Archive for August, 2011

Empty Space Orchestra announces new EP, new video, Halloween date with Rubblebucket

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Local post-rock heroes Empty Space Orchestra have just released a new EP called “Dark Matters” and it contains a couple of new songs that are available for free download at their Bandcamp site. Click here to grab ’em.

The band performed one of those tracks, the jarring, jet-fueled “New Breed of Skank,” in a dark room in Los Angeles in June. Fortunately, the folks at were on hand to film that performance, and the resulting clip makes ESO look like actual rock stars!

ESO’s next two local shows will be at the Bend Roots Revival on Sept. 24 and a just-announced Halloween night show at the Century Center with the excellent Rubblebucket!

Tonight: Moon Mountain Ramblers’ GoodLife residency (with video!)

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Smoke be damned, the weather’s about to get cooler, and tonight’s as good a night as any for a cold brew and some great local music. Tonight at GoodLife Brewing Co. in the Century Center (70 S.W. Century Drive, Bend), local Americana powerhouse Moon Mountain Ramblers will play the third week of their five-week residency, in which they’re offering a themed set each Tuesday through Sept. 13.

Tonight’s theme: “Dawg Music” (eclectic bluegrass by and inspired by David Grisman)

The rest of the series:

Sept. 6 — “British Invasion” (music of the 1960s, including the Beatles and Stones)

Sept. 13 — “Happy Birthday, Bill Monroe” (tunes by the man who invented bluegrass)

The music runs from 7 to 9 p.m. and it’s free.

Here’s video of the band playing the Flatt & Scruggs classic “Doin’ My Time” from last week’s tribute to great bluegrass vocalists.

This week in GO! Magazine’s music section

Friday, August 26th, 2011

The popular and prolific singer-songwriter Ben Harper returns to Bend tonight for the first time in more than five years. And lucky us, he’s currently touring behind the best album of his long career, “Give Till It’s Gone,” which was released in May.

Here’s Harper doing one of the intensely raw and personal songs from the album.

Here’s part of what I wrote:

“Give” is the man’s best work yet, kicking off with the melancholy tone of “Don’t Give Up on Me,” the slow-burn defiance of “I Will Not Be Broken” and the playful, Wilco-esque chug of “Rock N’ Roll Is Free.” Later, Harper tries to find hope in a doomed relationship as “Pray That Our Love Sees the Dawn” lopes along an understated groove.

Occasionally, the somber fog lifts. “Clearly Severely” and “Do It For You, Do It For Us” are, quite simply, scorching rockers that sound like catharsis happening inside your headphones. And the album’s high point is also it’s centerpiece: two sprawling, psychedelic songs (co-written by Ringo Starr) called “Spilling Faith” and “Get There From Here” that flow together and stand out as an oasis of hope in a murky sea of anger and regret.

But it’s that “lens of anger and regret,” the L.A. Times pointed out in its review of “Give” back in May, that “provides Harper a musical focus he’s never had.” And it’s that focus that sets Harper’s newest work apart from his too-often unremarkable back catalog.

I hope you’ll click here and read the whole thing.

Next up: After years gigging around Bend, local musical couple The Quons have their first album ready for release and they’ll celebrate it with a big CD-release show Saturday at PoetHouse Art. Click here to read my feature story on these fine folks.

Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Brothers Young and Hurtbird play an early show at Parrilla Grill, Maverick’s Country Bar hosts the twangy Lee Brice, and eclectic singer-songwriter Nathan Leigh hits The Sound Garden. Plus The Mostest and the Shireen Amini Band at Parrilla, a heavy bill (Stillfear, Tentareign, Sons of Dirt) at Players, Eric Tollefson plays a free show in Redmond and Blackstrap takes their bluegrass to Elk Lake Resort.

KPOV goes full power, moves to 88.9 FM

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Remember when I encouraged you to support local community radio station KPOV‘s effort to increase its signal strength? Well, it worked! Today’s Bulletin has a short bit on it:

Beginning today, High Desert Community Radio, KPOV FM, will have a new position at the left of the dial at 88.9 FM.

KPOV got off the ground in 2005 as a low-power station broadcasting at two watts from a tower on Awbrey Butte, its range limited mostly to Bend.

In 2007, the volunteer-run station began working a campaign to go full-power in order to reach more listeners, according to a press release announcing the move.

KPOV will now be broadcasting at 800 watts, allowing it to reach not only all corners of Bend, but also Sisters and Redmond.

According to the release, the station has raised $92,000 via donations, grants, event ticket sales and loans over the past three years, enabling it to pay for equipment and other full-power related costs.

