My colleague David Jasper talked to folk singer and father of an impressive brood, Loudon Wainwright III, about the inevitability of getting older … and what comes after that. Here’s an excerpt:
(Wainwright) told GO!, “I had a collection of songs that it seemed like, every single one of them, in one way or another, dealt with the topic. So I threw caution to the wind … my producer Dick Connette (and I) just decided to focus on that particular subject, and I think we did.”
They were conscious of not making things too heavy.
“Certainly, with that subject, it needs a light touch. Otherwise, you just get people bummed out for 50 minutes or however long the record lasts,” he said. “The idea being, we’re going to do a record about death and decay, but it would be entertaining.”
Plus: David Jacobs-Strain at the HarmonyHouse, Giraffe Dodgers and The Brown Edition at McMenamins, Bend d’Vine’s new jazz series, Tony Smiley + Keez + MoWo, The Selfless Riot, Greg Botsford and more. It’s all here.
Not enough, right? Right! Elsewhere in the music section: OK Sweetheart at Madhappy, Euforquestra at McMenamins, Jelly Bread at Silver Moon, John Shipe Trio at McMenamins, David Jacobs-Strain at Angeline’s and the Sagebrush Rock Festival in Christmas Valley.
Canadian bass music producer ill.Gates will headline tonight’s “For the Music” party to celebrate Slipmat Science’s ninth anniversary. I spoke with the man about how and why he immersed himself in the world of electronic composition.
Two decades ago, Lane was that upstart kid. He played guitar and piano, but got his first sampler at age 7, went to his first rave at 13, and liked the wide-open horizons of electronic music.
“It just sounded so new and different and fresh,” he said. “At that point, I had learned guitar, but I just felt like guitar music didn’t really need me. I felt like what I was doing was just kind of a commentary on the history of guitar music.
“I got a sampler and thought, ‘These instruments are new. These … have a lot of history left to unfold. This is something I can be a part of,’” Lane said. “I felt (guitars) had been so explored that I was going to have to really struggle to find something new, and I just didn’t want to sound like anyone else. I wanted to do something entirely different. I wanted to have my own thing.”
I also talked to one of the guys behind Slipmat to get the skinny on that crew’s origins. Click here to read them both. (The Slipmat story is on the right, in smaller print.)
Gregory Alan Isakov. Photo by Ben.
Feedback this week is on last Saturday’s wonderful Gregory Alan Isakov concert at the PoetHouse in downtown Bend. What a night. Here’s an excerpt.
Isakov’s set was a blend of old (the downcast “The Stable Song,” the throwback jazz of “Salt and the Sea”) and brand new (he said he’s working on his next album now), plus a stark cover of John Hartford’s “In Tall Buildings.”
Then there was plenty from Isakov’s wonderful 2009 album “This Empty Northern Hemisphere.” The Ryan Adams-esque sway of “That Moon Song” got the biggest response of the night, “Virginia May” rode a likable shuffle, and “Evelyn” gave Isakov’s crack band — drums, keys, cello and violin — a chance to rock out in their own gentle, orchestral style.
The highlight of the night, though, came mid-set when Isakov did a warm, resonant and drop-dead gorgeous song about the universe’s beauty and bruised feet, and then followed it with the title track from “This Empty Northern Hemisphere,” which crescendoed into a swarm of strings and falsetto oohs and ahhs. Isakov’s band has a firm grip on the power of dynamics, and those two songs showcased every inch of their range.
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: David Jacobs-Strain’s rootsy blues, Noise-A-Tron’s dark, heavy rock, McMenamins’ ’80s-themed “prom” and the Blues, Amuse & Brews benefit for Westside Village school. Plus there are a bunch of local acts with good gigs this week, including The Prairie Rockets, OpenFate, Jones Road, Kylan Johnson, Clair Clarke, JazzBros, Concave Perception Chamber and the Brian Hanson Band.
Portland-based indie rock duo Viva Voce come to Bend Monday to help kick off the 2011 PDXchange Program series, along with Damien Jurado and Loch Lomond. I talked to Anita Robinson about Viva Voce’s new album, “The Future Will Destroy You,” which is due out in June.
