Because of the party hearty nature of Halloween weekend — and the sheer number of bands playing ‘ween-themed shows over the next few nights — we’re going to venture outside of the music section this week into GO! Magazine’s cover story, which features not 20 … not 30 … not 40 … but 50+ Halloween parties, concerts, trick or treats, costume contests, films, readings and more.
If you don’t find something spooky to do in these listings, you just aren’t looking hard enough. Happy Halloween! Y’all have fun out and be safe out there.
And the rest of the music section: Head for the Hills and Dead Winter Carpenters, a benefit for Gary Bowne, Moira Smiley & VOCO, Children of Nova and My Favorite Sacred Songs. Plus Blackstrap, Dela Project, Third Seven and Truckstop Gravy and a whole bunch of other stuff.
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.
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.
Psychobilly pioneers The Reverend Horton Heat are back in town this week for the first time in several years. Bone up for their Wednesday show at Midtown Ballroom by reading a little bit about the band, and then check out our Rock ‘n’ Roll Blasphemy Scale, where we rate some religiously named rockers (Judas Priest, Madonna, etc.) based on just how blasphemous they really are.
Minneapolis/Rhymesayers MC Brother Ali comes to the Domino Room Sunday as part of the “How The Grouch Stole Christmas Tour.” I caught up with Ali earlier this week and we talked a lot about his recent pilgrimage to Islam’s holy city, Mecca, and the effect that journey has had on his life:
So in early November, as Ali — a practicing Muslim for 17 years — boarded a plane to make his first pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city of Islam, he wondered if he was in the right state of mind for such a powerful experience.
“I was a little disheartened or concerned because I had such a crazy year. I’ve had a few times in my life that have just been nonstop changes that made me question the foundation of who I am and what I’m doing, and this has been one of those years,” he said in his measured, raspy tone. “I kind of was wondering, ‘Am I ready for this? Am I in the right place spiritually, emotionally, mentally, even physically?’ I was just really beat up.”
Still, Ali boarded that plane, unwilling to miss out on something he has dreamed about since he was 15. And it paid off.
“I realized that it was the exact time that I needed it to happen,” he said. “This crazy, transformative year, the exclamation point was this life-changing event of the pilgrimage. It was actually perfect.”
I hope you’ll click here to read the whole thing, including why Ali’s pilgrimage came at the perfect time.
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: King of the Surf Guitar Dick Dale comes back to town, The Northstar Session plays McMenamins, Boneyard Beer throws a Cross Kultural Carnival featuring all kinds of cool performers, Misty River returns from hiatus for two local shows, Two or More plays a free holiday show in Redmond, and Blackstrap, Blackflowers Blacksun and Brent Alan each have big weekends planned.
Plus, now’s the time to remind you that tonight is local folk-pop singer-songwriter Chris Beland‘s CD-release show at The Kilns Bookstore in Bend. Beland has had a pretty amazing couple of months, discovering his biological father, who happens to be veteran musician John Beland. I wrote a long article about Beland’s story that ran in the paper last Saturday, and you can read that by clicking here. While you’re reading, click right here to stream a few songs from Beland’s new album “The Weather Man.”
Don’t forget: Tonight, 7 p.m., free, McMenamins Old St. Francis School. Local bluegrassers Blackstrap celebrate the release of their new album “Tales from the American Roadside.” Here’s my story on the band from last week’s GO! Magazine. An excerpt:
At a time when lots of so-called bluegrass bands stretch the boundaries of the genre, it’s Blackstrap’s preference for the old way that sets them apart. The band relies on vocal harmonies and a lightning-fast string-band attack to get their point across.
There’s even a Bill Monroe cover on “Tales.” Then again, there’s also a snare drum on one song, a no-no among bluegrass traditionalists.
“It’s not like we’re purists,” Arnold said. “In fact … I’d get a scoff or two in the traditional circles. But I’m not (doing) the way-out-there, jam-banjo thing, either.”
Fairly ginormous week of music in Central Oregon, isn’t it? This is awesome! Let’s jump in …
(I am currently obsessed with this song.)
