Elsewhere: Shadows on Stars headlines Liquid Lounge tonight (stream their album here), Polecat plays twice in town next week and singer-songwriter Paul Eddy is back in town and gigging all over the place after a few years living in Texas. And more, of course.
–Last but not least, local dance-rock band All You All put out its first EP, called “Fluorescence,” right around the turn of the year. I’m still letting this one sink in, but I definitely hear a little Modest Mouse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, White Denim and White Stripes in the band’s urgent, bouncy sound. Check the EP out below!
I’m guessing the guys in Calling Morocco are about my age, because I hear tons of sounds I recognize floating through their songs, including the heart and heft of Braid, the bar-room brawn of Lucero, and the power-pop charm of the Gin Blossoms.
Most of all, I think Calling Morocco sounds like alt-country cult faves Slobberbone and Drag the River on their happiest and most upbeat days.
Calling Morocco, “Pale Blue Eyes”
Meanwhile, over at The Horned Hand, local alt-folk cellist Third Seven (aka Billy Mickelson) will play his final show in town before setting off on a three-month tour across the U.S. and Europe. Billy is one of my favorite local musicians because his experimental streak seemingly knows no bounds. More details on the show are here, and it sounds like the fine Bay Area indie rock bands Slow Trucks and Oceanography are going to play, too, so you should probably get there around 7 p.m. to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Then at 9 p.m., Western-states wanderer and Bend fave Jerry Joseph will take the stage at Players Bar & Grill, which is ramping up both its atmosphere (from dive to repainted dive) and concert calendar under new ownership. (The Astro Lounge owner Josh Maquet is part of the group that bought Players. More on that later.) Here’s my story on Joseph from last week’s paper.
Jerry Joseph, “Most Beautiful Day”
Last but not least, if you’re like me — deathly afraid of venturing away my rocking chair, much less my home — you should tune your television to OPB tonight, where Oregon Art Beat will feature Bend’s own rapper/painter/teacher/poet/all-around good dude Jason Graham and his hip-hop ‘n’ rock fusion band Mosley Wotta. OPB has a story about the band and video of a recent performance right here.
(Just kidding near the end, there, by the way. I’m going to try to hit at least one, maybe two of these shows, right after I watch my beloved Kentucky Wildcats play hoops on TV.)
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!
And while you’re waiting for that to download, check out the video Tablet put out a while back for “What If I.” The clip — directed by Pete Alport — features gorgeous shots of Oregon’s natural beauty (Steens Mountain, Painted Hills, Mount Bachelor, Tumalo Falls), plus a verse by Mosley Wotta.
Just popping up on the Facebooks: A new mashup from former Bendite / current Portlander DJ Barisone, which sets local MC Mosley Wotta’s “Herd in the Head” vocals to the sounds of Nirvana covering “Lake of Fire” by the Meat Puppets.
Got all that? Good. Now listen to how nicely it all comes together:
As the music writer at the local daily newspaper, it pains me to say this, but 2010 was a lost year for me and the Bend Roots Revival. Which is a major bummer, since I’m supposed to cover the local music scene, and there is no better celebration of the local music scene than the Revival, now in its fifth year on Bend’s west side.
Alas, these are busy times in my life outside work, and after wall-to-wall coverage of the 2009 festival, I just couldn’t spend as much time at this year’s event as I would’ve liked. I hope to make up for that next year.
But, I did swing by for a couple hours on Saturday morning, and a couple more hours on Saturday evening. Here are a few observations:
1) As far as I could tell, Century Center is an ideal venue for the Bend Roots Revival. There’s plenty of parking, and the single entrance/exit is a far better situation than the chaotic come-and-go free-for-all at the fest’s old home around Parrilla Grill and The Victorian Cafe. That alone must’ve been a major relief for organizers. Also, the Center’s courtyard is expansive and comfortable, but can be segmented in such a way to provide several distinct performance spaces. The two biggest stages have particularly nice set-ups. You wind down a wheelchair ramp to get to the outdoor B.I.G.S. Stage, where tall red walls tower on three sides, creating a very self-contained environment. And the indoor Century Center Stage is in a large, simple, concrete room set apart from the rest of the grounds by a door … y’know, because it’s indoors. The two biggest stages host the festival’s biggest, loudest acts, so it’s nice they’re about as isolated as they can be within the relatively tight confines of the Century Center’s courtyard.
2) That said, Revival organizers will have to find a way to reduce the “sound bleed” from the B.I.G.S. Stage next year. It is around the corner and behind some food booths from the Dave’s Garage and Casey’s Corner stages, but when a quieter artist is playing on one of those stages and a louder artist is soundchecking or performing on the B.I.G.S. Stage, the latter can easily overwhelm the former. I’m not sure what the solution is — perhaps just careful scheduling? — but it’s something to be aware of.
3) On Saturday morning, I wandered around the festival with my daughter, intent on seeing local artists I’d never seen before. In the spirit of Twitter, here are 140-character “reviews” of each:
Dan Shanahan: One of Central Oregon’s best-kept secrets, his slow-burning alt-country songs are terrific. Polish that band a bit and big things are ahead.
Imzadi Tribal Music: A gentle, colorful collective that uses didge, drums and more to concoct an aural offering to the spirit of your choice. Plus belly dancers!
Michelle Van Handel: Jazz singer’s originals waft thru the room like an aromatic cocktail, complete w/ tiny umbrella. The soundtrack to a perfect island night.
Robin Jackson: Smooth & soulful, set to smartly picked acoustic guitar. Dig the French vocals, too. She’ll whisk you to a cool club somewhere cosmopolitan.
