Singing the Blues
Robben Ford plays the sort of contemporary power blues that lends itself well to outdoor concerts. Because it doesn’t need 100 percent of your attention, it’s ideal background music for hanging out in the park with a brewsky. But even though it’s the dead of winter, I suspect his smooth jazz/blues blend will be equally palatable indoors, in part because the quality of music (any music) increases exponentially with every whiskey/Coke you imbibe.
Ford’s long, well-established career includes major label contracts and multiple tours playing guitar for the likes of Joni Mitchell, George Harrison and Miles Davis. Though it’s probably his technical prowess and particular style that earned him those gigs with music icons, Ford’s own songwriting is listenable and even enjoyable, but not particularly unique. Then again, the man did manage to wrangle himself the fourth Grammy nomination of his career for the 2008 “Best Contemporary Blues” category.
Ford performs with Seattle’s LeRoy Bell, another guy + guitar who’s performed with the likes of Al Green and The Temptations. His own songwriting also comes up short, though, mainly because decent guitar playing does not make up for trite lyrics like this: “I dream of peace / I dream of love / I dream that everyone throws down their guns.” I’ll spare my cynic’s commentary on that. Do check out their websites because hey: It’s not my thing, but it might just be yours. Robben Ford and LeRoy Bell play at 7 pm Monday, Feb. 11, at Taboo. 18+ show. $15. — Sara Brickner
Setting Sun and Quitzow are two separate bands with differing takes on pop music (the former is fronted by Gary Levitt, the latter by Erica Quitzow), but each relies on the other in a Jekyll and Hyde symbiosis. Together these two upstate New Yorkers (partners in both music and life) play guitar, Moog, Korg, bass, drums, cello and violin and record in their 19th-century farmhouse. This arrangement allows both musicians to experiment DIY-style in the privacy of their home and build towards their own visions of pop, rock, classical and electro and then split into their respective “bands” and take their show on the road.
On tour, Setting Sun and Quitzow share the cello talents of Topu Lyo and the backup vocals of Meryl Lammers, along with an ongoing rotation of drummers. Lyo and Lammers are both skilled independent songwriters themselves, so what we have is a New Pornographers or Broken Social Scene-styled supergroup, but in a smaller, sweeter, two-faced incarnation. Setting Sun presents the Sufjan-Stevens-by-way-of-Bright-Eyes breathy electro-folk side while Quitzow shows hints of Le Tigre mixed in a bowl of cello-fied Peaches. They both have new albums coming out in May — Quitzow’s Art College and Setting Sun’s To The Next Place — that are stunning in their innovation and accessibility.
Here in Eugene, even the kiddies will have access to their all ages Shady Pines basement show. Levitt and Quitzow are veterans of the Eugene house concert scene, having played their first show here at the now-defunct Le Sous-Sol Collective, and are good friends with local glam rockers The Ovulators, who set up Saturday’s gig. Quitzow says she prefers playing all ages venues for the enthusiastic younger crowds, crowds who have not yet learned to treat live shows as “background to drinking and socializing.” Stoners and petrified hipsters, you have been warned. Setting Sun, Quitzow and The Ovulators play at 8 pm Saturday, Feb. 9, at Shady Pines, 542 W. Broadway. $3. — Chuck Adams
Some of the world’s greatest musicians will converge on Eugene for Saturday’s Brazilian Guitar Festival at the Shedd, one of the most impressive musical events to grace the city in years. Any show featuring the telepathic twin guitars of Odair and Sergio Assad would easily top any list of world music concerts. In recent years, the Assad brothers have broken out of the confines of the world music category, winning popular audiences nearly commensurate with their unanimous critical acclaim. They’ve performed with classical stars like Yo Yo Ma (a Grammy-winning collaboration) and Gidon Kremer in music from Couperin to Piazzolla and with jazz masters such as Paquito D’Rivera.
