Portland's The Bylines exists in a unique musical plane, one at once grounded in the big-band past of glamorous pop performances and rooted in a present realm of intricate and highly addictive songwriting. With a focus on grand live spectacle--a facet of music often lost in the digital age--the group is equally at home in velvet-curtained jazz halls, large rooms and intimate venues.
That sound is the product of a marriage both sonic and literal. The Bylines is made up of two songwriters whose styles and influences converge to bring The Bylines' catchy, addictive sounds to vibrant life. Frontwoman Marianna Thielen, the glamorous face of the group, brings to the fore a background in composition, classical vocal work and, most obviously, musical theater, illuminating the stage with endlessly watchable bravado backed up by her powerful -- yet playful -- vocal prowess. Meanwhile, gliding his fingers across the keys is Reece Marshburn, letting loose a symphony of intricate melodies rooted in a combination of classical, jazz and pop music.
The resulting combination is a unique pop confection drawing on decades of influences, as if Cole Porter, Carole King, Dusty Springfield, Freddie Mercury, Paul Simon, Rufus Wainwright and Regina Spektor combined forces and filtered their unique compositions through classical maestros and film composers, then sprinkled it with a keen pop sensibility and a commitment to putting on the most involving, charismatic and personalized live shows this side of the Copacabana.
The Bylines have used their unique-yet-familiar sound to play to audiences large and small throughout the country, and have released both a studio(self titled, recorded by Bob Stark at Kung Fu Bakery) and a live album(The Bylines Live, recorded at the Alberta Rose Theatre in Portland, OR). The Bylines are proud alumni of the Johnny Mercer Songwriting Project, and have had support from the Regional Arts and Culture Council. This year, they look forward to their performance at the Oregon Zoo for their annual ZooLaLa fundraiser, a Summer Wine Festival in Northern Idaho, and a performance before one of their songwriting influences, Randy Newman, at the Britt Festival in Jacksonville, OR.
Whether performing as a Thielen/Marshburn duo or with a larger band, the result is a blend of butter-smooth melodies, densely layered songwriting and powerful vocals. Most importantly, though, The Bylines musical cocktail goes down easy, and emphasizes something that is so often forgotten when such prolific songwriters present their craft: listening to music is, above all, supposed to be an experience… and a fun one.