Contact: or 541-322-0863.

If you’ve got your car radio set to KPOV’s old frequency, 106.7 FM, make sure you change it today … if it hasn’t gone away yet, it will soon!

Tonight: Montë Mar at Astro Lounge, The Palisades / Rubedo at Madhappy Lounge

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Monday nights are generally pretty sleepy in Bend, but tonight isn’t playing along. Besides the Kottonmouth Kings show at the Domino Room, a couple of downtown bars are hosting bands that are worth your time. They’re also worth more ink than they got in last week’s GO! Magazine, but I didn’t know about them then, so let me make up for that by telling you about them now:

At the new Astro Lounge (939 N.W. Bond St., Bend), the California indie/pop/rock band Montë Mar will get going around 8 p.m. It’s free. “California indie/pop/rock” tells you most of what you need to know about this quintet. They specialize in breezy, bouncy pop, with sun-dazed melodies draped in reverb, and just a hint of electronic influence here and there. Think The Beatles and The Smiths, or Death Cab for Cutie if they’d come from a sunny coast instead of the gray Northwest. They also sound like a cross between Aveo, Voxtrot and The Lassie Foundation, if you know any of those bands … which, if you do, send me an email. We should hang.

Find listenables at their website, MySpace and Facebook. Here’s a taste, too … stick around till the end to hear this catchy tune climb into the heavens:

Down at the Madhappy Lounge (850 N.W. Brooks St., Bend), a couple of interesting rock bands — The Palisades and Rubedo — will play a free show in the bar’s cozy corner starting around 9 p.m. The Palisades are a trio from Bellingham, Wash., that does a rough-hewn kind of thing that reminds me of mid-’90s post-punk heroes Braid, complete with the rhythmic zigzags and hoarse melodies. Hear their newest EP here.

Rubedo, from Denver, brings to Bend an eclectic sound that vacillates between wispy, murky quietudes and blasts of abrasive rock, always coursing with threads of experimental jazz and funk. It truly is hard to get a handle on. Bewildering, even. Rubedo is working with some heavy hitters (connected to bands like The Dodos and The Mars Volta) on their debut album, which is due out soon (I think). Visit their website to hear some music and find their various social media outposts.

Sisters Folk Festival tickets available

Monday, August 15th, 2011

All-event passes for the Sisters Folk Festival are available now through the event’s website, But you’ll have to wait until Friday to get single-day passes for the fest, taking place Sept. 9-11 at several venues in Sisters.

The fest will bring a slew of musicians to Sisters for performances, workshops, a song contest and more. It’s a signature music event for this little burg, and one that by all accounts is a quality folk experience. This year, musicians including Dave Alvin, Steve Forbert, Mary Gauthier, Willy Porter and Martyn Joseph will grace the stages, along with others.

All-event passes are $95.

Single-day passes will be available starting Friday, at Paulina Springs Books in Sisters and Redmond, FootZone in Bend and the Sisters Folk Festival office.

All online ticket sales include a $2 handling fee per ticket.

Tickets purchased online will be available at the will-call tent after 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9.

This week in GO! Magazine’s music section

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Good stuff in the section this week. Read these, won’t you?

Rising Brazilian electro-pop star Luisa Maita.

My review of Tuesday’s show by The Shins.

The John Butler Trio at Clear Summer Nights.

The Devil Whale and The Parson Red Heads at McMenamins.

And an update on the Sisters Starry Nights organization, how they’re adjusting to the economy, and what they’ve got planned for this year (and tonight).

Elsewhere in the music section: Taarka, Mary Kadderly, Early Melodic Animals, Bex, Uncle Lucius, Brent Alan, Brad Tisdel.

[Review / photos] Dierks Bentley at Les Schwab Amphitheater

Friday, August 12th, 2011

My plan for this space was to write an extensive review of country star Dierks Bentley’s concert Wednesday at Les Schwab Amphitheater. But circumstances have conspired against me, not the least of which is a general ambivalence about the show. So here are a few brief thoughts, and then I’ll get out of the way so you can see a ton of terrific photos of Bentley and his adoring fans that were taken by The Bulletin’s Pete Erickson.

–Like a lot of country’s biggest stars, Bentley knows how to work a crowd. He talked about riding Phil’s Trail and slipped in a reference to JC’s Bar. He told the audience Central Oregon’s High Desert reminds him of home in Arizona. He said he’s stood on a lot of stages, but not many with a more beautiful view than the Schwab’s. He invited the audience onto his tour bus. He got screams of delight every time he mentioned beer. He was a puppet master on stage, essentially conducting the crowd with pointed fingers and pumped fists and hands cupped around his ears.