“We feel like these songs are really representative of Viva Voce as a band,” she said. “For the past couple of records, we’ve really experimented and our fans have been really patient and understanding and supportive … but the feedback we’ve heard from them is kind of what we feel inside, too, and that’s that when we just play the two of us, somehow it’s more special to our fans and we feel a stronger connection to them.”
As for the sound of the upcoming album, Anita is playing it close to the vest.
“No one’s heard them yet so I’m really curious to hear what kind of feedback we’re going to get,” she said. “I think that people are going to love the songs and that’s ultimately our hope. We’re really, really proud of them, and we pushed ourselves in a way that we haven’t before.”
Click here to read the whole thing. Also, stay tuned to Frequency for more about Damien Jurado, who your humble blogger just happens to consider one of the finest songwriters going.
The Truth & Salvage Co. rolls into the Silver Moon on Sunday evening, bringing with ’em a likable, harmony-heavy country-rock sound. I spoke with drummer Bill Smith about the band’s origins.
(Truth & Salvage Co.) has roots in North Carolina, where Smith, guitarist Scott Kinnebrew and keyboardist Walker Young played in a hot jazz/ragtime band called Scrappy Hamilton.
Scrappy was “Django (Reinhardt) meets rockabilly meets Squirrel Nut Zippers,” Smith said, thanks in large part to Kinnebrew’s upbringing in New Orleans.
Over a few years, the three men made their way to Los Angeles to find their paths, and they continued to play together, eventually settling into Hollywood’s famed Hotel Cafe for jam sessions.
It was there they met Tim Jones, another singer-songwriter who had come to L.A. to make music his career.
Jones was welcomed into the fold “with open arms,” Smith said, and the group began holding beer-soaked jams and songwriting sessions at their house on Gower Street.
“(Truth & Salvage Co.) exploded out of that,” he said.
Elsewhere in this week’s music section, we’ve got a CD-release show from Portland-based, Bend-connected band Water & Bodies, a big benefit show with an all-star lineup for local violinist Erin Zurflu, the return of tech-savvy, Bay Area jam-band Moonalice, and a big dance party thrown by the Slipmat Science crew. A little farther west in Deschutes County, there’s a benefit show in Tumalo for the High & Dry Bluegrass Festival, bluesman David Jacobs-Strain visits Sisters’ HarmonyHouse, and Portland’s wonderful Weinland plays The Barn in Sisters.
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.
If you haven’t heard his name, at least take a few minutes to listen to William Fitzsimmons’ music. The guy writes beautifully downcast songs in the same vein as Sufjan Stevens and Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam. I talked to Fitzsimmons earlier this week about his current state of mind after going through some dark times. Here’s an excerpt:
Last year, Fitzsimmons told National Public Radio he was looking forward to writing new material and moving on from that dark place in his life. Earlier this week … he said he’s currently working on songs for a new album, which he hopes to release next year.
As you might expect, the process has been refreshing.
“It’s a little different. It’s nice, because I’m in a different place in my life than I was a few years ago, fortunately,” Fitzsimmons said. “Things aren’t quite as dark or as morbid, so writing the songs … I don’t want to say it was fun, but it sure as hell was a lot more fun than it was before.”
Fitzsimmons has been unveiling those new songs at shows over the past month. He describes them not as happy, but hopeful.
“I decided I kind of wanted to write about things that were more in the line of healing and restoration, sort of the polar opposite of what I was writing about before,” he said. “So instead of things being destroyed, it was (about) things being mended and fixed and put back together. It feels good but it also feels right. It feels like it’s where my head has been.”
Plus: David Bromberg, Jena Rickards’ CD-release show, Emma Hill and Her Gentlemen Callers, David Jacobs-Strain, Five Pint Mary and the Bend Fire Pipe and Drum Band, and an early heads-up on High Street playing a show to benefit Sisters schools. Want more options? Check out The Bulletin’s complete music listing.
Branden Miskimon practices holding a guitar while Rhythm Culture plays Munch & Music in 2009.
Summer is here! (Almost.) And so are the free, outdoor concert series around Central Oregon. Portland bands The Lights Out and Rosa’s Buds will kick off Les Schwab Amphitheater’s free Summer Sunday Concerts series on Sunday, and we’ve got the rest of that lineup and a roundup of other series right here.
