Jazz-grass fusionists Bela Fleck & The Flecktones return to town Wednesday for a genre-defying Christmas show to raise funds for KPOV. In case you missed it, it’s totally December, which means you’ll soon have your fill of Bing Crosby and Burl Ives. So seek out some non-traditional holiday sounds! I have some suggestions for you — plus more on Fleck’s skewed take on Christmas music — right here.
Here’s a little secret about me: I’m an old alt-country nerd from way back. I own every record Gram Parsons played on. I still kick myself for skipping an Uncle Tupelo show in my home town. I spent much of the late ’90s obsessed with bands like the Bottle Rockets, Old 97s, Whiskeytown, The V-roys, and on and on. Singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks called us “Roots Rock Weirdoes.” (“Starved for a Tele or a B3 — any out-of-fashion sound” and “dressed up like it’s 1951.”) As usual, Robbie was spot-on, and brilliantly so.
Alt-country isn’t dead, but it’s been on life support for years. Still, some bands are out there flying the flannel flag, and tonight, three of them will bring their shredded throats and blue-collar Southern rock to the Domino Room. The headliner, Lucero, is one of the genre’s runaway success stories in recent years (their 2009 album “1372 Overton Park” is excellent), while both opening acts — Drag the River and I Can Lick Any SOB in the House — live comfortably at the intersection of punk, rock and twang.
All three are worth hearing, so be sure to get there on time; doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $16 at the door. The Domino Room is at 51 N.W. Greenwood Ave., in Bend.
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.