If you want the algorithmic precision of prog rock, the nutless twee of emo or the heady ham-harmonics of Kenny G, just stand still like a hummingbird and wait ã that shitll find you sooner or later, like a virus. But if you want the sexed-up, dressed-down, honking, booming, clattering call-and-response of second-line jazz, you gotta make a spiritual jump south of the Mason-Dixon Line ã way south, into the humid bloom of New Orleans, where music is birthed visceral and protean. Thats where youll find Rebirth Brass Band, doing its thing. Anyone whos been to N.O., or even just watched HBOs excellent series Treme, understands that the bright bleat and rumble of big-band jazz is more than just music ã it is New Orleans culture itself, the lifeblood and embodied pride of a rooted, riotous population that is sometimes bloodied and flooded, but always unbowed.
Rebirth was formed in 1982 by a handful of students from Joseph S. Clark Senior H.S. in the Treme neighborhood and, despite some line-up changes over the decades, the bands weekly Tuesday night gig at uptowns Maple Leaf Bar is a staple of New Orleans music scene. Never standing still, Rebirth blends traditional brass band fare ã horns, percussion, chanting, sublime braggadocio and repeated hooks ã with funk, soul and hip hop. This is down-and-dirty music, full of outright sexual come-ons and canting for joy, though at last years WOW gig the boys respectfully toned it down for the kids with no loss of sheer, foot-stomping fun. Rebirths latest release, the aptly titled Rebirth of New Orleans, currently sits at #9 on Billboards jazz charts and #1 on CMJ. With our belatedly arriving summer, heres an excellent chance to catch some Southern heat and get sweaty with a band thats the real deal.
Rebirth Brass Band plays 9pm Tuesday, June 7, at WOW Hall; $15 adv., $18 door, $20 res. ã Rick Levin
|photo by Danny Clinch|
Cage the Elephant put on a hell of a show a couple summers back opening in Eugene for the Silversun Pickups and Manchester Orchestra. Now the band is teaming up with Manchester Orchestra again for a McDonald gig in support of their latest disc, Thank You Happy Birthday. Fans should expect a more mature but no less frenetic live experience this time around.
Unlike Cage the Elephants previous release, Thank You Happy Birthday doesnt contain much in the way of radio-ready rock hits, though there is a raucous sort of beauty present throughout the album. The song "Always Something” contains a number of kooky and sinister sounds that mirror the ominous scenes described by singer Matt Shultz, who perpetually sounds on the verge of a coronary as he blasts through tracks like "Aberdeen” or the biting social commentary of "Indy Kidz.” The first single, "Shake Me Down,” does demonstrate the bands ability to be tradionally melodic (pleasant vocals, slick production, etc) when it feels the urge to do so.
Cage the Elephant shows a lot of variety on Thank You Happy Birthday, which pays tribute to the bands desire to do whatever the hell it feels like doing with its music. Sometimes that means Shultz hooting and hollering like a monkey on "Around My Head,” admitting his imperfections on the ballad "Rubber Ball,” stressing the importance of individuality on "Sell Yourself,” or choosing to give "Sabertooth” an atypically charming demo-quality sound. Cage the Elephant has a number of rock •n roll weapons at its disposal, and the band will use them all when it comes to town.
Cage the Elephant plays 7:30 pm Tuesday, June 7, at McDonald Theatre; $21-$23. ã Brian Palmer
Sounds of Water
Misty River is a four-woman band blending bluegrass, country and Celtic sounds into a musical flow that runs like water. The band is also quite prolific, with 14 years and five albums to its credit. Friday, June 3, at The Shedd, Misty River will play what most likely will be its final Eugene show.
Though claiming that its leave from stage life is only a break from the fast-paced music industry, Misty River is very upfront about the likelihood of playing again after 2011; the band say they "just dont know.” After so healthy a career and such spellbinding albums, you could see how calling it quits now may be a graceful bow rather than a sudden death.
Given the band name, as well as the natural vibe of Misty River, its only fitting that these ladies make their final Eugene appearance at the Mckenzie River Trusts second annual Living River benefit show. The concert is a celebration of the vitality possessed by rivers as well as the people who love them. Look to see Grammy Award-winning guitarist Doug Smith and speaker Jeff Douglass of Oregon Public Broadcasting both add to Misty Rivers performance, sure to be yet another demonstration of pitch-perfect vocal harmony.
Misty River plays 7:30 pm Friday, June 3, at The Shedd; $18-$30. ã Dante Zu¿iga-West
Return of the Pharoahe
Before hip hop committed suicide and shortly after rap videos on MTV became full-blown SUV commercials, a lone Pharoahes music reigned supreme. It was 1999, and an album entitled Internal Affairs became standard issue for any true underground hip-hop head. The style was defiant and street, but it wasnt thugged-out or ignorant. It was fresh. We bobbed our heads to it; we set off car alarms playing it too loud through obnoxiously large speakers; we ditched class, played ball and made bad decisions to this music ã that was in L.A.; I cant even imagine the effect it mustve had on teenagers and young folk in the artists hometown of Queens.
Pharoahe Monch is one of the still standing East Coast emcees who helped bridge a gap between like-minded East and Left coast rappers, to create what promoters and A&R reps coined "conscious” (or "underground”) hip hop. His peers include groups such as The Arsonists, Non Phixion, Jedi Mind Tricks, Helter Skelter, MF Doom ã I could go on and on. Though it is often said conscious hip hop started on the West Coast, the East boasts lyrical leviathans of the genre; Monch is proof of this.
He comes to Eugene after recently making W.A.R., his third solo album; its more upbeat than Internal Affairs and less funky than his 2007 release Desire. Make no mistake, this new joint definitely BRING's it. If you dont know, you better ask somebody or, as Monch would say, "Get the fuck up!” and get down to his upcoming Eugene show.
Pharoahe Monch plays 9 pm Wednesday, June 8, at WOW Hall; $13 adv., $15 door. ã Dante Zu¿iga-West
Are you ready for music re-re-re-vival of Americana? Granted, this ones been going on for a while now. But with a Mumford & Sons song like "Little Lion Man” burning up the charts (still trying to work out how a band of Brits can be considered Americana, but nevermind), the emo-grass sound perfected by the Avett Brothers is hotter than ever.
Portlands Water Tower Bucket Boys play the same kind of updated punky-bluegrass as the Avetts. But instead of swerving raucously like the Avetts, the Boys tend to toe a more traditional line. And this makes sense, seeing as the group got its start busking old-time folk and bluegrass covers.
Since then theyve toured the U.S. and Europe, playing everything from square dances to bluegrass festivals and opening for big names like Wilco and Old Crow Medicine Show. But the fact that these boys are firmly rooted in tradition doesnt mean their grass dontÄ well, slam. "Blackbird Pickin at a Squirrel,” from their critically acclaimed 2011 release Sole Music, is a hootin-n-hollerin fiddle-squealin banjo-pickin throwdown.
Catch the Water Tower Bucket Boys before theyre singing a duet with Dylan on the Grammies next year.
The Water Tower Bucket Boys plays a free show 5:30 pm Saturday, June 4, at CD World; and with Bad Mitten Orchestre and Conjugal Visitors 9 pm Saturday, June 4, at WOW Hall; $10 adv., $12 door. ã William Kennedy