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Music

Portland singer-songwriter Tara Velarde fuses a wide range of vocals and Latin rhythms to create a concoction I can only describe as diva folk. In the course of one album, Velarde maneuvers her voice from feathery to spine-tingling. You could compare her to Ingrid Michaelson or Laura Marling, but she raises the bar for folk-pop with her experimental and multi-influential mash-ups within the genre. 

It’s often said punks and hippies don’t get along. Nevertheless, Blag Dahlia, vocalist and founding member of legendary and, in some circles, notorious San Francisco shock-punk legends Dwarves, would like to extend an olive branch to the hippie girls of Eugene. 

Mike Stortz always dreamt of relocating his band Johnny Raincloud from South Florida to Portland. During a recent visit to Oregon, Stortz caught a show at Portland music venue Crystal Ballroom. What transpired convinced Stortz to take the plunge.

As a young man, Chris Robinson experienced overnight success with his band The Black Crowes. The Crowes had a major hit in the late '80s with their album Shake Your Money Maker, led by the Rolling Stones-esque single “Hard To Handle.” 

New York-born Ian Matthias Bavitz, better known in the alt-rap world as Aesop Rock, is the epitome of a committed artist. Bavitz has been churning out music with mind-blowing word counts and sick rhythms for more than two decades, but there’s something more to his style than hyping up a crowd. This guy is a sculptor; the beat is his foundation, which he cuts and molds with his lyrics to create a work of art.

Music News & notes from down in the Willamette valley

Christopher Ward, known as mc chris, is considered the king of nerdcore rap. Filmmaker Kevin Smith once called him the “poet laureate of pop culture” due to his entertainment-inspired lyrics.

YG might not be a rapper that everyone has heard of, but his politically straightforward message echoed throughout cities across the nation last Tuesday night as results of the presidential election filtered in. The Compton rapper released his single “FDT (Fuck Donald Trump)" back in March — and, in fact, someone drove down 13th Avenue repeatedly playing this during the Trump rally in May — but the catchphrase has remained a whopping battle-cry during this political cycle. 

Liat Lis and Kyle McGonegle — comprising the old-time folk duo — are a reminder that sometimes, musicians are made for each other. Beyond the lush, characteristic two-part vocal harmonies that carve a wake through Lake Toba’s music, there is songwriting and performance talent at work that Eugene has not seen since the string-band heyday of the previous decade. 

Comic book artist, musician and New York native Jeffrey Lewis comes to Eugene behind his 2015 release, the appropriately titled Manhattan. Like a lost Lou Reed album, Manhattan recalls a time when New York was friendlier to artists and freaks. 

Classical music institutions usually reach backward, content to be historical museums of music by long-dead composers. It wasn’t always thus: Composers like Bach and Beethoven would have been appalled to see how today’s orchestras play mostly yesterday’s music. Had that notion prevailed in their time, the music of those great composers wouldn’t have survived. That retro attitude, a product of the early-mid-20th century, has gradually been changing, and Eugene Symphony president Scott Freck wants his band to lead the way. 

Skating Polly

 

When Andrew Katz, the drummer of alt-indie band Car Seat Headrest, was asked how he feels about returning to his hometown when touring, his response was: “God, it’s awful. I hate it.” 

Keep in mind that Katz is from Eugene, and grew up a mere eight blocks from the University of Oregon campus. 

Rising Appalachia adds an intoxicating recipe of banjo, blues and hip hop to old-time mountain folk. Front women and sisters Leah Song and Chloe Smith are two songbirds (or swamp fairies) who poetically confront social, environmental and political injustices — all the while sticking to their filthy, dirty Southern roots. 

It’s been a particularly rainy autumn around these parts. Maggie Morris, vocalist and guitarist with Portland band Genders, says the weather feels like home. “Rainy as ever!” Morris emails from Portland. “But damn if it didn’t feel really great. It’s still beautiful and magical.” 

Eugene-Portland punk band Dirtclodfight has an impressive pedigree stretching back to SoCal in the late ’80s, including stints with well-known record labels Flipside and Cavity Search. 

The Jackson-Hole-by-way-of-New-York indie-acoustic soul outfit Benyaro, featuring Ben Musser and Leif Routman, has been through Eugene several times before, but this time the duo is rolling through on its “Get Out the Vote” tour — partnering with Rock the Vote and HeadCount organizations — even if that means performing a day after the election, Nov. 9, with Idaho’s country-rock heartbreaker Jeff Crosby at the post-election party at Axe & Fiddle in Cottage Grove; free.

Following the demise of the late, lamented G.L.O.S.S., New York duo PWR BTTM is a strong contender for the title of most visible — and thus most important — queer punk band in America. Mixing rock-duo slop with drunk-Beatles hooks and heart-on-sleeve (but mercifully unaffected) lyrics, this is pop punk that doesn’t sacrifice pop for the punk, or vice versa. Your queer buddies — and some of your straight buddies too — may be bugging you about this band for a long time.  

In very different ways, concerts this month take listeners on a sentimental journey into the past. The Thursday, Nov. 3, concert at The Shedd features Bill Frisell gazing wistfully back at his boomer childhood. The Seattle guitarist and his excellent band (fellow Seattle star violist Eyvind Kang, singer Petra Haden — best known for her work with her late dad, jazz bass legend Charlie Haden — drummer Rudy Royston and bassist Thomas Morgan) play music from the movies (To Kill A Mockingbird, Once Upon A Time In the West, The Godfather, etc.) and TV shows (Bonanza and others). 

Cherub (an electro-indie band, not a naked angel baby) made me a little weary at first listen. It’s a group of dudes that seem like unruly, rich suburban kids — but don’t judge a bro by his neon tee. Cherub provides a breath of funky fresh air if you’re in the mood to dance away a night of electro-pop debauchery.  

Sometimes, Tucker Alley even scares his girlfriend with his lyrics.

“Weren’t you writing a song about drowning children?” she asks as Alley flips through his notebook. “It sounds really bad when I say it, but …”

A new season, new cellist and new album featuring new music: Eugene’s Delgani String Quartet just keeps refuting the outdated notion that classical music is all about old stuff. 

Pop-punk played a big role in a majority of millennials’ childhoods. From moshing at the Vans Warped Tour to staying dedicated to the fact that being “scene” or “emo” (or whatever else you want to call it) as a teenager was not a phase — bands like Blink-182, Fall Out Boy or New Found Glory probably filled some space in your life.

Many of us played in bands as teenagers. Far fewer collaborated with The Dead Milkmen, got noticed by Dr. Demento or opened for Tommy Stinson of The Replacements.