The Pilar French Intention
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The Pilar French Intention

Portland, Oregon, United States

Portland, Oregon, United States
Band Rock Blues


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Mastanmusic Podcast Episode 41"

Pilar French and her band make music from a blues and folk influenced perspective. Their spaced out radio ready rock is a crowd pleaser and regularly finds them on stages at concert halls and clubs. In addition to her work with the band, Pilar French performs as a solo singer /songwriter. Her new CD, "Butterflies" is available now from the Pilar French Myspace page. -

"Pilar French to Showcase Songs at Edgefield"

From her love life – which she describes as “forlorn” – to the need to cheer up a friend, to survivors’ stories she’s seen on the Discovery Channel, Pilar French is inspired by it all, including anxiety ridden dreams filled with sounds she tries to recreate in her waking life.

“I think my reputation is as an eclectic songwriter,” she says, noting she’s supporting her most recent release, “Butterflies,” a nine-song CD that’s received warm critical praise locally.

A self-described “twisted blues and funk” veteran of the Portland area bar and festival scene, French will be sharing her songs during a solo show at McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5.

French grew up in Indianapolis and says MTV inspired her to play guitar. She was 5 when she first began playing piano and violin, and then switched to flute.

“Then I fell in love with the guitar,” she says, crediting Eddie Van Halen for making her pick up the prototypical rock instrument. “It’s just a really intuitive instrument for me, unlike the others, which were difficult for me to stay focused on. With the guitar I just played it for hours and hours.”

Her guitar heroes have changed over the years, and she now ranks Dave Matthews at the top of her list.

“He does a lot of complex finger picking,” she says, adding that he’s singing as well, an equally impressive task. “I think some of his chord progressions are very difficult and most of it’s on acoustic, so you have to be very strong to hold those positions.”

She also lists such blues greats as Buddy Guy among her icons of the ax, and Koko Taylor among her vocal inspirations.

French moved to Portland a little more than a decade ago and says she tried to stick to doing just her day job, working as an attorney.

However, the allure of music, especially in a sonic paradise like Portland, proved to be too strong, she says.

“It’s one of the things that makes me happy,” she says.

She started out by playing bass in a number of area bands, and has logged time with the funky Soul Patrol Mission and blues band Swerve.

She also collaborated with local art songstress Kate Mann in the band Ginger Lovely, and has worked with Lara Michell of Carmina Piranha and Dirty Martini in a Duran Duran tribute band, which led to her joining Michell and Nicole Campbell’s “goofy” cover band, Guilty Pleasures and One Hit Wonders.

During the last two years, Pilar has also been found playing bass with Portland veterans Justin Carroll and The Time Being and The Nicole Campbell Trio.

One of French’s goals is to write TV and film soundtracks, and she hopes to market one of her songs, “Alive,” to the Discovery Channel, of which she’s a big fan.

She adds that she’s also using her legal skills to assist area musicians with such issues as copyright law and performance contracts.

She notes that she’s helped out promoting the legal end of such festivals as the upcoming Voices for Silent Disasters, a series of benefit concerts for Mercy Corps that will take place from Tuesday, Oct. 9, through Saturday, Nov. 24 (

Combining her love of music with her lawyerly skills gives her a different take on what goes into putting a festival together, she says.

“There’s a lot of legal issues that come up in the background that aren’t so much fun to deal with, but have to be dealt with,” she says.

French facts
Who: Pilar French

What: Singer-songwriter/guitarist

When: 7-9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5

Where: McMenamins Edgefield, 2126 S.W. Halsey St., Troutdale

How much: Free, 21 and older

Info: 503-669-8610 or

- The Gresham Outlook, Rob Cullivan

"Pilar French: Butterflies Review 2007"

“Butterflies” may be her first solo album, but years of playing in various — and varied — outfits have given Portlander Pilar French a confidence and polish that can’t be faked.

From the laid-back rock groove of album openers “Safe Place to Fall” and “Home” to more eclectic tracks like “Funny Girls’ Blues,” French (who also plays as a group called Pilar French Intention) has crafted a beguiling album from start to finish.

While French calls her music “twisted funk and blues,” her clear voice and the material’s mellow tempos make “Butterflies” more of a high-quality grab bag of modern and assorted contemporary pop gems.

