Rock With a Smirk
Dan Neal debuts second CD in Eugene
BY VANESSA SALVIA
Dan Neal cuts a Jimmy Buffet-like figure: untucked shirt, rolled up sleeves, hair just a bit moppish. Plus there’s that sunshine-y grin he’s got. Musically, though, he’s a bit more Jackson Browne than Jimmy. More rough around the edges, more punchy attitude, especially when he’s writing lines with Randy Newman-esque humor. The Oregonian described Neal’s music as “rock with a smirk.”
|Dan Neal CD release show 7:30 pm Saturday, 4/21 Jaqua Concert Hall, The Shedd • $15-$25|
Neal just wrapped up production on his latest album. Party of One, with some of L.A.’s hottest session players and Lucinda Williams’ backing band. He’s good at bringing in talented players; his 2004 debut release, When The Big Picture Fades, also featured Williams’ band, among others. Neal is officially releasing Party of One here, where he’s played many times before at a variety of venues. That’s no surprise since he grew up on the Oregon Coast. Music and performing were in his blood, you might say. His mother was the only female member of a touring big band, and his father was a star athlete inducted into the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame. Neal chose music over sports, though, and by the time he was a teenager he had written a minor hit song and toured the West with his band. When his bandmates all headed south to L.A., Neal stayed in Eugene for college at the UO. He pursued a career in law, working with society’s underrepresented as a public defender, and continued his passionate affair with music on the side.
His second full-length release, Party of One tackles the difficult sides of life, holding up life’s ghoulies and ghosties and daring us to laugh them away. In “BiPolar Express,” Neal tackles mental illness (his accomplished older brother Steve committed suicide) in such a way that we feel compassion and understanding yet are able to find a foothold of laughter through the song. Neal isn’t afraid of politics either, questioning President Bush and his agenda in the song “Crawford.” Neal’s shows will make you laugh, cry and wonder why people take life so seriously.
Save the Humans
Three events benefit local organizations
BY VANESSA SALVIA
This weekend we celebrate Earth Day. The Earth needs help for sure, but holding a benefit concert to aid the entire planet would be an impossible undertaking. Luckily, there’s that notion of thinking globally and acting locally. Three worthy benefit events take place this weekend, providing three ways to donate a few bucks and make a difference in our own backyards.
The Oregon Supported Living Program presents “One Dream at a Time,” a benefit for the Client Travel Fund. OSLP provides residential and job services to Lane County folks with developmental disabilities. Benefit proceeds will help OSLP clients with expenses for traveling outside of Eugene/Springfield. First off is Mimi’s Oompa Cabaret, followed by Anarchaeology, the rock/acoustic/funk of The Ray Charles Manson Family Feud, The Vipers featuring Deb Cleveland, Fortune Cookie, The CoStars, The Filthiest People Alive and the psychedelic folk rock of The Psychedaisies (Cozmic Pizza, 2 pm-11:30 pm 4/20; $15 all day pass or $5 per band suggested donation; silent auction 2 pm-8 pm, www.oslp.org).
Local phenomenon “The Normal Bean Show“ is hosting a fundraiser for Eugene PeaceWorks and the Musicians Emergency Medical Association (MEMA), which Bean and Paul Biondi began in 2006 to help musicians with uninsured health expenses. Preshow begins with Samba Ja, continuing with Bazil Rathbone, Natural Progression, Ken Petersen and The Freetones. Petersen joined David Peel and the Lower East Side in 1971, then in 1972 joined Peel and John Lennon and The Plastic Ono Band, recording the album The Pope Smokes Dope. Petersen recently finished his album 7 Days North of Crazy with Bean’s help. Bean revealed at press time that David Peel, who has never before visited the West Coast, also was committed to joining the benefit event and tour.
Bean’s show airs on public access television channel 29, Friday nights at 9 pm and Saturday mornings at 9 am. The show airs on 40 public access channels throughout the West Coast and six stations in Japan. The show, billed as “Reality TV for the Counter-Culture,” features art, music and a smattering of politics and is popular on Google Video and YouTube. Bean is taking the show on the road, performing throughout Oregon and California to fundraise for peace projects. “We’ve got peace in mind with this tour,” says Bean, “to carry on John Lennon’s legacy” (Wildish Theater, 200 S. Mill St., Springfield, 7:30 pm 4/20; tickets at Hunky Dory, 345-1893).
