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Eugene Weekly : Music : 12.01.05

The Great Gig in '05

The Floydian Slips' elusive Pink Floyd tribute


The Floydian Slips. 8 pm Sat., Dec. 3. McDonald Theatre, $10 adv/$12 dos.

If the Floydian Slips sound like a band you've never heard of, you may or may not be right. Until 2003, they had just been that nameless Pink Floyd cover band from Eugene who made a big impression in 1997 when they reproduced Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety. That was at the now defunct Wild Duck Music Hall. Since then, the group has emerged about once or twice a year, gaining popularity and expanding their repertoire each time. In addition to Dark Side, the recently christened Floydian Slips have been known to perform The Wall — also in its entirety — as well as several songs off Meddle and Wish You Were Here.

Like anything of value, scarcity has led to increased demand. Last year, the Floydian Slips sold more tickets to a single show at the McDonald Theatre than any other event in the history of the venue. This is according to the band's bassist, Brendan Relaford. But he ought to know. Relaford is one of Eugene's premier entertainment coordinators, in charge of festival and venue management for Big Green Productions, and operations manager for a host of high-profile area events. His first gig on the bass was with the Slips at their '97 intro show at the Wild Duck, where he got to play the Roger Waters part without all the fuss of having to write the lyrics. Lucky devil.

A shifting slate of musicians over the years has given the Slips' sound some degree of flux, opening the door for variation despite their role as a strictly tribute operation. "We used to strive to play it all note for note with the same feel of Pink Floyd, (but) now we tend to play our own style and add bits and pieces to the music that are not all that Pink Floyd-ish," Relaford said in a recent press release. "We incorporate more percussion, heavier guitars and so (the music) is not quite as sedated as original Pink Floyd." Indeed, the mp3 for "On the Run," available on the Slips' website, features hand percussion that adds an intriguingly fresh dimension to an otherwise rote rendition of this classic song.

For Saturday's McDonald performance, the Slips are promising to spice things up even more with a blazing light show of truly "Floyd-ish" proportions. So you'd better run like hell to get tickets before it's sold out. You don't want your friends calling you from the show saying something like, (sorry, I have to do this) "Aw, man, how I wish you were here!"



Music for Shopping

Holiday Market entertains shoppers until Christmas Eve.


You're a person who wants to support the local economy, values handcrafted objects, and likes one-stop shopping. Sipping a hot cocoa while browsing shelves of hand-thrown pottery, hand-knit sweaters and hand-beaded jewelry sounds a whole lot better than stumbling through the aisles of the (anti)local Mall-Wart, doesn't it? If you don't have time to crochet teapot cozies for everyone in your family (and let's face it, who does?) head down to Holiday Market, where until December 24 you can browse hundreds of booths boasting the finest locally made wares. Plus, there's an International Food Court featuring everything from soup to nuts to entertainment all day long, for all ages.

Good music makes spending money so much more pleasurable, so use this handy-dandy guide to Holiday Market's eclectic entertainment offerings. Check www.holidaymarket.orgfor specific days and updated show times.

Debbie Diedrich is known to many as a guitarist with the now-defunct band Babes With Axes. She's also an in-demand ukelele instructor, and you can hear her students from grades fifth through ninth in concert as Kids With Uxes, er, Kids With Ukes. "It's like a showcase with mostly group numbers," said Diedrich. They'll play (and sing) pop standards like "These Boots Are Made For Walking" as well as some classic kid-oriented holiday tunes – but not too many!

Mary Ferris

Mary Ferris is a ukelele student of Debbie Diedrich's who will be performing on her own. A fifth grade phenomenon, Ferris sings classics by Carly Simon ("You're So Vain") and Dolly Parton ("Jolene") among many others. "She's been busking at Saturday Market, so her song repertoire has really grown!" said Ferris' mom Lisa Vertufo. The talented 10-year-old got a ukelele for Christmas last year and now she's amazing!

