Here’s a little secret about me: I’m an old alt-country nerd from way back. I own every record Gram Parsons played on. I still kick myself for skipping an Uncle Tupelo show in my home town. I spent much of the late ’90s obsessed with bands like the Bottle Rockets, Old 97s, Whiskeytown, The V-roys, and on and on. Singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks called us “Roots Rock Weirdoes.” (“Starved for a Tele or a B3 — any out-of-fashion sound” and “dressed up like it’s 1951.”) As usual, Robbie was spot-on, and brilliantly so.
Alt-country isn’t dead, but it’s been on life support for years. Still, some bands are out there flying the flannel flag, and tonight, three of them will bring their shredded throats and blue-collar Southern rock to the Domino Room. The headliner, Lucero, is one of the genre’s runaway success stories in recent years (their 2009 album “1372 Overton Park” is excellent), while both opening acts — Drag the River and I Can Lick Any SOB in the House — live comfortably at the intersection of punk, rock and twang.
All three are worth hearing, so be sure to get there on time; doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $16 at the door. The Domino Room is at 51 N.W. Greenwood Ave., in Bend.
I know there are folks out there who pay no attention to sports, but you’d have to work pretty hard to live in Oregon right now and not know the University of Oregon’s high-powered football squad are the top-ranked team in all the land, ahead of traditional bluebloods like Auburn, LSU, Nebraska and Ohio State.
I come from SEC country, so I have a natural aversion to the cream-puff brand of football played in the Pac-10. However, even I must admit that the Ducks are pretty fun to watch, and I’m getting swept up by Quack Fever, or whatever they call it.
Of course, whenever a sports team reaches these kinds of heights, there must be a hastily assembled theme song to soundtrack their dominance. The best-known example, by far, is the 1985 Chicago Bears’ “Super Bowl Shuffle,” but the good people at Deadspin have compiled literally dozens of these songs, spanning all styles and all sports. Find them here and here and here.
Which brings us back to the 2010-11 Oregon Ducks, a team without a song. Until a recent weekend, that is, when Top Shelf — a hip-hop duo half-based in Bend — put together “Green and Yellow” to commemorate UO’s season. Behold:
Frequency readers already know Top Shelf MCs Amsterdam and Middle are big sports fans. On Monday, Amsterdam (an ’05 grad of UO) said the duo wrote and recorded the lyrics to “Green and Yellow” in about an hour to celebrate the Ducks’ best season in recent memory. (The beat is from Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow.”)
“Middle really wanted to use the beat for our upcoming mixtape but I was reluctant since I really liked the original,” said Amsterdam. “I came up with the ‘Green and Yellow’ concept on the drive up, which coincidentally wasn’t that original of an idea. Haha.”
Amsterdam said he has since learned that some other people have had the same idea but “didn’t execute it very cleanly.” Radio stations began playing Top Shelf’s version after they heard it, he said.
Not bad for a spontaneous, one-off recording that doesn’t exactly represent the duo’s current sound.
“We just thought it was something Oregon fans could play on gameday, something that people could relate to on a community level,” Amsterdam said. “This song really isn’t a genuine example for our newest work, to be honest. Our best music is still waiting to be released, as our debut album ‘If It’s Hot You’ll Hear It’ will be out in early 2011. Stay tuned, and we appreciate your support Bend.”
#1 Oregon plays #21 Arizona at 4 p.m. today on ESPN. (That’s in 30 minutes.) Thanks to Top Shelf, now you have something to help you get hyped for the game.
The legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band rolls into town next week, bringing its popular “Creole Christmas” show to the Tower Theatre. I conducted an interesting interview with band director Ben Jaffe last week. Here’s an excerpt:
Jaffe’s parents, Allan and Sandra, opened the hall in 1961 in an effort to help preserve and perpetuate New Orleans-style jazz, which was waning in popularity thanks to rock ‘n’ roll and more modern forms of jazz. The Jaffes were a young white couple who’d just moved to a segregated New Orleans from the north, but they jumped in with both feet, building their life’s work around music being made by older African-Americans.
“They never set out to create a music venue or to create a part of American history,” Ben Jaffe said. “They set out to be involved in a movement that they felt passionately about, and it led them down this path.”
Fifty years later, the hall is as strong as ever, though it hasn’t always been a smooth ride. Allan Jaffe died in 1987, and Preservation Hall experienced some “dark years,” Ben Jaffe said, due to lack of leadership. Jaffe took on that leadership role in 1993, and he’s been leading the venue’s renaissance in recent years.
“My biggest fear in the world is (the hall) becoming a museum piece,” he said. “That’s not what New Orleans music is to me. New Orleans music is vibrant and it’s alive and it’s a living, breathing tradition.”
