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!
1) The guys’ new album, “All That We Know,” is now available for preorder right here. There’s an array of colored-vinyl options for collector nerds, plus one package that comes with a hip flask engraved with the LAHF logo. Awesome!
2) The band filmed its first official video at the Rise Up Warehouse in May, and today, it showed up on Altpress. Behold:
I’m starting to wonder if the Flask might return home from the Warped Tour an even bigger deal than I thought they would. Scroll through their Facebook, Google their name … you’ll find a lot of folks out there falling in love with this band.
Here’s a super fun video. “Straight Trippin'” is, it appears, a web series that’ll follow a couple of buddies as they hitchhike from Portland to Los Angeles to New York. In the pilot, below, one of their first rides comes from Central Oregon’s own road warriors, Larry and His Flask. This was shot more than two years ago, when the Flask lived on tour even more than they do now.
The whole thing is worth your time, but if you want to see the Flask part, you’ll want to watch from 4:30 to 6:50, which includes a short interview with guitarist Dallin Bulkley, a classic Jesse Marshall laugh (at 5:45), and one of the band’s trademark sidewalk jams. Fun times!
As long as we’re here, how about a couple of Flask news bits? First, their new album is done and due out in June on the Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club record label, according to Marshall, just before the band heads out one of the biggest, most successful summer festivals, the Warped Tour. (Warped’s annual compilation will feature the Flask song “Blood Drunk,” among huge names like Paramore and Against Me!)
Before Warped, the band will play a local show June 11 at Century Center, which will double as an EP-release show for The Autonomics. And word on the street is that when they return from Warped, Larry and His Flask will headline a certain Bend-based rootsy festival that they’ve never played before, but should be a perfect fit for their revival-style thrash-grass. If that comes to pass, I predict it’ll be a wild scene.
The Flask fellas will spend most of their summer as part of the biggest, longest running and most popular pop/punk/emo traveling festival in America, which will kick off June 24 in Dallas, Texas and will wrap up Aug. 14 in Hillsboro. Other artists on the tour include Unwritten Law, Yelawolf, The Ready Set, Reliant K, Lucero, Hellogoodbye, and probably other bands that are huge, but I don’t recognize because I am old.
This is huge exposure for these hard-working local dudes. Congrats, guys.
The Oxford Hotel in downtown Bend will kick off its new jazz series this weekend with three performances by the Mel Brown Quartet. I spoke with the band’s namesake drummer about the MBQ, one of three bands he plays in at Jimmy Mak’s jazz club in Portland’s Pearl District.
The MBQ came together years ago to play tight, hard-swinging bop in a style somewhat similar to that of one of Brown’s heros, Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers. The group has been described as a quartet of bandleaders, though Pacini is the official music director, leading the MBQ through its vast repertoire of originals and standards “with a different twist,” Brown said.
“(The band) is kind of like my background — the way I was raised, the music I grew up on,” Brown said. “We play straight ahead, and it feels really good. Everybody plays and we listen to each other a lot.
“Plus everybody likes each other,” he continued. “In most bands you get something good going and all of a sudden there’s an internal fight, and that’s because you’re around each other too much. I see some of these guys once a week, so we don’t have time to get mad. Hell, we’re just happy to be playing.”
Brown is a legend in the Northwest jazz scene, and you should click here to read the whole interview. While you’re there, read up on the other jazz happenings this weekend, including a Just Joe’s show at Greenwood Playhouse, and Cascade School of Music’s effort to revive the old Sunday shows at Be Bop Coffee House.
Champagne Champagne's Pearl Dragon performs in the rafters of the Old Mill Music Lounge. Photo by Ben.
This week’s Feedback column focuses on two Seattle hip-hop groups — Champagne Champagne and Mad Rad — that performed last weekend at the Old Mill Music Lounge. There’s weren’t many people there, so chances are decent you weren’t there, so read on …
As is frequently the case in this genre, Champagne Champagne’s DJ (Mark Gajadhar) is a secret, shadowy weapon. As is less frequently the case, he may be their MVP. (MCs Sir Thomas) Gray and Pearl Dragon were solid, engaging performers all night; Gray manned a mic stand like a rock singer, and his partner stalked off the stage more than once to rap from within the crowd. They slayed their best song (so far), “Soda & Pop Rocks,” with its wicked, dubstep-y bass line and shoutouts to the streets of Seattle: “My city’s not pretty it’s gritty,” Pearl Dragon raps. “Top notch when the block’s hot, blow up like soda and pop rocks.”
