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Eugene Weekly : Music : 11.06.08




Gypsy Jazz

The Italian Gypsy jazz trio Opa Cupa specializes in jazz improvisation on odd-metered Balkan, Roma, Albanian and other traditional southeastern European tunes. Led by trumpeter Cesare dell’Anna, the high-spirited group has performed with Gogol Bordello and recorded with the legendary Queen of Rom music, Esma Redizpova. For this performance, Opa Cupa is augmented by two members of the equally vivacious Fishtank Ensemble, including violinist Fabrice Martinez, and by singer Eva Primack from New York’s Slavic Soul Party. The concert also features Kef, the local nonet (clarinet, accordion, trumpets, bass, vocals, percussion and more) that covers similar territory, with excursions into klezmer, Greek and adjoining musical territories. Eugene is becoming a regional capital of Balkan music, so there’s sure to be a strong turnout and some dancing, but this is a fun show for any fans of jazz and world music. Opa Cupa and Kef perform at 8 pm Thursday, Nov. 6, at the WOW Hall. $12 adv., $14 door. — Brett Campbell



Woody Guthrie’s Maniac Soul

I put Jonatha Brooke’s new album The Works on the stereo over the weekend and left it there. It played while we cooked, read the paper, washed the dishes and talked politics. I hadn’t been sure what to expect. Brooke has sometimes rubbed me the wrong way with a staccato, breathy delivery that sounds suspiciously similar to that of Ani DiFranco, who as far as I’m concerned cannot be imitated. But Brooke’s new album — a set of previously unheard lyrics by Woody Guthrie set to Brooke’s original music — promised to be different.

The album didn’t disappoint. Brooke’s voice is sweeter than I remember, illuminating long-buried Guthrie lyrics like gems held up to the light. The album improved as I listened and, like a good houseguest, provided stimulating and easy companionship.

As the music played, I saw a different side to Guthrie than the one I was familiar with. In “All You Gotta Do is Touch Me,” he writes, “I fully aim to get my soul known again / As the maniac, the saint, the sinner, the drinker, the thinker, the queer.” In Brooke’s hands, the song becomes a flirtatious and bluesy duet with Keb’ Mo’.

For the album, Brooke chose song lyrics from the Woody Guthrie Archives that offer a more complex and personal view of Guthrie than much of his recorded music does. Guthrie wrote these lyrics during the last 10 years of his life, after Huntington’s disease had begun to take hold. 

Brooke performs the songs in a primarily singer-songwriter style, accompanied by rich instrumentation. They are a world apart from Guthrie’s traditional one-man-one-guitar style, and at times Brooke’s delivery seems a little too pleasant for Guthrie’s intimate and bittersweet lyrics. But the album is highly listenable, and overall Brooke’s voice is able to carry off the complexity of Guthrie’s words while offering a sweetness well-suited to Sunday evening at home. Jonatha Brooke plays at 7:30 pm Friday, Nov. 7, at The Shedd. $24-$32. — Jessica Hirst



Live From New Y — I Mean, Eugene

You know you’ve always wanted to be in a music video. And if you make it to Diablo’s Downtown Lounge for the three-day “Live From Eugene” festival, you, too, can be forever immortalized in rock-out position. Well, sort of. Filmmaker Carson Hughes is creating a DVD series, “Live From Your City,” to document local scenes on video by hosting music festivals and filming them. This show in Eugene is Hughes’ second, after recording a Hush Records-heavy DVD in Portland (Corvallis and Salem are next up). The lineup’s pretty eclectic, and the order of the performers slaps quiet acoustic folk acts like The Comforters aside folklore-geared metal bands like Heathen Lore, jam bands like Just People aside more metal (ISSA). It defies logic. And yet Hughes’ résumé is nothing to sneer at; dude’s directed music videos and filmed live shows for artists from Too Short to David Bazan to the Lifesavas. 

