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Music

November 30, 2017

 I brought my second-grader, P, to the Tori Amos show at the Hult Center Nov. 25 (his first, my fifth) thinking that, as a budding performer himself, he might really be interested in her music, her performance, and all the other bits that go into a making a concert.

It’s a bit of a risk with him; will his attention span hold out? Will it be too loud? Will he talk in his too-loud voice or his too-loud stage whisper the entire performance? I keep my fingers crossed and we take the leap. 

November 30, 2017

Musicals used to start on stage and then go to the big screen. But that’s been changing lately, and one of the most prominent early screen-to-stage musicals was the 1952 film classic Singin’ in the Rain, which creators Betty Comden and Adolph Green adapted into a stage musical (with choreography by none other than Twyla Tharp) three decades later.

November 30, 2017

Here’s a quick rundown on Dave Grohl’s résumé: He was the drummer with Nirvana. That really ought to be enough, but Grohl also fronts the long-lasting and arguably more commercially successful Foo Fighters. This year the grunge-lite, neo-classic rock Foos released their ninth studio record Concrete and Gold

November 30, 2017

In 1891, Oscar Wilde wrote: “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” This evokes mysterious electronic musician Slow Magic (nobody’s sure who he really is), who performs behind a multi-colored animal mask, never revealing his true face. The popular producer stops in Eugene behind his latest release Float

November 22, 2017

Eugene artists Halie Loren, Bettreena “Betty” Jaeger and Amelia Reising will never forget the first time they heard the music of Tori Amos.

Jaeger is a singer-songwriter best known for her work with Betty and the Boy and now Betty and the Babes. “As a kid, I found her music deeply terrifying in a way,” Jaeger says. “I sensed a level of indescribable rage in her voice that immediately caught my attention as a sensitive preteen.” 

November 22, 2017

There are things both vintage and new in the plastic soul of Denver-based husband and wife duo Tennis. On the band’s latest release, Yours Conditionally, Helen Reddy meets the ’70s vibe of male/female duos like Buckingham Nicks, or the soulful disco shuffle of Minnie Riperton and the Commodores’ “Easy.”

There are glassy keyboards and Steely Dan guitar licks, as well as the dream pop of contemporary bands like Beach House up against the detached, aristocratic pretense of popular millennial indie rock acts like Vampire Weekend. 

November 16, 2017

“Sonder” is defined by The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows as the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. Experimental indie musician Kishi Bashi  — that’s the performance name for Kaoru Ishibashi — creates a soundscape as dynamic as the lives of people buzzing around us with his vast array of instruments and meshing of genres. 

November 16, 2017

From Joseph Joachim to Jascha Heifetz to Itzhak Perlman to Joshua Bell and so many more, solo violinists have been the closest things to rock stars in classical music. Star pianists like Liszt and Glenn Gould and Van Cliburn might argue, but as even flamboyant rock pianists Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elton John discovered, it’s easier to flash your chops onstage when you can stand up and move around.

November 9, 2017

Ani DiFranco has had many labels — singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, poet, activist, feminist, businesswoman — but at the end of the day she’s just Ani. Unlike so many in her business, DiFranco has flourished by staying true to her character and forging her own path.

November 9, 2017

Pete Bernhard, guitarist with the Santa Cruz-based The Devil Makes Three, says you’ll hear all kinds of old-timey music on his band’s latest release, Redemption and Ruin.

“We tried to choose a little bit of everything,” he tells me over the phone. “Some gospel, some folk songs, some old-time stuff, some country music.”

In the rhythm section, you’ll hear what sounds like a trashcan lid. “There were some junk drums for sure,” Bernhard says. “Weird things like hubcaps, stuff like that. If it seemed like it sounded right on the tune, we used it.” 

November 9, 2017

Los Angeles songwriter Phoebe Bridgers is emailing me from Europe, riding in a van somewhere between Germany and the Netherlands. “I can see miles and miles of forest,” Bridgers writes, “and every once in a while a big open field.” It’s a lonely scene that sits nicely alongside Bridgers’ lonely music.

She is in Europe and will soon be in Eugene, supporting her solo debut, Stranger in the Alps, an album of sad and acoustic lo-fi indie music landing somewhere folksier than Elliott Smith but just this side of roots music.

November 2, 2017

How do you turn a mountain into music? Ask composer Benjamin Krause.

A recent University of Oregon grad, now teaching in Indiana, Krause just wrote a string quartet inspired by views of Oregon’s Cascade mountains (Jefferson, the Sisters, lava fields, lonely trees, etc.) from the Dee Wright Observatory. The terrain and the feelings evoked by the Cascades are audible in Krause’s music, commissioned and performed by Eugene’s Delgani String Quartet this Sunday (Nov. 5) afternoon and Tuesday (Nov. 7) night at United Lutheran Church, 2230 Washington Street.

