— Seattle-based hard-funk ‘n’ soul band The Staxx Brothers returns to town Saturday night for a show at Silver Moon Brewing & Taproom. My colleague David Jasper spoke with frontman Davin Michael Stedman about the band’s in-progress music video, which revolves around a guitar made in Bend.
Elsewhere in the music section: Keb’ Mo’ will play to a sold-out Sisters High School auditorium as part of the Starry Nights series, Couches brings classic indie rock to The Horned Hand, The Quiet American will do a ukulele concert and workshop at Kelly D’s. Plus, the lineup for the 2013 Deschutes County Fair!
Seattle’s Death Cab for Cutie kicks off the summer concert season at Les Schwab Amphitheater tonight. I spoke with drummer Jason McGerr about the band’s new album, “Codes and Keys,” which comes out Tuesday:
Several factors influenced the sound of “Codes,” McGerr said. The band took longer to make it, and, for the first time, brought in an outsider (Alan Moulder) to mix it rather than having Walla do it.
And, the members of Death Cab went through significant personal change after “Narrow Stairs.” Gibbard and Harmer got married. McGerr is now a father.
“Our approach as players and Ben as a (songwriter), it has to be different,” McGerr said. “We’re just at a different time in our lives. There wasn’t much that was the same other than the individuals making the music.”
On Sunday, Portland’s The Decemberists close out Memorial Day weekend at Les Schwab Amphitheater. Bassist Nate Query was nice enough to give me a call to chat about the success and sound of their new record, “The King is Dead.”
After nearly a decade making catchy, highly literate, history-obsessed music , “The King is Dead” is a return to the band’s rustic, American roots, a shift even more striking in the context of The Decemberists’ previous album “The Hazards of Love,” an epic, 17-track rock opera that mines British folk and prog-rock influences.
Query said “Hazards” is the concept of a narrative song-cycle album “taken … to its extreme,” and when it was time to think about a follow-up, that side of the band was tapped out.
“It felt like we didn’t have any of that left in us and it was time to make a record like ‘The King is Dead,’” he said. “(The folksy) stuff was in us the whole time, it’s just that we didn’t put any of it on the last record, so it was all just sitting there waiting to be (released).”
Click here to read the whole thing. And we’ve got a cool graph of The Decemberists’ sales and milestones, too!
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: A great band called Or, the Whale plays at McMenamins next week, plus an all-day concert and party at Maragas Winery, the Ron Steen Band brings jazz to The Oxford Hotel, The Dead Ringers do their tie-dyed tribute thing at the Tower Theatre and Silver Moon hosts The Staxx Brothers and Empty Space Orchestra on Saturday, and Yamn on Thursday. Plus, there’s a Last Band Standing update.
Downtown Bend will celebrate Cinco de Mayo in style Thursday as L.A. fusionistas Ozomatli headline a free outdoor celebration on Wall Street. My conversation with band co-founder Ulises Bella focused more on Ozo’s world travels than its music.
But it’s the band’s role as U.S. Department of State-designated Cultural Ambassadors that sparks a fire in Bella. When he talks about Ozomatli’s music, he sounds excited. When he talks about its overseas work, he sounds inspired.
Since 2007, the band has traveled to Nepal, India, Myanmar, Madagascar, Jordan, Tunisia, South Africa, Egypt, Mongolia and China on official government business, playing free public concerts, conducting workshops and doing community outreach in, as Bella puts it, “places no bands go to.”
To wit: Last summer, Ozomatli performed for thousands of people in a public square in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. They were the first Western band to play there. Ever.
“We feel like some pioneers. Like, yo, we’re gonna go into this country and … maybe a handful of people might know who we are,” Bella said. “In a weird way, it’s a great litmus test for letting the music stand on its own.
“In a lot of ways, there’s something in our music, especially rhythmically, that you can latch onto and be like, ‘Hey, I kind of know this. This kind of seems familiar to me,’” he continued. “We start playing and immediately the reaction is for the most part overwhelmingly positive.”
Elsewhere in this week’s jam-packed music section, we’ve got short stories on Cash’d Out and The Staxx Brothers, plus The Northstar Session, Mad Rad, The Anvil Blasters, Sara Jackson-Holman, Super Adventure Club, Brandi Carlile, Floater, Tony Smiley and Marv Ellis, the Acorn Project and more.
The freedom to shake your butt in the sunshine, that is. The Staxx Brothers are back in town today to play a free Summer Sunday concert at Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend. The show will start around 2:30 p.m., and gates open at 1 p.m.
This has the makings of a pretty awesome way to plug some live music into your holiday. The Staxx Brothers have been through town several times over the past year or two, but — unless I’m forgetting something — this is probably their biggest gig yet. Here’s what I wrote about them when they played the Bite of Bend a couple weeks ago:
What’s up with all the bands these days that ignore the “roll” in rock ’n’ roll? Indeed, rhythm and soul is a lost art in 2010, but not for The Staxx Brothers, a family of funk-making freaks who crank up the volume to make the party sweat. This band doesn’t beat around the throwback bush; theirs is a powerful fusion of true funk — think The Meters and Funkadelic — and the heavily amplified hard-rock history of their home town.