Since 1989 Balladina has been perfecting its art of singing and playing traditional and contemporary folk-dance music using cultural instruments and wearing traditional costumes. Since forming, and studying the world's traditions, Balladina has narrowed its focus to music of the Balkans, particularly Bulgarian and Macedonian Rom (commonly called Gypsy) dance music. It's a real treat to see exotic instruments and beautiful clothing bring to life the exciting music of this region.

Is it Brian Cutie? Brian Cutten? While he might answer to those, it's Brian Cutean (Cyoot-ane), or Brian QTN as he prefers it. This wandering minstrel songcrafter knows how to turn a phrase and honor the turning of the wheel of life with humility and humor. Throughout the rest of 2005 QTN is donating 20 percent of all CD and card sales (he designs his own decks of 52 "wordthought" cards) to Hurricane Katrina relief. His latest CD, Hearthearthearth, has a poetic truthfulness that can only come from one who has observed life with an open heart.

Though you might have to explain to your kids what a "Love Truffle" is, Paul & Nancy's Love Truffle is a family affair. Playing reworked Beatles songs and pop standards done with a jazzy twist, this is the same couple behind Lord Leebrick Theatre's sold out performances of the children's musical Nisse's Dream.

Geoffrey Mays has Eugene roots and is a welcome performer around these parts. He apprenticed with ever-popular Don Latarski and has been playing guitar for 25 years. Born in the land of the Rising Sun, Mays has lived in Japan, Hawaii, Okinawa, Mexico, France and all over North America, giving his heartfelt music a truly global outlook. His new CD, Journeys—Within & Afar is primarily instrumental "emotional soundscapes" as he calls them. Mays is a one-man-band, using technology in surprising ways to create astonishingly rich sounds.

A favorite on the Northwest folk festival circuit, Red Pajamas enters their 6th year showcasing mandolin, fiddle, accordion, guitar and piano harmonies. Chico Schwall, whom you've probably heard of under his own moniker, is a longtime member providing tasty mandolin and fiddle bits. It's a little bit bluesy, a little bit rocky and a little bit folky. Says songwriter David Anderson, "We are mixing some 'seasonal' music into our set: 'Zat You, Santa Claus?,' a number Louis Armstrong did in the '50s, and an Irving Berlin tune, 'When Winter Comes,' done Latin style." Red Pajamas will be playing as a quartet, "with a more rootsy sound than usual." The group will perform with Accordions Anonymous on Dec. 17. You don't want to miss their holiday classic, "Carol of the Bellows" ("Carol of the Bells" with mass accordions in five parts), do you? I thought not.

Sixty-plus women (that's the number of people in the group, not their ages!) lifting their voices together against ignorance and fear is an inspiring sight, and Soromundi has been pleasing audiences for more than 15 years. Literally translated as "Sisters of the World," Soromundi was founded in 1989 to honor and celebrate the strength, dignity and diversity of the lesbian community.

If dance is your thing, check out Americanistan, performing music inspired by Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cultures. Specializing in bellydance music, the group uses ethnic instruments, lavish costumes and several languages to create music both slow and sensual and lively and upbeat.

Eugene's perennial folk favorites The Sugar Beets will be unveiling Strangest Little Things, their first CD in five years. "We've been working on it since last spring," said 'Beet guitarist and singer Marty Chilla. "Trying to do a show during the holidays seemed kind of nutty, so we thought we'd do something at the Holiday Market," he said. Lucky for us!

One more thing. In Holiday Hall, which is the side room to the main hall, you can hear acoustic and more informal sets by main stage performers and others, like Chip Cohen, Richard Crandell, Emily Fox and Eagle Park Slim. Daily sets are at noon, 2 pm and 4 pm.

Happy holidays, and happy shopping!



Adding a Little Spice

Eugene Concert Choir brings Latin music to its holiday show.


If the kids have anything to say about it, they'll be beating their handmade piñatas into the brightly lit branches of the Hult Center Christmas tree this year.

The Eugene Concert Choir will be putting on their Dec. 4 Christmas show "An Old-Fashioned Christmas … with a Splash of Salsa!" at the Hult Center this holiday season, with special guests Caliente and Lo Nuestro, two of the three "Best of Eugene" -winning Latin bands.