But don’t be fooled: The lineup is not just made up of exclusively Eugene bands, as the project’s title might suggest. There are several Portland acts (including Dat’r), as well as an L.A.-based band (Silent Treatment) on the roster, and the coveted evening slots on Friday are taken up by out-of-town bands. Which brings us to the performances themselves. See, there are 30 bands playing this three-day festival. Each one will play five songs, which means that, if each song clocks in at an average of four minutes, every band will play a 20-30 minute set. So if you want to see a band and be in the film of their live show, show up on time; fame waits for no one. See livefromyourcity.com/news/ for the complete lineup. Bands play beginning at 2 pm Friday, Nov. 7, Saturday, Nov. 8, and Sunday, Nov. 9, at Diablo’s Downtown Lounge. 21+ show. $5 per day or $10 for all three days. — Sara Brickner



Cultural Exchange

Art makes a great lens for viewing other cultures. The work of local artists forms the backdrop for the first annual Pueblo a Pueblo concert and exhibit, which showcases the work of unconventional Mexican songwriters whose work too seldom makes it across the Rio Bravo, er, Rio Grande. Instead of exchanging pesos for dollars, the event trades acoustic Mexican music for Eugenean visual arts. This first installment features artists Nancy Roberts, Sue Bitterling, Chuck Reinwald, Erin Bucklew, Carolyn Quinn, Robin Marks-Fife, Vincent Ramirez, Gazelle Stasney, Rex Purkerson, Ellen Gabehart, Amy Costales, Mark Poole and Jessica Zapata. The performance includes the enchanting trova music of Cuernavaca’s Alfonso Maya, whose intimate voice manages to be simultaneously warm and cool. You don’t need to speak Spanish to fall under his spell. The show also features the quietly dramatic music of Mamacoatl. Both will be accompanied on guitar by exhibit organizer Dan Howard. Pueblo a Pueblo takes place Friday, Nov. 7, at the Tango Center, 194 W. Broadway. The art exhibit opens at 6 pm, and the performance begins at 7:30. Howard, Maya and Mamacoatl will also perform at 9:30pm Saturday, Nov. 8, at Jo Federigo’s. — Brett Campbell



Pales in Comparison

If you want to get the most out of Eugene troubadour Tyler Fortier’s new album, Pale Moon Rise, I advise you to start at the last track and work backward. On the final three tracks, Fortier drops all pretense and goes for the gusto with “More Than I Know,” “Time Keeps On Movin’” and “Over Indulgence and Time to Kill.” Gusto is what the rest of Pale desperately needs more of. 

Fortier was on the right path with his 2007 release, the stripped-down demo tape Drunk, but appears to have made amends with the airbrushes available to him in a studio setting. The result is that some tracks sound less like Tyler Fortier and more like Bob Dylan (“The Nameless Wanderer”) or Elvis Presley (“Whiskey Blues”). But the final three songs are all Fortier, all the way. On the blues-rock slow-burner “Over Indulgence,” Fortier delivers nuggets like “She’s got time to kill / she does it so very well,” and a sultry female chorus echoes (“She got time!”) over a piercing fiddle solo. And then the album ends. To my mind, Pale Moon Rise was just getting started. Tyler Fortier plays with Tom Heinl and Brody Hunt at 9:30 pm Friday, Nov. 7, at Sam Bond’s. 21+. $5. — Chuck Adams



Dot Dot Dot … BOOM!

There is more than one way to do electro-pop, but there is only one way to do it right. Los Angeles (via Boston) group Chop Chop fall into both the former and latter, mixing up its approaches to the genre but virtually nailing it, track after track. Central to Chop Chop is Catherine Cavanagh and her wistful, whispery voice. Like a softer, poppier Mirah, Cavanagh elaborates on the life, love and lust of an artistic-class bohemian on CC’s new album, Screens, due out the day before the band’s Eugene show. 

On Screens, CC goes the lofty distance on string-backed tracks like “C Train David” and “Damascus,” crafting ethereal, interpersonal scenarios. The group does straightforward guitar-and-drum balladry about unrequited love between friends on “Play,” while “Goon Shoe Drop” uses synthesizers to fuzz out a sinister dance track that asks, rather elliptically, “How did you get past my living room / into my head while I’m / so close to my bed?” It’s poppy goodness that manages to be just cheeky enough without meandering into sulky territory. Vermont’s internationally acclaimed acoustic folk rocker Anais Mitchell and Eugene’s own electro-pop duo Muke round out this exciting Hump Day billing. Chop Chop plays with Anais Mitchell and Muke at 10 pm Wednesday, Nov. 12, at Luckey’s. 21+. $5. — Chuck Adams