Bluegrass for the Yule Log
Forget about the song itself — simply speak the title “Greensleeves” and most everyone arrives, instantaneously and often unwillingly, at a singular notion of the genre of which that particular English ballad is the prime exemplar. Soaked in pastoral poetics and steeped in minor-chord melancholy, this romanesca to beat all romanescas conjures the image of a lone Anglo-Norman troubadour ensconced in a pile of hay and crooning his Elizabethan-era heartache to a waxing moon. “Greensleeves” is to classic folk what “Stairway to Heaven” is to classic rock, and when plied by a top-notch gaggle of bluegrass musicians, it gives you a pretty fair idea of where thou art, brother.
All of which is to say, the music and musicians comprising the Cascadia Yulegrass Acoustic Holiday Bluegrass Celebration — which makes a whistle stop at McDonald Theatre on Saturday — lean heavily on the genre’s Scottish and Irish roots, creating a sound that is more sweeping and folksy than the arpeggiated, uptempo Americana laid down by country-fried traditionalists like Monroe, Stanley and Scruggs. Such bluegrass gospel, as it’s sometimes called (why not gospel grass?) — with its subtle and subdued lilt — is well suited to the wintry season, like a musical mug of creamy eggnog sipped by a crackling fire. Directed by master fiddler Darol Anger, the Cascadia group — which features Sharon Gilchrist, Scott Law, Bill Nershi and Keith Moseley, with openers Big Water and special guest Matt Butler of Hot Buttered Rum — create the sort of hot-buttered melodies that are the toast of NPR subscribers everywhere.
Cascadia Yulegrass plays with Big Water and Matt Butler at 7:30 pm Saturday, Dec. 19, at McDonald Theatre. $18, $10 kids 12 & under. — Rick Levin
These Boots Were Made For Rocking
Local concert promoter Cheyenne Houghton, better known as Boots, tried to break down barriers for metal bands, but the slow economy proved to be too great a barrier for one person to overcome.
Boots is putting on one more show with his Little Metal Devil Productions and then calling it quits. The 26-year-old has been booking and promoting metal shows throughout Oregon since May of 2008. Boots had connections to help bands get shows, so he started Little Metal Devil Productions to book concerts by donation, “basically a service of brothers helping out brothers,” he says. But Boots found people less and less able to donate money, so he’s been paying expenses out of pocket, despite having been laid off last December from his job in the electrical wiring department at Monaco Coach. Boots spends $30 to $50 a week of his own money on flyers and then spends time posting flyers around town. He loves doing it, loves the music and is passionate about supporting the scene however he can, but “unemployment doesn’t get me through the week,” he says. “I’ve had a lot of support from people saying, ‘Don’t quit.’ It makes a guy feel appreciated to get that, but regardless of whether I’m appreciated I can’t afford to do it anymore.”
When the economy picks up, Boots might bounce back into the promotion biz, but until then, you’ll have to catch him singing with his band, New World Sinners, and raging to the other metal bands he tries to support. With this final show, he’s lined up some of Eugene’s most popular hard rock and metal bands. As he says in his most recent blog post, “if you would like to show some support come to the show and let’s Rage it up one last time!!!” Soul Scythe, Monday With A Bullet, New World Sinner, Violence Unfolds and Landon play at 7pm Friday, Dec. 18, at the WOW Hall. $6 adv., $9 door. — Vanessa Salvia
Anyone who has heard the music of Bill Frisell knows how good a combination jazz, Americana and rock music can make. Patrick Kavaney may not list Frisell among his influences, but it is clear that he too has discovered the dynamic possibilities that exist when putting these sounds together. The only difference is, unlike Frisell, Kavaney sings on his albums.
Patrick Kavaney and the Last Drags’ debut album, Darning Socks for the Apocalypse, is 38 minutes of road trip-perfect grooves, mid-tempo shufflers, somber ballads and tales of what was, what is and what hopefully will be. From the Tom Petty-esque “Waking Song” to the straight ahead jazz-meets-road rock sound of “Ego Bandito,” Kavaney and the Drags demonstrate just how much fun they have making music. At the same time, the mellow single “Driving Dreams” is reminiscent of Frisell’s easygoing Good Dog, Happy Man album, so you know Kavaney and the boys can calm things down when they need to.
Dysfunctional love, scenes beneath starry skies, statements about not regretting the mistakes of the past, tales of delusion and grandeur … it’s all here in spades. These guys have made a laid-back, occasionally toe-tapping album that makes a pleasing cocktail out of great musical styles — a cocktail you’ll be sure to enjoy at their show. Patrick Kaveney and the Last Drags, The Stagger and Sway and John Shipe play at 9 pm Friday, Dec. 18, at Sam Bond’s. 21+. $5. — Brian Palmer