The Parson Red Heads Catch the Worm
Since the release of their debut LP King Giraffe, the Parson Red Heads have found themselves streaking faster and faster toward widespread recognition and success. Being natives of Eugene, they have no qualms with tickling our Oregonian fancies, but their 2010 tour finds them kicking up beautiful, Croce-esque dirt from Chicago to Santa Cruz. Along the way, the group will offer a tour-only, four track EP, Early Birds, which contains three re-recorded versions of old Red Heads songs (including “Choose”), as well as the new “Never Ending Road,” which allows the group’s consistent songwriting talent to shine through.
Early Birds essentially contains more of the beloved, upbeat folk-pop that has served as a staple of the Red Heads sound over the years — and all ye who enter here in search of a folkier Neil Young, Fairport Convention or Byrds influence, do not be disheartened; there is great beauty and poise to be found in the noodles and harmonies of the EP as well as a finely tuned sense of lyricism.
Live Red Heads performances have been known to turn the original three-person group into a gigantic, 14-musician collective that still keeps a tight-knit performance going. Most shows exhibit a mellow, smile heavy atmosphere, interrupted only by the occasional psychedelic pedal fuck-around. In short: the perfect music for a chilled out night in the band’s hometown. The Parson Red Heads and Cotton Jones play at 9 pm Thursday, Aug. 12, at Sam Bond’s Garage. 21+. $5. — Andy Valentine
Relaxation for Thousands
At last year’s Pickathon, one of the first things I did was buy a tiny tub of Fifty Licks ice cream (complete with even tinier wooden spoon) and get happily lost in the woods. This was notable for several reasons: The ice cream was locally made and flavored with Stumptown coffee. There were woods enough to get lost in (but not so lost that I didn’t eventually meander back to a trail). And, possibly most delightfully, while wandering in those woods, I saw maybe half a dozen people.
Pickathon, among its many more obvious charms — stellar lineup; sustainability measures (including, this year, trading single-use plastic beer cups for reusable stainless steel cups); sprawling, airy mainstage area; family-friendly kids’ activities — is a fantastic music festival for people who usually don’t like music festivals. The food is shockingly good, reasonably priced and provided by Oregon vendors. The main lawn is so big it never feels crowded. Functional sinks await outside the portajohns. There’s plenty of shade. It’s more like wandering around someone’s really lovely farm (which, actually, you are) than having a concert experience. It just so happens that during your lazy stroll, you come across Bonnie “Prince” Billy and the Cairo Gang playing on the sylvan Woods Stage, or the Heartless Bastards (pictured above) filling the Galaxy Barn with happy people, most of whom only bump you when they want a space nearer the fan. You sprawl on the lawn while the Fruit Bats are playing and watch Black Prairie set up on the neighboring stage. You fall into a catnap waiting for Langhorne Slim’s 1 am show — but it’s OK; he’s playing the Woods Stage the next day. Pickathon makes it easy to see everyone you want to see, scheduling most artists for two or more slots on different stages. Most of the time, the prospect of being at an event with several thousand people makes me cringe, but here, the opposite happens: It’s relaxing. Pickathon takes place Aug. 6-8 at Pendarvis Farm outside Portland. $155 weekend pass (includes camping); $80-$85 day pass. See pickathon.com for full schedule. — Molly Templeton
Takin’ a Ride with T-Model Ford
Filthy, foulmouthed, loud, inexhaustible and old as the dirt he plowed as a child in the fields of Mississippi, blues bad-boy T-Model Ford does not — and I repeat — does not give a flying fuck. “I been shot, and I been cut,” he sings over a chunky riff and boomba beat on “Nobody Gets Me Down.” No shit. Back in his youth, he served on a chain gang for murder, and when asked how many times he’s been jailed, he said, “Every Saturday night there for a while.” Born either in 1922 or 1924 (though he’s sure it was June), this “sure-enough dangerous man” has been naming names and stomping ass longer than most of your grandparents have been alive. T-Model is the Delta blues incarnate: His guitar churns and squeals and clanks with the syncopated slash of a barroom fight, and his voice gargles and shouts like a no-bullshit bullhorn that is equal parts challenge and affront. “Take a ride with me,” he sings on his album She Ain’t None of Your’n, and you can almost smell the inside of that car, wafting with mansmells of sweated hootch, corndog wrappers and uncapped motor oil just to keep the beast on the road. A self-proclaimed “ladies’ man” who never could spell or read “the things he loves,” T-Model keeps this simple small-amp traveling road show going with an exuberance, aggression and unrepentant authenticity that is downright devilish. It’s not uncommon for him to play his gritty blues for eight hours straight, until he’s the last men standing. So grab a ass pocket of whiskey, a box o’ Band-Aids and your meanest feelings, roll up your cuffs, and take a spiritual trip to the true due South. T-Model Ford plays with GravelRoad and Sassparilla at 8:30 pm Thursday, Aug. 5, at Axe & Fiddle. $10. — Rick Levin
Listen, Drink and Build
This weekend, Eugene/Springfield Habitat for Humanity pairs local music and beer in a family friendly atmosphere at the second annual Willamette Valley Blues and Brews Festival. Both music and beer at the festival will carry Oregon and Pacific Northwest overtones, but both also sport some members with international acclaim.
