Paint it Yela
One last chance, Eugene, one last chance: Barring a polar inversion or some such other apocalyptic cataclysm, this will be your last chance to kick it intimate with the furious and brilliant Southern trash hip-hop master Yelawolf, who at the end of this month drops his Interscope/Shady Record’s debut, Radioactive. If you were lucky enough to catch Yela’s blistering, rollicking, rat-a-tat appearance May 29 at the Cuthbert — during which the self-declared Slumerican lit it up and burned it clean like a Roman candle — you understand the import of his Sunday WOW Hall appearance. You might not get this close again. With Radioactive, Yelawolf is going all in and doubling down. “It’s a play on words,” he told EW about the new album on a previous Eugene visit. “It’s a play on music. We’re trying to connect with people on an even bigger level… This deserves a bigger ear. This isn’t an underground record. This isn’t a buzz-worthy record. This is a record for the world, you know? It just felt that big to us.” Yelawolf’s “Hard White” Tour featuring DJ Craze and Ritz hits WOW Hall at 9 pm Sunday, Oct. 9; $15 adv., $18 door. — Rick Levin
Waving the Freak Flag
Chances are you love Greg Brown or you’ve never heard of him. He’s that kind of artist. If you’ve heard of him, stop reading now and go throw on his latest release Freak Flag — get yourself psyched up for his upcoming show Friday, Oct. 7, at The Shedd.
If you’ve never heard of him, Brown is a living legend in the folk music world. Though not a household name himself, he is the guy behind many of those household names used today. His stuff’s been covered by the likes of Joan Baez, Ani DiFranco, Willie Nelson and Jack Johnson. Maybe you’ve heard him on Prairie Home Companion and didn’t know it. For years now he’s been mixing Woody Guthrie’s road-weary philosophizing and Dylan’s clever storytelling, with the cadence of a bullfrog.
Brown runs his own label, Red House Records, which has released works by Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, John Gorka and Eliza Gilkyson among many others. Brown is also quite socially conscious as an artist; in 1999, his Solid Heart CD and accompanying video were recorded during a two-night benefit for In Harmony, an organization that supports foster children and their families. In 2002 proceeds from the sales of Going Driftless: An Artist’s Tribute to Greg Brown, featuring Ani DiFranco, Gillian Welch and Brown’s own daughters, went to benefit the Breast Cancer Fund.
And on top of it all Greg Brown loves Eugene. He even wrote a song about us called “Eugene,” in which he sings “I know a few people that’d let me park in their drive. Plug in for a night or two. Stay up late and talk about these crazy times. The blandification of our whole situation.”
Greg Brown plays Friday, Oct. 7, at The Shedd; $26-$34. — William Kennedy
Feel the Love
Concrete Loveseat is a local band composed of members from other local bands (the Sugar Beets, the Moonbox, Chanci Pants and the Educators) who came together organically during the heavy snow days that hit the city a few years ago. Vocalist Cynthia Valentine and Sugar Beets guitarist Marty Chilla ran into each other over warm drinks and a nice fire. From there it just snowballed.
This is a band full of top-notch musicians, and Valentine can really belt it out. Paul Biondi (woodwinds), Austin Bowels on piano, Sylvain Duplant (standup bass), Beau Eastlund (drums), Daniel Gallo (guitar) and smooth bass master Bob Schlicting make up the rest of the crew — they are throwbacks who play old jazz standards with startling authenticity. “We’re trying to innovate but do things that don’t pop the bubble of our Billie Holiday-style jazz,” Chilla says.
Gigging all over Eugene throughout the past year after releasing Love Me, a six-song album that sounds perfect for the upcoming winter season, Concrete Loveseat has found its groove. Although a little bummed out that local favorites Sea Bell broke up, Concrete Loveseat continues to contribute to the lively music scene and the venues that make it all happen. At its next show, Concrete Loveseat will be playing a unique alternating set with the fusion belly dance troupe Mint Eclyptic.
