Your weekly virtual roundup of what appears in today’s print newspaper, delivered directly to your eyeballs via weblog:
— The Americana/gypsy-jazz band Taarka comes through Bend two or three times each year as part of their busy, busy tour schedule. I chatted with David Pelta-Tiller about the band’s new album “Adventures in Vagabondia” and the evolution of Taarka’s sound. Read the results of that chat here.
— The Autonomics got their start in Bend but moved to Portland a couple years ago. On Thursday, they’ll return to celebrate the release of their first full-length album, the excellent “Trust Your Instincts,” with a show at Silver Moon Brewing & Taproom. Click here to read it!
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Papadosio and the Acorn Project hit the Domino Room, the Mountain Country Superstar competition holds its finals, AfroMassive brings the funk to Liquid Lounge, Fallstar and Capture the Flag get loud at The Sound Garden, the Hideaway Tavern hosts Hot Club Sandwich, Top Shelf plays the Astro Lounge, Vandella at The Horned Hand and more!
Today’s cover story in GO! Magazine is on local heroes Larry and His Flask, their recent tour of Europe, their history of busking and the stress that comes along with being in hard-touring band, even if you’re in one of the most fun bands on Earth.
They’ve come a long way from their old-school punk-rock days, that’s for sure. Just for fun, I dug up this old story I did on the Flask in 2006. Give it a read … it’s an eye-opener.
But back to the present. Larry and His Flask returns to Redmond tonight for a free, all-ages show that may be your only chance to catch them live this summer (if you live in Central Oregon). I met up with the guys last week where we chatted about, well, all the stuff I mentioned above. Here’s an excerpt:
This is a band, after all, that decided at some point to just go and travel and play for people and win their ears and hearts with the pure power of their live show.
I'm so happy with how today's cover turned out.
And it worked. Thanks to that initial DIY effort, plus subsequent support tours, the Warped gig and gushing press, Larry and His Flask is now one of the buzz bands on the white-hot roots-music-with-punk-spirit scene.
Banjo player Andrew Carew couldn’t have guessed what the future held. He joined the fold when he was 19, after his band broke up and the Flask was in flux. When asked if he saw this kind of potential in these guys, he answered simply: “No.”
Then, after a perfectly timed pause: “Hell no!”
He was wrong, of course. Late last week, the six band members … reflected on their favorite parts of the European tour, which carried them through 10 countries: the Leaning Tower of Pisa. A canal tour in Holland. A sunny drive across the snow-capped Alps.
Busking in Edinburgh, Scotland and Florence, Italy and London.
“Those were awesome,” Jesse Marshall said.
So were the shows, where crowds were bigger than expected and lots of folks actually sang along to the band’s songs.
This is a story of a band that did things the right way and now it’s paying off. I hope you’ll go read the whole thing.
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings, September Stayed, American Me, Keak Da Sneak, City Faire, The Dirty Words, Ray Lawrence Jr., Johnny Outlaw & The Johnson Creek Stranglers, Bryan John Appleby, Lemolo, Abbey Road Live!, Taarka, Chiringa, Beth Wood, Chris Kokesh and more!
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.
Portland’s massive musical mob, the MarchFourth Marching Band, will inject the Domino Room with a healthy dose of fun Sunday night. David Jasper spoke to bandleader John Averill about how the group formed, and how he keeps it together:
Averill said that MarchFourth started in 2003 when he and a couple of friends decided to put together a New Orleans-style marching band, based on the brass ensembles that traditionally gathered to play dirges for funeral processions, then broke into uptempo tunes.
For Averill, the occasion was a Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras party in Portland. … The date was March 4, in case you’re wondering how MarchFourth chose a name. Back then, the group featured four horns, 10 drummers and eight dancers. Stilt walkers were also on hand. The group played seven covers by the likes of Fela Kuti, Fleetwood Mac and Rebirth Brass Band, among others.
“So it was pretty big right off the bat,” said Averill, adding that, “I was really looking at putting the band together for one night. I was kind of surprised that it kept going.”
Branden Miskimon practices holding a guitar while Rhythm Culture plays Munch & Music in 2009.
Summer is here! (Almost.) And so are the free, outdoor concert series around Central Oregon. Portland bands The Lights Out and Rosa’s Buds will kick off Les Schwab Amphitheater’s free Summer Sunday Concerts series on Sunday, and we’ve got the rest of that lineup and a roundup of other series right here.
Brandon Summers of The Helio Sequence. Photo by Ben Salmon / The Bulletin.
Portland electro-pop wizards The Helio Sequence came to Bend June 3 to play the PDXchange Program concert series. You can watch several videos of the show here, and here’s an excerpt of my review:
The band’s records are wonderful, warm baths of electro-indie-pop, equal parts organic and synthetic. Brandon Summers’ voice is honeyed, and his melodies float like cotton-candy clouds. And Benjamin Weikel is a machine on the drums, not literally, of course — don’t you hate it when people misuse literally? — but his rhythm seems metronomic, and he looks animatronic as he works.
