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Music

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.

“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. 

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

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. 

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.

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. 

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.”

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.

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.

“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.”

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. 

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.

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. 

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. 

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).

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.

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.” 

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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. 

“It sounds like aiming when you’re shooting a basketball. It’s not gonna work,” Zach Lupetin of L.A. roots, soul and Americana act Dustbowl Revival tells me over the phone. I’m talking to him about fighting perfectionism while in the studio.

Veronica Cruz, vocalist and guitarist with Long Beach punk act Rats in the Louvre, says her band takes its name from an article she read about rats plaguing the art museum in Paris. “A lot of tourists were spotting them while eating lunch in the garden,” Cruz explains. “I thought it was funny and ironic. Sort of like low-class culture invading the high class.”