Joe Sanchez, Easyfolk and community
One of the very best things about playing music in Portland is the opportunity to meet amazing people. Joe Sanchez is amazing in many ways, and we feel very happy to have met him.
Joe Sanchez learned about music and community at his childhood church.
The choir and other church activities were a big part of his young life, and it was there he began to value the sense of community churches foster. It’s where he identified the elements that contribute to his sense of well-being: people, places, purpose and rhythm.
Through his business, Easyfolk Media, and the nonprofit he is starting, Joe uses those four principles to build a creative community among local musicians.
Joe’s musical roots
Joe grew up singing and playing the piano. By the time he picked up the guitar as a teen he said, “I went toward rock and punk music.” But soon he got turned onto the world of Americana and singer-songwriters.
Hearing Josh Ritter talk about his influences, Joe learned about Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Townes Van Zandt. That started his quest for great acoustic music.
“It was always the songwriting for me – the narratives, the murder ballads, the honesty in the lyrics.” The drive to tell moving stories has inspired Joe’s songwriting ever since.
Joe’s community roots
As he got older, Joe always found himself longing for the structures that a religious setting provided. They provide purpose (‘why are we here?’), and even rhythms (‘we’re going to do this every week’).” – which for him defined “community”. And when he and his wife settled in Vancouver, WA, he was determined to apply those principles to supporting a musical community.
Joe moved to the Northwest toward the beginning of the pandemic – a perfect time to develop a new skill. In Joe’s case, the art of video making. As a way to connect with the music community and develop his craft, he reached out to local musicians and offered to produce free videos for them. (Cold emails included a preface: “Hey, I’m a real person! This is not a scam – I really am trying to build my own business this way!)
Once he had a few takers who saw what he could do, he asked their help in connecting with others. And within a short time, he had a network of music connections – and a video business.
Easyfolk Media was the first step in bringing people together.
The next steps furthered his goal of connecting people, while establishing the foundational rhythms and places of community.
A friend suggested he start an Open Mic at The Haymaker, a wonderful music-friendly venue (with exceptional food and an awesome bartender). Within a short time, Thursday evenings at the Haymaker became the place for talented singer-songwriters to gather, to listen and to perform. (Rhythm: every week. Place: The Haymaker.)
As a gift to performers and a great marketing tool, Joe combines footage from two wall-mounted cameras to create short, high-quality videos that he sends to each performer.
Joe’s new Featured Artist program is a super-innovative way to build community – while helping singer-songwriters break down the barriers solo artists often encounter. He has brought together six talented musicians/bands who have committed to a year-long program of collaboration, the sharing of ideas and resources, the opportunity to attend a song-writing retreat, and even a featured spot at Easyfolk Fest in August. (Rhythm: an annual event. Place: The Portland Playhouse.)
Joe is in the process of creating a non-profit to help expand the opportunities offered by the Featured Artist program.
Purpose is the motivation behind all of Joe’s work and the other three principles of community. Joe is dedicated to good music – his own (he has a stunning voice and writes beautifully) and that of others. He is committed to helping people find each other, find encouragement, and find support, knowing that songwriting can be an isolating profession with few guides and many dead ends.
Joe hasn’t tried to take on the world, the city or the whole music world. He has applied his own intentions and desires to focus, step by step, on what he can influence in and around Portland in the most positive way.
In the few short years he’s been in the area, he has made huge strides and affected many people.