Helio’s set list stuck mostly to the band’s excellent 2008 album “Keep Your Eyes Ahead,” though they sprinkled in the best bits from 2004’s “Love and Distance.” The set was nicely paced, ramping up from a relaxed beginning to a second-half stretch that included some of the band’s very best songs.
Of particular note was “Everyone Knows Everyone,” a buoyant tune about living in a town with a tight-knit music scene, and the title track from “Keep Your Eyes Ahead,” with its needle-sharp, high-pitched guitar licks that would sound quite cozy on just about any Modest Mouse song.
Summers and Weikel closed their set with the roiling melancholy of “Lately” (as a perfectly psychedelic light show shone behind them) and “Hallelujah” before calling ESO drummer Lindsey Elias onto the stage for “Harmonica Song.”
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Crunchy Texas country-rock band The Preservation plays Silver Moon, Taarka principals David Tiller and Enion Pelta-Tiller do a special duo show at The Wine Shop, Texas songwriting master Eric Taylor comes to town for a house concert, and The Annex hosts a benefit for a Redmond woman in need of a lung transplant, plus David Jacobs-Strain, Broken Down Guitars, Audiolized and Dust Bunny Monster, and an update on Last Band Standing. If that won’t do, you can always find more options in The Bulletin’s complete music listings.
Local boys done good Larry and His Flask will play a home show at Silver Moon Brewing next week. I talked to beast-of-a-bassist Jesse Marshall about the band’s recent stint opening for Celtic-punk kingpins Dropkick Murphys between New Jersey and Texas, and what it’s meant for the band. Here’s an excerpt:
For the past two years, this hillbilly whirlwind has spent much of its time on the road. The band has toured across the United States and Canada, playing not only bar gigs but also on any street corner that would have them. And they’ve done it because they love playing music and never want to do anything else.
Which brings us to … last November, when the Flask opened for Dropkick Murphys at Bend’s Midtown Ballroom, and members of the headliner caught enough of the opening set to decide to reach out to the guys.
“Their whole crew and the guys really enjoyed (us), and we started talking to their management,” Marshall said. “Ken Casey, the singer and bass player, wanted to talk to us and mentioned their St. Patty’s tour and that they’d want to have us come along.”
Read how the Flask cinched the gig, and what it was like to open the Murphys’ sold-out St. Patrick’s Day show in Boston, by clicking here.
In Feedback, I detail some of the recently announced shows and new developments on the local music scene that point to a healthy, happy late spring and summer for local music fans. Discussed: the new PDXchange Program, the return of promoter Daniel Hill via Dream Land Productions, two concerts happening at Mandala Yoga Community, the expansion of Cassie Moore’s empire and the official launch of LOUDgirl Productions, the steady strength of Random Presents, and upcoming shows at Bendistillery Martini Bar, Three Creeks Brewing Co., Mountain’s Edge, Les Schwab Amphitheater and other venues in town. I hope you’ll read the whole thing right here.
Also in this week’s music section: Taarka plays twice this weekend, Mark Ransom’s 40th birthday bash, the return of the Supersuckers, a bluegrass jamboree to help the hungry, Parrilla Grill’s spring concert series and the live debut of The RTL Project. And if that’s not enough for you, you can always find more in our complete music listings.
Today, the regular Friday post about what’s in GO! Magazine’s music section doubles as a motherlode of free, downloadable music, thanks to some generous bands. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
–Elliot is a group of five local guys who play sweeping, positive rock music, and they’ve provided Frequency readers with a song for download that you can’t get anywhere else (except, of course, by buying their album “Rocketships”):
-My plan was to interview fast-rising African guitarist Vieux Farka Toure for a story this week, but conflicting schedules got in the way. Instead, you’ll have to settle for a track from “Fondo,” his acclaimed new album:
Download Vieux Farka Toure, “Fafa”
-Colorado bluegrass combo Head for the Hills will be busy Sunday, playing an outdoor show in the afternoon and an indoor show in the evening. Check out a couple of their songs right here:
Download Head for the Hills, “Hornet’s Nest” Download Head for the Hills, “Harvest Moon”
–The Summit Saloon & Stage is gettin’ funky tonight with The Pimps of Joytime, and gettin’ rootsy on Thursday with Taarka. I have a Joytime song for you, but I’m running into some technical issues, so you’ll just have to visit the band’s MySpace and listen to “Bonita” there.
Not happening this week: The Itals at the Domino Room. There is a blurb in GO! about this show, but the show was canceled after the section went to press.
All the MP3 downloads above are free to anyone. However, the articles linked can only be viewed by subscribers to The Bulletin’s Web site. If you can’t see them and you want to, you’ll either need to subscribe or pick up a copy of today’s paper.