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Music

Bright young talents conquer Broadway with hip new streetwise music: Seven decades before Hamilton, 25-year-old composer Leonard Bernstein and his upstart young (average age 27) drinking buddies — singer-songwriter-comedians Betty Comden and Adolph Green and choreographer Jerome Robbins — blitzed wartime Broadway with On the Town.

A fun game: Listen to "Weird Al" Yankovic and take him deadly serious. Forget that he’s built a career lifting popular tunes from artists like Michael Jackson or Pharrell Williams. In 1988, Weird Al lampooned Jackson’s “Bad” with “Fat,” and on Yankovic’s 2014 release Mandatory Fun, he borrowed Pharrell’s “Happy” and made it “Tacky.” 

If you’re sailing down the Willamette River through Corvallis, don’t be surprised when you hear distant piano music. No, it’s not some river ghost — it’s probably the Barker Gypsies. 

If you’ve spent time in a city, even little Eugene, you know the main characters on the sidewalk: the kid looking to bum a cigarette; the person staked out on a corner trying to convince you that the world is doomed; and the folks just angling to get you to buy their stuff. 

When folks who were born into the post-Woodstock era need a pop song that says “chill out, relax, you’ve got this,” chances are they sing the theme from TV show Greatest American Hero. Devon Geyer’s dad wrote that iconic TV tune. Geyer is the main man behind L.A. pop project Decorations, whose full-length debut, Have Fun, is out now on Frenchkiss Records.

Many have claimed that Bollywood — India’s film industry — is bigger than Hollywood, yet Bollywood rarely enters our orbit here in the states. It’s too bad; Bollywood has cultivated a fabulous, colorful and often over-the-top silly world of music, dance and community.

In 2010, an earthquake ripped through Haiti and caused widespread devastation. Most of us saw the news reports, but what the headlines missed was the creative Haitian culture that Mother Nature could not shut down. 

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

Let’s assume you love classical music and you’re having a hangover now that the Bach Festival is over and the symphony and other classical seasons don’t get going for some weeks. Let us further assume that you are not among the fortunate many who found out about the Eugene Symphony’s eighth annual Symphony in the Park concert at Cuthbert Amphitheater on Saturday, July 16, before all the free tickets were snapped up by the savvy.

Welcome to the weird world of Eugene songwriter Jake McNeillie — a world where black holes suck “the flesh of unwilling girls,” human bones lie “without their meat” and animals have socks on their feet. 

When the single “Fire and Rain” dropped in 1970, it is possible that nobody understood what the Boston-born singer-songwriter and multi-platinum artist was alluding to. After all, a human who writes his first song at 14 is a natural chaser of stories, and Taylor’s tale — through depression, self-help, institutions and modesty — is one for the ages.

After 16 years, Boss Hog, a side project of Jon Spencer of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, has returned with the Brood Star EP, a self-described amuse-bouche to the band’s forthcoming full-length album Brood X

Kneeling at the altar of The Kinks, The Pixies and Nirvana, Season One!, the debut album from popular Eugene garage-rock trio VCR, has finally arrived. And rest assured, it’s fantastic. 

Last week I called up my 69-year-old white mum in Minnesota with a special request: Listen to Die Antwoord’s new mixtape Suck On This and let me interview you about it. 

Die Antwoord would probably top the list of music you shouldn’t listen to with your mother, or vice versa, but, like a boss, my mum accepted the challenge.

The Elena Leona Project (ELP) is sizzle, spice and everything nice. Like the lovechild of Lauren Hill and Etta James, this band is funky.

If toe-tapping and swingin’ beats with eerie, Romanian undertones are your thing, check out Hot Damn Scandal

When the Oregon Bach Festival commissioned what turned out to be his European Requiem back in 2012, James MacMillan couldn’t have known how prophetic that title might have turned out to be. The 57-year-old Scottish composer’s big choral orchestral work premieres July 2 at the Hult Center — just more than a week after his compatriots voted to withdraw the United Kingdom from the European Union, a move that might in turn provoke MacMillan’s homeland to seek independence from the U.K. Given speculation that other countries might follow the U.K.’s secessionist lead, MacMillan’s new composition may indeed turn out to be a requiem for the ideal of a united Europe.

A brand new Eugene band, Ghost Tour, debuts Saturday, July 2, at Hi-Fi Music Hall’s Lounge. Ghost Tour features several familiar faces for Eugene music fans, such as Olive DelSol (Bohemian Dub Orchestra) on keyboards and vocals, and Michael Steinkirchner (Caitlin Jemma & The Goodness) on lead guitar. 

The Pacific International Choral Festivals (PICFEST) celebrates its 18th season this summer with the premier of Shakespeare & All That Jazz, Sunday, June 26, featuring jazz greats the Yellowjackets, and a 300-voice Youth Festival Chorus, all under the direction of guest conductor and composer Bob Chilcott.

Stephen Buettler is the principal provocateur behind rising Eugene band Pancho + The Factory. He’s also the primary songwriter and vocalist. Sitting next to me at the bar in Eugene’s Wayward Lamb, Buettler vibes like an off-duty, dock-working Pagliacci with a rock ‘n’ roll edge — due in no small part to his blue-collar handlebar moustache and black fingernail polish. He has a malleable, expressive face, a gentle, kindhearted sadness in his eyes and a soft, teddy bear-like physique that some might call cuddly.

What historically informed European musicians have done for Baroque music, James Ralph does for American musical theater. For years, the Oregon Festival of American Music (OFAM) impresario has been painstakingly supervising the reconstruction of the original scores of George and Ira Gershwin’s classic 1920s musicals, which have been performed for decades only in relatively bastardized remakes for stage or screen. 

California’s Sonny & The Sunsets current release, Moods Baby Moods, is a contender for 2016’s album of the year. The record’s elements are familiar: ’70s and ’80s English New Wave and New York art-pop grooves mix with Lee Scratch Perry-style studio experimentation and wubba-wubba dub atmosphere.

For touring bands, finding a reliable person to run the merch table, selling assorted paraphernalia, can be a challenge. But on one of Jaill’s passes through Eugene, the band found a creative solution. 

Snow Tha Product is a pint-sized rapper who brings high-voltage ferocity to the hip-hop scene, drawing on her Mexican heritage with a twist of Cali-Texan influence.