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Music

If you have had a chance to check out singer-songwriter Jesca Hoop’s oddly beautiful 2010 release, Hunting My Dress, then you know what a unique talent she is. Hoop’s penchant for creating a wide variety of moods, sounds and storylines while keeping the music cohesive is an unusual feat of songwriting.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

Fruit Bats have been producing music for over a decade and their sound recalls the falsetto vocals of Neil Young mixed with the subtle rock of alternative country. Their last release, 2011’s Tripper, was replete with thumping acoustic jams and would play perfectly alongside The Shins or Dr. Dog.

Beth Wood is a local singer-songwriter by way of Texas, and her brand of Americana, country and folk music has been getting people’s attention across the nation for nearly two decades. She has released eight albums, appeared on OPB’s Art Beat, received rave reviews from the likes of the Washington Post and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, won the 2006 Sisters Folk Festival Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Contest and been a finalist in the Telluride Troubadour Contest.

Ya got trouble, my friend, right here, 

I say, trouble right here in River City.

That couplet from Meredith Willson’s classic 1957 musical The Music Man could apply to just about any city on any river, any time and any place. 

Nobody’s quite like Lyle Lovett. The Muppet-faced singer-songwriter plays, for lack of a better term, country music. But it’s a country must for A Prairie Home Companion fans, for Texans who vote Democrat and insist Austin is just different.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Sometimes that guy with a guitar is just different, like Bright Eyes, the Mountain Goats, Iron and Wine or even Bob Dylan. While I’m not ready to place Austin-based singer-songwriter Shakey Graves in quite such lofty company, the plaintive plunking banjo that kicks off Graves’ 2011 release Roll the Bones caught my attention as something special, and I was proven right.

Faerieworlds has a solid music line up this year, but there’s one act that should not be missed: Mariee Sioux. And Howard Buford’s Emerald Meadows will be the perfect setting for her nature-infused, pseudo-mystical tunes.

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.