“What [breweries] do is they donate two kegs to Habitat, and we sell those,” says Rick Medlen, Habitat for Humanity’s festival director. “[It’s] a dollar for every two ounce taste, and all that money goes to Habitat.”
The festival’s beer selection is mostly from the Northwest, with the likes of Hopworks Urban Brewery, Ninkasi and Oakshire Brewing donating two kegs of differing styles.
The blues lineup features many local-gone-international acts, including headliners Curtis Salgado and Karen Lovely, both from Oregon. Although the festival features predominantly blues musicians, other funk and jam types, like Eugene’s Volifonix, will perform as well.
Ten percent of funds generated for Habitat for Humanity will benefit the Eugene/Springfield’s branch in an effort to build houses for people in Nicaragua. Money raised at last year’s event helped build 45 homes.
Habitat was able to raise $10,000 last year at the festival and hopes to double that number this year. With increased ticket sales and the music and beer lineup, this year’s festival looks to entertain while also assisting those in need. The Willamette Valley Blues and Brews Festival takes place 4-10:30 pm Friday, Aug. 6, and 10:30 am-10:30 pm Saturday, Aug. 7, at Island Park, Springfield. $8 day; $14 weekend pass (plus three non-perishable items for FOOD for Lane County). See www.wvbbf.org for full schedule. — Andrew Hitz
Keep It Mellow, Bro
Dear Michael Franti,
Oh, how we love you in Eugene. Let me count the ways:
You’re so mellow. Your dreadlocks, tank tops, cargo shorts and frequently bare feet remind us of summertime in Eugene. In fact, the name of your latest single and forthcoming album, due out in September, is The Sound of Sunshine. Anyone up for a game of Frisbee golf?
Your music is infinitely hyphenate-able. Hip-hop-folk-rock-funk-soul-world-reggae? From your early days playing punk in the Beatnigs to your time in the rap group Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, and your work with Spearhead, you’ve always defied labels.
Whatever you call what it is you do, anyone within earshot is compelled to lose the shoes and find a patch of grass to dance in. And if there’s one thing we love to do in Eugene it is dance barefoot in the grass.
You’re so socially conscious, yet always manage to spread the positive vibes, like a genetic hybrid of Bob Marley and Jimmy Buffett. From producing the annual Power to the Peaceful festival since 1998 to your lyrics, “You can bomb the world to pieces but you can’t bomb it into peace” being adopted into the lexicon of the modern peace movement, you’ve managed to position yourself as a protest singer for the 21st century.
And rather than sit around and complain, in 2006 you picked up your guitar and traveled to Palestine, Israel and Iraq to make an album and a documentary. Way to make a difference, bro.
Michael Franti and Spearhead, Lilla D’Mone and The Flobots play at 6:30 pm Friday, Aug. 6, at the Cuthbert Amphitheatre. $35 adv., $40 door. — William Kennedy