By Ossie Bladine • Editor • 

Follow Division Street to Willamina

Matt Cadenelli has played the Wildwood Hotel as a drummer in Fernando, but Saturday will be his first performance there as The Don of Division Street.
RootJack performs at the Wildwood Music Fest in July. Frontman Kris Stuart will play a solo set Saturday in Willamina.

The Wildwood Hotel has another fine night of music scheduled this Saturday. The Don of Division Street headlines the bill, with Kris Stuart of RootJack as supporting cast.

“The Don” is the moniker for Matt Cadenelli, a Portland drummer-turned-singer-songwriter who “delivers Americana-soaked pop songs with heart, integrity and plenty of wisdom,” according to his bio.

Cadenelli recently released his sophomore album, “L’Amourita.” The musical styles run the gamut, but I’d liken his sound to a less cynical Neil Young who’s been hanging out with the Beatles for a while.

Cadenelli will appear with his full backing band Saturday night. Stuart and Cadenelli had originally planned to do some solo stuff, along with a set together. Then Stuart asked, why waste a good trip to Willamina with just the two of them?

“I told him, ‘It’s silly to just have us two,’” Stuart told the News-Register. “I said, ‘Let’s bring the band down.”

Stuart’s own band, RootJack, has been a frequent visitor to the Wildwood since the venue’s inception. In July, the logger-rock group was part of the Wildwood Music Fest, and headlined the entertainment at the Old-Fashioned Fourth of July celebration in “Timbertown U.S.A.”

His solo efforts are still a work in progress, Stuart admitted. He said he started last year, purposely not preparing for solo sets and seeing what happened. It’s a far different approach from his work with the band, in which he relies on rehearsal and planning, he said.

“That’s been fun,” he said of his solo work. “Doing that, I’ve learned some things of what to do and not to do. I’m starting to be more comfortable (with the impromptu approach).”

“It’s a real treat” each time he plays the Wildwood, he said. The venue is a welcome change for musicians who play Portland gigs week in and week out.

“We tell everyone what a great experience we have,” He said. “It’s the hospitality, but it’s also where people come to listen. Their attention span is long.”

He said Portland gigs can become monotonous, making musicians feel like they are just the next hired entertainers playing the next set. Music becomes an afterthought at many Portland venues, where people go out for the scene, not the music.

Not so at the Wildwood. Stuart said the band always looks for other venues when they drive through Newberg and McMinnville on their way to the West Valley. With Portland inundated with great musicians who often get lost in the mix, it wouldn’t take much to build a healthy music scene in Yamhill County.

Saturday’s show starts at 9 p.m. Stuart will kick things off, followed by a set by the Don and his band, and then the whole bunch will perform together to cap off the night. For more information, visit Wildwood on Facebook, e-mail, or call 503-876-7100.

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