“Hair metal” survivors L.A. Guns are in Bend tonight for a show at the Domino Room. I spoke with drummer Steve Riley about the key to the band’s longevity.
“Bands die when they get on a big tour … and then they have to come back and go out and do clubs. There are a lot of bands that won’t do that,” Riley said. “We never really cared. We just wanted to play and we have no problem bouncing from a Whitesnake show to a club show on our own and then back to a Scorpions show and then back to a club on our own.
“You’ve got to dig in and you’ve got to want to play. You can’t believe your own bulls—,” he said. “Phil and myself, we always just wanted to be working musicians where we go out and play a full set of our own original material, and that’s what we do. If it’s in a club, who cares? And if it’s with Whitesnake or Cinderella in a big arena, that’s great too. As long as we’re playing, we’re cool.”
Riley was a super nice, totally humble guy, and I enjoyed chatting with him. I hope you’ll read the whole story, which you can find by clicking here.
Tim Bluhm of The Mother Hips performing in Bend. Photo by Ben.
On St. Patrick’s Day, I went and caught a couple of excellent pop-rock bands — The Mother HIps and The Parson Red Heads — at McMenamins in Bend. Here’s part of my review, from today’s Feedback column:
(The Hips) came to town to play a ton of songs, kicking things off with the jagged “Third Floor Story” and “Esmerelda,” an affable tune that would fit in nicely on classic-rock radio playlists.
The thing is, the same can be said of most of the songs in the Hips’ set. “Do It On the Strings.” “Toughie.” “Later Days.” “Smoke.” All are well-written, with sweet choruses and swaggering guitar riffs. But when you string ’em together one after another, it really highlights where the Hips’ range begins and ends. And it’s not exactly a wide swath, not that it matters much to the couple hundred devout fans who showed up for the show, pumped their fists and mouthed every word.
There were peaks, of course. I loved the ragged chug of “Time-Sick Son of a Grizzly Bear,” the astral reverb and ascendant chorus of “Magazine,” and the wonderful “White Falcon Fuzz,” an easygoing rocker than sounds imported straight from your dad’s record player, circa 1975.
Do me a favor and click here to read the rest of it.
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Arturo Sandoval brings jazz to the Tower Theatre, and Tom Grant does the same at The Oxford hotel, folk singer Danny Schmidt plays two shows, local MC Mindscape and Floater frontman Robert Wynia make for a busy weekend at Silver Moon, The Ascetic Junkies return to town, The Dirty Words celebrate their new album, and Tuck and Roll headlines a punk show at MadHappy.
More clearing of the vaults: Here are two videos I shot last Thursday night of The Mother Hips performing at McMenamins Old St. Francis School. (I also got a couple videos of opening act The Parson Red Heads — including their cover of the Traveling Wilburys hit “Handle With Care” — but the audio is a little rough. If you’d like to see them, visit Frequency’s YouTube channel.)
Look for my full review of this show in tomorrow’s GO! Magazine in The Bulletin!
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.
If you haven’t heard his name, at least take a few minutes to listen to William Fitzsimmons’ music. The guy writes beautifully downcast songs in the same vein as Sufjan Stevens and Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam. I talked to Fitzsimmons earlier this week about his current state of mind after going through some dark times. Here’s an excerpt:
Last year, Fitzsimmons told National Public Radio he was looking forward to writing new material and moving on from that dark place in his life. Earlier this week … he said he’s currently working on songs for a new album, which he hopes to release next year.
As you might expect, the process has been refreshing.
“It’s a little different. It’s nice, because I’m in a different place in my life than I was a few years ago, fortunately,” Fitzsimmons said. “Things aren’t quite as dark or as morbid, so writing the songs … I don’t want to say it was fun, but it sure as hell was a lot more fun than it was before.”
Fitzsimmons has been unveiling those new songs at shows over the past month. He describes them not as happy, but hopeful.
“I decided I kind of wanted to write about things that were more in the line of healing and restoration, sort of the polar opposite of what I was writing about before,” he said. “So instead of things being destroyed, it was (about) things being mended and fixed and put back together. It feels good but it also feels right. It feels like it’s where my head has been.”
Plus: David Bromberg, Jena Rickards’ CD-release show, Emma Hill and Her Gentlemen Callers, David Jacobs-Strain, Five Pint Mary and the Bend Fire Pipe and Drum Band, and an early heads-up on High Street playing a show to benefit Sisters schools. Want more options? Check out The Bulletin’s complete music listing.
Oregon-then-L.A.-and-now-Oregon-again’s The Parson Red Heads are playing at McMenamins Old St. Francis School on Aug. 6.
This is awesome news. The Red Heads are among the latest in the West Coast’s long lineage of bands that blend leisurely pop, rock and twang and filter it through a sun-baked, psychedelic prism. From The Byrds to the Beach Boys to Beachwood Sparks, this sound has for decades been represented very well by rad bands. The Parson Red Heads are no exception. Make sure you listen to the song in that video above for irrefutable proof. Just make sure you stick with it; the music doesn’t really start until 30 seconds in.
The band — which got its start in Eugene, moved to SoCal for a few years, and just announced it’s moving to Portland — will play an unusual slot at Bend’s McMenamins: Friday night at 7 p.m. (Most of the venue’s music happens on Wednesdays and Thursdays.) Best of all, it’s free.
The Parson Red Heads will bring with them a special tour-only EP called “Early Birds,” which includes new versions of some of their old songs, and they’re working on a new full-length album. Willamette Week has lots of tasty details on that here.