Under the Influence of the Beat
Garden Entertainment and Anne debut new hip hop influenced releases
BY STEVEN SAWADA
The beat strikes twice this weekend as hip hop’s intoxicating rhythm courses through the music of two performers heralding different styles of music. In one corner we have the distinct, Northwest hip hop sounds of The Kid Espi and Hot In Pursuit of Garden Entertainment, and in the other corner the crunktastic electro punk of Anne. With their new, straight-shooting contribution to the local hip hop scene, Healthy Portions, Garden Entertainment have positioned themselves to become a major player amongst local hip hop crews. At the opposite end of the spectrum, with a fresh single on the new 7″ picture-disc comp from Olympia’s Crunks Not Dead label, Anne has reclaimed the sound of the South and infused it with a brash punk aesthetic that seems to be clamoring through underground dancehalls all across the Northwest.
If her solo album, Plastic Surgery Center, defined her sound, her contribution to the new Crunks Not Dead comp will undoubtedly solidify her reputation as a rising star amongst the region’s dance punk notables. Hosting the likes of Nicky Click, Scream Club and the notorious Joey Casio, Crunks Not Dead represents Olympia’s new breed of dance punk, carrying the torch originally lit by folks like Calvin Johnson and Kathleen Hanna. Anne’s offering, “Hot Girls are Not the Enemy,” contains a much bleaker, more nihilistic sound than the tunes of her compatriots. As her shaky vocals tenuously ride her basic, no-frills drum beats, early Suicide immediately comes to mind. Not quite rap, not quite punk, and the hip hop purists will spit in your face for saying it, but perhaps crunk has spawned yet another illegitimate child.
Grounded in a more traditional sound, the cats at Garden Entertainment have taken their years of training in the local cipher circuit and crafted a solid new album full of banging club hits. This was achieved largely though employing several gifted up and coming NW producers (including Sapient of Sandpeople and Mo Poundz of the Reps), all of whom manage to concoct bouncy beats that relentlessly drop major bass. Slap on top of that the domineering flows of Kid Espi (aka Jacob Espinoza) and MC JG, and you have yourself a mature collection of danceable, crowd-pleasing cuts. Healthy Portions also features guest verses by Scarub of the Living Legends (who totally lights up the head-bobbing “9-5”) and 2Mex of The Visionaries.
Reserve this weekend to check out the different directions hip hop has taken with these two sweet record release parties.
Garden Entertainment, Cool Table, ENDR-1 and Stupendous and guests. 9 pm Friday, March 2. John Henry’s • $3. 21+ show
Anne, Nicky Click, Diamond Beats. 10 pm Saturday, March 3. Black Forest • Free. 21+ show
Church of Jazz
Various denominations at the Shedd
BY BRETT CAMPBELL
|Everyone Orchestra incorporates live jams with live art, Friday, March 2 at Agate Hall. PAINTING BY LANG SCHWARTZWALD|
You can usually find good jazz in downtown Eugene at Luna or the Jazz Station or Jo Federigo’s. The biggest out of town names — your Kenny Barrons, your Dave Douglases — tend to play the Shedd, the former Baptist church converted into an almost ideal concert hall for small-combo music. This month, the old church features several compelling jazz shows — including one mixing locals with the out of towners. This weekend, March 2-4, the Shedd hosts its first jazz party, comprising five sessions and at least 15 musicians. Friday night’s show includes the great New York clarinet master Ken Peplowski and other pros like Harry Allen, Bill Mays and Dave Frishberg, as well as local masters such as Mike Denny and Tim Clarke. Saturday is an immersion jam fest, commencing in the early afternoon (that’s morning for jazzers), stretching on till round about midnight, and adding more local lights (Steve Owen, Carl Woideck, et al) to play music by Benny Carter and more. Sunday’s jazz brunch starts at 10:30 am and blows till 5 pm. If you missed the Portland Jazz Festival or somehow didn’t get enough there, this is a great weekend opportunity to hear some top-flight musicians bouncing ideas and improvisations off each other, taking their music to new heights as only happens when playing with the best. Kudos to the Shedd for making a strong national-local jazz connection.
On March 8, the Shedd hosts one of the Northwest’s finest jazz bands: Wayne Horvitz’s Sweeter Than the Day. Horvitz is a New York new-jazz legend who, like Bill Frisell, fled that city’s rich downtown avant-jazz scene after much acclaim and wound up in Seattle. Don’t expect the funky fire of his equally estimable electric band, Zony Mash; something of a Seattle all-star aggregation, the acoustic quartet spotlights Horvitz’ more lyrical side, from straight-ahead to pastoral, almost countrified soundscapes, and is highly recommended to jazz fans of all denominations. On March 15, another New York to Northwest transplant, the great jazzy songwriter Dave Frishberg, arrives for a solo piano and vocal show at the Shedd. Frishberg pretty much shares (with Mose Allison) the crown (or maybe it’s a whoopee cushion) of witty, smart-guy lyricist. Thanks to the sultry Diana Krall cover, “Peel Me a Grape” is probably his best-known song, but “I’m Hip” and “My Attorney Bernie” also get lots of deserved play.