It’s also time for the annual S.L.U.G. Queen Ball. Four groups will perform: Sweet Papa Low Down, Accordions Anonymous, Dr. D. & the Santa Supplanters and The Edison Elementary School Choir. All ages are invited to this fun event, which of course features reigning S.L.U.G. Queen Slugretha Latifah Uleafa Gastropodia Jackson and many Old S.L.U.G. Queens; it’s a benefit for FOOD for Lane County (Cozmic Pizza, 7 pm 4/21; three non-perishable food items and a suggested donation of $3-$12 for musicians)
Out of the Shadows
Although he’s released four CDs under his own name and that of his band, Motherbug, and is recognized as one of the best jazz guitarists of his generation, Will Bernard has mostly played second fiddle. For the past two decades, the 40-something Bay Area guitarist starred in ensembles led by Peter Apfelbaum, fellow guitar whiz Charlie Hunter (the great T.J. Kirk funk-jazz combo), Stanton Moore (whose eponymous trio featuring Bernard played the WOW Hall last year), Jai Uttal, Robert Walter and many other major players. It’s about time Bernard’s own funky guitartistry won wider recognition, and maybe his new album, Party Hats, and its associated tour will bring it to him.
Part of Bernard’s identity crisis may be his easy versatility: He can say something interesting in a wide variety of bands and contexts, and he’s active in at least three regular ensembles. One constant is funk; his childhood exposure to Sly Stone, Tower of Power and other East Bay funksters permeates his playing on the new album. But despite its title and the New Orleans grooves floating through it, the CD is a lot more than a party record, investigating sophisticated harmonic territory and varied moods — easygoing and pensive as well as joyful.
Even after all these years, Bernard still has to share the spotlight — at his own CD release party — with a co-headliner: Eugene’s own Eleven Eyes. But that’s just a bonus for local jazz fans, who get two great, forward looking jazz bands for the price of one. Will Bernard Band and Eleven Eyes perform at 9 pm Friday, April 20 at the WOW Hall. $10 adv., $12 door. — Brett Campbell
The Rise of an Epidermally Composed Trio
New bands are a dime a dozen. Some come and go like so many bad jokes while others hit the ground running and make a musical mark instantaneously. Part of the allure of catching new acts is being there to see which bands are going to fail outright and which have the potential to become legitimate musical enterprises. Made of Skin, brand spanking new in rock and roll terms, seems to have the right dark talent and musical compatibility to not only survive but to thrive unblemished.
When their respective bands (Like Breathing, Outspent) dissolved in April of last year, it took about three seconds for Zachary Simpson and Justin Ray to join forces without losing a beat. With powerhouse drummer Richard Angermayer (The Amazing Flaming Panties! and Dismantled) behind them, Made of Skin first hit the stage last June. “We just clicked,” says 26-year-old Ray. “So far we’ve been pretty fortunate. We seem to have a decent understanding of the direction we’re heading towards. Since we all have different backgrounds, we’ve never set a genre or boundaries and have tried to keep artistic freedom throughout the development of our project.”
“We really enjoy what we’re doing,” Ray says, “and I think it transfers to the crowd. We have a sound and songs that people can relate to, or so we’ve heard. We want to get our music out to everyone, especially the all-ages crowd. For us, music isn’t something we like to do. It’s something we need to do. It’s expression. It’s release. It’s a lot of fun.”
If Made of Skin’s nine-song Demo ’07 is any indication, their first album will be a memorable one. With audibly identifiable influences ranging from Jimi Hendrix to The Cure to Skinny Puppy, Made of Skin sounds like the next big thing.
Made of Skin plays at 10 pm Friday, April 20 at the Samurai Duck. 21+ show. — John Dooley
Better as a Jam Band
While some critics have raved about the indie-pop genius behind Eisenhower, The Slip‘s latest album, my only praise is: They were better when they were a jam band. Everyone from Harp to Rolling Stone has gushed over the group’s newfound balance between traditional song structures and their experimental musings — leaving behind their “jammy” history for a more easy-access indie rock aesthetic. But Eisenhower really makes me pine for The Slip of yore, when the group sounded much more vibrant and at home in their erstwhile neo-jam band persona.
While not unpleasant to listen to, songs like “The Soft Machine” and “Children of December,” both from Eisenhower, feel vapid and listless — indie rock boilerplate that glides along on some decent melodies and sappy vocals but lacks any real spark.
In contrast, Alivelectric, an instrumental live album from 2003, showcased The Slip at their creative zenith by capturing them in their natural environment — on stage. With tracks like “Headshot,” the group wove fluttering, Jon McEntire-esque rhythms, funky bass lines and electronic effects into extended jams that recalled the music of Bonobo or Critters Buggin.
Eisenhower is a totally different type of record than Alivelectric, and it’s unfair to say it spurns its former because it’s not like The Slip never let on to their indie rock soft side — it’s always been there. But the group started nearly 10 years ago as a jam band, and they sound most refreshing as such.
Eisenhower has already been done a hundred times over — in 2005 it was called Z, in 2001 it was called Yankee Hotel Foxtrot … you get the picture. And while I know it’s not cool to scold a band for evolving their style, I’m really hoping that their latest record isn’t completely indicative of their new live sound. I have my fingers crossed that this performance will be full of energy and ingenuity, devoid of that sappy indie rock gewgaw. The Slip and Holy Fuck play at 9 pm Tuesday, April 24 at the WOW Hall. $13 adv., $15 door. — Steven Sawada