4) I returned to the festival on Saturday evening not necessarily to watch Mosley Wotta and Empty Space Orchestra perform, as I’ve seen them both a lot, but to take in the scene. I’ve heard that there were lots more people at this year’s Revival than in past years, and I’m sure that’s true. Given the very different venues and layouts of the Century Center vs. Parrilla/The Vic, though, it was hard to make that comparison, at least for my feeble mind. I will say this: There was a mob of folks out to see MoWo headline the B.I.G.S. Stage, a thick crowd of at least a few hundred that stretched from the stage all the way to the back. I shot some video, but it’s very dark so … I don’t know, maybe if you squint you can get a feel for the throng:
No matter what you can or can’t see in that video, the point is this: There was a really good vibe at Bend Roots Saturday night. It was a different vibe from last year’s Saturday night; last year’s Saturday night felt embryonic, unexplored, on the edge. Last year, during the Ruins of Ooah -> Mosley Wotta -> Empty Space run at the end of the evening, the excitement was palpable. The air crackled with buzz. It felt like we were standing on the head of a match just as it burst into flame.
This year, the buzz was still there, but it was a little more seasoned and a little less spine-tingling. Don’t misunderstand: The value and importance of hundreds of people gathered to celebrate local art and hear local music was huge. It was like a physical embodiment of all the next-level success that Central Oregon’s musicians have enjoyed in 2010. But at last year’s Roots fest, it felt like folks were stepping out of their comfort zone, tentatively dipping their toes into the local-music water. This year, it was clear they’d spent the past year learning to swim, and they dove right in.
Bend Roots Revival ’09 was the event’s last year as an under-discovered gem, finding itself, learning to walk. In 2010, with a new home, better organization and artists onstage who’d achieved a higher profile, Bend Roots hit the ground running, ready to race into a bright future.
The Cowboy Junkies visit Bend’s Tower Theatre, and my colleague David Jasper spoke with bassist Alan Anton:
The band is promoting the new album “Renmin Park,” the first in a series of four albums they’re calling “The Nomad Series.”
“This is what we’re doing that’s special,” Anton said, referring to the band’s 25 years together and the four-album cycle, to be released over an 18-month period.
In a statement on their website, www.latentrecordings.com, Cowboy Junkies explain that “for the first time in 20 years we are completely free of any recording contracts and obligations, we find ourselves writing and recording more than we have in years, our studio (The Clubhouse) feels more and more like home, the band now has 25 years under the hood and is sounding so darn good.”
Mosley Wotta performs at Portland's MusicfestNW on Sept. 10.
Every year, I travel over to Portland for the big MusicfestNW extravaganza. This year, for the first time (that I know of), the festival’s lineup included two Bend acts: Mosley Wotta and Sara Jackson-Holman. In this week’s Feedback, I write about their performances and how the crowds seemed to like ’em.
Performing live is still a relatively new endeavor for the 21-year-old Jackson-Holman, and on stage, her nerves sometimes show.
But by the time she arrived at the cascading melody of “Into the Blue” and the bouncy “Cellophane” — backed by an effortlessly skilled three-piece band — she found a good groove that carried through the rest of her night, including a formidable cover of Death Cab for Cutie’s “Transatlanticism.”
Live, the songs were noticeably more sparse than their lush, slickly produced counterparts on “When You Dream,” with the exception of the album’s woozy, slow-burning title track, during which Jackson-Holman used unexpected percussion and a gadget that looped her voice to create the set’s true “wow” moment.
Again, if you’ve seen Mosley Wotta, you probably know most of the songs he/they did: “Birthday Suit” and “Smoke” and “Smile Hater Smile,” all the faves. There were some familiar faces in the crowd of 60ish — Graham’s former DJ Mike “Mud” Graham and former Person People bassist Jordan Muller among them — but there were also lots of people I didn’t recognize, and by the time MoWo finished his opener, “Licking Reason,” most of them were smiling and bobbing their head to the beat.
From there, Graham kept reeling them in. “Boom For Real” is an undeniably great song, no matter your age; halfway through it, I turned and saw two white women in their 60s or 70s, dressed for a night at the opera, shaking their fists and chanting “boom … boom, boom!” to the chorus. Behind them, a 20-something black dude was doing the same thing. (The older women actually howled during “Smoke,” too. It was hilarious.)
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: The Devil Makes Three, Greg Brown, The Redwood Plan, Tomorrows Bad Seeds, Mindscape, and live music returns to Sisters’ Three Creeks Brewing Co. And you can always find more options in The Bulletin’s complete music listings.
On his Twitter Wednesday night, local hip-hopper Mosley Wotta (aka Jason Graham) announced that he has been added to the multi-day, multi-venue, multi-genre extravaganza’s schedule.
When I visited Graham’s house a few weeks back (for this blog post), he told me he had just put together an artsy application to play MusicfestNW. Obviously it paid off. In an e-mail this morning, Graham said he’s slated to play at 8 p.m. on Sept. 11 at Jimmy Mak’s, where the bill also includes THEESatisfaction, Champagne Champagne and Shabazz Palaces. (That is an outstanding bill. My love for Shabazz Palaces is well-documented.)
The whole MusicfestNW schedule is right here, and if you go there, you’ll see a couple other Bend-connected names are on the bill:
— Supernova singer/songwriter/pianist Sara Jackson-Holman will be at Ash St. Saloon at 8 p.m. on Sept. 10, opening a night of music featuring Casey Neill & the Norway Rats, Austin Lucas, The Slants and Hillstomp.
— Former Bendite, cornerstone of our local DJ/hip-hop scene, and current Portlander DJ Barisone (aka Bryan Barisone) is set to play Rotture at 9 p.m. on Sept. 10. After he’s done, the party will continue with Ryan Organ, Tyler Tastemaker and Lazer Sword.
Congrats to all three of these fine folks for snagging a spot at one of the coolest music festivals around. And for representing Bend’s music scene in the big city!