The Eugene Concert Choir joins local jazzers Swing Shift for big-band era standards at the Hult Center on March 11. There’s jazz at the UO, too, this Thursday, March 1, when pianist Toby Koenigsberg leads a quartet in new and classic jazz at Beall Concert Hall. And jam music of a different breed arrives on March 2 when the Everyone Orchestra (with musicians from Jambay, the Flecktones, Zero and other jam band royalty, plus live painters) plays the UO’s Agate Hall. On the afternoon of Sunday, March 4, the wonderful young Madrid-based string quartet Cuarteto Casals plays a superior program at Beall: great string quartets by Haydn and Schubert, plus (with guest oboist Thomas Gallant, who’s played with everyone from Kronos Quartet to Rampal, at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and most other major venues) oboe quartets by Mozart and Joseph Fiala. This looks like one of the best chamber music concerts of the year.
Most of the pieces played in classical music concerts were composed by men, for a variety of social, economic and political reasons. But history offers plenty of powerful music written by women, and contralto Linda Di Fiore will sing some of it on March 9 at Beall. The program features Renaissance music by the great Barbara Strozzi and some of her contemporaries, then proceeds through 19th and 20th century music by Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann and even a living composer, Thea Musgrave.
Speaking of contemporary composers, the UO offers several opportunities to hear music of our time. On March 10, the ever-venturesome Oregon Percussion Ensemble plays a 20th century classic — Steve Reich’s mesmerizing “Six Marimbas,” along with works by James Olsen, Christopher Rouse and Akira Miyhoshi. On March 11, the University Symphony plays another oboe offering: the world premiere of UO emeritus composition professor Hal Owen’s oboe concerto, plus Tchaikovsky’s ever popular “Serenade for Strings.” And the UO’s Brian McWhorter continues to subvert concert convention by offering brief “Sound-Bytes” at odd hours, this time from 11:54-12:08 pm at the UO’s comfy Collier House. “The idea,” he says, “is on your way to lunch, check out this really weird sound-byte.” On March 5, he and Lisa McWhorter premiere two new works for violin and trumpet written for them by another famous living female composer, Pauline Oliveros, and Jeffrey Perry. On March 12, he and the UO’s Lydia Van Dreel play an adaptation of Reich’s “Clapping Music.” I love McWhorter’s musical and programmatic creativity.
Finally, to hear the real cutting edge of music, check out DIVA’s March 12 lineup of Santa Fe’s Late Severa Wires (sonic collage), Portland’s View (industrial/noise) and Eugene’s Avoid the Future Shadow (ambient drone rock) and Eraritjaritjaka (“murky chaos”).
Protection From the Rain
|The June Umbrella|
Two years ago, we profiled bandleader Brian Hall’s band The Glorious Bride in EW‘s first Locals Only issue. Now, Hall — who has also played around town solo — is back with a new band, The June Umbrella, which apparently formed not long after that Glorious Bride write-up. Hall is still on a definite and appealing indie rock track, and the June Umbrella takes a turn for the Northwestern and the New York: Two clear musical references are the delicate, nostalgic yearning of Death Cab for Cutie (the chorus of “Harvest” is a dead ringer for a DCFC tune) and the shimmering, arpeggiated guitar lines of Interpol (particularly on “Icicles,” which also shows the electronic handiwork of DoublePlusGood). With drummer Adam Beam, guitarist Josiah Henley and bassist Claire Staley (replacing Hannah Sledge, who played on the record), Hall has put together a tidy, over-too-quickly debut for his new band. Neatly produced and confident, the band’s self-titled EP manages to sound famliar without sounding as if it’s drawing straight lines from the musicians’ favorite bands to their own songs. Certain lyrics have a definite spiritual bent, but in an accessible way; others are unabashedly lovestruck or draped with the descriptive imagery of a short story. A welcome addition to the Eugene music scene, The June Umbrella plays a CD release party with Cabinessence and the Tiffany Lamps at 7 pm Friday, March 2 at Cozmic Pizza. $5. — Molly Templeton
Born Again a Second Time
I know I’m not doing Brian Vander Ark, formerly of The Verve Pipe, justice by bringing this up, but I just can’t help myself. My friend’s 16th birthday was full of girlish fun, like shopping and getting our hair cut. Well, her cut ended up being much shorter than anticipated. As her dirty blonde shag lay across her face, all I could think was, “She looks like the dude from The Verve Pipe.” The rest of the night was spent belting out, with youthful enthusiasm, lyrics to “The Freshman.”
|Brian Vander Ark|
Now that that’s out of the way, Vander Ark — no longer part of The Verve Pipe — has kept up his musicality by releasing a few solo records, beginning with 2003’s Resurrection. Though he lay to rest his ’90s rock guitar for an acoustic and replaced melodramatic lyrics for more heartfelt ones, Vander Ark still manages to balance super depressing songs (like one about dying in a hospital bed) with more toe-tapping ones like “Survival.” Both fans and Vander Ark newbies will appreciate the softer, less ’90s angst side he has to offer.
