Eugene Weekly : Music : 3.18.10

The Devil Makes Three’s Incendiary Folk Revivalism 

Even though The Devil Makes Three’s frontman Pete Bernhard just returned from a solo tour, he and his band are heading right back out on a second tour in support of last year’s Do Wrong Right. It’s the first studio recording the band’s released in four years, but the Devil Makes Three is one of those bands that needs to be experienced live to get the whole picture, anyway. Like most other purveyors of contemporary folk music, the Devil Makes Three’s Heinz 57 breed of folk revivalism couldn’t be further from the conservative, moralistic classic country from which the band derived its sound. Though the Devil Makes Three’s ragtime rhythm and bluegrass twang sound like they were plucked straight out of a Depression-era barn raising, that old-timey sound comes swaddled in a punk rock attitude and a populist bent that invokes the spirit of protest folk artists like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, if not their sound. While the band admits that their albums can’t compare to the live experience, the tracks from Do Wrong Right are cleaner, more cohesive and polished than any of the Devil Makes Three’s prior recordings. Happily, that cohesion didn’t come at the expense of the messy, rough-and-tumble jug band charm that made them so popular in the first place. The Devil Makes Three and Mad Cow perform at 9 pm Thursday, March 25, and Friday, March 26, at WOW Hall. $16 adv./$18 DOS. ­ Sara Brickner

Majestic Junk Folk

Jack O’ the Clock calls themselves “majestic junk folk,” but you can decide for yourself what to call the quirky mix of guitars, banjos, hammer dulcimers, bass and violin, to name a few. They’ve developed music for UC Berkeley grad student documentaries, most recently The Naked Guy and Carny Girl, where they put their improvisational creativity to the test. The band rounds out their sound with Jordan Glenn, percussionist and accordion player from Eugene. 

Jack O’ the Clock combines traditional folk with modern, avant-garde experimentation: according to vocalist Damon Waitkus, songs are meant to be “digested” by the listener. The melodies and hooks are there, but with a slower, more gradual sense of pacing that might require just a little bit of patience to get the full effect. Many of the songs in their debut album, Rare Weather, are over six minutes long; the longest track, “Sea Change/Rare Weather/I Watch the Planes,” spans 11 minutes. But the more you listen, the more the details of lyrics, melody and orchestration unfold.

On the band’s website, a featured track, “New American Gothic,” haunts you with melancholy, warbling vocals layered with guitars, harp and violin. A shorter ditty, “Suckers N’ Marks,” was designed for Carny Girl to sound like “black and white stills of carnies having a night on the town half a century ago.” Somehow, they’ve accomplished this feat as well as anyone could; whether you’re familiar with folk music or not, the music seems to take you back to an earlier time, before auto-tune, synth and teen pop sensations. 

Jack O’ the Clock plays at 10 pm on Friday, March 19, at Luckey’s with Testface and Pat Hull. 21+. $5. — Darcy Wallace

Two Years for Oak Street Speakeasy

Oak Street Speakeasy is celebrating its two-year anniversary with three days of music starting on Thursday. Music lovers from metal heads to karaoke buffs have found their niche at the popular downtown nightspot, and that’s just what owner Mac Goodwin was hoping for. Goodwin worked for almost 10 years in bartending and bar management both in Eugene and Los Angeles. She was working at the Black Forest when a change in ownership led her to realize that it was time for her to move elsewhere or open up her own business.  “Things like that are a catalyst for you to change your life,” she says. “I had a vision of what I wanted all along,” and when opportunity knocked for her to buy the Speakeasy location, she jumped on it. Goodwin envisioned a live music venue with a local focus and organic food beyond the typical bar menu. “In L.A. there are tons of places that have hip hop one night and death metal the next, but that are still an aesthetically pretty, clean place with nice food and nice drinks,” she says. “I didn’t want to be typecast. I wanted a nicer place and to cater to music.”

Goodwin’s anniversary weekend line-up is an eclectic mix of genres and bands that frequently play there. “I wanted to highlight the bands that play here and say a big thank you to everyone for coming out!” Goodwin says. Speakeasy Dress Up Karaoke at 9 pm Thursday, March 18; Rare Monk, Whopner County All Stars and Wanibra play at 9 pm, Friday, March 19; Starboard Morning, Judo Pony and The Whiskey Spots play at 9 pm, Saturday, March 20 at Oak Street Speakeasy. 21+. Donation. — Vanessa Salvia

Play That Harmonica, Albert

When you’re considered by some to be the godfather of the Northwest Blues scene, it’s a pretty big deal when you put on your annual Harmonica Blow Off. Having played in blues bands for more than three decades — including a two-year stretch as the house band at Taylor’s in Eugene — hosted the popular show “Blues Power” for nine years on KLCC and helped found both the Oregon Blues Society and the Cascade Blues Association, six-time Muddy Award winner Bill Rhoades has done much to put the blues on the musical radar in Eugene.

Performing with Rhoades will be Mike Moothart (formerly of the Switchmasters and the Jim Mesi Band) Jim Wallace (noted guitarist and vocalist when not playing the harmonica), Dave Mathis (two-time Muddy award winner and member of the Liquid Blues Band), and Eugene’s own Michael Tracey (who plays with his band the Hi-Tones and won a 2009 Rainy Day Blues Society Rooster Award for best male vocalist). 

With so much talent in one place for one performance, this promises to be one hell of a show the audience will not soon forget. This quintet of players will make you feel good about spending an evening listening to the blues.

The Harmonica Blow Off begins at 9:30 pm, Saturday, March 20, Mac’s at the Vets Club. 21+. $6.— Brian Palmer




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