–Bentley did all his big hits. The lovey-dovey ones (“Feel That Fire,” “Every Mile a Memory,” “Come a Little Closer,” “I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes”) and the party / drinkin’ ones (“Sideways,” “Am I the Only One”) and the travelin’ / ramblin’ ones (“Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)” and “Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do”). He closed with his breakthrough hit “What Was I Thinkin'” and skipped an encore (bravo, Dierks!), instead ending the show by huddling with his band and then bowing as a group while Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” blared over the loudspeakers. It was as odd an ending as you’ll ever see at the Schwab.

The highlight of the night was “Long Trip Alone,” a song with a beautiful, easy melody that Bentley dedicated to the American military. The timing was just right, too. Any time you pair a pretty song with a Cascades sunset, you’re going to make some memories.

–When they were plugged in, Bentley’s band was anything but country. They were essentially a hard rock band with a banjo plugging away in the background. Which was fine, but it wasn’t very country. Country these days comes in the artists’ look and lyrical themes. And country these days is mostly about pop-rock hooks. Country is where the arena-rock riffs of yesteryear live in the 21st century.

–That said, Bentley was in fine voice: deep, and creakier than on his records, which was welcome.

–My biggest beef with the show was that bluegrass — a major influence on Bentley (he says) and the basis of his 2010 album “Up On the Ridge” — was given such an obligatory treatment. Mid-show, the band brought out the upright bass, mandolin, fiddle and banjo, but rather than rip through two or three or four songs from “Ridge,” they aimed straight for the lowest common denominator. They did the title track (and single) from that record, then used a “late-night jam session on the bus” construct to do a medley of familiar tunes, bluegrass-style: the “Dukes of Hazzard” theme, “All My Ex’s Live in Texas,” Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell,” Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.” And then a cover of U2’s “Pride (in the Name of Love)” that was on the “Ridge” album.

People seemed to dig it — the “Dukes” theme, Billy Idol and Bon Jovi tickled their nostalgia bones, no doubt — but it turned me off. In fact, I thought it bordered on disrespectful to a style of music that Bentley claims to hold dear to his heart (and I believe him). Think about it: Rather than showcase their chops and the genre they love by actually playing bluegrass songs, it was as if the band feared losing the audience by playing bluegrass, so it chose to do its most accessible original, one serious cover and a bunch of half-jokey songs before scurrying back to the party country folks came to hear.

That’s not honoring bluegrass music. That’s just kind of weak. And I truly believe Dierks Bentley is better than that.

Alright, enough blabbering. Check out Pete’s awesome photos.


Central Oregon’s Week of Awesome Music, Part 4: Shemekia Copeland, Brad Jones, Cadence

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

This week features a ridiculous number of opportunities to catch quality live music in Central Oregon, so I’m highlighting some of the best options for each night. But remember, you can always find lots more at The Bulletin’s online event calendar.

Tonight’s treat is a free show at Munch & Music by powerful blues singer Shemekia Copeland. You can read more about her here. M&M gets going around 5:30 p.m., and Copeland will take the stage … sometime after that. Just be there and be ready.

Also tonight, a couple of local CD-release shows worth mentioning:

–Bend-based pop-rock band Cadence has a new EP ready for the world, and they’ll celebrate with a show at tonight at the old Boomtown location (910 N.W. Harriman Street, Bend). Mosley Wotta and Symmetry/Symmetry will also perform. I think it starts at 7 p.m. and cover is $5. This band writes grand, sweeping songs that are super catchy, so go check ’em out.

–Longtime local musician Brad Jones also has a new CD to release, his first under the name Keez. He’s also throwing a release show at 9 tonight at Madhappy Lounge (850 N.W. Brooks St., Bend). It’ll be free to get in. Read up on Jones here, and listen to some of his tunes here.

Central Oregon’s Week of Awesome Music, Part 3: Dierks Bentley, John Shipe

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

This week features a ridiculous number of opportunities to catch quality live music in Central Oregon, so I’m highlighting some of the best options for each night. But remember, you can always find lots more at The Bulletin’s online event calendar.

Tonight brings the biggest country act of the summer, Dierks Bentley, to Les Schwab Amphitheater. Showtime’s at 6:30 p.m., and there are still tickets available at the box office outside the gate. Read my interview with Bentley by clicking here.

If a Dierks ticket is too rich for your blood, go check out the fine songwriter John Shipe and his trio at McMenamins. That one’s at 7 p.m. and it’s free.

Coming tomorrow: Shemekia Copeland …