(The Big Dig is a video series by The Bulletin following the massive effort to clean up Pakit Liquidators — a large, cluttered home improvement resale yard on Bend’s east side — so it can host the 2013 Bend Roots Revival. Click here to watch the whole series.)
Time flies when you’re cleaning up junk for the sake of art. It has been a month since we checked in with the folks who are working to get Pakit Liquidators ready to host the 2013 Bend Roots Revival, which is scheduled to begin in two weeks. In that time, Roots organizers have submitted their plans to the City of Bend, and a work party was held to try to take a big chunk out of the remaining workload at Pakit.
The Bulletin’s multimedia guru, Leilani Rapaport, visited both City Hall and the work party to get a sense for what the Roots Revival needs to get done over the next couple of weeks. Here’s her report:
For years, Franchot Tone was an integral behind-the-scenes player in Central Oregon’s music scene, working as a producer with popular local acts like Eric Tollefson and Hilst & Coffey, and as a producer/sideman for Reed Thomas Lawrence.
Then a couple years ago, Tone got the bug to make his own music for the first time. He started writing songs and training to become a better singer. He stepped to the front of the stage and started playing gigs under his own name. And he started piecing together his debut album.
Last year, Tone and his family moved to Los Angeles, but tonight, he’s back in town to celebrate the release of his first full-length album, “Thanks For This,” with a show a McMenamins Old St. Francis School. He’ll get started around 7 p.m., and it’s free to get in.
By phone this morning, Tone said moving back to California — where he knows lots of well-connected musicians and studio types — was a “catalyst” for finally finishing his record.
“It became abundantly clear that I had to have an album, and I’d just never made it,” he said. “So now I’m in this spot with all the best players in the world. I see ‘em daily, and I can just go over at any time to their studio and have ‘em do this track or that track or whatever.
We’re entering an incredibly busy few weeks on the Central Oregon music scene, especially considering it’s mid-October, a time when local stages used to go virtually quiet. No more.
So I recruited a little help to cover everything going on this week. Below, you’ll find links to our interviews with the rapper Afroman, the newgrass legend David Grisman and indie-folk upstarts The Builders and The Butchers, plus briefs on a ton of other artists. I hope you’ll click around and check it out, or better yet, grab a print copy of The Bulletin today and flip through GO! Magazine.
Afroman returns to the Domino Room Sunday. My colleague Rachael Rees chatted with him about who inspires him, how he gets ready for shows, and what it feels like when many people only want to hear one of your songs a decade after it was a hit.
GO!: Why do you keep coming back to Bend?
Afroman: I love my fans. I have some strongholds in America … because of people who heard “Because I Got High.” It’s been 10 years since “Because I Got High” and cities like Bend are keeping me in the game. Bend has kept with me past “Because I Got High” and is familiar with all my songs.
GO!: What is your ritual before you get on stage to perform?
A: I like to get to town early and get into the mood of hip-hop and what it means to me. I don’t want to shortchange my fans so I smoke blunts and play music while I pull out my best clothes. I go to the barber shop. I do my nails. (I) put on my cologne and buy jewelry cleaner to drop my big chains in. It’s about quality, looking good and rapping good.
David Grisman was here only a year ago, but that was with his quintet in a seated venue. Tonight, he’s back with his bluegrass band at the Domino Room, where you can dance the night away to the Dawg. Grisman was kind enough to answer a few questions via email, and David Jasper wrote a story about him.
It’s quite clear that appreciating the roots of bluegrass is important to Grisman. He says that when he first heard the form, it was initially “the banjo, played in the style of Earl Scruggs, that blew my head off.
“I think bluegrass is a perfectly orchestrated style of instrumental and vocal music, with real roots in the stories and lives of the people,” he said. “It elevates folk music to a virtuosic status and runs the gamut of human expression. Plus, the history of bluegrass is something that occurred in my lifetime, and I had the opportunity to witness it happening and meet and even play with many of its great architects.”
Portland folk-rock band The Builders and The Butchers return to Bend next week to play two shows at McMenamins Old St. Francis School. Rachael Rees asked them a few questions via email, too, and frontman Ryan Sollee responded.
Sollee and his band mates — who came together playing on the streets of Portland — look to the past for both lyrical and musical inspiration, striving for authenticity and sounds that ignore today’s emphasis on commercial viability.
“I have no problem with pop and major radio artists altering their sound digitally. They are playing to an audience that obviously doesn’t care,” Sollee said. “Where I get frustrated is in the indie world when vocals are obviously (Auto-Tuned). It just doesn’t sound very honest to me.”
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Dave Matthews tells you why you should check out Danny Barnes Thursday night, the Water Tower Bucket Boys and Moon Mountain Ramblers team up at Silver Moon, Innovation Theatre throws a launch party to celebrate its new Madhappy vibe, Tony Pacini and Chuck Redd return to Jazz at Joe’s, and Franchot Tone is moving to California and playing a farewell show tonight, plus The Ben Rice Band, Ali Handal, Hurtbird and more. Oh, and this previous blog post about Birthday Suits. WHEW!
(Find all our coverage of the 2011 Bend Roots Revival, including a preview of the event and recaps of all three days, by clicking here.)
Sometimes it seems like my Twitter feed is full of nothing but Bendites who go to every single event in this town, floating from free concert to art walk to seasonal festival to bike race to free concert to art walk to seasonal festival to bike race to … you get the picture.
