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Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Eugene, prepare yourself for three days of peace, music and heavy bass. The first-ever Kaleidoscope Music Festival launches Friday, Aug. 23, at Emerald Meadows in the foothills of Mount Pisgah.

Following in the fictional footsteps of indie alias outfits Father John Misty and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, L.A.-based atmospheric folk group Lord Huron uses its music to create a unique storytelling experience that transports listeners on a wandering adventure.

Back in 2011 with the release of its 7” vinyl Myths, the only defining quality that distinguished the Seattle-based Pickwick from the cluttered Pacific Northwest indie folk scene was lead singer Galen Disston’s buttery vocals. “We were conscious of our songs being very derivative, very wannabe,” Disston says. Since then, the sextet started writing songs collaboratively, brought in Americana, blues and soul influences and has successfully stepped out from under the neo-indie umbrella.

L.A.-based art-noise rockers No Age played their first show at an art gallery; they are no strangers to making an art project out of clamorous rock ‘n’ roll. So when asked, the duo took the directive to “make a record” to heart.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Chris Berry loves African music so much that he risked his life to play it. As a teenager in California, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter studied African drumming with master drummer Titos Sompa, then spent a decade exploring it at the source, especially among Zimbabwe’s Shona people.

You best get on the Wild Child bandwagon now. The song “Pillow Talk” — leading off the 2011 release of the same name — is a bittersweet, ukulele-powered breakup tune. While saccharine, the song is utterly charming with a he-said-she-said storyline.

Matisyahu wanted to do something different with his most recent album, 2012’s Spark Seeker. But when he began the process, he didn’t know “different” would involve starting work on one album, doing some other music for fun on the side and then realizing that the off-the-cuff stuff was what the album should actually sound like.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

For certain musicians, the large venue and bustling crowd of commercial concerts can detract from their performance, so some are opting for a cozier space: your living room. Living room concerts are growing in popularity, partially due to their ability to change the dynamic between the artist and the fan. Indie rocker Damien Jurado prefers the couches and carpets of people’s homes to stadium seating.

Edewaard has only been together since last February, but the Eugene-based band is heating up quickly. “A few of us actually quit our jobs to pursue this music career,” says Jered Pound, Edewaard rhythm guitarist and ad hoc manager.

If you have had a chance to check out singer-songwriter Jesca Hoop’s oddly beautiful 2010 release, Hunting My Dress, then you know what a unique talent she is. Hoop’s penchant for creating a wide variety of moods, sounds and storylines while keeping the music cohesive is an unusual feat of songwriting.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

Fruit Bats have been producing music for over a decade and their sound recalls the falsetto vocals of Neil Young mixed with the subtle rock of alternative country. Their last release, 2011’s Tripper, was replete with thumping acoustic jams and would play perfectly alongside The Shins or Dr. Dog.

Beth Wood is a local singer-songwriter by way of Texas, and her brand of Americana, country and folk music has been getting people’s attention across the nation for nearly two decades. She has released eight albums, appeared on OPB’s Art Beat, received rave reviews from the likes of the Washington Post and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, won the 2006 Sisters Folk Festival Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Contest and been a finalist in the Telluride Troubadour Contest.

Ya got trouble, my friend, right here, 

I say, trouble right here in River City.

That couplet from Meredith Willson’s classic 1957 musical The Music Man could apply to just about any city on any river, any time and any place. 

Nobody’s quite like Lyle Lovett. The Muppet-faced singer-songwriter plays, for lack of a better term, country music. But it’s a country must for A Prairie Home Companion fans, for Texans who vote Democrat and insist Austin is just different.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Sometimes that guy with a guitar is just different, like Bright Eyes, the Mountain Goats, Iron and Wine or even Bob Dylan. While I’m not ready to place Austin-based singer-songwriter Shakey Graves in quite such lofty company, the plaintive plunking banjo that kicks off Graves’ 2011 release Roll the Bones caught my attention as something special, and I was proven right.

Faerieworlds has a solid music line up this year, but there’s one act that should not be missed: Mariee Sioux. And Howard Buford’s Emerald Meadows will be the perfect setting for her nature-infused, pseudo-mystical tunes.

If a group makes it to the 25-year mark they must be doing something right, but with Donna the Buffalo you can argue that they are doing a lot of things right. Between having two harmonious and charismatic lead writers and singers, a way of writing songs that is simultaneously personal and universal and a knack for combining various elements of the roots music world together, this group is consistently engaging.

Music news and notes from down in the Willamette valley.

It’s high time the county fair became hip again. As society changes, the annual celebration of all things rural faces well-documented challenges. But in the age of Etsy and Pinterest, when cross-stitch, pickling and DIY chicken coops are all the rage, the county fair seems to have its finger on the zeitgeist.