Band-on-the-verge Band of Horses plays at Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend on Sunday. I chatted with head Horse Ben Bridwell — one of the nicest musicians I’ve interviewed, I might add — about how he’s feeling as he stares down fame.
“But with me it’s never really been about some grand ambition to be the biggest band in the world. I guess, if anything, it makes me happy when we can make more people happy,” he said. “But people say, ‘You guys are going to be the next Kings of Leon’ or whatever, and that terrifies me more than anything.”
Terrifies? Bridwell elaborates: “I came into this game so late; I didn’t start playing guitar and singing until my late 20s. It’s never been that comfortable of a position for me. So I feel like I can barely keep up as it is (with) trying to curb the anxiety of performing and stuff like that. It scares me to think that we would be in the position of Pearl Jam, where you have an arena of people that you have to (impress). It seems like a lot of responsibility, right?”
I hope you’ll read the whole thing by clicking here. Also, Band of Horses is co-headlining Sunday’s show with retro-pop duo She & Him, aka Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. My colleague David Holley interviewed Ward, and you can read that here.
’90s alt-rock holdover the Goo Goo Dolls will kick off the 2010 Bend Summer Concerts series tonight. Another colleague, Adrianne Jeffries, spoke with bassist Robby Takac about being in a band for nearly a quarter-century.
We have fans from 6 to 60 coming to the shows, which is pretty interesting to me to watch, seeing the sort of generation gaps being broken … People with kids come to the show and they’re like, “Hey man, we’ve been playing your band for our kids since they were infants!” Since they were infants? For God’s sake, the kid’s got a beard!
Need more laughter in your life? Maybe you need to see Trainwreck — featuring Kyle Gass of Tenacious D — at Mountain’s Edge Bar in Bend tonight. Yet another colleague, David Jasper, shot the bull with Gass a couple of weeks ago.
Along with Gass, whose wigged alter-ego in the group is Klip Calhoun, Trainwreck also contains “biker-hayseed” Darryl Donald, also known as “Lee,” Jason Reed or JR.
“Klip is the gentle, maternal matriarch of the group; he nurtures the boys,” Gass explain ed while strumming his guitar in the background. “As contrasted to JR, who plays Darryl Donald, who’s kind of the fiery, quick-tempered, lead-singer type. So we’re kind of the mom and dad, and then the boys, as we call them, they all bow to our will.”
The “boys” are most of Tenacious D’s live and studio band: Shredman, Boy Johnny and Dallas St. Bernard.
“I’ve arranged it so I do little or no work out there,” Gass claim ed. “I don’t even pick up my own guitar. I assign everyone else, just because I pay, and whoever has the gold makes the rules.”
Also in this week’s music section: Morwenna Lasko and Jay Pun kick off the summer concert series in the old ghost town of Richmond, three Oregon-based hot jazz bands play the Hep Cat’s Ball at the Tower Theatre, an update on Last Band Standing, and Silver Moon Brewing has a big week of shows, including The River Pigs, Dela Project, Baki and Clumsy Lovers.
So … that’s the rundown. Weather’s getting warm, music’s everywhere. Leave me a comment and tell me what show you’re most excited about!
Suzanne Vega plays at the Tower Theatre on Sunday. I talked to her about her new “Close-Up” project, in which she’s re-recording dozens of her songs. Here’s an excerpt:
Re-recording the songs acoustically was in part an economic decision. But Vega also liked the idea of reinventing them.
“I had no interest in doing a cover version of ‘Luka.’ It was like, ‘No. No thank you,’” she said. “Nor did I want to do a sort of Suzanne Vega-lite version. So I thought, ‘Let’s just do stark recordings of the absolute minimum.’”
Vega’s an interesting subject. You should read the whole thing here.
In Feedback, I launch my campaign to get reunited indie-rock kings Pavement to the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend.
Of course there are people out there who are stoked to hear the Steve Miller Band is coming to Bend. But those people aren’t in my Internet-o-sphere. In there, the team behind the Schwab needs a pick-me-up. They need a booking that’ll get the Twitterati buzzing. They need to reel in a big, cred-building life raft with plenty of room for those who’ve felt neglected for the past year and a half.
They need Pavement.
