Phish hasn’t played Eugene since 1994. Hard to believe, but look it up: It’s true. One might think inheritors of the Grateful Dead’s status of jam-band Grand Poobah would go along with Eugene like Tevas and Odwalla. But alas, nary a tour stop here for 20 years.
The cliché says musicians blaze bright and burn out fast. But some musicians, like Loudon Wainwright III, simply persevere. In the business since 1970 but not exactly a household name, Wainwright is a storytelling lyricist not constrained by the folk idiom (or any idiom, really). He’s a pop songwriter with a quirky personality and a dark sense of humor, and a musician deeply schooled in American music history but without reverence for any of it.
Oregon’s greatest composer, the late Lou Harrison, often explained the difference between the music written on the American East and West coasts. “Out there” — meaning the East Coast — “you think of Paris and Berlin as cultural centers. Here we think of Tokyo and Djakarta,” he said. “We have a very strong connection with Asia. This is Pacifica, that’s Atlantica. They’re different orientations. I don’t think that there is a composer in the West who is not aware of that.”
After bursting onto the music scene in 2013 with a stellar self-titled debut, New York-based The Lone Bellow are now preparing for the follow-up. And while the dreaded “sophomore slump” torpedoes the careers of many bands, guitarist and lead vocalist Zach Williams isn’t worried about the new album.
When it comes to indie rap, few MCs boast the candid storytelling of Brother Ali. The rapper sees himself as a messenger of hope, faith and belief. Some of his songs are about the art of rapping. Others are autobiographical; some are pure poetry.
Just as the arrival of shorter, cooler days signal autumn, the arrival of some big names, at least in the little world of classical music, tells us that the 2014-15 classical music season is underway. The Sept. 28 Eugene Symphony concert featuring the legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman playing Beethoven’s majestic Violin Concerto offers a chance to see one of the last of the really big-name classical soloists (there’s Yo Yo Ma and not many others left) who can fill up a venue as cavernous as the Hult Center on reputation alone.
Among guitarists, if not across the wide world, Dave Rawlings is recognized as a stylist of the highest order, a folk traditionalist who is also a supreme innovator. For evidence of what this man can do with his 1935 arch-top Epiphone, witness “Revelator,” the first track on 2001’s Time (The Revelator) by singer and songwriter Gillian Welch, with whom Rawlings frequently collaborates.
Bay-Area singer-songwriter Sean Hayes released his last album, Before We Turned to Dust, in 2012. Dust is an engaging collection of indie folk and soul — cooler than skinny-dipping off the Northern California coast. Since then, Hayes tells EW via email, he’s left San Francisco, had another baby and began work on Dust’s follow-up.
Many are saying that Mad Decent Block Party is going to be the biggest, bestest music event of the (end of) summer. Tickets have been sold out for some time for this all-star, all-boy “block party” boasting some of the leading names in a scene all the cool kids are talking about: EDM.
For sisters Leah and Chloe Smith of Rising Appalachia, there was no “aha” moment when they realized they could sing. They simply grew up doing it. “Our family was very musical and our mother used to sing harmony notes into our ears so we would begin hearing the many layers of sound organically,” Chloe Smith says. “She also had a fantastic women’s singing group meet at the house once a week for years for simply the joy of singing in harmony, and Leah and I sat in with them as late teenagers to try out our own voices.”
Whatever you might think Fly Moon Royalty sounds like because of their odd-couple image, ignore it. This duo surprises with frenetic soulful performances; they get down like it’s 1953 — before TV was in most American living rooms. “Back in the day you could have an ugly motherfucker singing like an angel on the radio, not needing to look like a movie star,” says Mike Sylvester, producer and MC for the Seattle duo. Adra Boo fills out the act with upbeat vocals.
It’s hard to believe that the band that helped to give voice to the fertile musical ground of Laurel Canyon, California, in the late ’60s is still going strong. There must have been something in the water back then.
Brian McWhorter is by any measure one of Eugene’s most creative artists. Before returning to town to take a faculty position at the University of Oregon, where he earned his bachelor’s degree, the trumpeter/composer/improviser earned acclaim as a member of New York’s Meridian Arts Ensemble, making guest appearances with orchestras and ensembles around the country.
Featuring members of the popular, now-defunct Portland group Dirty Martini, Swan Sovereign plays taut, guitar-based indie pop, mixing ’60s girl-group harmonies with the sound of ’90s-era rock bands like Throwing Muses, Belly and The Breeders.
I dare you to not bang your head to the opening strains of White Zombie’s 1995 hit “More Human Than Human.” And yet, despite the fact that Rob Zombie crafts killer songs, at some point we’ll have to stop referring to him as a musician. In 2014, his acting, directing and filmmaking credits eclipse his musical offerings.
Mark your calendars twice, because sister pubs Sam Bond’s and Axe and Fiddle have booked two rising Americana powerhouses this week — Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers and Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line,respectively.
If Eminem is the Elvis of hip hop — taking sounds of urban America and repacking them for the suburbs — Sean Daley (aka Slug) of Minneapolis indie-rap legend Atmosphere is Eminem in reverse: taking the subjects of suburban life and repacking them for the inner city.
There’s a luring, mid-20th-century California cool to Natalie Gordon’s voice that sounds like it should be tumbling out of a poolside record player — part-Rosemary Clooney and part-Nancy Sinatra with the contemporary lilt of Shirley Manson and Amanda Palmer.
With his retro greaser look, G-Eazy has cultivated a unique style for his chosen genre, earning him the title of “the James Dean of hip hop.” Caught between flattered and exasperated by this categorization, G-Eazy is trying to stake his own ground.
“We love playing house concerts because it’s always a listening audience,” says Jeff Poynter, vocalist and accordion player for Victoria, B.C.-based indie-folk outfit West My Friend. “We’re not really a bar band, and so we like audiences that show up to hear music.