I’ve gone on and on about my favorite recordings of 2010, but live music is the backbone of any good scene. Here is a look back my 13 favorite shows of the past 12 months in chronological order, with excerpts from reviews already published in The Bulletin or on Frequency.
(Jake) Smith’s talents are many, but his voice is obviously his most distinctive quality. It’s a show-stopper. A jaw-dropper. It’s canyon deep and sequoia strong, with a natural resonance that 99 percent of singers would kill to have.
The closest comparison I can come up with is Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, though when he’s at his best, Smith makes Vedder sound like Bobby Brady going through puberty.
He’s just that great of a singer.
Smith showcased that voice on barnburners like “The Madman” and “Carnage,” with their ultra-low notes, as well as meandering, pretty numbers such as “Sleepy Little Town” and “Where Dirt and Water Collide.” And he let it soar during two of his best songs, “Love Song #1” and “Damned.” The ascendant pre-chorus of the former and the roller-coaster verses of the latter were perfect examples of Smith’s skill for writing melodies that are both unconventional and memorable.
But I will try to put it into words for you, anyway. Or rather, a word: Joy.
Pure, unadulterated joy coursed through the auditorium for two solid hours on that Tuesday night, as Trombone Shorty, aka Troy Andrews, and his six-piece funksplosion of a band wrapped up the Sisters Folk Festival’s Winter Concert Series.
It was quite a sight watching the good people of Sisters and Central Oregon, ranging in age from 7 to 70, get down – deep, deep down – to the soulful urban sounds of Orleans Avenue. This was truly a melding of cultures, where a 24-year-old black man from a tough neighborhood in New Orleans can coax hundreds of white people from a rural New West town to wave their hands in the air like they just don’t care, and not one person in the room feels even a hint of self-consciousness.
This is what happens when a hyper-skilled and high-energy band throws down in front of an adoring audience – folks simply lose control of their body and mind. There was a sense of euphoria in Trombone Shorty’s crowd, and nowhere was it more obvious than on the faces of the young people who packed the open space between the stage and the first row of seats.
It was like watching inspiration – profound, core-reaching inspiration – happen in front of your eyes.
Don’t forget: “Supafunkrock” band Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue is performing in Sisters tonight. I’m looking forward to this: a steamy, stomping slice of one of America’s most important music cities, New Orleans, come to life on a high school stage in a quaint New West town. It should be quite the sight.
Shorty sings, plays trombone and trumpet, and leads his gang through a frenzied tour of jazz, funk, rock, hip-hop, blues and just about any other sound you can imagine coming out of the Big Easy. Read more about them here. Or, just see for yourself:
The show will start around 7 p.m., and doors open a 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and $10 for students, available at the door and, if they still have ’em, at Paulina Springs Books in Sisters (541-549-0866) and Redmond (541-526-1491) and FootZone in Bend (541-317-3568).
Brandi Carlile sold out two shows at the Tower Theatre next week, but we put her on the cover of GO! Magazine anyway. Because she’s great. And she loves Bend. And Bend loves her. Here’s Carlile’s recollection of her gig opening for Sheryl Crow here in 2008:
“I remember she was late to the gig and I had to play for a long time. I mean, I must’ve played for 45 minutes into her set before she got there,” Carlile said, “and the audience never once left us. They never once acted bored or irritated, and they were incredibly receptive to Sheryl when she got there. They let me play at least half an hour (or) 45 minutes into a Sheryl Crow show without Sheryl Crow, and I won’t ever forget that about Bend. I won’t ever forget how kind they were.”
She goes on to talk about last summer’s show at the Tower Theatre, the concept behind her new album “Give Up the Ghost,” working with Elton John, and more. I really enjoyed doing this interview and writing this story, and I hope you’ll read the whole thing here.
Tuck And Roll is one of Bend’s best bands, and they have a brand new album of poppy punk rock to show the world. You can pick it up at tonight’s CD-release show at Players. Meanwhile, here’s a bit from my conversation with frontman Sam Fisher:
“I would call myself a late-bloomer with music. I have four older siblings, and my older brother Mason really had the ultimate ’80s collection of music on tape, so I just kind of latched on to that,” Fisher said in a telephone interview last week. “I didn’t branch out, really, until I met Ryan and when I heard Weezer’s blue album. I think that was … when I realized, ‘Hey, wait a minute. There’s other stuff out there than cheesy butt-rock. This stuff sounds really good.’”
It was his first leap into the deep rabbit hole of music obsession.
“After that is when I first started buying my Pennywise CDs and NOFX CDs. It seems like once you get a good punk album that you like … it’s so easy to discover other music and other bands on that label,” Fisher said. “That was it for me.”
Also in the music section of GO! Magazine this week: a round-up of St. Patrick’s Day shows, funk/jazz legend Maceo Parker in Bend and funk/jazz up-and-comer Trombone Shorty in Sisters, plus Pato Banton, Poor Man’s Whiskey, Great American Taxi, One Horse Shy, the second annual Jim Jam for Jim Witty, and the More Bars in More Places underground hip-hop tour, featuring Knobody. And there’s always lots more in our complete music listings.
The first quarter of the year is relatively slow on Central Oregon’s music scene, so kudos to the fine team at the Sisters Folk Festival for brightening these times with their Winter Concert Series. Here’s the lineup for 2010:
The shows are at Sisters High School. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $10 for students, and a series pass is available for $40 for adults and $30 for students. Get more info at the Sisters Folk Festival’s Web site.