Living La Vida Local
A three-day whirlwind of music and food
by Vanessa Salvia
Welcome to the best season of the year. Fall. It’s football time, and the kids are back in school. Days are still warm and sunny, and unlike our brothers and sisters in other parts of the country, we don’t have to batten down our hatches for the storm of the week. No, what we look forward to come September is not the height of hurricane season but the three-day-long whirlwind of music and food that takes over our downtown.
It’s that time of year when the city shuts down for a celebration of all things “Eugenie,” and a block party ain’t no kind of party without lots of music. Read on for a guide to a few local bands that will be performing during this year’s celebration.
There’s something about rockabilly music that’s oddly comforting. Whenever I hear of a new band keeping the rockabilly torch going, I know that rock and roll will never die. The fact that no commercial radio station anywhere will play a new rockabilly band and the musicians can pretty well rule out a record contract doesn’t seem to prevent kids from taking up the genre. Anyone playing in a rockabilly band today is doing it out of love, and Springfield’s 56 Pontiac (10 pm Fri., John Henry’s) definitely seems to enjoy what they do. They’ve got the look and the sound with songs like “Mean Daddy” and “Boppin The Blues,” so put on your dancing shoes, all you cats and kittens, and enjoy a musical portal back to the 1950s.
You don’t have to be an accordion addict to benefit from the 12-step accordion awareness program that is Accordions Anonymous (noon Sat., Sat. Market Stage). At one of their performances, the group makes it easy for you to accept that the squeezebox is capable of much more than polka. The 10-piece group blends vaudevillian humor with multicultural music, so all you accordion addicts can come out of the closet, there’s a safe place for you now!
Due to an abundance of other groups named the CoStars, Eugene’s one-of-a-kind band is now a star in their own right with a new name, Alpha Dahlia (1:30 pm Sat., Library). The group has reinvented themselves with a new sound and a new drummer, but they’ve retained their born-to-perform fascination with rock and Rocky Horror-ish camp.
Don’t be alarmed if you’re walking the streets of downtown and see people playing with fire. It’s probably the members of Earth DescenDance (all over), who really know how to heat things up for their art. Earth Descendance is a group of performers who display their talent at that always mesmerizing waltz with flames — fire breathing, fire eating, fire juggling and swinging burning things around without hurting anybody. Cool! I mean, hot!
The Ovulators (12:30 am Sat., Luckey’s) are not only earth-bound travelers from another place; they’re troubadours from another time, as one of their song titles says … a time when glam rock ruled the airwaves, David Bowie was king, and all sadness could be banished by simply applying more body glitter. These four “rhinestone rock divas” appear on stage as refugees from the planet Zygote. They landed here on Earth in 2002 and have cheerfully spread the glitter rock, punk and dueling-guitar girl power gospel ever since. No longer an embryonic band, The Ovulators were voted Eugene’s favorites by EW readers in 2005.
Lafa Taylor and Marv Ellis (9 pm Sat., McDonald Theatre) will both do their thing — that positive vibe, hip hop fusion thing. Neither of these guys rap about chicks or bling bling, instead keeping the content real and focused on uplifting global topics. While traveling the world (recording an album in Costa Rica, designing clothes in Bali, living part-time in Tokyo), Taylor has quietly amassed a committed global following, spreading the word of positive Northwest hip hop and funky fresh beats wherever he goes. Ellis performed for two years with Papa’s Soul Kitchen and then helped found legendary Northwest hip hop group Genus Pro. A couple of years ago he went solo and has teamed up with Taylor many times as M.E.L.T. Ellis’s new project is Dreamcatcher Juice, an album that “travels through the ego to the id, from contact to swagger back, and brings the listener home safely in the end.”
I imagine there would be a riot if the Eugene Celebration went off without at least a little blues power represented. And while there’s not a lot this year, one local choice is the blues, R&B and funk of Dr. Mofessor (9:15 pm Fri., Broadway Plaza). Also known as Maurice McConnell, Mofessor was schooled in the blues at the time when Robert Cray and Curtis Salgado were rising to the top. Though originally from Los Angeles, Mofessor’s music moves from swampy New Orleans grooves to Chicago boogie, to just about everything in between.
No need to run from Runaway Slave (9 pm Fri., McDonald Theatre). This Eugene supergroup of sorts has roots in the hip hop and jazz of Natural Progression (guitarist Jessiah Simon), the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies (guitarist Jason Moss), don’t-call-us-jam Reeble Jar (keyboardist Josh Coffey), the Ginger Hustlers (drummer John Raden), and The Dead Americans (bassist Tarry Travis). The sound they’ve created is all their own, though, as its smooth reggae rhythms and funky beats inspire comparisons to both Bob Marley and Funkadelic.
For live electro-rock, head to science class — for the Science Heroes (9 pm Sat., WOW Hall), that is. Guitar-led electronic rock from this duo of Andy Weber (guitar, vocals) and Josiah Martens (synthesizers, drum synthesizers, tape players) has a haunting quality and makes you feel smarter just by listening to them — no homework required.
That’s not all of the local bands that are playing the Eugene Celebration, of course, but it just wouldn’t be fair to tell you about all of them. Discover some for yourself … you’ve got three days. Ready, set, go!
Eugene Celebration 2008
It’s That Slime Again! New S.L.U.G. Queen wins in a close one
Event Junkies Volunteers put the Eugene in EC
Laugh, Cry, Be Inspired Film Festival at DIVA
Living La Vida Local A three-day whirlwind of music and food
PDX @ the EC Big city music on small town stages
Celebrate Downtown at the EC Merchants anticipate excitement, if not more sales
The Official Eugene Celebration Site Schedule, Map, Directions and more