Elsewhere, the MCs showcased their influences: indie/alt-rock (one tune referenced Sonic Youth’s “Bull in the Heather”) and ’80s-child pop culture (“She looks like Molly Ringwald. She’s beautiful to me.”), while Gajadhar rocked like an octopus working overtime, bouncing from electric guitar to keyboard to tambourine to drum machine to melodica and back. His work was sometimes ominous and murky (“Something Strange”), sometimes bright and poppy (“Hollywood Shampoo” sounds like hip-hop built on a Shins song), and sometimes a sweet and sour collision of video-game bloops and punk-rock squall.
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Larry and His Flask headline a show to benefit two of its members’ dad, Tribal Seeds and Anthony B (separately) bring reggae to the Domino Room, Rootdown rocks McMenamins, Empty Space Orchestra continues its January residency at Silver Moon, Seattle folkie Sarah Sample plays Sisters, MC Mystic spins Michael Jackson tunes at MadHappy Lounge and local bands Five Pint Mary and Boxcar Stringband play a benefit for BAKESTARR.
I’ve gone on and on about my favorite recordings of 2010, but live music is the backbone of any good scene. Here is a look back my 13 favorite shows of the past 12 months in chronological order, with excerpts from reviews already published in The Bulletin or on Frequency.
(Jake) Smith’s talents are many, but his voice is obviously his most distinctive quality. It’s a show-stopper. A jaw-dropper. It’s canyon deep and sequoia strong, with a natural resonance that 99 percent of singers would kill to have.
The closest comparison I can come up with is Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, though when he’s at his best, Smith makes Vedder sound like Bobby Brady going through puberty.
He’s just that great of a singer.
Smith showcased that voice on barnburners like “The Madman” and “Carnage,” with their ultra-low notes, as well as meandering, pretty numbers such as “Sleepy Little Town” and “Where Dirt and Water Collide.” And he let it soar during two of his best songs, “Love Song #1” and “Damned.” The ascendant pre-chorus of the former and the roller-coaster verses of the latter were perfect examples of Smith’s skill for writing melodies that are both unconventional and memorable.
–Elsewhere in the music section: Details on a CD-release show for former Bendite Jenna Lindbo, a help-us-pay-for-our-album show by Empty Space Orchestra, a free, all-ages show in Redmond by Larry and His Flask, and correct dates for TJ Grant’s mini-tour through Bend (which I messed up last week).
This post has a lot of details about the new 7-inch record from local boys Larry and His Flask, including several links to buy the songs digitally. Conspicuously absent, perhaps, is how to get one of the 1,000 copies of the actual, vinyl record.
If you live in Central Oregon, here’s one way to get it: Ranch Records on Wall Street has ’em now, at $8 for the limited, hand-numbered edition on white vinyl, and $6 for the not-as-limited, non-numbered edition on red vinyl. As of about 1 p.m., they had around a dozen copies. Check ’em out:
The result of this attention? Everywhere you go now — YouTube, MySpace, the band’s Facebook — you’ll see new fans clamoring for music they can purchase and listen to on their own time. You see, all the proper albums currently out under the name Larry and His Flask feature the band’s old, more straightforward punk sound. Getting your mitts on a recording of the new, twangier Flask has been nearly impossible.
Also in that article a couple of months ago, I told you the band recorded three songs in Boston last winter while on the Murphys tour, with an eye toward releasing a 7-inch record sometime in the near future. Well, the future is here: Larry and His Flask’s new 7-inch is officially out and on the merch table, as well as available digitally. The band pressed 1,000 copies — 100 on white vinyl and 900 on “blood red” vinyl — and hand-packaged them to include a full-color insert inside a silkscreened paper bag. The three tracks are “Shakedown,” “Wolves” and “Ready Your Roommates.” (You can hear “Shakedown” and purchase the three MP3s at the band’s MySpace or Facebook.)
The fellas are currently making their way west across the country, and they have a couple of dates with the Murphys in Nevada in August before they play a homecoming show Sept. 15 at the Rotary Arts Pavilion in Redmond as part of the Music in the Canyon series.
Below, check out a few nifty photos of the Flask’s record in production. (Click here for more.) Now this is cool!