You should go read the whole thing here. Be sure to check out the sidebar on Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (playing a holiday show Thursday at the Tower), as well as the schedule of upcoming holiday entertainment options!
I also want to draw your attention to Page 4 of GO! Magazine, where I’ve written little blurbs about a couple of fine bands that work a little twang into their rock ‘n’ roll. First up is Lucero, the Tennessee-based alt-country band that will play the Domino Room Tuesday night. Next is The Parson Red Heads, a buzzy indie-pop band that draws influence from 1970s SoCal country-rock. They’ll be at McMenamins on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in the music section: local faves Empty Space Orchestra are going to fill the MadHappy Lounge with ugly sweaters and post-rock tonight, bluesman David Jacobs-Strain returns to the Silver Moon, the Mystic Roots reggae band plays The Summit, folk singer Cosy Sheridan visits the HarmonyHouse, and Casey Neill & the Norway Rats play a free show at McMenamins Old St. Francis School.
Well, well, well … Thanksgiving isn’t till tomorrow, but I have plenty to be thankful for: my new daughter, my wife, friends, my job. As of yesterday, you can add to that list a certain hotly anticipated new album from a certain local band that spent the past two years building buzz via brain-warping live shows all over town.
Yup, Empty Space Orchestra‘s upcoming album — scheduled for release next year — landed in my inbox on Tuesday, and I’ll be spending at least part of my holiday weekend checking it out. Obviously, you’ll be hearing more of it in the coming months, but for now, here’s a sneak peek at the song “Tennessee Red,” with footage of Shane Thomas and Lindsey Elias recording the track in California.
If you haven’t heard, Empty Space is playing an Ugly Sweater Jam on Friday night at MadHappy Lounge in downtown Bend. Yes, MadHappy Lounge, the former Bendistillery bar. It’s a room that’s way too small for ESO, both in terms of draw and sound. It’s gonna be loud in there.
The show starts at 10 p.m., and it’s free. And some folks are going to walk away from the show with a link to check out the new album. That’s a pretty sweet Thanksgiving treat.
“Little Me Will Start A Storm” will come out Feb. 22 on Portland’s wonderful Tender Loving Empire record label, and the first MP3 from the album, “Elephants & Little Girls,” nicely captures what makes this band great: elegant arrangements, effortless melodies, Ritchie Young’s remarkable voice. This is gorgeous chamber-pop that somehow sounds both gloriously grand and intimately cozy at the same time.
Take your mind off those ominous skies to the west by reading a round-up of locally flavored music news that should take some of the sting out of the next few months:
–The fine folks at KPOV would like you to know that you can now buy tickets to see banjo genius Bela Fleck & the Flecktones at Mountain View High School on Dec. 8. They’re available at KPOV’s website. After Fleck’s Christmas show at the Tower a few years ago, I talked to several people who said it was amazing. So yeah, go make sure you have a seat.
–The Steep Canyon Rangers are one of the finest young bluegrass bands in the country, though lots of folks best know them as the backing band for famous comedian and bluegrass dabbler Steve Martin. Regardless, the Rangers are coming back to Central Oregon to play Sisters Folk Festival’s Winter Concert Series. While we’re at it, here’s the whole series lineup:
All shows start at 7 p.m. in the Sisters High School auditorium. Tickets are available here.
–Bend-based singer-songwriter Sara Jackson-Holman just released three Christmas songs — “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Carol of the Bells” and “Angels We Have Heard On High” — and has made them available for download. For $1. What a bargain! Plus, proceeds go to charity. I don’t know which charity, but I trust Sara, and so should you.
You can stream two of them and/or download all three at Jackson-Holman’s Bandcamp site.
Tickets cost $22 in advance, but I have a few to give away if you’re looking to save a few bucks. Or if you need to hang on to your money to buy new clothes after the show.
Want two of them? Leave a comment on this page and tell me what your GWAR name would be if you were in the band. (Current members: Oderus Urungus, Beefcake the Mighty, Flattus Maximus, Balsac the Jaws of Death and Jizmak Da Gusha.)
1. KEEP IT RELATIVELY CLEAN. If you don’t keep it clean enough, you will not win.
2. You must be able to pick up your tickets at The Bulletin (1777 S.W. Chandler Ave., Bend) by Friday at noon.
3. You must leave a valid e-mail address so I can get in touch with you.
Rhymesayers rap stud Brother Ali is coming to Bend’s Domino Room on Dec. 12 with this year’s “How The Grouch Stole Christmas” tour, featuring Living Legends The Grouch and Eligh, and more. Here’s a cool new animated video for “Breakin’ Dawn,” a song on Brother Ali’s 2009 album “Us.”