Cappadonna Gets Back Into the Game
As nice as it’d be to say that The Cappatilize Project, Wu Tang MC Cappadonna’s first proper full-length solo record in five years, is another great solo effort from a member of the legendary Wu Tang Clan, that would be misleading to you, the hip hop fan. If you have not heard this album and you are expecting a level of rhyming quality on par with the Wu Tang’s more prominent members, get ready for a serious letdown. In comparison to his collaborators, Cappadonna’s rhymes just don’t quite measure up, mainly because they don’t rhyme most of the time. That’s just not forgivable because not only has Cappadonna been around for a good long while, but he’s regularly worked with some of the best in the industry. Which means that at this point, this guy is either really rusty, was in a rush to get this album out or is just better at guesting on other people’s albums than he is making his own. It’s not just that he isn’t in the same ballpark as Ghostface Killah and RZA. He’s not even in the same league. Cappadonna’s managed to make a go of it as a solo artist, but to be honest, that probably has more to do with his connections than his skills. Still, if you go to this show, you get a CD with the cover charge, which is a pretty decent bargain; for that price, it’s probably worth taking your own listen and drawing your own conclusions. Cappadonna, Endr Won and Rakenya play at 9 pm Friday, October 17, at Diablo’s Downtown Lounge. 21+ show. $15. — Sara Brickner
The Grass is Bluer
Although he’s been performing for over half a century and won the loftiest awards in the field, bluegrass banjo pioneer Ralph Stanley leapt to public prominence only recently when his music was featured in the Coen brothers’ movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which won Stanley a Grammy and a new audience. He’s as venerated as any living American musician and shouldn’t be missed. Ralph Stanley performs at 7:30 pm Friday, Oct. 17, at the Shedd. $24-$36. — Brett Campbell
When Pall Jenkins christened his main band Black Heart Procession, he conjured up a moniker that fit the music like a tight, black, ripped-up T. Brooding, bleak and baleful, Black Heart Procession (in name and sound) comes off like a funeral march under a melancholy moon, a long, lonely walk down the back alleys of dark human impulses. So when Jenkins dubbed his new side project Mr. Tube and the Flying Objects, you’d think he had formed a jam band … or maybe an experimental Mr. Bungle-type ensemble … or possibly a lightweight cock-rock band in the vein of Mr. Big. (Ha! Now I’ve got that crappy “To Be With You” song stuck in your head.) But no, Mr. Tube and the Flying Objects sound like none of the above.
According to the press release, the San Diego outfit sounds a bit like “a distorto mariachi band with an impressive Cabaret Voltaire collection, playing the seedy parts of Tijuana.” Whaa…? Your guess is as good as mine as to what that’s supposed to mean. Truthfully, Mr. Tube and the Flying Objects remind me of Santana sometimes and Fela Kuti most of the time. On their debut album, Listen Up!, Mr. Tube and company float smooth Afrobeat guitars and horns along a undulating river of Latin rhythms. The Broken Flowers soundtrack and Ethiopiques series are obvious reference points for the band, but the occasional macho hip hop choruses and warped, baritone voices slurring Spanish slang might throw you for a loop — at least as much as the name will. Mr. Tube and the Flying Objects play with Ingredients at 9 pm Saturday, Oct. 18, at WOW Hall. $10 adv., $12 door. — Jeremy Ohmes
Wobble and Shake
Last year, Portland’s The Shaky Hands became the fourth winner of Willamette Week’s Best New Band poll, which queries not readers but Stumptown music insiders about the best and brightest in town. According to the story, the band’s win was a foregone conclusion; according to the Shaky Hands bio, they’re “the one band that virtually everyone [in Portland] agrees on.” And that was the state of things before the release of their latest album, Lunglight, a record both driving and spare, intimate and broad — and at once like a totally familiar kind of rock record and like something that’s clearly a product of living in Portland. Why it gives that impression is harder to pin down. Lunglight is a little bit skittish, jittering through the percussion-decorated “Air Better Come” on its way to the janglier “We Are Young,” which suggests the Shout Out Louds stripped down and parading around a campfire. There’s a reserve and a tremor to the Shaky Hands’ songs; the lyrics mutter about not giving all your blood and repeat “Just wake up!” That line comes in the Velvet Underground-y “Wake the Breathing Light,” which repeats one playful guitar line, shaping and reforming the song around it and singer Nick Delffs’ chanting vocals. Everything builds to a frenzy and them comes to a shuddering stop to make room for the last song, “Oh No,” which, like the best last songs, begs to be a pint-raising late-night singalong at the end of the show, sighing strings and piano carrying us reveling into the dark. Maybe The Shaky Hands are your new favorite band, too. The Shaky Hands and The Heavenly Oceans play at 9 pm Sunday, Oct. 19, at Sam Bond’s Garage. 21+ show. $5. — Molly Templeton
Don’t Cry Woolf
Cindy Woolf’s voice is a thing of wonder — not least because she conveys a sense of wonder in every lyric she sings. The twang of this Arkansas songbird is as clear as the bubbling of a mountain stream and fresh as a daisy. Woolf was born in North Little Rock, but she spent most of her formative years in Batesville, where she learned to sing in church and by listening to her daddy’s bluegrass records. But she found her own path, and she doesn’t easily fall into any genre.
