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March 23, 2015 04:12 PM

Eugene School Board Chair Jim Torrey is facing some competition for his spot this year. Kevin Cronin, regional field director for the Democratic Party of Oregon and "Best Local Hellraiser" in EW's Best of Eugene, entered the fray and filed for Position #5 on the Eugene School Board on March 18, creating a Facebook page and running on a platform revolving around funding. He says on his gofundme page:

I am running to eliminate the root of 4J’s funding problems - Measure 5. Measures 5, 47, and 50 cripple local revenues, cutting local funding for schools. State revenue isn’t always reliable, and 4J has sought alternative funding methods in the past. Before my first term is over, I will organize a coalition of school boards, community organizations, and responsible Oregonians who believe in overturning the failed policies that got us into this mess.

In an email to EW, Cronin says he's running because Oregon's school system is broken. "I went to high school here in Oregon and I dropped out in the 9th grade," he writes. "I eventually went to community college, then graduated from the University of Oregon in 2013. The 4J Board does not have any young people serving on it. I can be the voice the board lacks. I know first hand how our schools fail young people."

Meanwhile, Eugene musician, parent and college student David Nickles made his school board announcment after Cronin's, citing his motivation to run based on his lack of choice when he was a 4J student.

On his Wordpress website, he says:

You might ask how 4J failed me. The answer: Lack of choice. The one-size-fits-all approach to education may work for the majority, but is pure oppression to the greatest minority of all: The minority of the individual.

Unchallenged by the curriculum and without options, I quickly lost the passion for learning that my parents worked so hard to instill. School, for students like me, became a sobering lesson in the insanity of the omnipotent state. Our public schools are a tragedy, and simply throwing more money at a broken system is not the solution that our students deserve.

My solution? Choice.

My opponents, incumbent “conservative” Jim Torrey and Democratic Party insider Kevin Cronin, will speak of taxes and budget shortfalls. I, however, will be speaking about choice.

Jim Torrey, former mayor of Eugene, has served on the 4J board in Position #5 since 2007 and currently serves as chair. 

Eileen Nittler is campaigning for Position #4 on the 4J school board to fill the spot of Craig Smith, who is not seeking reelection. Also running for Position #4 are Scott Landgreen and John A. Baumann, a retired doctor.

 And there's one other contested race: Incumbent Mary Walston will run for Position #7 against candidate Colin Farnsworth, Oregon coordinator for national civil rights group People Against the National Defense Authorization Act. 

The deadline to file for 4J School Board has passed, and the election is May 19.

March 23, 2015 12:20 PM

It’s difficult to imagine a finer or more fitting tribute to the songwriting genius of Elliott Smith than the new release Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith. Smith, who died tragically in 2003, left behind a gorgeous body of work that plumbs the abyss of alienation and addiction, in songs whose compositional genius and pristine lyricism remain, to a large degree, underappreciated beyond his core fan base and musicians, like Avett and Mayfield, who recognize his rare gifts.

Despite — and, wickedly enough, thanks to — his struggles with heroin, Smith forged a solo career marked by a kind of scorched, ferocious integrity that forever flirted with the dark side, and his songs emerge from some personal hell as gems burnt clean of cant and caterwaul. Combining a poet’s sense of image and metaphor with an ear for pop phrasing that recalls the Beatles and Dylan, Smith wrote sad songs that transcend their own sordid subject matter, achieving the besieged grace of pure art.

Reaching into the rich, textured trove of Smith’s music, Avett and Mayfield have selected a cycle of songs that at once captures the depth and breadth of his talents, while also perfectly suiting their own. Years in the making, this album functions as a great (re)introduction to Smith’s music — a respectful, deeply felt tribute to the legacy of a fellow great musician. But it is also a lovely album in its own right, revealing new layers to Smith’s songwriting without losing a thread of his artistic intent.

From the early classic “Between the Bars,” which opens the album, on through posthumously released classics like “Fond Farewell” and “Twilight,” Avett and Mayfield bring an abiding passion and musical economy to their performance, teasing out the universal blues that hide in Smith’s idiosyncratic confessionals. Mayfield’s honey-sweet voice, so excruciatingly evident on tracks like “Angel in the Snow,” is the perfect counterpoint to the crackling vulnerability of Avett, whose soaring vocals turn “Somebody That I Used to Know” into a desperate plea. And when the two of them harmonize, the results are pure lovely.

What’s most amazing is the way Mayfield and Avett are capable of taking what’s most hermetic and idiosyncratic about Smith’s work — the sly drug analogies, the agonized kicks, the rococo junky spirals of immaculately damned logic — and finding their own language of love and loss. Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith is a labor of love. More than that, it is a nod to a tragic artist whose music, so painfully and delicately wrought, so brutally truthful and truthfully pretty, is its own redemption.

“An Evening with Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield” performing the songs of Elliott Smith takes place 8pm Friday, March 27, at Portland’s Crystal Ballroom; $45, all ages, tickets at etix.com.

 

Photo by Crackerfarm

March 17, 2015 11:59 AM

Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
Words by Rick Levin • Photos by Todd Cooper

No doubt Jeff Tweedy is one of the finest songwriters of his generation, but what really puts him over the top as an artist is that voice — by turns raw, scorched and honey-sweet, Tweedy’s singing is capable of evoking moments of passion in all their complexity, walking a tightrope between sincerity and irony, vulnerability and rage. And that voice was on full display Sunday, March 15, when — with his latest outfit named, suitably enough, Tweedy — the Wilco front man performed an intimate set of new and old stuff for a rapt audience at The Shedd.

