Posts Tagged ‘Ben Harper’

This week in GO! Magazine’s music section

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Roots-rock megastar Ray LaMontagne is playing in Bend next week, but the notoriously press shy singer-songwriter declined my request for an interview.

I won’t lie, it hurt a little bit.

UNTIL … (this is called a cliffhanger, please scroll down)

I SCORED AN INTERVIEW WITH RAY LAMONTAGNE’S BEARD!!! That made me feel way better. Here’s an excerpt:

GO!: Have there been any low points in Ray’s career so far, in your opinion?

RB: I don’t know about low points, but did you see Taylor Hicks sing “Trouble” on that “American Idol” show? What is up with that dude? How did he win? Better yet, how did he beat Daughtry, Kellie Pickler and Katharine McPhee?

GO!: I don’t know.

RB: Me neither. I just know I don’t trust him. No facial hair.

GO!: So what musicians do you like?

RB: Hmm … well, I dig Hairy Belafonte. Whiskertown. Tuft Merritt. Aesop Locks. And also actual artists like Bush, Grizzly Bear and Shaggy. ZZ Top, obvs.

And I can’t resist posting this part of it:

GO!: Why can’t I find any pictures of Ray smiling?

RB: I don’t really want to get into that. Let’s just say that his teeth and I have had some tussles in the past, so it’s good to have his lips as a buffer between us.

GO!: Whoa … are you saying that Ray LaMontagne’s teeth are a bunch of jerks?

RB: No comment. Next question.

Overall, I’d say it was a pretty good interview, considering I was talking to a beard. I hope you’ll go read the whole thing by clicking here.

Ben Harper at Les Schwab Amphitheater last Friday. Photo by Ben.

I went and saw Bend fave Ben Harper at Les Schwab Amphitheater last week and thought it started slow but ended strong. Also, my steak chilaquiles from Spork were awesome. Here’s an excerpt:

Now, I’m no classic rock connoisseur, but even I admired Harper’s epic cover of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter,” with its unmistakable, roiling guitars and dynamic extremes. Set against a subtly psychedelic light show, Harper ably handled Robert Plant’s vocals while his band jammed with significant crunch for a good 10 to 15 minutes.

Then, as if to declare himself unafraid of any classic guitar riff, Harper launched into Neil Young’s protest song “Ohio,” which predictably provided a perfect showcase for his deceptively strong voice and his not-so-deceptively prodigious skills on the slide guitar. The crowd around me — filled with 30- and 40-something rock ‘n’ roll lifers — went wild, fully satiated by the 20-minute nostalgia detour.

But with Ben Harper, the music always comes back to positive, forward-thinking messages. He closed the show with one of his best tunes, the globally flavored “Better Way” (complete with shrieked final verse) and an unreleased song called “Better Than I Deserve” that I’m still humming six days later.

Click here to read the whole thing, including more about the food (and also the show).

Elsewhere in this week’s music section: return visits by the Reverend Horton Heat, Portland Cello Project and Diego’s Umbrella, Jailbox plays The Sound Garden, and summer concert series are wrapping up at Parrilla Grill, Angeline’s Bakery and Black Butte Ranch.

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.

Ben Harper coming to Bend (also: John Butler Trio, Everclear, Rootdown, Tommy Emmanuel and Or, the Whale)

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Per the Les Schwab Amphitheater’s website, tailor-made-for-Bend singer-songwriter Ben Harper will return to the venue on Aug. 26. Tickets will cost $39 plus fees and go on sale May 13. It’ll be the eclectic guitar wizard’s first Bend show since he played for a massive crowd on Memorial Day weekend in 2006.

As long as we’re all here hanging out, here are a few other shows that were recently announced.

–Australian roots/jam band the John Butler Trio will return to town on Aug. 18 to play the Clear Summer Nights series at the Athletic Club of Bend. Tickets go on sale Friday at Newport Avenue Market.

(For those keeping score at home, that’s Butler and Harper both in Bend within eight days of each other. Gonna be a big week for the beanie-wearin’, hackey-sackin’, puka-shellin’, just-chillin’-brah set!)

–On July 22, alt-rock boom survivors Everclear will play outside at the Century Center. And by “survivors” I mean Art Alexakis and a bunch of hired guns who’ve replaced the guys that backed Art in all those videos you remember from the mid-’90s. Tickets and more info is here.

More fun stuff, in chronological order:

–Oregon-based reggae/pop/rock band Rootdown will hold its CD-release show for its new album “Tidal Wave” on May 21 at McMenamins Old St. Francis School. Much more on that in the May 20 GO! Magazine.

–Not 100-percent sure, but I think indie rock icon Rebecca Gates (of The Spinanes) will be at MadHappy Lounge on May 29. Supporting will be a good Seattle band called The Thoughts.

–A solid little Americana band from San Francisco called Or, the Whale is playing June 1 at McMenamins Old St. Francis School. If you dig Neil Young, early Wilco, etc., you should check ‘em out.

–Fingerpicking guitar master Tommy Emmanuel will visit the Tower Theatre on June 15. I don’t know much about Emmanuel except that he’s a top-shelf guitarist and a hero of local musician Tim Coffey, and that’s good enough for me. Details here.

–If you don’t know The Devil Whale, you should. They’re a fine rock band from Salt Lake City that’ll play McMenamins on Aug. 17. Buzzy pop-rock a la the Velvet Underground. Good stuff.