Tracks like “Be Myself” — a warning against trying to find salvation in relationships — and “Funny Girls’ Blues” are the standouts: arresting and compelling statements from an artist who may not always feel like she’s found her way but has certainly found her voice.
- The Portland Tribune

"Album Review- Alive October 2009"

Last year I interviewed Blind Pilot because, although they play lighter, pop/folk music, they are exceptional. This year I covered Y La Bamba, whose sparse music highlights a distinctive vocalist. Here are some notable options for those of you who prefer the lighter side of music.
Pilar French is undeniably a very good singer. It used to be that you couldn't get to be a star unless you could actually sing; i.e. carry your voice quite a bit better than the person hanging up the washing in the garden next door. French has an old fashioned quality, she sings so well, in a certain sense, that she sounds like my Mum used to sound: my Mother sang to hundreds of people every week - 'up at' the working's men's clubs.

What French doesn’t rely on are the other planks that rock & pop relied on as it developed: Forget the voice - how about novelty and gimmicks, mass-media fame/hype or 'stars' using vocoders.

Although there has always has been an alternative to any marketing fad; that charismatic edge or the electric stage presence, the mesmerizing consequences of the global music industry rather left 'good' singers behind.

French, although she occasionally strays (off-puttingly, to me) into an easy listening country vogue like say, Aimee Mann (who's fine, who has a big following, but whose music seems dull to me) has nevertheless prompted me to listen several times to a style I don't really like. Her voice is old-fashoined, but it's not quirky like Nellie McKay, it's a "better than anyone you know" voice in a tight style that sticks to the classic delivery of say, Bonnie Rait and many others. Because her voice is a little superior, and of another era, her popularity should rise. Her new full-length album, Alive is showcased at a CD release party in Portland, October 17th at the Fez Ballroom.
- OPB Music

"Pilar French: A most personal, surprising and very revealing new album"

Pilar French’s sophomore album took a little more time than she expected it would to come to fruition. While some artists hit a creative roadblock, French’s stall came courtesy of her other career. A lawyer by trade, she put her musical career on hold to try to bring justice to a mother and son who were kidnapped and tortured by an escaped convict.

When the case finally came to trial, French and her firm ended up losing the case — although the experience and its aftermath had the unintentional effect of fueling a significant part of her excellent new album, “Alive.”

“Alive” celebrates the idea of perseverance, of pushing forward in the face of adversity — whether that’s the fear of being vulnerable in a relationship, pure physical survival or trying to come to terms when your sense of justice and fairness is being tested, as it was in the legal case.

But French didn’t set out to make a concept album. “It was subconscious,” she says. “I don’t think I realized what I was writing about until maybe the third or fourth song and I realized that every song was touching on a theme of perseverance and that instinct that everyone has.

“As I wrote different songs,” she continues, “some of them could be as simple or as complicated as surviving a breakup, which could be as complicated as getting caught in a riptide and swept out to sea or it could be something that if you put it in perspective to that…well, it’s nothing.”

The opening track “Alive” is, in fact, about almost getting dragged out to sea by a riptide. The protagonist is a sea kayaker who survived two days treading water in the Puget Sound.

“I’m an incorrigible insomniac and one night I was watching the Discovery Channel,” French explains. “There was a show on called ‘I Shouldn’t Be Alive’ – stories about people who have gotten themselves into all kinds of precarious situations and they shouldn’t be alive but they are because of the drive behind survival.

“Although (the kayaker) could see search and rescue, they couldn’t see him,” she continues. “He was inspired to survive by thoughts of his loved ones and after two days of treading water saved himself by swimming to shore. ‘Alive’ was the first song that set me on this path of writing an album that focuses on theme of perseverance.

The sea kayaker and traumatized mother and son might have the most obviously compelling stories on “Alive,” but dig deeper and there’s plenty to chew on.

“No More” is written from the perspective of French’s grandmother, who passed on at 97 and conveyed to her granddaughter that she was ready to go. “Mercy” is a plea to a lover, while “At The End Of The Day” is about getting to peace.

Most people wouldn’t tie the courage it takes to become vulnerable in a relationship or the conclusion that you’re ready to leave this world to the perseverance of a survivor, but French has nicely connected the dots.

“After thinking in depth about this notion of perseverance, I resolved — for myself — that to truly persevere means taking risks,” she explains.

“I try to write thought-evoking music. Maybe it’s intel-rock-tual,” she laughs.

