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The Conjugal Visitors’ M.D. “Maz” Elsworth is from Kentucky — the Bluegrass State. He says he considers his Eugene band to be the “Cascadian” equivalent to the Appalachian sound he grew up around.

“The epitome of Cascadian, whiskey-land jazz,” Elsworth tells EW, describing his band’s old-timey music, “Cascadian party music.” 

When unimaginable horrors are in the headlines — as they are far too often these days — it’s easy to feel helpless and to wonder what one person can do about so much pain in the world.

“About a week after the UCC shooting [in Roseburg] I was driving my kids to school,” says Eugene writer Rachael Carnes. Carnes, a regular contributor to EW, says the benefit was the brainchild of her daughter, Jane Brinkley. Brinkley, 13, is in the 8th grade at Roosevelt Middle School. Carnes and Brinkley are coordinating “Music Heals: A Benefit for all Victims of Gun Violence.” 

The Eugene Symphony Orchestra continues with the most forward-looking season of any Oregon orchestra in memory this Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Hult Center, with a diverse all-American program that includes the world premiere of Puerto Rican-American composer Roberto Sierra’s Loiza, based on his native country’s famous bomba dance rhythm. 

There’s no one element that stands out in “Opaque.” Smoke Season’s most popular single from 2014’s Hot Coals Cold Souls starts unassumingly, with guitarist Jason Rosen’s reverb-drenched Gibson SG carefully plucking out a G chord.

Thanksgiving can be a slow music weekend for Eugene, but don’t let that turkey tryptophan give you couch lock. There are plenty of reasons to put on some pants and leave the house:

The world is full of Christian bands you didn’t know were Christian: U2, Kings of Leon, Belle & Sebastian and now … drumroll … Cold War Kids! Not that you couldn’t have guessed it — there’s something about that stomp-clap indie-soul-folk thing that could easily give the band away, despite its lack of lyrical Jesus references.

What makes for a quintessentially L.A. band? History tells us the answer is always in flux, from the pristine sun-and-surf pop of the Beach Boys to the hairspray and whiskey-fueled sleaziness of Guns n’ Roses and the G-funk-laced bangers of Dr. Dre and Snoop. 

Gill Landry of Nashville-based alt-country string group Old Crow Medicine Show says his solo work sounds nothing like his well-known band.

Most touring chamber-music ensembles stick closely to the tried (or is that tired?) and true 19th- and early 20th-century Central European repertoire. Not the Dalí Quartet. Starting out in Venezuela’s famous El Sistema music training program, which also produced L.A. Philharmonic music director Gustavo “The Dude” Dudamel, the members of Dalí Quartet went on to study at major American conservatories. 

Boston duo Tall Heights is comprised of childhood friends Tim Harrington and Paul Wright. The pair got their start as street performers. 

Fun fact: You can join a band even if you can’t play an instrument.  

“When we started the band I did not play any instruments,” Mallory Graham of Nashville’s The Rough and Tumble tells EW. “And I was terrified to do so.”

On the first track of his latest record Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, singer Sturgill Simpson name-checks alien lizards, psychedelic drug DMT, Buddha and cosmic turtles, all of which are crooned about over a classic country shuffle. 

The songs of Brooklyn-based quintet Lucius range from alt-country ballads and ’60s psychedelic to percussive pop with beguiling melodies and dance rhythms. But it’s the powerful harmonizing vocals of lead singers Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig that really separate their sound from the mainstream.

Like most modern indie bands with a 30-year discography, a tendency to genre-bend and a mountain of critical acclaim, you’d think Yo La Tengo was too complex to fall for in an instant, but I did.

Music News & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Mac Miller’s latest release, GO:OD AM, reminds us we can trust the 23-year-old rapper to rise after a period of adversity. The dark undertones from his last self-released album Faces, focusing on drug addiction, give us a peek into the culture that often comes with money and fame at such a young age.

Much of Oregon’s music is made by immigrants from back East, but a few native Oregonian musicians have reversed the process, going on to glory far from their native Northwest.

The “Rocky and Tyler” tour features A$AP Rocky and Tyler the Creator, but Vince Staples is the rising star to watch.

Jonny Lang made his name as a 16-year-old blues guitar prodigy. Since then, he’s dabbled in rock, blues, gospel and pop — all the while remaining one of the most respected guitar slingers in the business. 

In their 15-year career, the five members of Blitzen Trapper have traversed wide musical landscapes, from the layered, progressive rock of small dive bars to the rustic alt country of Appalachia. Even within individual albums, Trapper is known for a range of sound that varies dramatically from song to song. 

“I remember hearing when I was a lot younger that the universe was infinite,” says Mike Rummans, bassist from ’60s garage rock band The Sloths. “If you kept traveling in space, you’d just go on forever and ever.” 

After a day or so of fighting our way through dropped calls and shitty cell reception, I get hold of Moon Hooch saxophonist Mike Wilbur somewhere in the middle of Idaho. He and his bandmates — saxophonist Wenzl McGowen and drummer James Muschler — are in the homestretch of their West Coast tour, which eventually will take them through Eugene. Wilbur is also audibly sick, which doesn’t seem to be getting him down in the slightest. 

Music unscrews the cranium, peers inside, pokes and prods, finding all the nooks and crannies contained within: excitement, fear, disappointment, nostalgia and, as singer-songwriter Erin McKeown says, empathy. 

After 10 years of indie Americana marked by the slow-burning sound of violin, cello, guitar and melancholic vocals, Justin Ringle, frontman for Horse Feathers, thought he was finished with sad songs, and therefore done with his career. He didn’t pick up his guitar for months.