Heidi Hellbender was born in a shack in the woods of Glendale, Oregon to singer turned mental health counselor Carol Grigg and football hero turned high school coach, Tom Grigg. Given a guitar at age three, it wasn't until brother, Nathan, sat down at the piano that Heidi found her niche as a singer and musical collaborator. The years ahead are filled with countless music involvements as Heidi has always been in high demand as a singer. Okay, let's just start at the beginning, but let's go backwards..... 2006-2007: Heidi Hellbender (the solo project), Portland, Or: Currently Heidi Hellbender, guitar and vocals, Fred Chalenor, bass, Bob Shoemaker, guitar. After her (second) marriage failed, Heidi found herself with enough time and space to relearn how to play guitar, and began writing songs. Initially, she was content just to make herself cry with sad melodies and heartfelt lyrics in the privacy of her own home. But eventually, the songs leaked out, and she decided to 'go public.' Heidi brought the material to her housemate, Jim Holmes, who had recorded and produced the Gothic Outhouse CD in his basement Analog studio. They enlisted the help of some friends and produced Heidi's first solo recording, Come Home. Who says you have to cry alone? 2004-2006: Mutts on Fire (now The Taillights, primarily a country band, which offers 'a splash of everything else.') Portland, Or: Lineup circa 2004: Steve Cambron, guitars, Bill Keenom, guitar, Michael Cacy, guitar and vocals, Heidi Hellbender, vocals, John Hillison, bass and vocals, Jason Stewart, drums. The 'Mutts' were a mainstay at Mock Crest open mic night, and some of Heidi's regular customers. Her (then) husband, also a Mock Crest mainstay, began sitting in on drums. Inevitably, two of the main members approached Heidi with a bottle of Makers Mark and an offer of a few regular gigs per month singing country music, as well as anything she brought to the table that fit. She decided that she was game, and ended up singing with them for a couple of years. She still occasionally sits in with the band, now known as The Taillights, fronted by Michael Howard. 2004-2005: Heidi Hellbender and the Mean Mistreaters Portland, Or: (Rockabilly, old school R&B, original.) Heidi Hellbender, vocals, Greg Paul, guitar, Todd Aschoff, bass, Danny Knudsen, drums. Heidi was approached by Knudsen one night while tending bar at the Mock Crest. He and Greg Paul (the brother of bass player, Jeff Paul, of Big Whiskey) were putting a band together and were looking for a singer. Paul had done some recording with Big Whiskey at his studio, and liked Heidi's singing enough to suggest her to the rest of the band. Heidi was given a CD of covers, was intrigued by the direction the band was aiming towards, and so began rehearsing and gigging with them. Unfortunately, due to some personality conflicts and differences of opinion over the style of the project, the band unraveled in front of everyone's eyes, within the course of a year. 2002-2007: Gothic Outhouse (An acoustic band which plays other people's songs,) Portland, Or: Regina LaRocca, guitar and vocals, Heidi Hellbender, vocals, Kevin Bayliss, clarinet, Sam Henry, drums. Heidi began collaborating with former M99 bass player, Regina LaRocca, in the summer of 2002 (roughly.) The original intent of the 'band' was to do something creative but simple, that they could make a few bucks doing around town. They began putting together their own versions of songs they always liked, or anything that struck them, from jazz standards to country songs, to classic rock, to songs by local punk bands they grew up watching. Speaking of... The duo soon became a trio after (The Wipers', Napalm Beach's) Sam Henry expressed interest. The sound was filled out with Kevin Bayliss' clarinet, and Gothic Outhouse began gigging regularly around town. So far they have one CD under their belt. 2001-2003: Singing Bartender, the Mock Crest Tavern (this is a tiny tavern in North Portland, which features local blues bands.) Portland, Or: When Heidi's beloved dog got run over by a car and needed emergency care, Heidi realized that her 120 dollar a week job making copies wasn't going to cut it. So she picked up some shifts at a local tavern. At the time, blues artist KC Murphy was the main act during her shifts, and she began sitting in occasionally, provided the customers were sufficiently supplied with full beers before and after her performance. She was known for singing Elvis Presley's Love Me without a mic from behind the bar while pouring beers, a schtick that never got old. The tavern soon changed owners and Heidi began booking new acts into the club, many of which she was lucky to sing with. A few names: The Blueprints (featuring Oblivion Seekers' Tina Purdy,) Johnny Ward and the Eagle Ridin' Papas, Wayne Waits and the Wayniacs, Donna Jose, Mutts on Fire. Mutts on Fire, a local country band, eventually became a steady gig for Heidi. Other significant Mock Crest connections and mentionables: Singer, guitarist and writer, Morgan Grace, currently a fellow Oblivion Seeker member and record label owner in charge of Come Home (Lady Lush Records), was one of the acts Heidi booked at the Mock Crest. Gothic Outhouse got it's start (and it's name) here at an open mic hosted by Donna Jose. Heidi was sought out here by the members of The Mean Mistreaters. 