Brandon Summers of The Helio Sequence. Photo by Ben Salmon / The Bulletin.
Portland electro-pop wizards The Helio Sequence came to Bend June 3 to play the PDXchange Program concert series. You can watch several videos of the show here, and here’s an excerpt of my review:
The band’s records are wonderful, warm baths of electro-indie-pop, equal parts organic and synthetic. Brandon Summers’ voice is honeyed, and his melodies float like cotton-candy clouds. And Benjamin Weikel is a machine on the drums, not literally, of course — don’t you hate it when people misuse literally? — but his rhythm seems metronomic, and he looks animatronic as he works.
Helio’s set list stuck mostly to the band’s excellent 2008 album “Keep Your Eyes Ahead,” though they sprinkled in the best bits from 2004’s “Love and Distance.” The set was nicely paced, ramping up from a relaxed beginning to a second-half stretch that included some of the band’s very best songs.
Of particular note was “Everyone Knows Everyone,” a buoyant tune about living in a town with a tight-knit music scene, and the title track from “Keep Your Eyes Ahead,” with its needle-sharp, high-pitched guitar licks that would sound quite cozy on just about any Modest Mouse song.
Summers and Weikel closed their set with the roiling melancholy of “Lately” (as a perfectly psychedelic light show shone behind them) and “Hallelujah” before calling ESO drummer Lindsey Elias onto the stage for “Harmonica Song.”
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Crunchy Texas country-rock band The Preservation plays Silver Moon, Taarka principals David Tiller and Enion Pelta-Tiller do a special duo show at The Wine Shop, Texas songwriting master Eric Taylor comes to town for a house concert, and The Annex hosts a benefit for a Redmond woman in need of a lung transplant, plus David Jacobs-Strain, Broken Down Guitars, Audiolized and Dust Bunny Monster, and an update on Last Band Standing. If that won’t do, you can always find more options in The Bulletin’s complete music listings.
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.
Hey, sleepyhead! Wake up! I know, I know … you ate a lot of turkey and drank some beer and laid on the couch and fell asleep. But that was yesterday afternoon. You’ve been asleep for, like, 18 hours! So get up and get out and enjoy some music that’ll shake you right out of your tryptophan-induced coma.
-Wouldn’t it be sweet if we could get Frank Zappa to play here in Bend? That would be sweet. But impossible, because he died in 1993. So, next best thing: Zappa Plays Zappa is a tribute band to Frank, led by his son Dweezil, that insists on playing faithful, note-for-note covers of Frank’s brilliant music.
-Dudes! Do you want to know where the chicks are gonna be tonight? You do, right!? Right! So scrounge up $6 (or $4 and a can of food) and head to Silver Moon for Chicks With Picks. You’ll get to see four great local bands fronted by awesome women, and your money will help support Saving Grace, a local women’s shelter. Do it!
-After a bit of a break from Bend, Hillstomp is back in town for a show at the Domino Room tonight. They’re going to tear the roof off the place … that is, unless support act Larry and His Flask tears it off first.
–David Jacobs-Strain plays an entrancing brand of rootsy blues music. He’ll warm up the Silver Moon Saturday night, for sure.
-The local rockers in Ruckus are doing good this weekend, playing two nights at Crossings Lounge (in The Riverhouse) and collecting toys for the Toys For Tots program.
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving, folks. If you’re looking for something non-musical to do, be sure to check out GO! Magazine, where we’ve put together a list of five family-friendly activities to occupy your time this weekend.
For the first few months of 2009, people asked me over and over if I’d heard what big-name bands would be playing on Memorial Day weekend at Bend’s Les Schwab Amphitheater this year. As the days passed, my answer became more and more pessimistic, and their disappointment became harder and harder to hide. How quickly we forget that, while we did enjoy some great concerts last year, the Schwab was silent at this time in 2007. And so it is again this year.
But in today’s GO! Magazine, we have lots of great options for all you lovers of live music out there. Click the band names to read more about each of these fine shows, and don’t miss the downloads in between: