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Music

July 27, 2017

After seven years, Eugene Metal Celebration — a multi-night event held at Black Forest in downtown Eugene — is gaining attention from metal acts around the region and across the country.

“This year we’ve had a lot of bands from California and as far away as Boise, Idaho, hitting me up about playing,” says Black Forest booking agent Skyeler Williams.

July 27, 2017

These days, we take pop songs and turn them into musicals: Mamma Mia!, Jersey Boys, Beautiful, etc.

It used to be the other way around, back in the day. Songs started in musicals, usually those on Broadway and later Hollywood, and then were recorded by pop and jazz stars (maybe Hamilton will revive that). This summer’s annual Oregon Festival of American Music is dedicated to those timeless hits from the 1920s-50s in 14 concerts, films, talks and the staged musical Good News!, which continues through this weekend [See Bob Keefer’s review in this issue].

July 20, 2017

A wanderer of the woods always needs a compass and a map. Singer-songwriter Ayla Nereo sings with imagery thick as an old-growth forest and provides direction with her finely syncopated loop pedals and percussive rhythms.

With her childlike wonder of nature and power to command emotions with her voice, Nereo divulges a melodic conversation that dances between the earth and the self.

July 20, 2017

“The problem with genres is you don’t get to pick,” Minnesota musician Charlie Parr tells me over the phone from his favorite Eugene café. He doesn’t play Eugene for a few days yet, but he’s pit-stopped here for lunch on his way to California. “They just assign you one,” he says. 

July 13, 2017

Bay area songwriter and soul singer Quinn Deveaux has his own term to describe the music he plays: “blue beat dance music.”

“For the soul of humanity,” he says. Quinn and his band come to the Eugene area behind his latest release, Originals, a collection of dance songs, he explains. “Tunes you can set on repeat from Saturday night through Sunday morning.”

Eugene is one of his favorite places to play, and he jokes one day he’ll find his wife at the Oregon Country Fair “in a homemade skirt and painted face,” he says. “Who can tell?”

July 13, 2017

Popular Eugene rock act Fortune’s Folly celebrates the release of its new EP, titled simply Red EP. And Fortune’s Folly vocalist Calysta Cheyenne tells EW the color red was used as inspiration for the music. “We chose songs that are powerful, fiery and energetic,” Cheyenne explains. 

Anyone familiar with Fortune’s Folly will find these adjectives appropriate for the band’s high-energy, ’90s-era alt-rock and guitar pop. And also like the best stuff from the ’90s, Fortune’s Folly has a big heart.

July 13, 2017

If the dream of the ’90s is alive in Portland, the dream of the ’80s lives happily in Canby — at least for two days in July during Harefest, a tribute-band music festival — and that’s partially thanks to Jason Fellman.

Fellman says he’s “sort of the Oregon tribute-band guy.” He works as a promoter for multiple local tribute bands, and plays in one himself: He’s the drummer for Stone In Love, a Portland-based Journey tribute act, and it was partly his love for tribute bands that brought forth the creation of Harefest. 

July 13, 2017

Some things just won’t wait. Only two days before he was scheduled to conduct the Oregon Bach Festival’s opening night concert, Matthew Halls received urgent good news: the birth of his and his wife Erin’s son, Henry. While Halls flew to Toronto to be with his family, the festival implemented its backup plan: turning over the reins to Scott Allen Jarrett, who runs Boston’s renowned Back Bay Chorale, choral programs at Boston University and the OBF’s Vocal Fellows program, and reportedly did a bang up job directing Bach’s St. Matthew Passion here. 

July 6, 2017

Portland’s Jenny Don’t and The Spurs are on the road promoting their latest release, Call of the Road, out now on Mississippi Records. Guitarist, vocalist and primary songwriter Jenny Connors says her band’s “Western cowboy music” has an outlaw, Wild West attitude, “romanticizing the desert” and “vast openness where anything goes.”

Listen to Call of the Road, and you’ll recall Patsy Cline in Connors' voice but also alt-country acts like Old 97’s with their twangy yet revved-up riffs. 

July 6, 2017

When Callie Dean and Alex Yusimov — veteran employees of Portland-based record store, music venue and record label Mississippi Records — decided to go into business for themselves, they looked beyond Portland to Eugene.

“Between the two of us,” Yusimov tells EW over the phone, “we have 25 years experience.” 

June 29, 2017

British-American musician Nellie McKay tends to find the inspiration for her musical projects and performances in other people, and most of her subjects, although not widely known, are extremely interesting.

Among other projects, McKay has written and performed musical biographies about Barbara Graham, the third woman executed at San Quentin prison, and Rachel Carson, a marine biologist and environmental pioneer.

“Other people’s problems are easier than your own,” McKay laughs. “It’s lovely trying to recognize what’s in somebody else’s heart and soul, or try to.” 