French admits that the words and structure of lawyering bleed into the songwriting process, but you don’t have to have a law degree to appreciate this fine batch of songs. Embracing an eclectic spectrum of influences, from folk and pop to rock, jazz and blues, “Alive” is, well, alive. Vibrant and varied, the record that French and her friends have crafted flies by in a heartbeat but dares you to dig deeper and listen repeatedly.

She may have accidentally created an album about perseverance, but French herself knows firsthand what that means. “Alive” is a solid, confident affair and we’re the lucky recipients of her will to endure and grow.

- Oregon Music News- Oct 2009

"Serious Songstress"

Serious songstress
Portland singer-songwriter Pilar French will release her second album, “Alive,” at the Fez Ballroom Saturday night. French combines pop, folk, blues and jazz into her sound, and the title track is a neo-modern sea shanty about the true story of a man who spent two nights floating the Puget Sound fighting a riptide that threatened to pull him out to sea. French’s voice sounds like the comforting spirit that must have kept him going. A lawyer by trade, she also recorded three songs about what it was like to lose a trial in which she was part of a team pursuing justice for a woman and her son who had been brutalized, kidnapped and tortured by a prison escapee in Salem. This is about as far from shallow pop as it gets, and thank God for that.
- the Portland Tribune

"Deli Magazine Review of Alive"

Pilar French's brand new album, Alive, is a nine-track trek exploring the ebbs and flows of life's intricacies - a soundtrack for struggle; a medley of misery; and a pillar for perseverance. The Portland singer-songwriter, along with her excellent, chameleonic backing band (when she plays live with a revolving door of musicians, they perform as Pilar French Intention), has woven a pastiche of very American musical expressions (blues, jazz, folk, pop), fixing relaxed vocals and foggy easy-does-it melodies on tracks like the roots-y "One More Dance."

The album's next track visits the well-worn territory of a '90s Dave Matthews Band, but lyrically eschews the quirk-laden supportive vibe of tie-dye brigadiers in favor of anxious ranting on "No More (Grandma's Song)"

The real kickers on Alive, however, are "Try," "Catacombs," and "Higher Ground," a triumvirate wherein French works through the harrowing pressures of a real-life trial she acted as attorney on. French, a lawyer by day, was serving on a team attempting to find justice for a woman and her son her were brutalized, kidnapped, and tortured by a prison escapee in Salem.

The results of French's political insights, her keen ear for a peppy melody even within the toxic waft of the human condition, and the resiliency of her songs makes Alive a tender record for introspection during the falling of the leaves.

If you dig Pilar French, vote for her now on our Band of the Month poll! Just click on her name in the red voting box at the top right of the site.

- Ryan J. Prado

Published on Thu, 22 Oct 2009 17:04:58 - the Deli Magazine

"Music Series Pairs Kids with Music Vets"

A big part of maintaining a healthy music scene is cultivating the next generation, whether that's fans or performers. Apparently I'm not the only one who feels that way:

"Pass the Mic!" Music Series Set for June 10th Debut at Mississippi Pizza
A new music series to showcase young and new musical talent will begin a monthly run on June 10th at 6 p.m. at Mississippi Pizza Pub located at 3552 N. Mississippi Ave in Portland.

Co-hosted by Portland singer/songwriter Pilar French and Portland musician Robert Richter, Pass the Mic! will bring together 3 new performers and 1 guest professional each month to perform on stage before a live audience.

"This is an excellent opportunity for up and coming musicians to play a show at a known music venue," according to French. "We are looking to foster music community-building and bring in all kinds of talent including singers, songwriters and others."

A key aspect of the series is pairing new performers with Portland's seasoned musicians. "This is a unique situation where the pros share some of their experiences with people who are new to the scene, and even learn a thing or two from the next generation. " according to Richter.

For the first event on June 10th the professional guest will be Portland singer/songwriter Paula Sinclair. The new performers will be 13 year old, Natalia Malo, as well as students of one of Portland's gems, Stephanie Schneiderman. The students include Amanda Kraft and Colleen de Clark.

The series will be held on the 2nd Tuesday of each month. For more information about the series and as well how to participate go to
- Oregonian

"Music Review of "By Myself""

"Dark dreamy quality, the sense of someone refusing any mask or illusion; declaring her strength by revealing herself and her weakness.. I listened through this several times and enjoyed each time through." - Fight Safe Music, Oliver Meissner

"Taking charge of PasstheMic!"

