September is a big month on the local music scene, with the Sisters Folk Festival last weekend and the Bend Roots Revival next.
But the week in between isn’t exactly an opportunity to take a breather. We’ve got a CD-release show from a longtime local, a bunch of great roots-rock shows, some jazz and more.
Bend-based singer-songwriter Laurel Brauns will release her new album tonight at PoetHouse Art. I spoke with her about “House of Snow” (it’s great) and the list of guest artists who play on it (it’s eye-popping).
At 12 tracks and 42 minutes long, (“House of Snow” is) a compact slice of her life, merging Brauns’ Central Oregon experiences with her love of indie-folk-pop and the independent artistic sensibilities of her soon-to-be home, Portland.
The latter comes in the form of several Portland-based guest musicians, including cellists Skip vonKuske and Anna Fritz of Portland Cello Project, organist Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists, and multi-instrumentalist Sam Cooper of Horse Feathers.
Additionally, Nathan Clark lends his sturdy baritone to the proceedings, Franchot Tone plays guitar on a couple of songs, and a chorus of locals take the second track, “Doldrums,” to an ethereal place. A twisted Okkervil River cover and Bend artist Kaycee Anseth’s album art round out the impressive package.
She also revealed that she’s moving to Portland near the end of September.
“I need to be there to make it happen,” she said. “You’ve got to meet the people, shake their hands, see ‘em face to face. They’ve got to hear you play. I think we all delude ourselves (into thinking) the Internet’s this hugely powerful thing that can make all this stuff happen for us, but there’s nothing like actually talking to somebody.”
For Feedback this week, I bounced around the Sisters Folk Festival on Sunday afternoon. Chicago folk singer Joe Pug was the highlight of my day.
On stage, Pug is a soft-spoken but compelling performer who spills his guts into each verse and stares down his microphone as if it just insulted his mother. His eyes remain closed much of the time, but when he opens them, it’s like peering through a window at the downcast desperation that pervades his songs.
That feeling was particularly evident on “Disguised As Someone Else,” a request for forgiveness with a luscious arrangement for two acoustic guitars. And in set-closer “Hymn 101,” when Pug practically spit out the line “I’ve come to say exactly what I mean / and I mean so many things,” you got the sense that his poetry comes from somewhere deeper than most songwriters.
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Larry and His Flask play a homecoming show, Bobby Bare Jr. headlines McMenamins’ Halfway to St. Patty Day party, Murder By Death comes to The Horned Hand and Jazz at Joe’s hosts Seattle’s Jay Thomas Quartet. Plus, tonight at the Century Center, you can see Mosley Wotta, Marv Ellis, Tony Smiley and Cadence, and your admission fee ($5 if you wear a mask, $10 if you don’t) benefits the Red Cross. What a good deal and a good deed!
Plus, an interview with roots-rock legend and one of the coolest cats around, Dave Alvin! Here’s an excerpt:
“I like to play as much as possible,” he said. “To me, playing music live is what I love.”
He continued: “My heroes were all about playing live. The old blues singers: Big Joe Turner, Lightning Hopkins, people like that, (they) played till they died. And people conjecture about why Bob Dylan is always touring and it’s like, well, what else are you supposed to do? When you’re playing live and you get that (interaction) with the audience, that is my religion. That’s my church.”
Which would make Alvin’s songbook the hymnal. Long a master fusionist of rock, country, rockabilly, Tex-Mex and blues music, Alvin’s new album “Eleven Eleven” crackles with an energy untapped on his previous, more acoustically inclined records.