Keeping with the softer side of things, the L.A.-based AM will round out the show, bringing with him the new face of pop music. The singer-songwriter has gained popularity through song placement on shows like The Real World and Men in Trees. AM’s airy pop songs are catchy yet cheesy in the same way Ben Lee and Coldplay songs are. But I think we can all agree: Cheese is good … mostly. Brian Vander Ark and AM play at 6:30 pm Saturday, March 3 at John Henry’s. 21+ show. $10 adv., $13 door. — Amanda Burhop
Trip the Light Mozartastic
Put on that party bonnet and kick up your booted heels! Oops, that’s just the poster talking: The Oregon Mozart Players, promoting the “Music from the Dance” program, chose Renoir’s Dance at Bougival to push the show. But the program is more ballroom than Renoir’s music hall flirtation despite the leadoff piece, Bartok’s Rumanian Folk Dances. The UO’s Dean Kramer, pianist extraordinaire, plays the solo bits in Mozart’s ninth piano concerto in E Flat (K. 271), which includes some dance-y sounds even if it’s not precisely a dance. And then there’s Debussy’s Petite Suite, which recalls both formal dances and celebrations. Of course, ending without more Mozart wouldn’t be right (it’s the Mozart Players, after all!), so the last piece is a set of six German dances, K. 571. Concert notes say that these German dances are “clever hackwork” because of their court-ordered formal structure, but come on — Mozart’s inventiveness was not squashed by formal structure. That’s probably when you’ll want to break out your best moves and fill the aisles and balcony of Soreng Theatre with your best (formal) moves.
At a UO faculty concert not too long ago, I overheard a member of the OMP board telling someone else that the OMP was in great financial shape again — which is wonderful; how Eugene supports so many classical music experiences is beyond me, but it’s definitely a boost to that “Greatest Village for the Arts” thing. And we want to keep it that way, no? So get out your fancy dancing togs and head to “Music for the Dance.” The Oregon Mozart Players play at 8 pm Saturday, March 3 and 2:30 pm Sunday, March 4 at the Hult Center. $15-$30. — Suzi Steffen
Classic Sebadoh Lineup Tours Again
“On my way to a temporary dream.” Thus began the first song on Sebadoh‘s third album, 1990’s The Freed Weed. When Barlow and company sang those words, they had little idea of the permanent impact they would have on the face of indie rock. At the time, following Barlow’s departure from Dinosaur Jr., they were still somewhat obscure, but by 1992 Sebadoh was well-known thanks to their Sub Pop debut Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock.
Fifteen years later Sebadoh remains an indie rock touchstone, lauded for their geeky aesthetic as much as for the lo-fi approach to music making they pioneered. Barlow’s intentionally low-tech recording style matched his folky-intellectual approach to rock and only heightened his bandmate Eric Gaffney’s frequent psychedelic freak-outs.
Last year it was announced that the classic Sebadoh lineup of Lou Barlow, Eric Gaffney and Jason Loewenstein would reunite and tour for the first time in 14 years. Their Eugene WOW Hall show will be six gigs into their almost two-month cross-country tour.
Sebadoh began in 1987 as a Barlow solo project. Gaffney quickly joined up, and Loewenstein hopped aboard in 1989. Fans endured frequent line-up changes, but it was this trio that was responsible for the classic albums III, Bubble and Scrape and the aforementioned Punk Rock. The band promises instrument switching just like old times, and songs from all Sebadoh eras. Sebadoh and The Bent Moustache play at 8 pm Monday, March 5 at the WOW Hall. $12 adv., $14 door. — Vanessa Salvia
Life in Old New York
|The New Amsterdams|
In 2000, then-Get Up Kids frontman Matt Pryor released what was essentially a solo record (with the backing of a handful of musicians), Never You Mind, as The New Amsterdams. At the time, it seemed like a fluke: quiet, acoustic songs with similar lyrical content to the Kids’ Something to Write Home About — and an Afghan Whigs cover too. But then the Kids parted ways, and in the years since, Pryor has steadily released music under the New Amsterdams name, including, most recently, 2006’s Story Like a Scar. The band no longer sounds like a side project, a place for Pryor’s thoughtful bedroom balladry. It sounds like a band, now with a regular lineup and a just-under 30-minute collection of new songs written, for the first time, by the group as a whole. Like earlier New Amsterdams releases, the album tips toward the introspective and low-key but makes room for a handful of energetic rock songs, like the punky and concise “Intelligent Design” and the end-of-an-era signoff “Bad Liar.” Pryor’s an experienced singer-songwriter, and his boyish, rough-around-the-edge voice is as suited to the New Amsterdams’ more alt-country songs as it is the self-conscious heart-on-sleeve acoustic tracks. Story Like a Scar is a more polished step forward for Pryor and his bandmates, and one that carries a sense of certainty. This is the band; this is the life that comes after being a reluctant emo star, of sorts. The New Amsterdams play with State Radio and Street to Nowhere at 9 pm Wednesday, March 7 at the WOW Hall. $10 adv., $12 door. — Molly Templeton