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A recent trip to a hiking destination near Oakridge reminded me that early May is peak bloom time for camas lilies. Camas can bloom quite a bit earlier in some locations (on the west-facing grassy slope at the Masonic Cemetery, for instance, and the well-drained, sunny top of the Oak Knoll in Hendricks Park).

Last year’s film Inside Llewyn Davis helped revive memories of one of the great voices of American folk music. The fictionalized Cohen Brothers movie was based on the memoir of New York singer Dave Van Ronk, who mentored a whole generation of young folkies. 

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Depending on where you’re from, the phrase “women and beer” may conjure up some less than empowering images of women in ads (ahem, Budweiser). You won’t see Eugene’s Barley’s Angels in a centerfold, however, because the group of women is shifting that image by advocating for women to actively engage in beer culture.

Of the hundreds of varieties of craft beers available at microbreweries throughout Oregon, bacon, oyster, horseradish, fig, beet and pork chop are not mouth-watering flavors that often come to mind when craving a cold pint. But according to members of the Cascade Brewers Society (CBS), home-brewed creations like Curry Stout, Licorice Logger or Beet Weiser are mighty tasty. 

The traditional cask-conditioned style of beer is very much alive, and you can see its influence growing in Oregon’s craft beer industry, where local brewers like Plank Town in Springfield and Oakridge’s Brewers Union Local 180 are making concentrated efforts to keep it a living force in the beer world — a time and place far from the English and European pubs where they were once the norm.

Three years have passed since Eugene’s perennial favorite rock-grass outfit, Alder Street (formerly Alder Street All-Stars), released its last album. With the debut this month of Americannibal, rest assured, it was worth the wait.

The city is spending a lot of money to see what happens if it shuts down two of the four travel lanes on South Willamette and adds bike lanes on the outer edges. Motorists turning right would need to cross a bike lane, thereby setting up a risky auto/bike dance. One result is likely to be a hike in insurance premiums. But what are the mysterious unmet needs this plan is trying to address? If I had to guess, it would be: 1) Motorists want more than a shopping experience along South Willamette. They also want a memorable driving experience.

Craft brewing companies like Ninkasi have put Eugene on the map as the place to experience and purchase quality beer as well as support local causes. Now Elk Horn Brewery and Mancäve Brewing hope to make names for themselves by using innovative ideas and supporting the community.

Once upon a time, record label Alive Naturalsound released the debut from a little band called The Black Keys. Now, that same label has released More Primitive from Seattle-based boogie-blues trio Lonesome Shack.

The craft brew renaissance is in full bloom here in Eugene and Springfield, and nothing makes this sudsy success more clear than looking at local breweries and what they’ve been up to.

Portland’s Water Tower has come a long way since stomping the Americana revival boards late last decade. With an all new lineup — excepting frontman Kenny Feinstein, who’s been along from the start and recently signed with Fluff & Gravy Records — the band leaves the old-time ever so slightly to bring a fresher rock ‘n’ roll sound. 

According to Dr. La Donna Forsgren, playwright and associate professor of theater arts at University of Oregon, there are three things newcomers should know when they sit down to enjoy her adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at Hope Theatre:

INHUMANE INDUSTRY

Diana Huntington’s May 29 letter “Blood In The Water” is spot on. Anyone who claims to be an environmentalist and/or “animal lover” can no longer in good conscience continue to support the single industry responsible for such unspeakable levels of animal cruelty and major contributions toward the demise of the planet. 

I’ve got a question I doubt you’ve ever gotten before. It has a bit of everything: sex-work etiquette, long-distance phone interaction, and a het cis chick anxious not to lose her tolerance badge. Here it goes: A few months ago, I started getting hang-up calls from numbers I didn’t recognize in Boston. Then weird texts started showing up, trying to set up “dates.” I responded to the first few because I figured someone was giving out a fake number that just happened to be mine.

“Looking at the world today, there is tremendous uncertainty in our lives,” says Venerable Jigme Rinpoche, founder and director at the Palmo Center for Peace and Education. “We’re confronted with difficulty, crisis and challenges. We urgently need the vision and courage to find ways to handle these difficulties, both individually and globally, with deeper acceptance, insight and compassion.” 

The illegitimate, biracial daughter of a British navy admiral, Dido Elizabeth Belle, was born into complicated circumstances. In Belle, director Amma Asante and screenwriter Misan Sagay take some liberties with what’s known about the real Belle, but strict accuracy isn’t the point of Asante’s lush, Jane Austenesque film, which belongs fully to Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). 

From June 12 to July 13, billions of people will watch the world’s most popular sports event: the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup. The 2014 FIFA World Cup will be the 20th such tournament — and the second to be held in Brazil. Of the 203 national teams that competed in regional tournaments in order to qualify, only 31 teams will travel to Brazil to join the host nation for the 2014 cup.

Let’s face it — we had a rough winter. OK, so maybe we didn’t weather the so-called “polar vortex,” but with two snowstorms, an ice storm of epic proportions and temperatures plummeting to below 7 degrees in December, there were plenty of “what the hell?!” moments. Now, clear your mind of all that, breathe in the warm breeze and exult in the beautiful thing that is an Oregon summer. And what a summer it is: sand castle building and rock climbing, concerts and county fairs, baseball games and a plethora of races and marathons sure to satisfy the most avid of track lovers. Fire up the barbecue because summer is here!

Sniffing out what you shouldn’t miss in the arts this week.

After an Alaskan earthquake sent a tidal wave crashing down on the Oregon coast in 1964, Cannon Beach residents decided they needed a fun event to raise spirits and bring people back to the beach. Thus, the Cannon Beach Sand Castle Contest began, and 50 years later it has grown into a weekend-long, award-winning event that draws thousands out to enjoy the sun, the sea and — of course — the sand.

A muted chorus of flip-flops drags across pavement on a sweltering spring day, as scantily clad coeds make a pilgrimage toward the river, inner tubes draped like bandoleers. Gotta keep those hands free for important things, like beer. Yes, you can drink on any river in Oregon, but as to whether you should … well, as in many things, moderation is key. 

From farm to sea to garden, Oregon is an invigorating place to live if you love good, fresh food and drink. Every summer, foodies gather around the state to celebrate the bounty of our cuisine at food festivals. Here are six events worth planning mini road trips around in the summer of 2014.

Keegan Keppner sits in a green plastic lawn chair with “Whoville” scrawled on it in Sharpie, the O written as a peace sign and surrounded by hearts and asterisks as if it was decorated by an adoring fan. Keegan’s knees are jammed up in his black sweatshirt and he shifts around to evade the chilliness of the spring evening. Cars roar past the temporary encampment on 8th and Mill.