Backed by a band that included some longtime friends as well as his son, Spencer, on drums, Tweedy commenced his set with a cycle of songs drawn from the new band’s 2014 debut, Sukierae, which includes squelchy, anthemic hard rockers (“Please Don’t Let Me Be So Understood”) as well as a handful of pop gems (“Summer Noon”) and the sort of gutsy, waltz-driven folk (“Nobody Dies Anymore”) that’s become the man’s trademark.

As tight and engaging as the band was, it was Tweedy’s warm, humorous banter between numbers that drew in the crowd. Typically focused and taciturn, Tweedy on this night engaged the crowd with wry, lighthearted jabs about Eugene’s “stoner” status as well as relating the story of his brother’s aborted career at the University of Oregon in the ‘70s.

But, in the end, it was the music that mattered most, as Tweedy and crew wove a rich, moving tapestry of a sound into the rapt atmosphere of The Shedd’s Jacqua Hall. In between rollicking sets by the band, Tweedy took center stage, alone under a single spotlight, and played a series of songs that reached back into his substantial catalogue, including stark, moving renditions of “Jesus, etc.” and “You and I,” as well as a stunning rendition of “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” and the old Wilco classic “Passenger Side.”

Opening for Tweedy was The Minus 5, an all-star band founded by Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, R.E.M.) and including among its current members R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck. Supporting their latest album, Dungeon Golds, the Minus 5 ripped through a set of smart garage rock that was the perfect appetizer.

Audio from the performance can be downloaded at Seen & Heard

 

Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)

THE MINUS 5
The Minus 5 live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
The Minus 5 live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
The Minus 5 live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
The Minus 5 live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
The Minus 5 live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
The Minus 5 live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
The Minus 5 live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)

March 16, 2015 04:19 PM

Last Night Today: Tycho at McDonald

 On Sunday night, the McDonald Theatre was filled with a swaying crowd and the ambient music of Tycho – the four-piece San Francisco band who favors blissful synths and sunset gradients.

 Tycho is producer Scott Hansen, along with Zac Brown (bass) — who bears no relation to the country singer — and Rory O’Connor (drums). Although Hansen released his first EP back in 2002, Tycho is most known for 2011 album Dive and 2014 album Awake, which spurred performances on the music festival circuit last year. Eugene was the first stop on the group’s spring 2015 tour.

Electronic musician SHIGETO, a fellow Ghostly International act, opened the show. By the time Tycho started a little past 9 pm, both levels of the McDonald were nearly filled with people, despite Monday being the start of finals for students.

After the first song, Tycho received an explosive applause that matched more of what I imagine the McDonald’s recent J. Cole concert received than I would have expected for the laidback nature of Tycho. But as the set progressed, the band supplemented dreamy synth vibes with catchy bass riffs that rounded out the ambient sound. Seeing Tycho in concert effectively convinced me that they’re an act that’s worth going to see, not just to accompany study sessions or to fall asleep to.

The band has become famous for their aesthetically pleasing stripped down album art, which features a circle with a gradient of colors present in a sunset. The onstage backdrop was evocative of this same aesthetic, features kaleidoscope images of the same colors mixed with montage video footage of indie girls, the sky and sand.

Tycho succeeded in providing a stimulating experience, bringing their music from people’s bedrooms to the stage.
 

March 16, 2015 11:51 AM

WildCraft Cider Works and Mame put together a great Sushi and Cider dinner last night. Here is a little look.

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

Sushi and Cider pairing Dinner

March 11, 2015 04:27 PM

On Feb. 26, we wrote about Old Growth Ales, a local brewery that's aiming to expand its outreach and start producing its medicinal and botanical ales on a commercial scale.

This week, Old Growth Ales made its fundraising goal of $20,000 on Kickstarter, with a total of 158 backers raising $20,361. See the jubilant victory post here.

We'll be looking out to see what comes next for Eugene's latest brewery!

March 9, 2015 12:55 PM

Some remarkable footage of a bayou sinkhole in Alabama sucking down trees. And this is not the only place this is happening.

March 9, 2015 12:24 PM

In case you missed it on the radio, find photos and an audio track on tiny houses on the NPR program On Point with Tom Ashbrook.

March 6, 2015 02:49 PM

Sunday is International Working Women's Day but is it just lip service? Stephanie McMillan has some observations, including cartoon illustrations of how wmen's equality continues to be a struggle at home and around the world.

March 6, 2015 01:07 PM

This web ad is showing up today on LinkedIn. At first we thought it was a political message about air pollution and how Eugene's sometimes poor air quality can literally "take your breath away." Turns out it's an ad promoting Eugene and the UO. The text changes to "We call it Eugene," and the next message is "Discover the University of Oregon." 

March 6, 2015 03:46 PM

Republicans love to talk about Reagan, but do they remember Reagan's positions on taxes, immigration and the debt ceiling?

March 5, 2015 04:07 PM

Eugene physician Pamela Wible was honored with a 2015 Women Leader in Medicine Award last week. Here is her acceptance speech.

March 5, 2015 03:17 PM

An analysis of where U.S. war fatalities come from shows Oregon is ranked higher than many states in proportion to our population.