I was amazed at the size of the crowd at the Schwab last week for Empty Space Orchestra. Folks were spread out across the lawn, all the way to the back of the venue. With lots of people off work tomorrow and lots of parties tonight, this Staxx show seems like an ideal place to pre-funk.
The Acorn Project, from Bellingham, Wash., is coming down to play three consecutive nights at Bend’s McMenamins Old St. Francis School. That seemed like a good-enough reason to chat with saxophonist Sam Lax about the band.
If Acorn Project is a jam band, they’re one with a sense of momentum. Where most jam bands might engage in endless, aimless guitar noodling, this one keeps moving forward, rocking out, ever mindful of keeping a beat.
In other words, Acorn Project’s music is jammy, sure, but also muscular and punchy, a result of its members’ varied interests.
“Everybody has a pretty different taste in what they like, and I think that … kind of led to our eclectic mix,” Lax said. “Our bass player and lead singer/guitarist are both big fans of blues-rock and more of an indie sound. Myself and the keyboard player are really into the jam scene and the live electronica scene. And then we have our drummer who’s big into hip-hop.”
And while the individual Acorns will improvise and take solos, the band tries to focus on strong songwriting rather than just setting sail and seeing where the wind blows.
“If we’re going to write a funk song, we want it to sound like funk,” Lax said. “We’ll open it up and let things flow, but we try to have, like, an end in sight, you know?”
Bend-based booking agency In The Pocket Artists is having a family gathering of sorts this weekend, as four bands from its roster play in town over three days. Click here to read up on the company, as well as Rubblebucket, The Staxx Brothers, Jukebot! and Empty Space Orchestra.
Still not satisfied? How about punk vets GBH at the Domino Room, jazzman Dan Balmer kicking off Black Butte Ranch’s summer concert series, and David Miller, Erin Cole-Baker and the Rough String Band, plus an update on Last Band Standing. As always, there’s much, much more in The Bulletin’s complete music listings.
And don’t forget: some of the best tunes in town this weekend will be at the Bite of Bend. We’re talking March Fourth Marching Band, Rubblebucket, Ascetic Junkies, The Staxx Brothers and more. Here’s our story on that!
Ready to start your weekend a bit early? Me too. Here are a couple ideas for you. The first would be perfect if you’re looking for something mellow, and the second if you want to sweat.
First of all, Po’ Girl is playing at Angeline’s Bakery in Sisters tonight at 7 p.m. Here’s what I had to say about them in last week’s GO! Magazine:
Mesmerizing. That’s the word for the sound of Po’ Girl. The Canadian quartet makes hauntingly gauzy indie-folk that’s anchored by the show-stopping voices (and harmonies) of Allison Russell and Awna Teixeira. Imagine the house jazz band for some dusky bar that exists only in your groggy, post-nap mind, and you have the idea. Po’ Girl will play at 7 p.m. Thursday at Angeline’s Bakery (121 W. Main St., Sisters). Cover is $10.
They have a few songs you can listen to over at their Web site.
Meanwhile, at Silver Moon (24 N.W. Greenwood Ave., Bend), The Staxx Brothers are gonna funk it up right around 9 p.m. Cover is $5. Here’s part of last week’s blurb on them:
This Seattle band plays face-melting, heavy soul music that grunts and sweats and boogies like few bands can. It’s old-school stuff that sounds about like the Rolling Stones might’ve sounded if they’d grown up surrounded by the hard rock and hip-hop of the late 20th century. And yes, it’s gonna make you shake your thing. The Staxx Brothers are coming to Bend to celebrate the release of their new album “We are The Blaxstonz,” and they promise two (or more) full sets of “hard ass soul,” along with a little reggae and even country.
Of course, you can hear what these dudes do at their Web site, too.
It was an insanely busy week at my desk, so I didn’t get to do as much blogging as I would’ve liked. And I’m wiped out. But here are (some of) the fruits of my labor:
-Moonalice guitarist Roger McNamee talked to me a lot more about the music industry than music, and it would seem he knows what he’s talking about. Anyone with an interest in the business of music in 2009 — I’m talking to you, local musicians — should read this article. Moonalice performs tonight at Silver Moon brewery.
Oh, and you can follow Moonalice’s Twitter here. And hey, while you’re there, follow Frequency, too!
-David Bowers has had a great run as a singer-songwriter living in Bend over the past decade, but it’s time for him to move on, south to California. I asked Bowers to reflect on his time here, the local music scene, and his future as a performer. Read what he had to say here.
-Clear Summer Nights has two solid singer-songwriters performing on Sunday. The headliner is Jackie Greene, but you want to make sure you get there in time to catch local dude Eric Tollefson, who’s also opening for G. Love early next month. Kinda makes you wonder if Tollefson is heading for big things, doesn’t it?
–The Staxx Brothers play heavy, booty-shakin’ soul music. There is no other way to say it.
Some of those links are available to everyone, and some only to subscribers. To get it all, pick up a copy of The Bulletin and look for GO! Magazine, where we also have coverage of local plays, visual arts, restaurants, movies, DVDs, video games, and just about anything else you can do to entertain yourself.