The microphone isn't all that gets passed at the every-second-Tuesday PasstheMic! shows. Knowledge of what it takes to have a career in music is transmitted from pros to those just breaking in. That there's a night of good music to hear is sometimes beside the point.
Singer/songwriter Pilar French and musician/entrepreneur Robert Richter had the opportunity to take over a slot at the venue and decided to do something different with the opportunity. We talked to them about it:

What was your thinking when you started to collaborate on this project?

French: "We said, 'Let's do something that fills the generation gap between the up-and-coming musicians and more experienced musicians.' I reflected back on, 'What do I wish I knew 20 years ago or back in my high-school years about becoming a serious musician?

What could I have done differently if I had that knowledge?

Richter: "You can go to school and learn theory, but once you get out and make it a profession and graduate from playing for a party in the summer to wanting to make this a career, there aren't many places to get information, and this gives these people an opportunity to perform and interact with somebody who has been doing it for a while and sit down and talk with them."

Is this an open mike?

French: "No, this is an opportunity for performers who are really serious. It's a chance for them to network."

You two are interviewers as well as emcees?

Richter: "The Q&A onstage is a big part of what we do. It makes them feel special to talk about themselves in front of the crowd."

What do you ask them?

French: "We ask the pros how they got into music, 'What were you doing when you were 14 years old? How did you feel about it then? If you were 14 and you know what you know now, what would you have done differently?'

"We had Joshua Slamp, a guitarist who plays with a laptop and loop. He explained what looping was. He also told them, 'It's easier to play a solo show, I can pay the rent when I do that as opposed to when I have a full band. When you have a full band you make less money.'"

Are there proud parents in the audience?

French: "One came up to me and said, 'That's my son up there!' She was just so proud of him."

- Oregonian


Pilar released her debut album "Butterflies" in March 2007. Tracks from that album have streamed on KINK FM (Portland, OR), KOTO FM (Telluride, CO), KMUN (Oregon Coast Radio) as well as Women of the 90s, the, and Radio Crystal Blue internet radio stations.

Pilar's sophomore album, "Alive" scheduled to be released October 2009 can now be heard in full on sonicbids.



She's Pilar French. And sometimes her band performs as "the Pilar French Intention" and other times as "French/Slamp," depending on whether she's sharing the bill with band-mate, Joshua Slamp.

She is a singer, a songwriter and a multi-instrumentalist as comfortable playing solo with an acoustic guitar in an intimate setting as she is rocking out with her band on a festival or club stage. And Pilar is never content to limit what she's singing about…be it lost love, human perseverence, or politics.

She's a deep mix of styles and insights. Funny, brainy, sexy, articulate and precise with a desire for serendipty.

"I do use music to show my emotions but I also try to write thought-evoking music. Maybe you read the lyrics and you think it's about something totally different than I do. Maybe it's intel-rock-tual. A thinking person's music. If you want something you can marinade on, you can listen to multiple times and discover something different every time you listen to it…that's what my music is."

She has lived in Portland for thirteen years, having gone to college in Chicago and coming from deep Midwestern roots.

"I am completely influenced by blues. It's the root, a fundamental musical style and it pervades my music but I'm inspired by a lot of different musicians."

In Portland she joined a number of bluesey, funky bands including Soul Patrol Mission.

"We played on top of skyscrapers in downtown Portland and on the Portland Spirit. We played cheesy 80s tunes on acoustic guitars and the accordion."

"Swerve," a six-piece blues band took up the next two years. She played with singer Kate Mann and worked with singer Lara Michell from Stolen Sweets and Dirty Martini. Pilar joined Michell and Nicole Campbell in a raucous cover band known as "Guilty Pleasures and One Hit Wonders." Pilar has played bass in several other bands.

She released the album "Butterflies" in 2007 and her new album, "Alive" will be released in September 2009.

"This time I wanted to express my passion more, my vision of what I was feeling when I wrote the songs. I think I've evolved as a musician and found that one of the things I like to do when I write a song is to have a lot of layers and changes and to take the listeners to unexpected places."

Although she performs solo, she maintains a working band, "Pilar French Intention" which has gone through several incarnations. The Intention currently features Joshua Slamp ( and Jeff Koch (Garth Michael McDermott, Scott Gallegos) on bass and guitar, and Tony Howard (Pinehurst Kids, Garth Michael McDermott) on drums.