Ken,mark,Courtney, Jill, Rob & June
"Swing Set's Beginnings as one of the Early N.W. Artsy punk bands rising up from The Portland Underground Punk and art Scene In the early 80's. came about with A accidental meeting of four young men. Mark Baar the guitar player had come from Hollywood Ca. On tour in HIs previous band a very punk bunch called the "4skins". Who had imploded the way those things do. and he was full of energy but already t by 1981 Tired of the hardcore LA Scene that brought him to Portland in the late 70's.
The Singer Robert Collison even as a young man was already in the throws of being an artist and would become an early member of the U.S. outsider Art Movement, creator of many fanzines, Sculpture and all manner of graphic and performance art. He and The Drummer ken woodside were childhood friends. Ken being an Introspective Tall and Quit, calm and thoughtful force of searching for a meaning .
The bass player June came across the other three by answering a flyer ad posted on telephone polls all over Portland. He was from a world in another universe from all of them. born with an adventurous and creative spirit. after only one rehearsal together HIs love of All things funky shined so brightly Ken Rob and Mark knew he just had to join in so June took a huge leap of faith As a young black musician in a world of whiteness That was Portland Ore. and brought his soul and talents to the group.
They Were all Inspired by Funk and Soul music of the 60' and 70's in the US. to story telling and performance art. all would become intergral parts of the Portland art and underground music scene. like minded and young their influences "The The" Fred Frith and the art bears, 10,000 maniacs, Face Ditch from Seattle with Fred Chalenor. Parliament, Marvin Gaye and Rick James, Roxy music and Henry Cow along with so many more from the local and international music scene. They Played throughout the N.W. underground clubs for a year. The Video Below "Catches in your eyes" Is the only real total record of the band Captured in 8mm film on a sunny day in Portland by Robbs
Swing Set started 1982.
With the meeting of Mark Baar, Robert Collison, Ken Woodside. And June
Between songs Robert told Stories with Mark. An accidental thing of nerves Their first show was 4/17/82 with The "3 swimmers" and "little bears from Bangkok" at Reed College... They also played at the Met and other NW Punk clubs. But this version of the band was short lived and in a year, June would disappear.
In 83, With their bass player June gone and Rob Collison deciding he need to Move to SF to become the artist he is today. That left Mark and Ken playing with all sorts of musicians in the Portland scene. Finally Mark came across Courtney Von Drehle and Jill Hummelstein both taking a break from Reed College and the three of them spent a lot of time jamming and experimenting with Ken joining in to make it Ken and Mark adding Jill Hummelstein on Trumpet Courtney Von Drehle on Sax, and strings with Mark playing guitar and bass of course Ken Woodside on the drums. This was the most avante garde that band would become with each show being a new presentation of their songs all largely improvised. And that is where it all ended. Like so many bands for a million reasons in life, love lost and situations won and lost the recorded what would have been a EP At Mike Lastra's Home Studio in N.E. Portland.
There was a huge love and freedom of expression within the band, all of which lead Ken and Jill to seek their own sprititual paths. Jill was devoted to her yoga teachings and Ken's strong desire to understand the nature of God grew in leaps and bounds. Mark and Courtney the two most bound to each other in search of better music were not able to stem the tide of Marks drinking and more. Courtney found other instruments and great players to add to his love of music and became both a renowned Accordion teacher and performer around the world........Mark moved to SF. where he took a nice girl, a great dog and too many bad habits for any of them to survive. He dove deeply into the bottle and ambient noise and perormance based sounds of electronic underground in the Bay area. In the Video below on a single that never happened you can hear Ken, Courtney and Mark pewrforming Skylark. Only ever performed as a trio.
The four track recording below is the only studio recording. There ever was of the four Instrumentalists. Recorded in Mike Lastras basement Studio.