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Music

Miranda Lambert is one of country music’s top female artists, but she has a gutsy-ness and grittiness that many women in country lack. She’s got sass and strength as well as suffering and insecurities, and isn’t afraid to reveal any of it in her lyrics.

A major attraction of the Oregon Festival of American Music’s two-year exploration of the so-called American songbook in Hollywood is rediscovering the original incarnations of stories most of us remember only from the later movies they inspired. 

Tuscon, Arizona, duo Sweet Ghosts took their name from a poem by Jack Gilbert: “Again and again we put our sweet ghosts on small paper boats and sailed them back into their death …” And listening to Sweet Ghosts’ latest release Certain Truths, it is easy to imagine “sweet ghosts on small paper boats.” 

Alongside Neil Young and Bob Dylan, Tom Petty has one of the most distinctive voices in rock music. And when you have a distinctive voice, it gets spoofed a lot by comedians. So I ask Mike Campbell, longtime lead guitarist with Petty’s band The Heartbreakers, which comedian does the best Petty impersonation?

“But what really matters is not what you believe but the faith and conviction with which you believe,” wrote the great Norwegian authur Knut Hamsun in his novel Mysteries. Hamsun — who, unfortunately, ended up believing some pretty vile stuff — nonetheless may have been forecasting the astral projections of fellow countrywoman Martine Kraft, the virtuoso violinist and songwriter.

With all the middle-of-the-road county fair and casino appearances Pat Benatar makes, it’s hard to remember just how edgy this four-time Grammy winner once was. 

If you’re pestered by indecision — vanilla or chocolate, Beatles or Rolling Stones — rest assured that when it comes to Rod Stewart and Carlos Santana, you won’t have to choose. 

Vince Staples, who recently signed to Def Jam Records, released Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2 in March 2014 —the fourth mixtape he’s dropped since 2011. 

Music News & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Like something from your grandma’s collection of 45s, “10-gallon funnyman” Sourdough Slim harkens back to the days of the singin’, yodelin’, joke-tellin’ cowboy. You might be asking yourself: Is the world really waiting for a revival of the Burl Ives, Will Rogers and Gene Autry sound?

Time changes things, and Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac knows this as well as anyone. After all, before he and Johnny Rzeznik became one of the more notable pop rock acts of the last two decades, they preferred to be noisy rather than pop savvy.

If all you know of Soul Asylum is a touching little torch song called “Runaway Train,” listen up: Long before that unexpected hit was released in 1992, Soul Asylum had achieved a rare kind of cult status among fans of guitar-heavy alt-rock — a status founded largely on the soulful songwriting and indubitable white-boy groove of frontman Dave Pirner. 

Unlike previous efforts, Mike Last feels The Stagger and Sway’s latest release, Fun and Games, is a rock ‘n’ roll record — a sound the quartet has moved toward since adding Brian Schierenbeck on lead guitar. 

“We love Eugene,” says Ashley Edwards, vocalist and songwriter for Durango, Colorado-based Hello Dollface. “The vibrancy, the grit, the consciousness, the food.”

This time each year, Eugene respectfully steps back and offers the stage to the Oregon Bach Festival. And no wonder: The 44-year-old classical music institution abounds with so many attractive performances, workshops, lectures and other events that we couldn’t even begin to cover them all in last week’s issue. Here’s a rundown of some remaining top recommendations.

The last bro standing from the ’90s jam band/groove-rock scene (Sublime, Dave Matthews, Blues Traveler et al.), Garrett Dutton, better known as G. Love of G. Love & Special Sauce, is way too chill to care much about superstardom. 

On record, San Francisco’s Geographer is somewhat blunted by an ambition to sound thoroughly “now,” to fit into whatever mold successful modern rock bands are expected to fit into in these wild and wooly days of making music. 

It takes the right combination of craziness and courage to walk away from the fame game at its peak. But in 2007, Jurassic 5 did exactly that.

Around the 35-second mark on “It Ain’t Easy,” track 14 on Sassparilla’s recently released impressive double album Pasajero/Hullabaloo, something begins to sound very similar to a song cemented on classic rock’s Mt. Rushmore. 

Music News & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

What were you doing at age 17? Well, 17-year-old Clementine Creevy of the L.A.-based band Cherry Glazerr is busy fostering an up-and-coming indie “it” girl reputation — but not before getting her homework done.

Though the final entry in the beloved Harry Potter series hit bookshelves seven years ago, and the last film arrived three years ago, The Boy Who Lived continues to live on thanks to the cheeky musical genre known as Wizard Rock

Music News & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Sometimes opposites attract, and sometimes they create havoc. This could be considered the theme for 2014’s Debutantes & Dealers, the debut full-length album from Seattle folk-rockers Vaudeville Etiquette.