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If a group makes it to the 25-year mark they must be doing something right, but with Donna the Buffalo you can argue that they are doing a lot of things right. Between having two harmonious and charismatic lead writers and singers, a way of writing songs that is simultaneously personal and universal and a knack for combining various elements of the roots music world together, this group is consistently engaging.

Music news and notes from down in the Willamette valley.

It’s high time the county fair became hip again. As society changes, the annual celebration of all things rural faces well-documented challenges. But in the age of Etsy and Pinterest, when cross-stitch, pickling and DIY chicken coops are all the rage, the county fair seems to have its finger on the zeitgeist.

On July 6, the Oregon Bach Festival chorus sang a sweet surprise 80th birthday gift for retiring founding music director Helmuth Rilling — an “Alleluia” commissioned from the great contemporary Scottish composer James MacMillan, who’s working on a big new commission for the 2016 festival.

Most ’90s alternative bands have long since disappeared — be it from lack of interest, internal discord, deaths or other unforeseen circumstances — but Collective Soul is one of the few who have continued on in spite of such troubles.

Miwa Nishio has recently started listening to The Carpenters again, and for the first time, she knows what Karen and Richard are crooning about.

I remember commuting to a soul-eating server job in Minneapolis I had post-college graduation. It was one of those faux fancy steak-and-seafood joints where businessmen come for lunch in business suits to talk business and inhale their food without looking at it. Servers might as well have been robots for the amount of eye contact exchanged. 

The last time EW checked in with the rollicking indie-grass rockers The Harmed Brothers was in the summer of 2010; hot off Cottage Grove’s Jug-R-Not festival, the band was about to kick-off a cross-country tour.

Legacies can be a blessing or a curse. How often do you see children wilt under the pressure of trying to be just like their parents? Can you imagine the number of times Holly Williams has been compared to her father and grandfather, Hank Jr. and Hank Sr., throughout her life?

I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when the collaboration between perpetually cool David Byrne and doe-eyed avant-pop upstart St. Vincent was hatched.

EW is happy to announce the Next Big Thing semi-finalists (in no particular order): Caroline Bauer, Michael Conley, Robert Meade, Sol Seed, The Crescendo Show, Those Willows, Speaker Wave, Elena Leona, Paris Green, Dubious, Tita Luisa, Edewaard, Scott Austin, The Great Hiatum, Steel Wool and Barefoot Leroy. See these talented warblers duke it out next at the Lane County Fair (July 24-28).

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

Matt Bishop, the lead singer of Hey Marseilles, likes to keep things free-flowing. Nowhere is this more evident than in the content found on the band’s latest release, Lines We Trace, which expands on the folk and orchestral elements found on their debut album, To Travels & Trunks, and incorporates heavy doses of dreamy pop-rock aesthetics a la Death Cab for Cutie. 

It’s easy to overlook some of the hidden — and often less expensive — gems amid the many choral and orchestral treasures the Oregon Bach Festival offers each summer. Maybe the best deal of OBF is this weekend’s Composers Symposium “Living Music” concerts at Beall Concert Hall, where on July 5 (for $10 or less), you can hear some of the late 20th century’s most compelling chamber music by the great composers Toru Takemitsu, Morton Feldman and John Cage, performed by Beta Collide, directed by one of today’s finest flutists, Molly Barth, and trumpeter Brian McWhorter.

Whether you revere the red, white and blue, or just love a day off to drink a beer and eat a hot dog (real or tofu) — July 4 is a time to celebrate independence. And this year Eugene-based troublemakers PORK Magazine are putting the indie back in Independence Day with an all-day lineup of rock ‘n’ roll bands in The Whit.

Imagine what a band called Diarrhea Planet sounds like. If you’re guessing juvenile pop-punk — an auditory equivalent of a Seth Rogen movie — you’re pretty spot-on.

Music news and notes from down in the Willamette valley.

For a band that makes some pretty weighty material, Aubrey Zoli and Matt Hart — the two lead parts of the Americana rock band The Local Strangers — sure do have a good sense of humor.

Franco-American Madeleine Peyroux’s background is worthy of Edith Piaf: Raised in the arts by bohemian parents, Peyroux spent time in Southern California, Brooklyn and Paris. She toured Europe at the tender age of 15; inspired by street musicians in Paris’ Latin Quarter, Peyroux passed a hat through the crowd for spare change.

Is there a reward to punching a clock beyond the paycheck? Or is your workweek a sad loss of time that could be better spent? This is what Michael Roderick, the bearded (and sometimes pig-tailed) front man of Mood Area 52, seeks to explore on the seventh album of their dynamic and genre-busting music, Company Town.

Carrie Rodriguez is a raven-haired wildflower, an alt-country songstress too feisty for Nashville and too down-home for rock ‘n’ roll. Initially hyped as a virtuosic fiddle player, Rodriguez is a hardworking, constantly touring roots songwriter — exemplifying her hometown (Austin, Texas)’s reverence for traditional music while flipping it the bird at the same time. 

Eugene’s biggest annual musical happening, the Oregon Bach Festival, begins its 44th season, and founding artistic director Helmuth Rilling’s last, Friday night with one of the monuments of choral orchestral music — but one relatively rarely encountered in live performance.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

Jah Sun is well aware of the deep history of reggae music and how much it has influenced other styles of music. His latest release, Rise As One, acknowledges this trailblazing art form, particularly on the track “Mad Up Di Place.”