It’s unlikely, I’m sure. But I’m compelled to put the idea out there and see if we can’t get a snowball rolling on this thing. I’ve had a few dozen people tell me, both personally and via cyber-waves, that they’d love, love, love to see Pavement in Bend. So let’s put our signatures where our mouths are: I’m going to set up a blog post on Frequency like a petition to get Pavement in our town, and all you have to do is go there and leave a comment showing your support for the idea. Better yet, pledge to buy tickets.
If you pass it around to your friends — friends in Bend, Redmond, Sisters, Eugene, Portland, Boise, and so on — and get them to sign it, who knows what might happen?
Finally, local boys A.M. Interstate have completed their new album “Love Your Sniper.” They’ll play much of it Saturday night at Silver Moon. Here’s a bit about it:
Although it’s not out yet, the brothers are shopping the album around to record labels, looking for a deal. But a quick trip through an advance copy finds the Ericksons moving further from the cosmic Americana sound of their past work and more toward a psych-roots-rawk feel, like The Beatles jamming with Neil Young in a dive bar where the jukebox plays My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless” on repeat, eternally. (That would be a sweet bar.)
“Sniper” has a sense of momentum that the meandering “Kimono Dragon” sometimes lacked; two listens in, it sounds like the best work of the band’s catalog so far.
Also in the music section this week: Baltimore roots-rock band The Bridge, Floater frontman Rob Wynia plays a solo show, and Blackstrap, Trina Hamlin, Tony Smiley and a bunch of locals playing a benefit for CASA. And, as always, you can find more in our complete music calendar.
Hmm … y’know, it’s possible that after working all day yesterday (Thursday), I went straight to a friend’s house and watched the Oregon-Oregon State game and ate much tasty chili and cornbread, and then after that I played Rock Band for a couple hours, or watched other people play Rock Band, which can be as exhausting as actually playing it. And now, it’s 1:23 a.m. on Friday, and I need to wake up in just about six hours and go to work again. So I’m going to shut up and get to this week’s music stories.
-Alt-country stalwart Son Volt is playing at the Domino Room in Bend on Monday. I saw Son Volt five times in a couple years back in the mid-1990s, and haven’t seen ‘em since. I’m looking forward to it.
-Oregon blues wonder David Jacobs-Strain performed at Silver Moon Brewing last weekend, and I was there. Here’s my review.
-Local jam-band The Mostest is ready for snow. And they’re gonna do something about it. They’re hosting a “Pray For Powder Snow Ball” tonight at Silver Moon, with much music and dancing and door prizes planned.
I think that’s it for now. As always, grab a copy of The Bulletin for access to all these articles and lots of info on the local fine arts and restaurant scenes, movies, video games and Christmas bazaars, plus the event calendar, what’s happening out of town, and tons of other stuff.
Congrats to the University of Oregon Ducks on their trip to the Rose Bowl, and to the Oregon State University Beavers for a terrific season. Oregon dominance of the Pac-10 is always a good thing.
Ladies and gents, I have family in town this weekend and am going to try to steer clear of the blog for a few days. Devastating, I know.
Before I disappear, though, I want to let you know what’s happening in Bend, musically, over the next seven days. Be sure to grab a GO! Magazine or visit the calendar on the GO! Web site for lots more options beyond these:
-When L.A. MCs Scarub and Very collaborate, they call themselves Afro Classics. And they’re dope. They have a new album out this week and they’re playing in Bend next week.
-You thought the days of Queen-style pomp-rock were over, didn’t you? Well, meet The Janks.
-Sweatshop Union is a hip-hop collective out of British Columbia, Canada. They are not associated with any sweatshops as far as I know. Now get back to work!
-Local industrial band Warm Gadget and one-man speed-metal wonder Bald Eagle Shirt are gonna get strange at Players Bar & Grill.
-Silver Moon Brewing continues to expand its music offerings, hosting cosmopolitan electro-funk-jazz duo Planet Loop and Bend’s own glitch-hop crew, the Thumbprint Collective. (Download 48 minutes of Thumbprint’s chilled out electronica by clicking right here.)
-Guitar mega-talent Tony Furtado in concert at a beautiful old church in the ghost town of Richmond? Sounds like a highly listenable experience. Just remember to take a sweater.