Getting worldly in Eugene
by Brett Campbell
|Ande Marimba Band
Sometimes it can seem a little isolated here in the upper left hand corner. But this month, you can travel the world via the worldly sound of a number of local and visiting performers. On Thursday, Aug. 26, you can hear traditional music from Zimbabwe performed by the Ande Marimba Band, which has performed with some of southern Africa’s biggest stars, on marimba, mbira (the lovely gourd encased metal “thumb piano” that emits such dazzling sounds), drums and hosho shaker. They also play more modern sounds, sometimes augmented by Western instruments. The next night, Friday, Aug. 27, Cozmic Pizza features veteran local Middle Eastern music purveyors Americanistan, who play modern and traditional tunes from the region, and often accompany belly dancers, as they will at the 8 pm show. Then at 9:30, the scintillating singer Jessie Marquez and her band play the hybrid of U.S. and Cuban lounge jazz called filin music, along with other traditional Cuban styles. And at 1 pm Saturday, Aug. 28, Cozmic hosts a free Eugene Celebration showcase featuring still more mbira courtesy of Eugene’s own Richard Crandell, who learned his chops working with the legendary Thomas Mapfumo (including driving the tour bus) and who composes and performs his own often minimalist influenced music for mbira and kalimba, which suits it surprisingly well.
We’re a fair spell from Appalachia, not to mention Ireland, but you can hear those sounds channeled through the Colorado-based acoustic gypsy folk ensemble Taarka, whose genial blend of cello, violin, mandolin, bass and vocals draws on Celtic, bluegrass and various world music traditions.
You’ll have to drive to Roseburg for the next set of far-flung sounds, but that’s not nearly as far as the source. On Aug. 21-22, Umpqua Community College’s Swanson Amphitheatre may seem a little bit like Maui during the Umpqua Hula and the Arts Multicultural Festival, which features an impressive quartet of performers, including, on Sunday, two multiple award winners: Hawaii’s top selling female vocalist, Amy Ha–naiali’i Gilliom, and the duo Na– Palapalai, whose falsetto duos in the great Hawaiian vocal tradition can easily conjure an island vibe. Saturday’s show features the veteran Makaha Sons and singer Darlene Ahuna. The festival also includes hula performances by Halau Hula Na Pua O Hawai’i Nei and Halau Hula O Aulan, tribal belly dance by Tahara Tribe, contemporary Hawaiian musicians Ha’ena and Pili Moreno, Theo’s Jazzotope, Halau Hula Kaaumoana and more.
Closer to home, you can hear music from classic musicals at Eugene Symphonic Summer Band’s concert in Washburne Park (20th & Agate) at 6:30 pm Sunday, Aug. 22. It ain’t Broadway, but then again, it’s a beautiful setting — and it’s free.