“We can’t wait to play at the new, updated Cozmic Pizza,” says Chilla. “It is a really great place to play and we’re excited to check it out.”
Concrete Loveseat plays 9 pm Saturday, Oct. 8, at Cozmic Pizza; $9. — Dante Zuñiga-West
The Science of Sleeplessness
Astronautalis doesn’t sleep. He has been touring relentlessly for the past seven years. Son of a bar-fighting Texas trainman and a Kentucky woman who ran away from home to chase her dream of photography, Astro seems born and bred for the road life. His music has evolved as dramatically as he has over the years, and he’s found a habitat in the place between scenes.
For Astro, it all started out with battle rap, an aggressive medium that at its best pits wit against wit and at its worst sounds like two idiots in the beginning stages of aggravated assault. Competing at Scribble Jam, one of the nation’s premier battle-rap contests, Astro cut his teeth in the realm of backpacker hip hop. From there, his style transformed into the sound he now creates. Take Slug’s (from Atmosphere) cadence, mix it with The Mars Volta, and that’s close to what Astro is now putting out.
Astronautalis is a writer’s MC, cut from the cloth of Sage Francis, Aceyalone or Prevail. For example, try finding another rapper who has written a song about the Battle of Trenton. What Aceyalone did with The Book of Human Language or Prevail did on Balance, Astronautalis has done with his newest album, This is Our Science — but Astro is pushing literary hip hop with an indie-rock aesthetic, and it sounds great.
This is Our Science comes fully loaded with help from Astro’s accomplished peers Cecil Otter (Wugazi), POS (Rhymesayers), as well as indie-rock sensation Tegan & Sara. It is Astro’s most autobiographical album to date, and it flawlessly interweaves hip-hop vocals with rock-style chorus and song. There are even moments when the guitar riffs and Astro’s verse sound reminiscent of a younger Anthony Kiedis, right around when the Chili Peppers vocalist was hanging out with hip-hop innovator Kool Keith.
Live, Astronautalis often pays homage to his hip-hop roots by freestyling on topics thrown out to him by audience members. For an impressive display of Astro’s talent, check out his song “Mr. Blessington’s Imperialist Plot” on YouTube.
Astronautalus plays 9 pm Saturday, Oct. 8, at WOW Hall; $10 adv., $12 door. — Dante Zuñiga-West
The Da Vinci Codex
Great art doesn’t happen in a vacuum. History shows that even when artists rise to immortality, overshadowing others of their time and place, many were nevertheless part of an artistic community. These communities often contained practitioners of multiple art forms, which made for a very rich creative atmosphere. There’s no question that Leonardo Da Vinci lived in a remarkable time and place — Renaissance Florence and Rome — that fielded one of history’s most fertile artistic cultures, boasting the likes of Michelangelo, Botticelli and Raphael.
But what about musicians? Along with being a painter, inventor and engineer, Da Vinci was also a musician who painted portraits of musicians and designed musical instruments — he partook in the sounds of great Renaissance music and dance. The Toronto Consort will bring some of those sounds to UO’s Beall Concert Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 12.
The group, which includes superb singers as well as lutenist, flutist, guitarist, keyboard, recorder and percussion players, has won acclaim for four decades, and scored soundtracks like The Sweet Hereafter. The Toronto Consort’s theme-oriented programming draws audiences interested not just in music but also in history. In fact, they’ll present a similarly themed program, focusing on the music of Shakespeare’s time, at Oregon State University’s Music a la Carte Series at noon, Oct. 14 in Corvallis. The Toronto Consort will repeat the Da Vinci program at Western Oregon University in Monmouth during the evening of Oct. 14 and play at Portland’s Marylhurst University on Oct. 13.
The Toronto Consort performs The Da Vinci Codex 8 pm, Wednesday, Oct. 12, at Beall Concert Hall; $8-$10. — Brett Campbell