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Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 9.3.2009

Eugene Celebration 2009

The Process and the Product

Mayor’s Art Show, 2009 edition

Who Gets to Choose?

Cats Down Under The Stars

Melvin Seals and JGB close Saturday night’s Eugene Celebration

Blues to POP

Plenty of shows worth the price of admission

 

Blues to POP

Plenty of shows worth the price of admission

By Vanessa Salvia

Heavyweight Dub Champion
Zeparella

Why do we love the Eugene Celebration? There’s the parade, yeah, and the food, of course. But how much time can you spend standing and eating? Isn’t the music the most important attraction of the three-day weekend? When the Celebration is announced the first thing I look at is the music line-up, and I suspect most of the city does too. This year, there is plenty to be excited about; in fact, there are some nightly line-ups alone that are totally worth paying the $12 it costs to get into the Celebration for the whole weekend. Some local, some not, all good. 

If you’re a blues fan, you will surely head to the Broadway Plaza Stage. Friday night’s line-up is blues-rich, starting at 6 pm with the Vicki Stevens Band. Singer Vicki Stevens made it to the final cut of performers competing to make it onto country music’s version of American Idol, a television show called Nashville Star. Stevens is originally from Las Vegas, and is a relative newcomer to the Eugene scene. Friday’s headliner, Studebaker John and the Hawks, is lead by John Grimaldi, a Chicago-born bluesman who has been playing harmonica since the age of 7, and also plays a mean slide guitar. If you’re wondering about the name, Grimaldi began calling himself Studebaker John in the ’70s because he owned a Studebaker. He still has the car, and has been making music that is at once original, traditional and boundary-stretching ever since. 

The line-up Friday at Luckey’s is pretty sweet — five local rock and indie-rock bands sweating it out on one stage. The evening gets off to a good start with the Traitor Hearts. Hard to define, the Traitor Hearts feature sincere vocals, emotive guitar and enough distortion to be interesting. Maybe like Joe Jackson being chased down a lonely street by Gram Parsons. Closing the night out is Yeltsin’s catchy pop gems, sort of an ’80s influenced indie-rock outfit blending Interpol and the Pixies. 

Saturday’s line-up at the Library Stage is heavy … heavy on the bass, drums and keyboards. Actually, that’s a pretty exciting stage all weekend, from Eugene’s reggae/hip-hop artists Medium Troy kicking things off on Friday, followed by the jam rock of Reeble Jar (I know you don’t like to be called that, guys, because there’s so much more to it), to Melvin Seals and JGB bringing things to a close more than 24 hours later. Warm up for Melvin with Zepparella, a four-piece all-female Led Zeppelin tribute band. While they do play true to Zep’s style, there are no note-for-note reproductions, and these ladies have mad style all their own.

If your lemon isn’t totally squeezed by the time Zepparella finishes with you, stick around for Heavyweight Dub Champion. From the mountains of Colorado (but now based in San Francisco) comes this group of conspirators. They just released their sophomore album in May of this year, Rise of the Champion Nation, a follow up to their 2002 debut, Survival Guide to the End of Time.  (What took so long, guys?) HDB tell a story of an awakening of the human spirit through intense, deep dub.