Pancake Breakfast
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Pancake Breakfast

Band Folk Alternative


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"8 Questions with Pancake Breakfast"

8 Questions with Pancake Breakfast

contributor: Justin Parris

Pancake Breakfast (a.k.a Mike Midlo) is quickly becoming one of the most entertaining shows in Portland. With a row of backup singers and all kinds of instruments, Midlo’s pet music project from the farm has taken quit a leap.

1.You live in White Salmon, Washington now but where were you before that and what star did you follow to end up there? What is the movie trailer version of your story?

I grew up in Minneapolis, near a creek. Then one day, my girlfriend and I packed up our lives, drove around the country and landed in Portland. That was way back in 1995. Before you know it, we were married. I got a job … a good one too. And everything was pretty good until we got the itch to get out of the big city. So, we bought a little farm in White Salmon, Washington. Seven acres. Old cedars in the woods. An oak tree in the meadow. We planted a big garden. Raised chickens. Somewhere along the way, I started recording all the sounds I heard around the farm. And making up songs too.

2. How long have you been making notes and noises and how has the genesis of Pancake Breakfast gone?

My mom was a nightclub singer. One of my earliest memories is seeing her in a sparkly evening gown, singing “Proud Mary” on stage. That was the start … it had to be.

3. You play lots of shows here in Portland. What keeps you coming back? How do you feel about the town and the musical communities you’ve experienced?

There aren’t many places to play in White Salmon, aside from around the campfire. Portland is the place. The depth of music, and venues to hear it being played in, is staggering. I would go out and see a band every night if I could, but the 70-mile drive back home to White Salmon is sort of rough … especially at 2 a.m.

4. Right now you have, as you put it, “three little records” (which can be downloaded and streamed for free at Are you signed to a label or do you produce and release work on your own and what’s it like?

Yup, folks can download the EPs for free … I hope they do.

But that said, I don’t think all music should be free. Musicians pour a ton of time and money, hard work and the furniture of their souls into recording music. When everything is expected to be free, our appreciation for the art gets all messed up. It’s like living in a room full of chocolate … or like this cat I met in Michigan who hung out behind the fish house. She never had to work for a meal in her life … or reach very far to get it.

Pancake Breakfast music is free to download just because I want people to hear it. Plus, the more folks who listen, the better chance they’ll come out to a show. That’s the goal.

5. Alongside your records there is a companion coloring book which has a page for each song. That’s a pretty quirky and unique idea, how did that come about and who came up and who was involved with it?

I figured that even if people didn’t like the music … everybody likes to color, right? So, I sat down beside the woodstove and started drawing pictures. I made one for every song. It’s like having interactive liner notes.

It was really hard at first. But the more I just let go and pretended I was a four-year-old kid, the easier and more fun it became. Everything about Pancake Breakfast is done with that attitude.

6. There are lots of sounds on the three records, field recordings, organs, and you howling like a wild coyote just to pick some. What was the recording process like (what’d you use, where’d you do it, who was it with, etc.)? Were these three done seperately or with the intention of it being one body of work?

I wanted to record and release 3 EPs in one year. I even had the names picked out. The first would be called Moo!, the second Howdy and third (sigh …). I knew that much …

Next, I built a room in the barn. It’s called the Noise Nest. That’s were all the songs were recorded. The set-up is pretty simple: a couple microphones; a preamp; a used Mbox; and a laptop. That’s it. A friend helped me mix and master the songs. His name is Dave. I call him St. Dave now.

All the organ sounds and beats you hear on the records come from a 1977 Kimball Swinger 400. I found it on Craig’s List a couple years ago and it changed my life. The organ has all the canned beats and rainbow-colored buttons and electro cheesy sounds. It’s just like the one my grandpa played after Sunday supper. I love it.

All the field recordings are from around the farm. We’ve got a bunch of clucking chickens and squeaky doors and gurgling tractor noises to listen to. It’s never-ending. Last winter I stood out in the freezing moonlight trying to record the sound of planets crashing into each other … but when I got back inside, all I could hear was Mrs. Owl hooting from her nest while a snowplow scraped down the county highway … which, I guess, is pretty good too.

7. Accompanying you are the Pancake Breakfast Singers. Explain what they’re about and what parts they have on the records and the live shows? Is that the moniker you’ve given to friends that collaborate with you or is there a concrete lineup and is Mrs. Buttersworth involved at all?

¡The Pancake Breakfast Singers! are a flying circus of friends who help stomp and clap and sing along. It’s the best thing in the world.

I tend to write super-simple songs. They’re campfire songs. A lot of them have a call-and-response element to them. The three records came before the ¡PB Singers! formed, so on those songs, it’s just me back there singing harmonies and shouting other nonsense.

But when I started playing live, the crowd sort of picked up on the campfire theme and filled it in. It’s a humbling thing to hear a bar full of strangers singing along to a tune they’ve never heard before and that I wrote all alone, out in the garden one summer morning.

8. What is in front of you right now (projects, shows, tours, etc.) other than your nose?

!The Pancake Breakfast Singers! are all jacked up to make a full-length record. Me too. We’re also building Pancake Breakfast into more than a band. We want to make it an event, a hootenanny where all sorts of things happen on stage. It’ll be a Grand Old Opry kind of experience, or maybe The Lawrence Welk Show.

You’ll hear more about that later.
- This Heart Will Burn Right Out


Pancake Breakfast releases their debut full-length record summer of 2010.

Pancake Breakfast EPs

Pancake Breakfast - (sigh)

Pancake Breakfast - moo!
Pancake Breakfast - howdy

All are available for free download or streaming at:



Pancake Breakfast is a foot-stomping roots music outfit that was born under some Ponderosa pines in the Cascade Mountains. It all started back in 2007 when Mike Midlo began recording songs in his barn. Since then, Pancake Breakfast has grown into 9 member crew of musicians, story-tellers and friends who've created a powerful sound with simple acoustic instruments, hand claps and infectious sing along choruses.

This band band puts on a show! Their audience-inclusive set is full of catchy tunes, tall tales and even a little Vaudeville thrown in. The Pancake Breakfast credo is to send the crowd home from every show singing a song and with a good story to tell the next morning.

Pancake Breakfast regularly plays around the Pacific Northwest. They've also been invited to the Pickathon Roots Music Festival (2009), The Sisters Folk Festival (2008&2009), and dozens of venues from house concerts to concert halls.

Pancake Breakfast releases their debut full-length record summer of 2010.