Portland, Oregon’s Fluff & Gravy Records strides through a handful of years with a celebratory mixtape of sorts showcasing its vast array of sonic bids since 2011. What started as a veritable joke on a demo record has lampooned itself as procurer of honest and truthful art. I honestly wish I had another me in which to cover every release with the friendly maid holding a steaming tray of Fluff & Gravy, boasting artists the likes of Anna Tivel, Drunken Prayer, Richmond Fontaine, Sasparilla, and Fernando Viciconti, not to mention the grumpy genius of Dan Stuart from the legendary Green On Red backed by a band from his ex-patriot home of Mexico City.
35 releases from 18 artists in a mere five years is a busy label. As a label-tinkerer myself, that’s a feat in, and of itself. Musicians John Shepski and Chad Lanning spawned the label over a few drinks at the local watering hole and the rest is history, now sporting releases from hometown heroes Richmond Fontaine and a stellar offering by Fernando Viciconti complete with Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey from REM fame in the backing band. After only half a decade the boys have done well in solidifying a name brand, a trademark of quality, if you will. In trying to put that into language arts I keep coming back to the final paragraph of the Fluff & Gravy story:
“It’s only fitting that Morgan Geer (of Drunken Prayer) suggested the slogan, “Trust Your Label”. On the surface, it is a reflection of the integrity of the artists, but it is also more than that. It harkens back to a time when everyone knew the label that their favorite artist was associated with. Coltrane was with Blue Note, Cash was with Sun , Mudhoney was with Sub Pop, and Superchunk was with Merge. It was a time when you could walk into a record store and see the logo on the back of the jacket, and you knew it was going to be a quality record, even if you weren’t familiar with the artist. That trust, in essence, is what Fluff and Gravy has been building over the past 5 years, one record at a time.”
From Hillstomp’s stripped down bluesy gospel to the indie garage rock of Sassparilla there’s a little for any and all. Nick Jaina’s “Run” is an unquestionable eye-opener with its sampled chorus and minimalist build, almost like a future blues. I’ve also learned that “It Ain’t Gay To Love Jesus” thankfully, and that Joe Stalin, Babe Ruth, Mao Tse Tung, and Mark Twain also came from somebody’s vagina…just like me! All courtesy of the Git Rights Gospel Revue and Jeffrey Martin, respectively! Buy Five Years of Gravy here.
It should be noted that all proceeds go to The Jeremy Wilson Foundation, a musicians’ nonprofit health and services organization making it easy to directly assist individual musicians and their families during medical emergencies. Cheers to another five years plus to a great bunch of people and music… y’all get acquainted…