"We worked with Caliente and Lo Nuestro before," says ECC General Manager Lisa Gislason. "We wanted to reach out through music to the [Latino] community and incorporate their music into what we do."

Having Caliente and Lo Nuestro perform isn't the only way ECC is showing off their Latin side. They'll also have pre-concert activities including a crafts table where kids can make their own piñatas and Plaza Latina will provide ponche, a Mexican holiday punch.

Along with Caliente and Lo Nuestro, Dance Theater of Oregon will add a visual element to the show, and the Neighborhood Choir Academy of River Road Elementary School will join the ECC on stage to sing "Gloria" from Misa Criolla, by Ariel Ramirez. "The kids are really excited," says River Road Principal Paco Furlan. "A lot of them have come up to me and said, 'We're going to be in a professional performance!'"

Pacific Continental Bank donated $2,500 for 100 tickets so that the families of these 50 students can attend. LTD also donated bus passes to help bring the River Road school families, many of whom are Hispanic, to a performance they might not otherwise attend.

"It's going to be a learning experience for the whole family," says Rebeca Urhausen of La X radio, an organizer for the event. "We need to expose the children to all kinds of music so they'll know what's out there."

Pre-concert festivities begin at 1 pm on Dec. 4 in the Hult Center lobby. Concert begins at 2:30 pm in Silva Concert Hall. Tickets range from $10-$28.



Voice of the Male

From boys to men, Cantus makes it cool to sing together.

By Brett Campbell

Take it from this former high school choir nerd: for a long time, for guys of a certain age, singing in a choral group just wasn't cool. Oh, it used to be — the street corner doo-wop groups of the 1940s through the early '60s emerged in some of the grittiest areas of major cities, often involving kids whose parents had moved from Italy or the deep South. In vocal harmony, they found mutual support in a hostile environment, and many were idolized by young listeners. But rock seized the spotlight, too many schools insisted on stodgy music and resisted modern homegrown sounds, and choral singing lost touch with contemporary teen life.

In recent years, vocal harmony singing has been making a comeback; look at the popularity of a cappella groups on college campuses, including the UO's own award-winning On the Rocks and Divisi. One of the finest such groups started at Minnesota's St. Olaf's college a decade ago. Since then, Cantus has produced eight CDs, national tours, critical acclaim, commissions of new works, and substantial contributions to music education, especially among young men. One of their veteran members, Adam Reinwald, hails from Eugene, and the group's appearances in his hometown (including the Oregon Bach Festival) showed me that comparisons with Chanticleer aren't at all far fetched.

On Tuesday, Dec. 6, Cantus returns to Eugene for a Boys Singing Day, which includes a workshop for 150 boys age 9 to 12 (when being cool becomes oh so crucial) at Sheldon Community Center, and then a highly recommended concert at Central Presbyterian Church. The event is sponsored by Oregon Festival Choirs, which has done so much good work to promote music education around here. Teaching boys to sing together helps them learn cooperation, discipline, and all the other virtues of studying music. For young males, Cantus is making singing together cool again.



Shipe Shifting

John Shipe sees the creation of his newest album, John Shipe and The Blue Rebekahs, as the result of an assembly line that his songs rode through a number of creative influences. Over two years, these 13 songs (and countless others), were touched, manipulated and manhandled by a number of Shipe's musical contemporaries — in a good way.

John Shipe and The Blue Rebekahs

"The nature of the project is slightly odd," Shipe says. "Most albums I've done are reflective of a single creative event. Even if it takes a long time it's still sort of a vision that happened at a certain place in time."

So Shipe wrote his songs, pitched them to his latest support group, The Blue Rebekahs, and waited for the next stage of song-construction to finish.

"This lineup has been really elemental in the sound of the music," he says. "When this group of guys play a song that I've written I get surprised at how different it is than what I heard in my head. Ninety percent of the time it's better."

The result, this time, is an album that falls mostly into a softer indie category but adds a jam band quality with its random horns and harmonicas. There's not really a continuous sound or theme throughout — a result of the somewhat freestyle composing process — but the songs are generally driven by Shipe's palpable, grindy voice.

