Eugene Weekly : Music : 2.21.08

She Can Play That Thing

Australia may conjure more musical references to didgeridoos than steel guitars, but native Aussie Fiona Boyes is burning up American clubs and airwaves with blues riffs so sizzling that even the die-hard Delta old-school is taking notice. Now residing in Portland, Boyes is one of the most celebrated voices in blues today, earning a Memphis Blues Awards Contemporary Blues Album of the Year nomination in 2007 and a Contemporary Female Blues Artist of the Year nomination for 2008. With her band, The Fortune Tellers, Boyes uses her sometimes husky, sometimes velvety voice to set love and pain, joy and bitterness to the twang of a most quintessentially American sound.

Boyes’ most recent album, 2006’s Lucky 13, features songs dominated by very traditional bluesy chord progressions as well as several jazzy, boogie woogie tracks thrown in to spice up the mix. Her highly regarded picking skills are demonstrated to their full potential on the boot-stomper “Rockabilly on the Radio,” while she gets a little feisty and more sultry on the humorous “Celebrate the Curves.” A bevy of high profile backing talent infuse Lucky 13 with horns, pianos and supporting vocals that showcase Boyes’ lyrics and vocals without overwhelming her. While it’s not featured on her American debut album, fans or potential fans would do well to seek out the song “She Could Play That Thing,” a humorous, autobiographical account of blues fans encountering Boyes for the first time and feeling confused by her femininity coupled with her vicious mastery of a guitar style typically dominated by men. Fiona Boyes and the Fortune Tellers play at 9:30 pm Friday, Feb. 22, at Bombs Away Café, Corvallis. $8. — Adrienne van der Valk



Hauntingly sweet and dripping with ambience, the delicate compositions of Levator will float through your dreams. The band’s musty yet cool indie pop is detailed and precise, like a recurring dream you just can’t forget.

“Perfect World” takes life as a modern-day lullaby. “It’s a perfect world and I’m wishing time away…” Sky Lynn breathes into the microphone. Rather than “Hush little baby, don’t you cry,” this lullaby full of melody gives hope for a world without worries, where time ceases.

Sky Lynn formed Seattle-based Levator in 2003. Lynn spent a year making her first album, Midnight, which she started by buying a computer and software. Late nights spent experimenting and tweaking paused only for life, love and travel. After she finished self-recording and producing Midnight, Lynn dabbled in the art of video production. She created a show featuring seven solo performers with video she specifically shot and edited for each one.

2006 saw the addition of permanent member Rando Skrasek and the recording and release of Levator’s most current album, Jackson Hwy. Barnes Drive. Over two months, Lynn packed up her van Fridays after work, drove to her father’s Oregon ranch, where she grew up, and hammered away on the new material until it was time to head north on Sunday night.

This singer-songwriter has warranted comparisons to PJ Harvey and Mazzy Star, and her song textures to that of Sonic Youth. Levator, Muke and Testface play at 10 pm Wednesday, Feb. 27, at Luckey’s. $3-$5. 21+ show. — Anne Pick


Love, Actually

Whether you’re broken hearted or about to fall in love, Jesse Meade‘s slow, raspy style makes for perfect listening. Meade, who plays a mix of covers and originals, has taste that varies from Ray Charles to traditional songs like “This Little Light of Mine.”

After moving to Eugene just over a year ago with only a friend’s couch to crash on, 26-year-old Meade is trying to make an impact on the Eugene music scene. Meade describes his music as “structurally rhythm and blues,” but also credits his style to the classical country of the ’50s and ’60s.

Like most musicians who like to prey on our emotional weaknesses, his music is about love lost and gained. Songs like “Let Me Go” and “Nothing Will Be Like This” talk about relationships turned sour and disappointing love affairs. Meade’s lyrics aim for the heartstrings of his listeners, but fall slightly shorter than his more famous musical counterparts John Mayer and Jack Johnson.

While “R&B is the biggest influence,” Meade’s style varies slightly on tracks such as “Getting Good at Feeling Bad,” which has a bluesy feel to it. Within its lyrics — “I’m beyond disappointment / I’m beyond feeling sad / I’m getting good at feeling bad” — he plays the typical bluesman singing about the woman who did him wrong.

Whether singing blues or country, Meade offers a new talent in the diverse Eugene music scene. Currently recording and writing new songs, Meade’s been busy playing his romantic renditions at local bars all over Eugene; take a listen at www.jessemeade.comJesse Meade and Sam Hahn play at 10 pm Tuesdays at Luckey’s. $3-$5. 21+ show. — Megan Udow