Just when revivalist vaudeville was threatening to play itself out completely, along comes a queer, all-girl jug band from Alaska called Bac’untry Bruthers All Night dRagtime Revue. Wailing away on instruments native to both the mountains and the kitchen drawer, half of this foot-stompin’, raw-harmonizin’ quartet takes to the stage decked out in seamed stockings and feather boas while the other half prefers suspenders and newsboy caps. The latter two would be the “bruthers,” Huck and Emmit, a couple of visionary gender benders who founded the group by putting the “drag” in “dRagtime.” Bandmates Bucktoof Smiley and Juicy Lucy round out the Revue’s lineup with enthusiastic performances on everything from flute to refrigerator rack, and soften their more masculine counterparts with an old-timey dose of girly aesthetics.
The Bac’untry Bruthers compose and perform with deep reverence for bygone musical eras, but that doesn’t mean the unusual makeup of their little troupe is lost on them. They reinvent tradition nightly, both in the inclusion of drag as a clothing choice and as subject matter. Their musical heroes range from Leadbelly and Ella Fitzgerald to the Beastie Boys and Prince, but when you hear ukulele and kazoo layered over their rap adaptation of a B-Boys classic on songs like “Beastee Bros Dig Moonshine,” these influences don’t seem at all disparate. While their identities are on the front burner for all to see, the Bruthers give due time to classic themes of moonshining, faithless love and revenge (and don’t the three really go well together?). They are, first and foremost, lovers of a musical niche that was always inclusive of individuals society wasn’t quite ready to accept. Luckily, we have come far enough to be able to embrace these bruthers and sisters for the unique artistic perspective that could only come from cross dressing on damn cold nights. The Bac’untry Bruthers All Night dRagtime Revue plays at 7 pm Friday, Feb. 29, at Wandering Goat (all ages) and at 9 pm Sunday, March 2, at Sam Bond’s Garage (21+, $5). — Adrienne van der Valk
Keeping You In My CD Player
Emily Saxe (pronounced like “sax”) has an interesting backstory. She still has the pump organ from a relative who was a traveling musician in the 1800s, her grandfather wrote a hit song with Johnny Mercer and her mother is a classical and classical jazz pianist. In 1995, her husband’s job led her to Thailand, where she released her first three CDs and ended up a jazz singing sensation in the other hemisphere, selling out the Sydney Opera House. Now she’s back in the U.S., where Keeping You In Mind is her fourth CD and first U.S. release.
Here, critics have raved and compared Saxe to Diana Krall, k.d. lang and Norah Jones in the same breath. Saxe reminded my husband of Sally Timms on her delightful album Twilight Laments For Lost Buckaroos — a totally apt comparison but one unlikely to flatter Saxe, given that Timms is (undeservedly) much less well known than the aforementioned ladies. But readers familiar with Twilight Laments will know instantly what I mean … spare arrangements with just enough teeth, just enough country twang, just enough drama. The problem with critical comparisons to Krall, lang and Jones is that they might suggest that Saxe’s nice voice runs the show, and that’s just not the case. Her songs have plenty of space to breathe. Saxe is warm throughout but keeps herself in check, often singing almost in a spoken whisper. She gets quite maudlin on a couple of tracks, but skip those and the album is almost perfect. Emily Saxe plays at 7:30 pm, Friday, Feb. 29, at the Hult Center. $25-$35. — Vanessa Salvia
Josh Radin is hitting the music scene with full force. His acoustic/folk rock style is recognizable — and you might specifically recognize it from Grey’s Anatomy or Radin’s performance on The Ellen Degeneres Show — but original at the same time.
From the first listen, Radin’s songs feel like familiar friends. Songs usually take time to ease their way into your heart, but Radin’s immediately feel comfortable, and you’ll find yourself singing along without knowing it. Lyrics like “There’s a hole in my pocket about her size / but I think everything is gonna be alright” from the song “Everything Will Be Alright” will be trailing you all day long until you can finally listen to the song again.
