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Music

Fleeing the centimeters of snow that turned what was once America’s hipster capital into an ice-bound hell, a pair of Portland bands brings music that appeals to fans of both pop and classical sounds.

Nattali Rize is a tender-spoken reggae artist who packs a political punch. Rize puts themes of love and hope front and center in her songs with her soulful vocals. By tying together her multicultural identity with her global travels, Rize has carved out her own mantra of putting humanity first and politics second.

Choosing a new Eugene Symphony music director is big news here, of course, but it’s also national news. That’s because our little symphony, in a middling-sized town far from cultural centers, has launched the careers of three important American conductors: Marin Alsop (the first woman to lead a major American orchestra, in Baltimore), Miguel Harth-Bedoya (who now leads the Fort Worth Symphony and his own Latin American classical music ensemble and guest conducts other major orchestras) and Giancarlo Guerrero (winning an international reputation for showcasing new music with his Nashville Symphony).

At the moment, 21st-century America’s immediate future is looking a little scary. Maybe for just a few days, let’s try — musically at least — living in the past.

Now and then, in order to make ends meet, a musician picks up an odd job. For some, that means waiting tables. And for others, like Phoenix-born songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews, it means singing backup for the Belgian pop star known as Milow. 

Watching Jessica Boudreaux of Summer Cannibals on stage, you’re never sure if the spotlight shines on her or if she shines a spotlight on the crowd. The singer-guitarist has that kind of presence. She’s a firecracker, whipping and thrashing around on stage, mercilessly high-energy yet deceptively simple punk rock — occasionally throwing in an Elvis hip-sway for good measure. 

This Sunday afternoon, Jan. 15, at the Church of the Resurrection (3925 Hilyard St.), the Oregon Bach Collegium whisks us back to the 18th century and across the ocean to Germany through music by J. S. Bach, his student Carl Friedrich Abel, Bach’s fifth son Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach and one of the latter’s contemporaries, Carl Heinrich Graun.

Mack Gilcrest, primary songwriter with Missoula, Montana-based band Pale People, says his music celebrates the unpopular and disaffected among us.

Eugene is known for a lot of things — its local rap scene is not one of them. Those looking for live lyricism around town usually have to shell out a Jackson at WOW Hall which, granted, attracts an incredible roster of touring rappers year-round. 

For many, New Year’s Eve is a night of celebration and rebirth. For others, it’s one of the most dangerous nights of the year. 

“People who don’t usually go out go out and don’t know how to handle themselves,” says Gen Schaack of Eugene group Musicians Against Sexual Violence (MASV). “It’s a prime time for sexual assault.”

With this in mind, MASV collaborated with Tim Khadafi of Eugene band Snow White to present the Eugene Psychedelic Ball, an 11-band psychedelic rock show on New Year’s Eve at the WOW Hall.

It takes chutzpah for any guitarist to compare his band’s singer to Elvis Presley. But Shelby Turner, of Chicago-based post-punk and kitsch-pop act Richard Album, is willing to go there.

“Maybe in Eugene his name isn’t as well known as Elvis,” Turner says of Richard Album, “but after Jan. 2 …” Turner trails off to heighten the sense of intrigue.

However much we’d all like to tell 2016: “Go home, you’re drunk,” New Year’s Eve in Eugene offers plenty of options to get (responsibly) rowdy and dance away the woes of the weird year-that-was.

In 2016, emo was the dominant sound on the Eugene music scene — and across the nation.

About 10 years ago, emo ruled the world. You probably remember it, even if you tried to forget: the punky guitars, the mopey lyrics, the swoopy hair, the eyeliner. 

Well, we’re going to have to stop you right there.

An opera company that produces a New Year’s Eve show typically has two choices: It can present a full opera, often Richard Strauss’ Die Fledermaus (The Bat), which culminates in a bubbly masked ball. Or you can do some version of Opera’s Greatest Hits, featuring popular arias and choruses from the top 10 operas that still constitute the bulk of American operatic fare. 

Or you could do what Eugene Opera is doing with its “Opera Trio” this New Year’s Eve: Present one act from three very different operas. 

Singer-songwriter Phoebe Blume offers an eerily breathtaking setting — much like this winter itself — in her dark and moody oeuvre. 

“I don’t have a choice. I’m definitely dark,” Blume says. “But that is my happy; that’s my light. It’s a very honest approach that I take, which is just the essence of who I am.”

The road to becoming Sonic Bent is long and winding. The self-described “progressive jam with a splash of cry-in-your-beer Americana” band — featuring Jeff Alberts (drums, vocals), Keenan Dorn (guitar, vocals), Noah Kamrat (bass, vocals) and Patrick Kavaney (guitar, vocals) — got its start in 2011. Founding members Kamrat and Kavaney (who met in middle school), however, have been carving the cross-country path to Sonic Bent, dabbling in other music outfits that laid the groundwork for this one, over decades.

Last summer, Portland (and former Eugene) musician Joel Magid admitted on social media he was a sexual predator. The shocking confession garnered national attention, shining a spotlight on sexual assault in music scenes and their subcultures. A cohort of Eugene musicians, led by Jennifer Cheddar, Stephen Buettler and Nick Gamer (Pancho + The Factory), took the opportunity to galvanize. 

If someone makes a movie about the Standing Rock Lakota fighting back against Big Oil, that filmmaker might find the soundtrack at 7:30 pm Friday, Dec. 16, when the Riverside Chamber Symphony premieres Water is Life at Springfield’s Wildish Theater. When he began writing the 10-minute one-movement orchestral work, the composer, UO grad student Justin Ralls, couldn’t have known about the impending protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Wild Child is a band with an intimate toe-tapping twist that could give any indie-folk lover a music boner. Their sound swings between a bottle of wine on a rainy day and a hipster hootenanny.

For 20 years, Xasthur’s Scott Conner didn’t tour. He didn’t do interviews. He recorded solo. He posed with nooses, called himself “Malefic,” recorded songs with names like “Slaughtered Useless Beings In A Nihilistic Dream,” recorded vocals in a coffin and became one of the most famous figures in American black metal — a mostly Scandinavian phenomenon when Conner started Xasthur in 1995.

Ah, the holidays! Time for families and friends to get together and celebrate love and friendship and all those other virtues. So what’s the big family-friendly musical onstage this season about? Why, guns, of course. Hey, this is America! 

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.