Follow Your Heart
It’s no small feat for a young, earnest band like The Head and the Heart to win over a place like Seattle — a city populated with people (and critics) who have perfected the art of cynical disdain — with harmonic, poppy folk songs about the terrifying, exhilarating experience of striking out on your own path without knowing where that path is going to lead you. But over the past six months, The Head and the Heart have proven that there is still a place for unabashed optimism, in Seattle and in music. Guitars, violin, keys, drums and sweet vocal harmonies come together to form a sound that’s familiar yet distinct in its unwavering sincerity.
In a comparatively short period of time, the band has amassed a bevy of pie-eyed hometown fans thanks to a charming, filler-free EP and a breathtaking live show as powerful and affecting as the hippie who once slid that daisy into the barrel of a soldier’s gun. The band’s EP, a self-titled affair made up of songs about heading out into the world looking for something that hasn’t been clearly defined, will resonate with anyone who’s ever found themselves looking for a place to call home. But the way to really experience this band is in a live setting: Without seeing what these kids have to offer in the flesh, it’s a lot easier to assume that the band is trying too hard to tug on your heartstrings. That’s not the case, though. Watch them perform live, and you’ll know that this quintet of pretty young warblers means every damn word. The Head and the Heart, Fences and The Stagger and Sway play at 9:30 pm Friday, Oct. 8, at Sam Bond’s Garage. 21+. $5. — Sara Brickner
Green Dream in Eugene
This is a concept Eugene is going to be all over like a half-off sale on Tevas. Platinum-selling band O.A.R. call it “The Green Dream” campaign, and its aim is to reduce the environmental damage caused by touring. Over the past summer the band collected 21,000 lbs of recyclables during their first ever carbon neutral tour. This fall, O.A.R. — currently at work on their seventh album — is keeping up the good work; their latest greenified tour stops in Eugene on Oct. 8.
O.A.R., also known as Of a Revolution, carved their niche by allowing fans to record and share their shows freely à la the Grateful Dead. This, along with non-stop touring, fermented a devoted following that many might find surprising for a band that has had very little exposure in the traditional music industry. The band didn’t even chart in the Billboard top 40 until their fifth album, yet they managed to sell out Madison Square Garden in 2006.
This all makes O.A.R. sound like a typical jam band. And they are — sort of. In fact, they might be the world’s only jam band that doesn’t jam much, instead playing short, hook-laden, radio-friendly songs that occasionally dip into a light reggae feel, like the Dave Matthews Band after Simon Cowell has had his way with them.
O.A.R. and the Dirty Heads play at 8 pm Friday, Oct. 8, at the McDonald Theatre. $25 adv., $28 door. — William Kennedy
Legendary and Here
Those who know Greg Brown already know not to debate attending his upcoming WOW Hall show. Those who don’t know Greg Brown and decide to give him a try should envy their current selves the way great-book finishers envy the person they were before turning the final page of their new favorite read. Songwriting you like? You have 30 years of award-winning lyrics to discover. Vocal aficionado? Brown’s distinctive baritone can rumble you into the minds of lovers and ne’er-do-wells, children and grandmothers, young fishermen and world-weary travelers. Value a nuanced live performance? Stories both touching and funny, material new and old and master guitar playing await.
Brown’s most recent Eugene appearances have been at the roomy McDonald, but his solo WOW Hall show allows a maximum seating of 280 guests. Venue size matters when performers of such intimacy share their gifts. Brown’s set list will draw from more than 27 live and studio albums, a list that includes so many awards that trying to sort out the Grammy nominations and “Bests” bestowed by various magazines and prestigious indie and folk music outfits would take up more column space than most editors allow. Whether it was Brown’s Iowa roots, poetic nature, preacher father or a combination thereof that nurtured his songwriting, the fact remains that any random combination of any of his hundreds of lyrical and melodic creations would make for an emotional and surprising evening.
Those who know Greg Brown know that no two performances are ever the same. Those who don’t know Greg Brown and miss the opportunity to get up close and personal with a living legend should consider traveling back in time and kicking their current selves in the butt. Greg Brown plays at 9 pm Thursday, Oct. 7, at the WOW Hall. $30. — Adrienne van der Valk
A Little Bit Dub, a Little Bit Bohemian
A $10 Casio keyboard, a basic four-track and some dudes making recordings out of one of their parents’ houses — these are the beginnings of Medium Troy. After experimenting with a hip hop parody band, a grunge rock band and a hippie dub jam band project, the band settled on a hodgepodge of folk, electronica, hip hop, rock and dub that they refer to as “bohemian dub.”
Music lovers are paying attention. After Kevin Lyman, the founder of the Vans Warped Tour, heard the band at their cousin’s bat mitzvah, he set them up with four dates on the 2010 tour. “The Warped Tour was sweet,” says guitarist and singer Yonaton “JoJo” Ferreira. “Currently the crowd is a mixture of 50 percent emo or hardcore kids with straightened hair, and 50 percent random music lovers.” Because Medium Troy’s music appeals to more of an eclectic crowd, Ferreira says that their fans were usually not the “hardcore screamo” fans. “The people who show up at our stage are mostly people who are stoked not to be screamed at.”
The band’s next goal is to put together an entire dub-step orchestra with between 80 and 200 classically trained musicians. “The idea is to mix popular contemporary styles of music, like the down-tempo and dub-step electronica that we make, with the power of old classical instruments,” says Ferreira. “We want to continue traveling around and having a great time playing music and seeing the world. That is our goal.”
This weekend, Medium Troy plays the UO Cultural Forum’s Fall Kick Off show with two Portland bands: Water and Bodies, who have more of a traditional alt-rock sound and a singer who isn’t afraid to up the intensity, and Derby, a wear-your-heart-on-your-sleeve band with songs about everything from heartache to one of the band members’ fear of bears.
Medium Troy, Water and Bodies and Derby play at 8 pm Friday, Oct. 8, on the Memorial Quad Lawn at the UO. Free. Catherine Foss
The Original Dawg
The number of decades that mandolinist David Grisman has been creating music is only rivaled by the number of genres that his brand of acoustical music spans. Grisman is the original master of “dawg music,” and it has nothing to do with hip hop or rap.
Grisman began piano lessons in 1952 at the age of 7. After three years, he lost interest in the piano and his attention swayed toward the mandolin. Like many budding folk musicians in the late 1950s, Grisman discovered folk music through the Kingston Trio and the lively Greenwich Village music scene. Grisman started his musical career in 1963 as a member of the Even Dozen Jug Band. His close friend Jerry Garcia gave him the nickname “Dawg” in 1973. They first met in 1964 at a Bill Monroe concert.
“Dawg music” is what Grisman calls his fusion of bluegrass and Django Reinhardt/Stéphane Grappelli-influenced jazz, as highlighted on his 1979 album Hot Dawg. It was Grisman’s amalgamation of Reinhardt-era jazz, bluegrass, folk, Old World Mediterranean string band music and modern jazz fusion that personified “Dawg” music.
In 1975 Grisman got together with guitar virtuoso Tony Rice, multi-instrumentalists Mark O’Connor, Mike Marshall, Darol Anger — and featured guests such as violin genius Stéphane Grappelli — and formed the David Grisman Quintet. Although the lineup has changed through the years, the DGQ continues to produce music with the same confidence and finesse as it did 35 years ago. The David Grisman Quintet plays at 7:30 pm Friday, Oct. 8, at the Corvallis High School Theater. $37.50 adv., $41 door. — Blake Phillips