Not Your Average Counselor: Mr. Altshuler and His Band

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Not Your Average Counselor: Mr. Altshuler and His Band

Tara Clark

Tara Clark

Tara Clark

Tarn Bregman, Staff Reporter

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Many La Salle students know Mr. Altshuler as their counselor, some even as their soccer coach, but what many do not know is that he is also a singer and songwriter.

Before his time at La Salle, Mr. Altshuler spent his time performing in his two person band Sloe Loris. This band has not only changed Mr. Altshuler’s life but also given him opportunities like being on TV and meeting his wife.

Growing up, Mr. Altshuler never imagined being in a band or even being a guitar player. His guitar playing abilities evolved from something much greater, a Peace Corps trip. When Mr. Altshuler’s soccer career came to an end after an injury to his PCL, his life came to a halt. Soccer had been his everything up until that moment.

“Now what?”, he asked. “I called home, I told my parents my soccer career was over, and my dad says, ‘Alright, well, why don’t you go do something for someone else now? Because you have spent the last twenty-some odd years doing what you wanted… Why don’t you join the Peace Corp?’ And I thought about it for a minute, and I couldn’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t, so a week later I filled out the paperwork…and seven months later I was on a plane to Africa.”

For the next three years, Mr. Altshuler spent his time in Mozambique. “When I got there, I didn’t realize how bored I would be…So I bought a guitar and taught myself how to play it.”

When Mr. Altshuler returned from his Peace Corps trip, he bought a house in Northeast Portland, and this is where the band started.

“I was playing guitar in my backyard, and my neighbor was playing guitar in his backyard,” he said. “We ended up talking and decided to play music together.”

Soon the two began to write as frequently as they could, although it was a struggle as they both had time-consuming jobs. Finally the two had a few songs and were on their way towards an album. They began performing at bars across Portland, including those in the Laurelhurst area and along Mississippi Avenue.

“Let’s put it this way. You don’t see Sloe Loris playing at the Moda Center,” he said as he began to laugh.

Although Mr. Altshuler and his band partner Derek Clark never expected fame to come from their music, they did make it further than they ever expected. The two were featured on NW Songwriter Sessions, a local public access television show that interviews artists in the Portland area.

More importantly than his time on TV, Mr. Altshuler met his wife through his music. “I’ll never forget it because I looked and I noticed her immediately when she walked in. [After I finished the show], we ended up talking,” he said. “They were all very nice people, including her boyfriend.”

“And we didn’t see each other again for a bunch of months,” he continued. “Then I got invited to a Christmas party… Alli was there, no boyfriend. And that is where we kind of picked up. But the reality is I met her at one of my shows… The rest is history.”

This is not all that music has given Mr. Altshuler; it has also given him a love for something he never expected to be a part of. “What has music given me?”, he asked himself. “[It has given me] tons of friends, a lot of really cool kind of random experiences. It has given me something to feel like is just mine. A lot of it is [also just] me in my basement playing and writing songs that no one’s ever going to hear. I like that fact, the fact that it is a shared experience and I like the fact that it’s a personal experience.”

Sloe Loris no longer performs, though the album that they created in 2013 shows the hard work the two have put into the band. “It took us about seven months, eight months to do one album. We have jobs.” Mr. Altshuler said. “And I don’t think I understood how hard it is to make an album, how much work goes into it… To some degree, you’re writing your own experiences, and to some degree you’re writing made up experiences… [but] none of those [songs] are autobiographical.”

But out of all of the work, the most interesting part is the recording of the album. “We got in touch with this guy who was willing to do our album for a really, really discounted rate,” he explained. “He’s a legit producer, but he owns a barn in Estacada. It’s exactly what you would imagine. He’s got a plaid shirt on with some slightly torn jeans. There are goats everywhere and you walk into this barn and there are like hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of recording equipment. It is insane.”

When it came to giving advice to any student musicians, Mr. Altshuler said, “The biggest thing [for me] was getting over stage fright. When you play at a bar, they’re not necessarily there to see you. They might just be there. So if you’re looking into a crowd… and they don’t care that you’re playing music then should you be offended? The answer is no… [but] I wanted everybody to love every song, every minute, and I didn’t get why the guy was in the back playing video poker.”

What Mr. Altshuler said he has learned is that “My night is not their night… Not everyone is going to like your music and that’s okay.” He continued to explain what he meant, saying that “I’ll never forget this, I found out when I was going to be on the radio. We knew exactly when it was going to be played. And one of my friends brought his girlfriend who we didn’t even know. So the song comes on… And I am really proud of this moment [because my song is being played on the radio, but] I looked over and I saw her, and I can tell she did not like the song…. I cared about the one person who wasn’t [proud] and I [now] wish I’d never felt that because it’s okay to expose yourself through music.”

Along with being a counselor, being a musician has changed and impacted Mr. Altshuler’s life for the better. He hopes it will impact others in the same way. The band Sloe Loris has opened his life up to many unexpected opportunities for which he has developed a great appreciation.


If you want to check out Mr. Altshuler’s music, you can find his album on Spotify.

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