Her debut CD, Simple and Few, would be as comfortable on a shelf between old Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn albums as sitting next to more contemporary soft, folk-rock acts like Iron & Wine. Now she has a brand new album, Before Daylight, with just as much variety and old-fashioned goodness. The opening track, “Blurry,” combines back-porch fiddle with the high gloss of a violin. When she croons, “You’re always in a hurry / Won’t you wait for me,” her rural accent is irresistible and utterly authentic and remains so from the first song to the last, the Appalachian blues of “Drive All Night.”
Next to Woolf’s voice, which I can’t help but want to compare to the Billie Holliday-on-helium style of the Cranes’ Alison Shaw, the album’s highlight is the variety. Woolf knits together traditional country, folk rock and ethereal pop, and on Simple and Few she even pulled some lyrics directly from her grandmother’s diary. Wherever she gets her inspiration, it’s a thing of beauty. Cindy Woolf plays at 8:30 pm Sunday, Oct. 19, at Cozmic Pizza. Donation. — Vanessa Salvia
Friends of Daniel Pearl
Over the four years of its existence, FODfest, a concert tour honoring the life of the late Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl (FOD stands for Friends of Danny), has gone from an informal backyard gathering with music to a full-blown three week tour including nearly 20 shows on the East and West Coasts. The tour is organized by Todd Mack, a musician, songwriter, producer and former bandmate and close friend of Pearl’s, and is performed in a one-of-a-kind format: part song-swap, part jam session, part concert.
This year’s performers include peace activist and award-winning singer-songwriter SONiA of Disappear Fear and Acoustic Minds, a five-piece folk rock band. The tour also features several musicians who knew Pearl and played music with him when he was alive, as well as others who never knew him but were united by his story.
FODfest takes place at 7:30 pm Wednesday, Oct. 22, at the Axe & Fiddle, Cottage Grove. Free. See www.fodfest.org for more info. — Courtney Jacobs
It’s not often that a writeup in Twang Nation catches the attention of this writer, but when said country-bluegrass online zine heaps praise on a newbie country singer from central Washington, something is stirring in the sagebrush. Ellensburg’s Star Anna traces a ragged line across alt-country sirens Gillian Welch and Neko Case, snips a flower from the The Ditty Bops’ harmonic bouquet and adds thick flourishes (from backing band The Laughing Dogs) that solidify her Americana roots, all the while keeping a poppy backbeat.
That pop music sensibility probably comes from Star Anna’s background as a drummer in a high school punk-rock band. After that stint, Anna picked up the guitar and taught herself the acoustic licks necessary to express heartache in a land of endless crops and grasses. Crooked Path, her debut with the Dogs, paints a portrait of American solitude and bleakly gray winter days in the Pacific Northwest. Waltzy numbers like “Bed That I’ve Made” cross paths with bittersweet tearjerkers such as “Five Minutes to Midnight.” But it’s those poppy, jangly jug-band tracks like “Devil Don’t Remember My Name” and “Crooked Path” that foretell Star Anna’s bright, starry future. Star Anna and Molasses play at 9 pm Thursday, Oct. 23, at Sam Bond’s Garage. 21+. $3-$5. — Chuck Adams