November 2, 2017

David Pacheco, vocalist and guitarist with Thee Commons, discovered cumbia back in the 1980s, when the style took Los Angeles by storm.

“Cumbia music originated from Colombia,” Pacheco explains, “from areas of less affluence.” The kind of places where, a little like food, you can find world’s best music.

November 2, 2017

Portland indie act Reptaliens contains a lot of contradictions. The band’s central songwriting team, husband and wife Cole and Bambi Browning, share a love story. They came together because of music, and Bambi says she finds marriage not unlike being in a band.

“You have to be really emotionally honest, open and vulnerable,” she says. “It’s really similar to being in any relationship, especially a romantic one.”

October 26, 2017

Danny Kime of downtown Eugene music venue Hi-Fi Music Hall says everyone on his staff loves Halloween. “It’s such a big deal in Eugene,” Kime says. “People love to dress up.”

This year Hi-Fi presents “Prayer to the Old Gods,” a two-night music festival celebrating All Hallow’s Eve. Since Halloween already does well for the venue, Kime calls the music festival a good opportunity to bring something bigger and more exciting for the holiday.

October 26, 2017

Mary Lambert’s perfected pop music is like the Powerpuff Girls meet Kate Nash (but from Seattle, not London). Her newfound hold on the genre is sugar, spice and a slew of self-growth stories told with quirky lyrics and contagious melodies. 

October 19, 2017

In November 2016, Eugene post-rock band Gazelle(s) were in Joshua Tree, California. “We were out there when Trump got elected,” recalls Gazelle(s) violinist Michelle Whitlock. She remembers looking up at the desert sky as the news rolled in, thinking, “What’s going on?”

October 19, 2017

Iron & Wine singer-songwriter Sam Beam is a breeze throughout the seasons. For more than a decade, his sound has wistfully danced through somber winters to the thawing afternoons of spring — at the core of his sound’s evolution lies the wind’s intrinsic trait: persistence.

October 19, 2017

October closes with a plenitude of pianistic delights for classical music fans, beginning with Thursday’s Eugene Symphony concert at the Hult Center featuring the rising young pianist Conrad Tao.

When he appeared at the UO’s Beall Hall in 2011, Tao was a 17-year-old prodigy who could seemingly play masterpieces with one hand tied behind his back. He’ll almost get the chance in Maurice Ravel’s dramatic 1931 piano concerto written for the great Austrian virtuoso Paul Wittgenstein, who’d lost his right arm to a Russian bullet in World War I.

October 19, 2017

Thirty-two years ago next month, The Jesus and Mary Chain, a band created by Scottish songwriting brothers Jim and William Reid, released its debut album Psychocandy.

On one hand, the album did little more than update for the dour, Joy Division generation the psychedelic garage rock of bands like The Troggs or The Seeds. Even the band’s haircuts — dyed-black bangs over eyes, framing permanently frowning mouths — seemed themselves like cartoonish, goth rock updates on Beatle-bangs. 

October 12, 2017

Detroit’s Protomartyr might be America’s greatest rock band. They also might not be. Either way, Protomartyr vocalist Joe Casey says he doesn’t really care.

“When we started this band,” Casey tells me over the phone, “we had no illusions we were going to be in the back of limousines and playing arenas and things like that. The bands that we like were never the most popular things on Earth.” 

October 12, 2017

Maybe Jimmy Buffett is just a guy living his best life. Maybe I’m just jealous. But there’s always been something about his leering, capitalist grin that makes me queasy.

I suppose Buffett has reason to be self-satisfied. He’s built a successful career spanning music, publishing, movies, the restaurant industry and even real estate.

He’s also earned himself a legion of fans known as "Parrotheads": an army of Hawaiian-shirted ugly Americans who vacation in white-washed Sandals Resorts. The kind of people who, while in Paradise, order a cheeseburger.

October 5, 2017

On his 13th birthday in the early 1970s, Scott “Wino” Weinrich, vocalist and songwriter with Maryland hard rock act The Obsessed, saw Black Sabbath perform live.

“That pretty much changed my life,” Weinrich tells me over the phone. “I was completely dumbfounded. They were playing their instruments so hard there was no doubt in my young mind the concert would have to be stopped. I was convinced they were going to destroy their instruments.” 

October 5, 2017

These days, some people complain we’ve become too politically correct, or that we’ve become afraid to say what we really mean. Murray Acton, better known as The Cretin from classic Canadian hardcore punk act Dayglo Abortions, isn’t concerned about that sort of thing.

Formed in 1979 and known for a kind of punked-up, metal-style hardcore cacophony, the Dayglos are touring behind last year’s release Armageddon Survival Guide