1999-2000: Big Whiskey (I guess you would have to call this 'Alt Country'), Portland, Or: Armin Bestel, guitar and vocals, Heidi Hellbender, vocals, jeff Paul, bass, Eric 'Roy' Alto, drums. This was Heidi's first official project following her return to Portland in '97. When she started singing with this outfit, her fiance, a terrible lap steel player, was also in the lineup. A falling out between Bestel and said fiance resulted in Heidi's exit (out of forced loyalty), which made for a dramatic reunion one year later, when Heidi left the fiance and walked immediately to the rehearsal space to take her place back at the mic. Big Whiskey produced one demo CD and played several bar gigs, mostly at the Mock Crest Tavern in North Portland. Armin and Heidi's vocals blended well, and the songwriting (Armin's) was excellent. Things seemed promising. However, gigs began interfering with duck hunting season, and the band soon disjoined. 1991-1994, 2000-present: Oblivion Seekers ('Neo Gothabilly Soul', a 15-year-old band with more personnel changes than your local convenience store.) Portland, Or: Current lineup: Vocals, Mark Sten, Heidi Hellbender, Tina Purdy, Morgan Grace; guitar, Mark Sten, Jeff Larson; keyboards, Mark Sten; bass, Ivan French; drums, Louie Samora. Heidi joined the Oblivion Seekers at the tail end of their first full length recording project, when Sten needed a female vocalist to add the final touches to his haunting version of Jackie Wilson's Naked City. Rob Landoll, who played guitar at the time, suggested Miss Hellbender, and apparently her performance surprised and delighted Mr. Sten, who offered her a permanent position in the band. Heidi left the Oblivion Seekers shortly after the breakup of M99, and returned six years later, to the lineup you see now. Oblivion Seekers have put out five full-length recordings and one single and have appeared on several compilations. They are currently working on two recording projects. 1990-1994: M99 (Thanks to the 'Northwest Music Explosion' of the early nineties, this was Heidi's one shot in decades at fame and fortune. Obviously, it didn't pan out.) Portland, Or: Heidi Hellbender, vocals, Rob Landoll, guitar, Rob 'Wrong' Westmorland, lead guitar (briefly), James (Butts) Mahone, drums, Regina LaRocca, bass, Steve Lew, bass, Brandt Peterson, bass. Without Monica Nelson there was no Obituaries, and so the displaced former members reformed to start a brand new band. Subtract Nelson, add Hellbender, indulge Landoll's love of classic rock, result: M99. (What does the name mean? It's 66W upside down.) M99 enjoyed 2 European and several West Coast tours, put out four singles, 2 full-length recordings, and appeared on several compilations. By the mid-nineties, as the clubs began filling out with backwards-baseball caps, Heidi became disillusioned with the idea of being a 'rock star' and, sadly, quit, eventually leaving Portland to 'live on an island and make toys.' 1990: Buried in 69 (A one-shot recording and performance for Miss Hellbender), Portland, Or: Heidi Hellbender, vocals, Mark Foeller, guitar, Jim Springer, guitar, Kris Hansen, bass, Sean Ball, drums. Heidi was ready to give it up and move to France and learn to swallow swords for a living when she was approached by drinking buddy, Kris Hansen, about a project with his speed metal band, known at the time as Venus Blister. 'I have five songs all written, I just need a female vocalist to sing them,' was his initial proposal. Weeks later Kris admitted, 'Well, I've got most of the lyrics written,' which turned out another week later to be one line out of one song. The lyric: 'Just when I thought you were there I was left all alone.' Heidi quickly shelled out 5 marginal songs at the local bar, Holman's, over the course of five days, and recorded this demo in one session, while sucking cough drops during one of the worst colds of her life. The show was memorable: The Blue Gallery hosted Buried in 69 featuring Miss Hellbender wearing a lovely white dress and a frozen skinned horse head around her neck. The demo did serve Heidi well in that it sparked the attention of her old friend, Rob Landoll, who was drunk at a local bar one afternoon while said demo was playing. Thus began Heidi's career with M99. 1988: Sister Skelter (an 'all girl band' with a guy bass player), Olympia, Wa: Heidi Hellbender and Heather Conrad, vocals, Gilly Ann Hanner, guitar, Some Guy, bass, Tam Ohrmund, drums. Played various local parties, cafes, clubs, radio shows and events at The Evergreen State College. Opened for Nirvana, Fugazi, The Lummi Hoops. No known recordings, although there is out there somewhere a hilarious video of the worst version of Rock and Roll all Night ever, with a cameo appearance by world famous roadie, Kurt Cobain. 1984: The Dusty Trail (A 'Western Motif Band'), Portland, Or: Heidi Hellbender and Courtenay Stelljes, vocals, Ian Miller, guitar, Nathan Grigg, keyboards, Julie Shaw, bass, Chester Stallings, drums, Lance Williams, tambourine. Recordings: 'Hey, Our Moms Like it!' The Dusty Trail demo. Played local parties (including 'Intensities in Ten Blocks', the Dusty Trail Trimet Bus Tour) and one half set at Satyricon (in which the band walked off one by one out of disgust during the Dusty Trail Theme Song.) 1982: Gopalm (An 'in joke' turned into a band), Portland, Or: Heidi Hellbender, vocals, Teri Untalan on bass and vocals, Leslie Uppinghouse, vocals, Susan Uppinghouse, rhythm guitar, Gregg Sanders, lead guitar, Joe on drums. Played local parties, school assembly at MLC. The band was probably terrible (who can remember) but did get Heidi's feet wet, and featured impressive three-part harmonies.
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