June 29, 2017

“Everyone I talk to, there’s something different in the air,” says Bri Childs, guitarist with Eugene/Portland instrumental act Childspeak. She’s talking about the energy in Eugene’s indie-rock scene. “Bands are really supporting each other,” she continues. “The music community is growing so fast.”

June 29, 2017

There’s less of the Oregon Bach Festival than there used to be. Some of that amounts to addition by subtraction. Gone are the bloated, historically inauthentic on anachronistic modern instruments and tunings that undermined the full beauty of authentic Baroque music. 

June 29, 2017

Surf-rock band La Luz is a sepia-filtered road trip down Hwy 101 in the dead of summer. The group mashes together doo-wop, angst and dance jams with an added sprinkle of vocals thick as winter fog. From their Seattle roots to a newfound home in Los Angeles, La Luz creates a balanced stew of purely West Coast sounds.

June 22, 2017

Now based in Brooklyn, songwriter Lucy Marie Horton grew up in Vancouver, Washington. She says she didn’t experience catcalling until she moved back East. 

Working with songwriting partner Spencer Eugene Stewart, Horton decided to work these catcalls into her electro-pop band Eugene Marie’s latest single, “Nice Smell.”

June 22, 2017

I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t from time to time like to feel sad — to occasionally pull melancholy over themselves like a warm blanket or, on a warm summer day, bathe in it like a cool, dark room. 

Acclaimed but heretofore pretty esoteric Mid-Western songwriter David Dondero specializes in this kind of feeling, particularly on his latest acoustic, indie-folk release Inside the Cat’s Eye, a collection of songs featuring Dondero’s dark twist on folk, country and hyper-quiet indie rock. 

June 15, 2017

The overture to Gypsy kicks off the show with one of those rousing, familiar tunes that practically bellows “classic American musical.” And a classic this is, the 1959 masterpiece by writer Arthur Laurents, composer Jule Styne, choreographer Jerome Robbins and young lyricist Stephen Sondheim (just off his breakthrough with West Side Story).

June 15, 2017

According to Selena Mooney, aka Missy Suicide, in order to understand the impact of burlesque as an art form — to, as she puts it, “feel the feels” it produces for performers and audience members — you simply have to see a show.

A native Portlander, Mooney founded Suicide Girls as an online community more than 15 years ago to explore beauty in “all shapes and sizes” — the kind of beauty she saw all around her in her everyday life.

June 15, 2017

Ben Falgoust, vocalist with New Orleans-based extreme metal act Goatwhore, recalls when he first heard metal music. “It was like a feeling,” he tells me over the phone. “It was an instant thing. It was like, interest. When you’re young, certain things turn your head. That’s when you start your quest.” 

Falgoust’s quest has led to a career in heavy metal, first with the band Acid Bath and now with dark-metal act Goatwhore.

June 15, 2017

Eugene musician Katelynn Erb wants you to attend the event she’s helped plan, produce and promote. The event is The Joy of Sex: A Celebration of Positive Sexuality & Art, a mix of live music, dance and performance art happening at Hi-Fi Music Hall in downtown Eugene.

Erb wants you to come to the event, but she just can’t tell you much about it.

“We’re trying to keep what’s going on in the main hall sort of a mystery,” Erb teases. “I’m trying to figure out what to say without saying much.”

June 8, 2017

Critically acclaimed songwriter Cory Branan has the stuff of a Nashville country music mega-star: stuff like a twinkle in his eye and a Southern drawl, boyish good looks made rugged by a three-day beard, and a chesty baritone — equally suited for hold-me-close dance numbers as well as arena-ready anthems. 

Nevertheless, Branan says: “My sensibilities don’t go with what country radio is these days. There’s a great tradition of writers that have written for country radio, but everyone was always trying to cross over in country music. Pop was better!”

June 8, 2017

Country folk band Dear Lemon Trees is more than a balanced collage of solo artists gone trio. Their music is a glass of homemade sun tea on a hot Southern porch, a match made in countryside heaven. 

It’s impossible to avoid flashbacks to the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack while soaking up the lush voices of Kathleen Grace, Leslie Stevens and Jamie Drake (and their microphone, named Louise). Each woman rotates between lead singer and supporting vocals and plays acoustic guitar, banjo or tenor guitar. 

June 1, 2017

Beer and classical music enjoy a long and storied relationship, stretching back to those monks who chanted holy praise by night and brewed ales by day, through all those Austrian and German composers who quaffed their way through compositions, performances and post-concert revelry — practices that I understand continue today.

June 1, 2017

Heavily auto-tuned, Houston’s Travis Scott may seem just another robot-voiced rapper stretching his limited vocal range into a kind of soul music for the singularity: a casualty of modern pop existing in a focused grouped box that’s within a box and produced in a factory.