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Music

When interviewing a band called Levon’s Helmet, the lead question writes itself: What’s up with your most excellent band name? “Me and Gordon were in this band called Water Tower [formerly Water Tower Bucket Boys],” says Jason Oppat. “When we decided to make our own music we just went with it. At the time it was kind of a joke. It’s a little bit of a jab at folk and country music.” 

The Motet, an octet, puts on lively “dance parties,” and their music incorporates elements of dance, funk, soul, salsa, electronica, Afrobeat and samba. Their self-titled album comes out on Jan. 25 and marks a rebirth for the band.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Baroque music and candlelight make a fine combination. On Thursday (12/20) and Friday (12/21), the Oregon Mozart Players’ annual Candlelight Baroque concert returns to the ideally intimate setting of First Christian Church.

If you’re looking for the life of the party, look no further than Celtic folk-punk outfit Toad in the Hole. And since EW last caught up with them in January, they’ve brought some new partiers to the scene.

Paul Basile, singer and primary songwriter of New York-based indie rockers Great Elk, is spending the winter playing solo shows. Great Elk’s 2012 release Autogeography is a sweeping, tuneful and epic work of American indie music. 

“Keep an eye out,” warns Johnny Kraft, drummer for local skate-punk trio Bad Luck Blackouts. “It’s been a slow time for us but it’s been a very productive time.”

After hitting major gigs like the Northwest String Summit and the High Sierra Music Festival this summer, the whiskey-shooting, feet-stomping, heart-pounding Americana group Fruition returns to Eugene to tour its new album Just One of Them Nights

There are not many muses as evocative as the salty, salty sea. With that Pacific mistress nearby, The Crescendo Show knows this well. “The ocean is always tied into a lot of our music,” says Ricky Carlson, banjo, guitar, drum and back-up vocal Renaissance man for the Corvallis-based indie folk band. “It’s a pretty vast subject to write about it.” 

If not for Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice, Andy Frasco might have never found his muse. As a kid in Southern California, Frasco dreamed of being a music business behind-the-scenes guy — managing bands or running a label. Dropping out of school at the tender age of 14, Frasco started a booking agency and lied about his age to work at Capitol Records.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

“It’s only a model,” Terry Gilliam’s Patsy says, sotte voce, with a shrug of Camelot in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The soon-to-reunite Monty Python lads sure had that one right. Their spoof of Lerner & Loewe’s celebrated 1960 musical is an adaptation of T.H. White’s novel, The Once and Future King, which is an adaptation of Thomas Malory’s 15th-century epic Le Morte d’Arthur, which is itself a fanciful retelling of tales that probably have little to do with anything that actually happened way back when.

If you are wondering whether Sir Mix-A-Lot will be playing some of his hits when he comes to town — like “Posse on Broadway” or “Baby Got Back” — the answer is a resounding “Hell yes.”

Partially propelled by the hot success of the single “Same Love,” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are touring the world — supported by legendary Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli, which is puzzling considering Kweli is one of the pioneers of socially conscious hip hop, without which “Same Love” (a song condemning homophobia in all strata of society — particularly hip hop) might never have found mainstream acceptance.

Almost Famous, the 2013 release from Seattle’s Big Eyes, busts out of the gate with “Nothing You Could Say” — a riff-heavy, drum-bashing, fist-in-the-air anthem with guitarist and vocalist Kate Eldridge recalling Joey Ramone or Joan Jett. 

For Ben Morrison, the guitarist and one of the vocalists for The Brothers Comatose, recording their second album, 2012’s Respect the Van, was a very different experience than recording their debut album, 2010’s Songs from the Stoop.

In order to make her last album, 2012’s Bridges, come to life, Lisa Forkish — a South Eugene High alumna, current music educator at the Oakland School for the Arts and jazz vocalist — had to jump into the deep end and pray for the best.

Douglas County Daughters is another firm example that music is a place where sibling rivalries can fall by the wayside. After growing up in Douglas County, Neb., surrounded by their mother’s passion for 1940s music, sisters Mollie Ziegler and Emily West became classically trained musicians. 

The Shook Twins live a charmed life. Whether performing their quirky brand of indie folk pop solo, opening for Blitzen Trapper or the Carolina Chocolate Drops or partaking in side projects like Morning Ritual with Portland jazz luminary Ben Darwish, people love them to death.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

The Eugene-based Breakers Yard band says it best on the back of its latest release, Raise Some Bacon: “Legend has it Breakers Yard formed when both [band members] Greazy and Hot Coppa were simultaneously visited in a dream by the ghost of Cab Calloway.” 

Lyrics like: “bridges hold a sky of tired birds”; “come October we’ll fill our blankets up with leaves”; and “we sway until the moon is on our shoulders” go to show Anna Tivel, known on stage as Anna and the Underbelly, has arrived as a songwriter.

On Nov. 23, the Eugene Symphony transforms an opera into a concert and a ballet into a play. The inventive show opens with Sergei Prokofiev’s intensely dramatic 1936 ballet score, Romeo and Juliet — but instead of dancers, the Silva Hall stage will boast a trio of actors from Ashland’s world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival who will perform scenes from Shakespeare’s play, sometimes interpolated, sometimes in conjunction with the music.

Every culture lives in a state of duality, whether it’s past versus present, left versus right or some other ying yang. But few places have a physical barrier marking the binary like the border city of Tijuana, Mexico, where life, love and culture literally straddle a wall. This is where the sounds of the Nortec Collective, and its major players Bostich + Fussible, were born.