One track that stands out is "American Wisdon," an angry, satiric message for the flashing lights of stardom in America. "We don't need your metric system/ Your fancy ideas we already dissed 'em/ Flavor for beers we drank and we pissed 'em/ We got our own American wisdom," Shipe sings.

That's not to say that Shipe buys wholly into the cliché that being an independent band is the only way to maintain a healthy dose of artistic freedom. But he recognizes the personal effort it has taken just to keep being a recording artist for over ten years.

"When you're not famous and you're not doing things on other people's money what gets called a music career is basically not much more than your willingness to do your job on a day to day basis," he says. "In a perfect world I would be 22 years old and forming a band with my other friends who are also 22 years old."

Shipe's wrong, though. Nobody cares what 22-year-olds think, so he's better off grinding it out with this group of talented, seasoned musicians. John Shipe and The Blue Rebekahs celebrate the release of their new CD at 9:30 pm Friday, Dec. 2 at Sam Bond's Garage. $5. — Danny Cross


Three is a Magic Number

John Henry's is three years old and primed for new growth, with recent changes in both ownership and aesthetic. The popular downtown music venue and bar sprang to life in 1992 on 11th Avenue, feeding our stomachs, eyes and ears until St. Vincent de Paul razed the building in 2002. Gradual changes in ownership and personnel allowed brothers Keith and Mark Martin to step up, overseeing the club's transition to 77 West Broadway and actively managing it ever since. Though they kept it quiet, in July the Martins concretized their hard work, buying out the club's other two owners.

I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House

"For my brother and I it is a priority to continually update, continually evolve," says Keith Martin. "From the beginning that was the thing about John Henry's. It started out as a punk club and then it kept broadening its appeal over the years."

The bros have repainted, purchased new furniture throughout the bar and updated the sound system. They added a back bar to the room and installed new lights. Additional locally-focused shows are on the menu, like the one-Saturday-a-month "The Baker's Ball" hosted by the DJs of KWVA 88.1 FM's "Locals Show." Greater booking freedom will draw more diverse acts, as well.

Anniversary festivities the weekend long kick off Friday with local acts The Dead Americans, The Visible Men and Testface along with SF's Elephone (who are, according to their myspace.com profile, influenced by "pillows and pills, books and nightmares"). Saturday night brings I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House down from Portland, and they'll be singing tunes from their new album, Menace. Singer and songwriter Mike D. has found his sea legs with his most political and personal album yet, throwing verbal boulders at Pat Robertson and other fag haters, praising his late grandma and singing out for U.S. activist Rachel Corrie, run over by a bulldozer in Palestine. He shines a light on a friend's drug overdose, and reminds us that sex is a whole lot more than a handshake so don't just go doin' it with anybody. As always on Sundays, the "Classy As Fuck" John Henry's Broadway Revue kickstarts the work week with body talk.

While some folks still get misty-eyed over the old John Henry's, myself included, the new space has split its skin and is reborn

"It was a great place and I think we all miss it, but the new place has afforded us some opportunities we wouldn't have otherwise had," Keith says. Three cheers for three years!

The Dead Americans, The Visible Men, Elephone and Testface play at 10 pm Friday, Dec. 2. $3. I Can Lick Any SOB In The House, The Sawyer Family and Black Mamba play at 9 pm Saturday, Dec. 3. Free; donations taken for charity. —Vanessa Salvia



A Dub for $10? Nice Deal

When a group's first recordings are made exclusively around 9,000 feet in a tiny log cabin with no running water and their debut album comes packaged with original artwork and a 64-page manifesto, you probably should be expecting something a tad unconventional.

Heavyweight Dub Champion

It's safe to say Heavyweight Dub Champion, a dub hop group based in Colorado, embraces this eccentricity, both in their music and in their spiritual lives. Every sound you'll hear during live performances and on their debut album Survival Guide for the End of Time comes from the original compositions of over 50 instruments. They call their MCs "shamanistic sonic alchemists" and say that theirs "is a movement of inter-dimensional Warriors representing the Army of the Last Champion."

