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Nostalgia Noises

From Bill Frisell to Eugene Vocals Arts and Neko Case
Neko Case
Neko Case

In very different ways, concerts this month take listeners on a sentimental journey into the past. The Thursday, Nov. 3, concert at The Shedd features Bill Frisell gazing wistfully back at his boomer childhood. The Seattle guitarist and his excellent band (fellow Seattle star violist Eyvind Kang, singer Petra Haden — best known for her work with her late dad, jazz bass legend Charlie Haden — drummer Rudy Royston and bassist Thomas Morgan) play music from the movies (To Kill A Mockingbird, Once Upon A Time In the West, The Godfather, etc.) and TV shows (Bonanza and others). 

Of course, being one of America’s finest and most visionary musicians, Frisell does far more than wallow in the past. His warm, languid approach evokes not just what the music sounded like, but also what it felt like. It’s more a sweet dream of the past than a mere rote nostalgia trip — except for one nightmarish moment (Psycho).

The next night, Portland Cello Project revisits its own past as the multi-cello ensemble (started by former Eugenean Doug Jenkins) brings its 10th-anniversary tour to Hi-Fi Music Hall Nov. 4. Expect hits from throughout the innovative group’s career, from classical music to pop to hip hop. That same night, concertina virtuosa Caitlín Nic Gabhann and fiddler Ciarán Ó Maonaigh will take listeners on a journey through old Irish traditional folk music and dance during a house concert at 755 River Road (contact mmeyer@efn.org for details).

The American Songbook provides endless occasions for musical nostalgia. At another house concert Nov. 5 at Broadway House (911 W. Broadway), some of Eugene’s finest jazz musicians — singer Halie Loren and trumpeter Tony Glausi’s quartet — perform mid-century classics like “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise” and “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” as well as rock-era hits by Otis Redding, XTC, Norah Jones and The Beatles (reservations at 686-9270 or pbodin@uoregon.edu). 

The big standards show, though, is at The Shedd Nov. 10 when pianist and singer Michael Feinstein sings American songbook standards by the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and more. Through his NPR series Song Travels, PBS specials, ardent archival research, enthusiastic public advocacy, multi-platinum record sales, pops-orchestra conducting and many other efforts, the one time Ira Gershwin assistant has made an invaluable contribution to American music. Although his own soft-focus performing style can sometimes take a little too much of the edge off this immortal music for my taste, hardly anyone knows this music better, and audiences all over the world have appreciated Feinstein’s music and his role in restoring and reviving our American musical heritage.

The Shedd also offers a look back at the roots-ier side of American music Nov. 16 with the latest in Chico Schwall’s valuable musical investigation of American masters, this time featuring the great early 20th-century fingerpicking banjo master Charlie Poole (a forerunner of bluegrass) and the mid-20th-century blues of Memphis Minnie — two pioneers whose legacies deserve more attention. 

The Shedd also shows the continuing vitality of roots-oriented music by welcoming Southern-born, NYC-based singer-songwriter Riley Etheridge Jr. Nov. 11. 

Two more fine Americana artists, New Orleans’s Anders Osborne and Austin’s great politically charged James McMurtry, play Hi-Fi Music Hall Nov. 15.

There’s an Americana twist to Eugene Vocal Arts’ Nov. 11 show at the University of Oregon’s Beall Concert Hall in P.D.Q. Bach’s Bluegrass Cantata, which ingeniously and sometimes hilariously blends familiar Baroque sounds with faux-folk fun. But the big piece on the program is a genuine 18th-century classic: the Magnificat of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, whose own stirring music has unfortunately been overshadowed by his dad Johann’s and his ne’er-do-well fictional bro, P.D.Q. 

If all this old stuff has you itching for some forward-looking sounds, check out McDonald Theatre Nov. 10 when one of today’s most admired singer-songwriters, Neko Case, performs with Eric Bachmann and Jon Rauhouse. Although she’s often drawn on country and other American traditional sounds, the former Northwesterner and longtime New Pornographer has made them her own. Someday, Case’s evocative music will be the subject of nostalgic tributes.