Far from riding her brothers’ coattails, the Assads’ little sister, Badi, has won acclaim and awards (including a pair from from Guitar Player magazine) for her own fingerstyle artistry, and won her own fan base with her glowing vocal style in music by Brazilian stars such as Milton Nascimento, covers of pop stars like U2 and George Harrison and her own songs. She’s also collaborated with jazz guitar masters Larry Coryell and John Abercrombie.
Not to foment sibling rivalry, but which Assad rules? Herbie Hancock proclaims the best Brazilian guitarist to be … Romero Lubambo, and his collaborators, from Michael Brecker to Wynton Marsalis to Diane Reeves and many others, would likely agree. Completing this amazing bill is Celso Machado, who brings a mastery of Brazilian and various Arab world music styles. But like their country, a magical melting pot of cultures and influences, all these performers are fluent in world, jazz and classical styles, and fans of all these genres and everything in between should be sure to scale this fabulous guitar summit. The Brazilian Guitar Festival begins at 7:30 pm Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Shedd’s Jaqua Concert Hall. $36 and up. — Brett Campbell
Rocking It Out
The New York-based members of Bayside don’t need therapy as long as they’ve got their music. Their new album, The Walking Wounded, is a testament to the emotional hardships the band members have faced and their ability to look ahead to the future. Using catchy chorus lines, ’70s metal beats and pop punk anthems, the band manages to avoid an emo sound despite the emotionally charged content of their songs. The album’s title track has an energetic rock feel reminiscent of Simple Plan or All American Rejects.
Touring with Bayside are the stylistically diverse groups The Status, Straylight Run and Four Year Strong. All of these bands are good, but I found a gem in Straylight Run. Much like their touring buddies Bayside, the members of Straylight Run are all about exploring the meaning of life and creating what has been called the “thinking man’s pop.” It only took me five seconds into the first song to realize that this band would be my new “it” band. If you only download one song of theirs, it has to be the sweet Broadway number “Still Alone.” Their indie-pop sound is uniquely their own, but you could say they sound a bit like White Stripes mixed with Shiny Toy Guns.
As an added bonus, Four Year Strong and The Status bring a huge barrel of fun to the tour lineup. Four Year Strong has a Blink 182 feel mixed with Disturbed, and they have a super cool album cover. The Status are young, sharply dressed and next in line to take over Fall Out Boy’s spot. No matter which band you go to see, the night should leave you feeling cleansed and ready to tackle some Nietzsche. Bayside, Straylight Run, Four Year Strong and The Status play at 8 pm Monday, Feb. 11, at the WOW Hall. $12 adv., $14 door. — Deanna Uutela
Motion Picture Soundtrack
Hey, Zach Braff: Next time you’re conjuring up songs to assemble into a soundtrack for one of your films, a smart move would be to consider the Johnson City, Tenn., band The Everybodyfields. One listen to their indie, alt country, folk-inspired album Nothing is Okay and you’ll wish there’d have been room for them on the Garden State soundtrack.
Think Simon and Garfunkel meet Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, and there you have the fronting duo of Sam Quinn and Jill Andrews. Kayak instructor Andrews, who minored in bluegrass at East Tennessee State University, met counselor Quinn at a summer camp nearly a decade ago; they have been writing and playing music together ever since.
It’s awfully hard to resist the soulfully smooth vocals of Andrews and the harmony created with Quinn’s acoustic guitar. Andrews and Quinn both contribute vocals and play bass and guitar. The Everybodyfields name Emmylou Harris, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Creedence Clearwater Revival as influences.
Nothing is Okay comes packed with irresistible harmonies and melodramatic lyrics that include, “I can be lonely here, I can be lonely anywhere.” Doesn’t that remind you of being on a chaotic airplane flight, feeling completely alone, yet surrounded by so many people? The Everybodyfields play at 8 pm Thursday, Feb. 14, at the Axe & Fiddle, Cottage Grove. 21+ show. $5-$6. — Anne Pick