According to his website, Radin’s musical influences are “musicians who know that lyrics are just as important as melody.” With phrases like “Your name is the splinter inside me while I wait” from the song “Winter,” it’s more than apparent that lyrics play a major role in Radin’s music. Currently he’s on tour with Ingrid Michaelson, another up and comer who — if you don’t know her already — you’ll likely recognize from the omnipresent Old Navy commercial that used her “The Way I Am.” Josh Radin, Ingrid Michaelson and Alexa Wilkinson play at 7 pm Monday, March 3, at John Henry’s. 21+ show. $12 adv., $14 door. — Megan Udow
Out of This World Music
Jewish, Arabic, gypsy, Jamaican, Ukrainian. Balkan Beat Box brings together the rich musical traditions of these peoples and cultures for the sake of shaking your rump. Centered around two Israeli-born New Yorkers, percussionist Tamir Muskat and saxophonist Ori Kaplan, BBB is equal parts musical circus and United Nations house band. The 10-piece group creates an aural utopia by combining klezmer, reggae, hip-hop and dancehall with Eastern European, Mediterranean, North African and Middle Eastern melodies and then laying the whole mash-up on a bed of dub and electronic beats. In a typical BBB song, sinuous brass breakdances with sitars and programmed rhythms while Muskat toasts over marimbas, handclaps and Moroccan choruses. In concert, BBB is all infectious energy all the time as musicians jump and gyrate across the stage and the two frontmen fire up the crowd. You could call BBB “world music,” but that seems like an understatement. With so many unlikely, seemingly disparate styles bumping and grinding against each other, BBB’s music is from another world, a world where politics and prejudices are set aside and people are united by their passion to simply get down. Balkan Beat Box plays at 7:30 pm Tuesday, March 4, at the Shedd Institute. Tickets start at $22. — Jeremy Ohmes
Sweet, Sweet Musique
The Oregon Mozart Players don’t miss a chance to combine fine music and fine dining. OK, admits director Jeff Eaton, the group dropped the food/chamber music connection during a “near-death experience” a couple of years ago, but now that the funding situation has been resolved, the chocolate is back.
Along with some lovely dancing: Four members of the OMP and dancers from Ballet Fantastique combine for the next sweet treat in the Chocolate and Chamber Music Series, “A Novel Experience.” The program for this event includes two string quartets — Beethoven’s Opus 18, #6, and Alexander Glazunov’s “5 Novelettes” — and for the second selection, Hannah and Donna Bontrager’s dancers meld the arts on the Wildish Stage. Violinists Sharon Schuman and Matt Fuller, cellist Anne Ridlington and violist Jessica Lambert play the music while the ballerinas leap and play —?and while audience members eat things that the dancers would never touch. Hey, ultra-fudge organic brownies from Kitchen Witch? Opera cookies from Metropol? And, as Eaton says, “non-chocolate desserts for those who can’t eat chocolate”? Let the dancers dance; let the audience eat — and mingle with musicians after the show. “That breaks down the sense we’re not just regular people,” Eaton notes. Especially if the musicians have a mouthful of cake.
The chocolate series sells out pretty fast, so snag those tix now for “A Novel Experience” at 7:30 pm Tuesday, March 4, at the Wildish Theatre in Springfield. $16, $12 kids. — Suzi Steffen
Punk As Folk
They share a name with the small covering typically worn by erotic dancers, named the official band color pink and tour with a gigantic fuzzy pink gorilla: The Pasties are neither your average punk band nor your average folk band. The Pasties have enough members to form a band of each genre, but their unique blend makes them, as the title of their most recent album says, Punk as Folk.
This folk/punk army marches into each musical battle with banjo, guitar, bass, drums, trumpet, mandolin, accordion and plenty of microphones in hand. The Pasties exude energy more fun and more intense than many straight up folk or punk bands. Feet will be dancing, booties shaking and heads banging.
If you’re a Eugenean who hasn’t caught the cycling bug, The Pasties may change your tune with their upbeat anthem “Bikes Are Sexy.” “I want to be the banana in your seat / When you’re pushing those pedals up and down my street / Bicycling makes sense to me / get where you need to go for free / Some people want to get to the Tour de France, but me, I want to get into your underpants!” Perhaps you already think “bicycles are better then porn” and you “chain it to the pole when you go to the bar.” Well, then, The Pasties may become your new favorite Northwest folky-punk band.
The Pasties have plenty of experience playing street corners, but they’ll be playing with Minmae and the Bad Mitten Orchestre at 9 pm Wednesday, March 5, at Sam Bond’s Garage. 21+ show. $5. — Anne Pick