Eugene Weekly : Music : 6.11.09

The Practice of Preach

Portland MC Braille has had to fight off the title “Christian rapper” throughout his career, and it’s understandable that people who don’t share his worldview might shy away from the guy’s music, which is heavy with religious symbolism. Still, it’s ultimately their loss. Yes, the guy has faith, and he rhymes about it, but it’s only one aspect of his music. If it’s palatable to a non-Christian audience, that’s because he writes about his own, personal faith instead of trying to convert others. In person, Braille’s a conversational rhyme-writer whose unaffected optimism is capable of rubbing off on even the most cynical bastards; unfortunately, this doesn’t come through quite as well on his albums. But anyone who’s ever paid attention to the flyers plastered all over Eugene’s telephone poles knows he’s been rocking shows in the area for years. This show is special, though, and will wind up being the latest in a long list of instances in which Braille has practiced the Christian morals he preaches and donated his time for a good cause. The HIV Alliance, a nonprofit that provides free HIV testing, a needle exchange and services for those living with HIV/AIDS, recently suffered a break-in in which some of their computers were damaged or stolen along with other items like food gift cards intended to help the Alliance’s clients. All who attend will receive a copy of Braille’s latest album, Cloud 19, free. Braille plays an in-store at 5:30 pm Saturday, June 13, at CD World (free), then performs with Nik Fury, the BreakDown Dancers, BreakDown Jr., Endr Won, the Sons of Vindication and the RAWKrew b-boys at 8 pm Saturday, June 13, at the Eastside Faith Center, 89 Centennial Loop. $10 sug. don. — Sara Brickner


American Journeys

Destinations, the new CD from local American roots band Sideroads, is a mellow acoustic/electric rock mix reminiscent of Tom Petty during his Wildflowers days or Jackson Browne via The Pretender, with a little bit of Bruce Springsteen to boot. The band, which celebrates the release of the CD this weekend, revels in simple guitar chords and straightforward lyrics about love, growing up and past and current journeys. 

Pulling from rock, blues, country and folk influences, Michael Kevin Daly, Richard Gabriel, Joel Narva and Willie McEachern have written and recorded an album with “the dust of America embedded in [its] shoes.” Tracks like “Cool June Night” and “Oh Lover” are all bluesy, toe tapping rhythm, while “Sideroads” and “Spirit Hwy” hark back to the great country music storytellers. 

The band members originate from three distant corners of the U.S. — Massachusetts and New York, Alabama and California — and by “taking the side roads,” have ended up here in the Northwest. Their music is a celebration and reflection of collective journey, no matter where their Destinations might take them. You might just want to follow.  Sideroads play at 8 pm Friday, June 12, at Cosmic Pizza. $5. — Katie Kalk


Homegrown Oregon Bluegrass

The latest installment of local bluegrass is here. The Water Tower Bucket Boys, four kids from Portland packing punches with their fiddles and strings, return to their college roots to celebrate the release of their new album Catfish on the Line, which came out April 20. The self-produced record features four original songs (one written by each band member) set against traditional bluegrass fare. It’s a throwback to high-energy, old-timey country roots, played with the Boys’ live-wire raw grit. With banjo, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, harmonica and upright bass, the rhythms pound and swing and beg you to get up and get down on the dance floor. 

Clocking in at a mode age of 22, former UO students Josh Rabie, Cory Goldman, Kenny Feinstein and Walter Spencer started playing music together four years ago and have since produced two albums, taken their music to the streets of Portland and toured up and down the West Coast. This summer their tour takes them to the U.K., Idaho, Washington and Colorado. 

With another set at Sam Bond’s July 2 and three days of playing at the Oregon Country Fair after that, the Boys will be in town long enough for everyone to catch a show. The Water Tower Bucket Boys and Huck Notari play at 9:30 pm Friday, June 12, at Sam Bond’s Garage. 21+. $5. — Katie Kalk