In case your childhood was all Big Wheels, Sea-Monkeys and unbridled fun, we'll tell you that "the Last Champion" was actually a supernatural entity that HDC founders Resurrector and Patch experienced on separate occasions, in separate cities and years, during childhood vomiting sprees and blackouts.

At 420 feet above sea level, Joe's Bar and Grill (complete with running water) is hosting Heavyweight Dub Champion (with Dr. Israel & the Dreadtones) at 9 pm Saturday, Dec. 3. $10. —Tim O'Rourke


Alien Sounds

Teaching a fan of music to appreciate noise is like forcing a 4-year-old to appreciate spinach. Maybe 15 years down the road that kid will learn to like the leafy dark green vegetation. Maybe he won't. But if you keep pushing that stuff down his throat, chances are he'll learn to incorporate it into his diet. In the end, you have the vitamins and minerals you need to ensure healthy development into adulthood.

Translated to elucidate the work of the Yellow Swans: There are numerous technical elements that are employed to create traditional music. Entrenched in many of those elements are basic properties such as tone, volume and beat. If you can imagine an aural space where the complexities of music (melody, rhythm, etc.) are broken down into such properties, which are then entropically transfigured, you can begin to corral the Yellow Swans' sound. It's like watching a visually stimulating movie with no plot — sometimes you can watch movies solely as a collection of images and scenes and still experience satisfaction and wonderment. In the case of the Yellow Swans, a desirable melody or funky rhythm is not necessary to appreciate their creations.

The formerly Portland-based duo, now hailing from the Bay Area, create many of their recorded and live work through an improvisational method. Realized through a fairly simple workstation, their music incorporates drum machines, guitar, treated vocals, effects processors and other various electronics — the duo uses fairly basic tools to create enormous, and greatly contemplative, walls of distortion and feedback. Sometimes layered over a steady rhythm, their works have often been compared to the industrial sounds of Coil or Throbbing Gristle. But being in a far more deconstructed state than anything those bands have produced, the Yellow Swans' brand of noise will perplex even the most die-hard fan of noise-rock.

Upon listening to the duo, your brain will cue in on certain obtrusive noises, then quickly leap onto something more rounded or familiar like a drum pattern, then from there attempt to dissect the mood or nature of an entire section. All the while, the sounds around your ears are constantly changing. However, if you challenge your ears to these alien noises, just as your palate was challenged at that tender age when your parents were choking you with veggies, your understanding of sound and music will change, enhancing your appreciation for the essentials. The Yellow Swans play with Axolotl, GOD and The Sounds Only Dogs Can Hear Orchestra at 7 pm Thursday, Dec. 8 at the EMU. Free. — Steven Sawada


For Music Lovers Only

Sometimes music is so good it transcends genres. As Louis Armstrong once said, "There's only two kinds of music, good and bad." While you might call Drew Emmit bluegrass, what he does is simply create very, very good music. It doesn't matter if you love country, blues, rock, jazz, R&B, bluegrass or jam bands. If you love good music, you will love Drew Emmit.

The former front man for the popular "polyethnic cajun slamgrass" band Leftover Salmon, Emmit's lightening picking on mandolin is just one of his many talents. His sophomore release, Across the Bridge, is a return to his more traditional bluegrass that showcases his chops on fiddle, banjo, guitar and his incredible voice. With heavy doses of rock and R&B, it feels rootsy and has a hint of classic country that's as pure as red clay on a pair of cowboy boots. Songs like "Meet Me in the Morning" and "Big Ice" have a cheery, swinging grace with zippy melodies that retain their coherence despite the cascades of notes.

But it's on the slower pieces, including "All That You Dream," "Listen To the Spirit" and "Awakening," that Emmit's rich, soulful voice really has room to expand and blow you away. On this tour he's performing with Garrison on bass, Billy Nershi (String Cheese Incident) on guitar and Chris Pandolfi on banjo.

This is some of the best music you'll hear in Eugene. Drew Emmit plays 9 pm, Friday, Dec. 2 at the WOW Hall. — Melissa Bearns