Pirate Jenny “The Best Pirate Band in the World.” Hendrickson is quick to acknowledge the designation as tongue-in-cheek.
“We don’t really take ourselves that seriously as pirates,” he says. “But it’s not a joke when it comes to our songwriting. It’s a blend of silly and serious.”
For show dates, pictures, sound clips and more, check out Pirate Jenny’s Web site at www.piratejenny.com.
The Jasmine Tree
401 S.W. Harrison St.