Yesterday, I felt like one of those folks.
My goal was to arrive at the Bend Roots Revival at 1 p.m. to see Franchot Tone play his disarming reggae-pop, but a last-minute errand put me in the car, driving across town at that time. Community radio to the rescue! I turned my dial to 88.9 FM, where KPOV was broadcasting live from the festival’s BIGS Stage, and listened to at least half of Tone’s set, including several originals, his sharp cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” and a frisky funk jam by The Meters.
When I did finally arrive at the Century Center, I ventured first into the courtyard, where a growing crowd and competing noise from two stages made it feel a bit too chaotic. So I retreated to the Good Life Stage for some jazz guitar wizardry from longtime local Rich Hurdle. I’d never seen him before, but his casual style and laid-back sound was an ideal antidote to the hustle and bustle of the courtyard. Here’s his take on “Triste” by bossa nova pioneer Antonio Carlos Jobim:
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?
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.
Woohoo! It’s officially Friday! To celebrate, here’s the new video from Culver City Dub Collective, the Afro-Cuban/roots-reggae/Cali cool project from Adam Topol and Bend’s own Franchot Tone. It’s just what you expect from these dudes: Breezy. Mellow. Grooves. So it’s perfect if you’re craving that warm, tropical feeling but can’t leave your cubicle.
San Francisco pop-rock band The Mother Hips will play McMenamins Old St. Francis School on St. Patrick’s Day. I called up band co-founder Tim Bluhm and asked him why so many people think the Hips are a jam band.
“It used to make us so angry when people called us (that),” said Bluhm, 40, in a telephone interview from his home in San Francisco last month. “It actually sort of crippled us in some ways because if we would’ve just accepted that label we probably would’ve made some inroads into that world … but we were too stubborn and too concerned about our image.
“We really didn’t like that. It curdled our blood,” Bluhm said. “But that was a long time ago and now we’re older and we realize that stuff is for other people to worry about. We don’t care what anyone calls it.”
Why so many people who haven’t heard the Hips believe they fall into the “jam band” category (think Widespread Panic, Phish, etc.) is a bit of a mystery. Sure, the band’s name evokes visions of twirl dancing to an endless guitar solo. And sure, the band played the jam-friendly H.O.R.D.E. tour, like, forever ago. But for the most part, Bluhm and his mates have been crunchy pop-rockers from the start.
“I mean, we had long hair,” Bluhm said, “but so did Black Sabbath.”
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Franchot Tone warms up Velvet, Bex (as in Shannon Bex) plays the Domino Room, Great Big Sea rolls into the Tower Theatre, Sunny Ledfurd returns to town, Jerry Joseph brings The Jackmormons to Silver Moon, and The David Mayfield Parade is at McMenamins. Plus, Jim Jam honors departed music lovers, Mountain Country Idol’s finals are this weekend in Redmond, and a renowned jazz duo will perform on Sunday morning at Cascade School of Music.
Lap steel guitar wizard Robert Randolph and his Family Band will bring their gospel-blues-rock to Bend on Sunday. My colleague David Jasper spoke with Randolph about the past and present of sacred steel music.
“There’s a history of our church … which goes all the way back 70 years,” Randolph explained. “In those days in the south, guys couldn’t afford organs and pianos in church. The thing was basically to buy a lap steel guitar because they couldn’t afford” organs. “And this basically turned into a historical thing. It reached me, and it’s reaching kids younger than me.”
“You see, long before me, there were some guys that played who would have been huge rock stars — just as big as Muddy Waters and those guys in the ’50s, ’60s and into the ’70s. And those guys just weren’t really allowed to leave” the auspices of the church.
“It was a much different time then. By me being younger, and things sort of changing within the organization, it was sort of my focus to really go out there” and share the music with the world at large, he said.
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: The Builders and The Butchers roll into McMenamins, Person People and Empty Space Orchestra play B.I.G.S.’ big fifth birthday bash, the Sagebrush Rock Festival goes down in Christmas Valley, and Intervision visits Sunriver, plus the latest on locals Franchot Tone, Tuck and Roll, The Dirty Words and The Autonomics.
And last but not least, the 4 Peaks Music Festival happens this weekend, but thanks to a last-minute change of plans, the article in the paper has the wrong venue. So click here to get up-to-date info.
Folks aren’t used to seeing Franchot Tone out front of a musical project. The Bend resident is best known as the co-founder of the groovy roots-reggae outfit Culver City Dub Collective, and locally, he made a splash a couple years ago by producing singer-songwriter Reed Thomas Lawrence’s self-titled album, which helped propel Lawrence to the point he’s at now: moving to L.A. and rising through the music industry. (Read all about CCDC here, and the Lawrence/Tone synergy here.)
Over the past several months, though, Tone has been holed up in his studio at Rage Productions, slowly but surely piecing together his first solo project. Last I heard, he still had a ways to go before he’ll be releasing anything, but on Monday, he shipped over a sneak peek at his first completed track, which sounds pretty much like what we all know Tone can do well: sun-baked, easygoing, reggae-flavored pop-rock. You can download it here:
Want to catch Tone live? You’re in luck; he’s just begun playing out with a band that includes Nate Berry on drums and Craig Brown on bass. They’ll perform at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the free post-Pole Pedal Paddle party at Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend.