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Eugene Weekly : Music : 2.8.07

Teaching the World to Play

The Galways' magic flutes at the Hult

BY SUZI STEFFEN

Sir James Galway, with uncountable recordings and more than 30 million albums sold, is a classical and crossover superstar. The principal flutist for the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under legendary Herbert von Karajan in the early 1970s, Sir James has also played with the Chieftains and, perhaps most famously for movie fans, for the music to The Lord of the Rings. But Eugene Symphony Artistic Director and conductor Giancarlo Guerrero knows the real reason why seemingly everyone, from blues aficianados to punk fans to those who usually listen to bubblegum pop, has heard of the flutist. And we're talking fuzzy puppets here: "He's been on every possible children's program; I remember watching him on Sesame Street several times growing up."

Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway with the Eugene Symphony. 8 pm Thursday, 2/15. Hult Center. $15-$75

And now the legend is coming here, continuing the Eugene Symphony and Guerrero's run of prestigious visiting musicians, from Yo-Yo Ma and Itzak Perlman last year to the Galways and Renée Fleming this season.

Sir James and his wife, flutist Lady Jeanne Galway, play a just-post-Valentine's Day concert with the Symphony Feb. 15 in support of their album My Magic Flute, released last Sept. by Deutsche Grammophon. With the Symphony, the Galways will be playing Mozart's Flute Concerto No. 2 and Cimarosa's Concerto for 2 Flutes. "It was an unusual surprise to have two Galways for the price of one," Guerrero says. "It is a great honor for me to work with him!" The concert will most likely sell out, and Symphony Board President Mary Ann Hansen can't wait to look out into another full house at the Hult Center. Of course, that's nothing new for the Galways. "I think classical music is doing well," Sir James said by phone from his home in Meggen, Switzerland.

Certainly, he and his wife try to help that statement come true; they provide master classes wherever they go, but they also work with younger students. Lady Galway says that's part of the joy. "They're so open and eager, and when a child succeeds, you can see them growing." Both Sir James and Lady Galway work with Flutewise, a volunteer-run organization that focuses its efforts on getting flutes and instruction to low-income students and students with disabilities.

Sir James says his favorite thing about working with students is that "it's such a huge experience to put your finger on what they need next." On Sir James' website (www.thegalwaynetwork.com),he and others host a "flute chat" wherein flute students get real-time advice and help with their music and careers. The website also boasts a remarkable list of interviews: Sir James with Renée Fleming; Sir James with Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson; Sir James with up-and-coming flutist Emmanuel Pahud, and many, many more, all accessible to those who love the Internet. That's one way to broadcast education and information, they say.

"We try to share our gifts with everyone," Lady Galway says, and Guerrero is pleased that their knowledge will benefit Eugene. Sir James is giving a master class for the students of UO flute professor Nancy Andrew on Valentine's Day, working with Kristin Halay, the principal flute for the Symphony. And he'll do a Q&A session with the audience afterwards. He's ready to give his advice to every student: practice, practice, practice! When he was a young flute player in Belfast, he says, the flute was to his lips "from the time I woke up in the morning until the time I went to bed." Now, with his busy touring, teaching and recording schedule, he gets three to four hours of practice "on a good day." But all of those hours of practicing, not to mention his 32-year solo career and intense schedule, remain a benefit to his playing.

"He's electricity on stage," Guerrero says."I have the best seat in the house, and I'm looking forward to it!"      

 

 

Loving You, Loving Me

Coupled or not, Valentine's events abound

BY VANESSA SALVIA

On Wednesday, the holiday that millions of singles love to hate once again rears its ugly head. If you're uncoupled, the days leading up to that celebration of love can be excruciating; if happily attached, determining how to declare your intentions beyond the de rigueur dinner and flowers is equally painful. As it happens, Feb. 14 through Feb. 21 is National Condom Week, so if you're gonna love, use a glove.

Don Edwards (Above), Neil Gladstone.

Here's a tickle-your-lover's-funny-bone solution to the what-to-do dilemma, albeit an out of town one: Head to the Corvallis High School Theater's showing of Neal Gladstoneand Company's Valentine Concert (7:30 pm 2/9 and 2/10, $18, $22). Gladstone performs locally only twice a year and entertains audiences with his original songs and comedy, five-piece band and back-up vocalists.

Diablo's plays hosts to an HIV Alliance fundraiser Feb. 14. Acoustic rhythm and blues artist Jesse Meade performs starting at 6 pm ($5). Then, for the terminally hip with no qualms about their significant other's gaze visually undressing already scantily-clad women, stay for the $50 couples' dinner at 8 pm, complete with games, prizes and Bacardi Girls. Music by Taste and Sugar Plum Fairies.

The Jus Goodie roots reggae and dancehall show at Latitude 21 may fire up your love machine (8 pm 2/14). He promises a special Valentine's Day performance featuring songs from his latest album, Freedom Song.

Turn the heat up a few notches by checking out Jessie Marquez and the Mike Denny Trio at Luna (8 pm 2/14, $10). Marquez sings Cuban while Denny strums jazzy, and the pair together are terrifically romantic.

If your sugar snookums likes cowboy music and history, he or she will surely enjoy folksy balladeer Don Edwards at The Shedd (7:30 pm 2/14, $18.50-$26.50). Edwards has a poetic touch, and he keeps alive the treasured folklore of the American West through his songs and stories.

Just watching sensual tango dancers sets off a lovin' mood; better still if you can dance it yourself. Wednesday night at Luckey's, local faves Mood Area 52 do non-traditional tango, combining Middle Eastern influences and cabaret motifs (9 pm, $5). Très romantique.

Taboo nightclub's regular Wednesday night DJs are planning something extra special this Valentine's Day. Planned Parenthood and Taboo are collaborating to promote safe sex and celebrate National Condom Week by giving away special Valentine's gift bags, kisses and condoms. Entertainment for the night includes resident DJs Layla and Moonvoid, as well as local dance troupes Lumanessah, presenting tribal-funk fusion bellydance, and Allure with sexy hip-hop burlesque (9:30 pm 2/14, $5 donation).

For all you "happily unattached and not (really) looking" souls, WineStyles is planning a night just for singles. Red wine and nectar, chocolate and cheese along with live music sounds like a good way to spend the evening if you aren't looking for hustle. Event organizers promise this is not a pick-up event, just a place for singles to celebrate being single (5:30 pm 2/14, $15, $20).

Whatever you do this Valentine's Day, one thing worth rejoicing is the fact that it only lasts for 24 hours.

For more details on these and other Valentine's Day events, see the Calendar.

 

Retro Active

Of Montreal's full-grown pop music

BY JOSHUA BLANCHARD

OF MONTREAL, THE BLOW. 9pm • Sat. 2/10, WOW Hall. $10 adv/$12 door

For something so apparently simple, putting your finger on what pop music means in this day and age is oddly challenging. Clearly "Top 40" means something drastically different than what it once did. So what is pop music: the Beach Boys or Ashlee Simpson? Well crafted three-minute sing-alongs or prefab audio commercials for a celebrity's new vanity project? To most, the golden era of pop is the fertile decade of the 1960s, and rightly so, for at no other time in modern history have the boundaries of music expanded so much in so short a span of time.

All things move in cycles, and just as sky bound acid rock has gained renewed footing in the 2000s, the previous decade found a resurgence of fuzzy retro pop. The most imaginative group of the era was Elephant Six, a loose collective of bands that included Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control and, of course, Of Montreal. In 1997, the quirky music community of Athens, Georgia, was rippling with electricity, and Of Montreal's mastermind, Kevin Barnes, was one of its principal live wires. From the onset, with the band's debut album, Cherry Peel, Barnes' machinations had already taken shape: an Anglophile pop lover's wet dream brimming with quirky side tangents and Vaudevillian charm. A rush of releases followed, most with long-winded titles like The Bird Who Continues to Eat the Rabbit's Flower and Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse. Taking a nod from veteran storytellers like the Kinks, the albums were littered with character studies of Volunteer Firemen and Unusual Nuns, but underneath it all, Barnes' often morbid fascinations always kept his music just shy of lightweight.

Well, time marches on, and with most Elephant Six acts going the way of the dodo, Of Montreal is one of the last bands standing. Their latest album, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, finds real life seeping in through the cracks of Barnes' technicolor diorama. Gone are the whimsical personalities that once inhabited his songs; in their stead are caustic reflections on lost love and isolation as the songwriter copes with long periods of depression and a recent seperation from his wife and child. More power to him, though, because as our world grows more dark and complex by the day, maybe it's time for our pop music to grow up a little bit too.

 

 

Corresponding Pieces

I met Michelle Zauner of Little Girl Big Spoon last May after seeing her open for Maria Taylor. Intrigued by her lyrical structure and quirky demeanor, I asked about a possible interview. We talked all things music, from female musicians to the Eugene music scene. We also discussed the idea of turning her solo act into a full-fledged band. But worried her songs would lose their intimacy, she quickly rejected the idea. Now that LGBS has disbanded, Zauner's taken the plunge. This is a two person band. This is The Tiffany Lamps.

The Tiffany Lamps

With Leo London, formerly of The Deleted Scenes and The Virginal Sound, the duo came together last November by happenstance. While London was living in Portland with his bandmates, struggling to keep peace in the house, Zauner was struggling with sameness in her songwriting structure. "I grew out of those songs," she says about those written for LGBS. Feeling stuck in her songwriting, Zauner considered a collaboration to exercise her musical abilities. Then London moved back to Eugene, and the two began a new musical adventure.

Although they haven't recorded together yet, it's easy to hear, listening to their solo projects, why these corresponding musical personalities came together. Both write beautiful, sensory-rich songs that flow more like literature than indie rock. To accompany lines like "I wish there was a button on your chest to stop you from wandering," they play everything from accordions to toy pianos. Currently they're revamping their individually produced songs while also working on some co-written ones. These naturally gifted musicians are old souls, and their chemistry together illuminates like a halo.

While their "futures lie like pavement in the sun," I can't wait to see what the future holds for them. The Tiffany Lamps play with Sam Barber at 8 pm Friday, Feb. 8 at Cozmic Pizza. $3. — Amanda Burhop

 

 

Artistic Response to War

On Feb. 11, DIVA hosts an important event that fans of new music, dance, and anyone interested in the excesses of the Bush regime's so-called War on Terror shouldn't miss. Portland-based composer Jack Gabel composed a gripping, passionate score to The Fall '01, a "choreodrama" choreographed by Agnieszka Laska and Luis Arreguin with image montages by Uehara Takafumi. Beginning with the September 2001 terrorist attacks, the multimedia work explores, in images and music, how the administration twisted America's horror into the nightmares revealed by Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. The full production was staged in Mexico last fall, and the artists are showing a 45 minute video documentary about that production to raise funds for an Oregon production and world tour. This is a chance to support one of the most potent artistic responses to war and state terrorism perpetrated by our government I've ever seen. The screening takes place at 3 pm Sunday, Feb. 11 at DIVA. Donations accepted. Brett Campbell

 

 

Standards Deviation

Erin McKeown

The East Coast has more than its fair share of funny, feminist singer-songwriters, but few of them present the mix of intelligent humor and rhythmic interpretations that characterize the music of Erin McKeown. With an odd but compelling voice, delighted and knowing at the same time, she seems to quirk her mouth ironically with every word yet deliver those words sincerely. She's not yet 30 and has five album releases under her belt with another full album of songs in the hopper, which she's planning to record this summer. The songs she writes refer to everything from lit-crit theories to nursery rhymes, and they all showcase her unique syncopation and complex storytelling. But she was featured in Jan. 22's People magazine for her new album of jazz and big band classics, Sing You Sinners. "It seemed like the time for me to make a quick record of the music I loved," McKeown says. McKeown likes standards, she says, and making decisions about what to include wasn't hard. "Every song has a different story." The song "Coucou," a quick, charming French ditty, came into McKeown's life from a Django Reinhardt box set. "I didn't know the track names, but I knew this was track 10 on disc four!" she says. (On Sing, You Sinners it's track three.)

The explosively enjoyable album evokes the snappy sound of long-gone eras, but McKeown and her band stamp their own swinging interpretations on songs like Nat King Cole's "I Was a Little Too Lonely (You Were a Little Too Late)" and the joyously infectious "Rhode Island is Famous For You," a 1948 song from the little-remembered musical Inside U.S.A. McKeown, whose band in Eugene will include the album's drummer, Allison Miller, pianist Art Hirahira and McKeown on guitar/banjo, says, "We're going to have a killer band there!" She's planning to play old favorites from her own pen along with some of the (much older) faves from the new album. Eleni Mandell, whose Miracle of Five contains haunting and lyrical songs underpinned by her smoky voice, opens for McKeown. This show's a truly unbelievable value; buy a ticket for your valentine and warm yourselves at the glow of McKeown's fire. Erin McKeown and Eleni Mandell play at 8 pm Tuesday, Feb. 13 at the WOW Hall. $10 adv., $12 door. — Suzi Steffen