Manx for the Memories
Take a Canadian dude, combine the tradition of classical Indian ragas with the blues, and what do you get? Harry Manx, of course. The man plays a mélange of instruments, including his Mohan veena, a 20-string sitar/guitar that he received as a gift from his mentor, Indian musician Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. Oh, and harmonica. And tabla. And dholak, banjo, lap slide guitars and the nigh-on exotic six-string guitar. On his 2005 Mantras for Madmen, the twangy, old-school crooning of “Never the Twain” contrasts with but complements the heavily shortened “Afghani Raga,” providing intriguing blends and sound mixes even without the iPod shuffle function. Manx’s voice on the driving “Your Sweet Name” rises above the various strings (a mix of Eastern and Western instruments) to dip in and out of inward-looking lyrics like “Compassion’s a sword, a rose or a kiss.” And though one of the songs is called “Nothing Fails Like Success,” Manx’s success at blending the bittersweet nostalgia of the blues with the storytelling strength of ragas should appeal to many in the Willamette Valley. Jed and Kelley, featuring Andrew Hardin, open for Harry Manx at 8 pm Saturday, Sept. 28, at Corvallis’ Majestic Theater. $18.50 adv. (tickets available at Gracewinds Music in Corvallis), $22 door. — Suzi Steffen
Fais-moi Quelques Anglaises
Francophiles! Put down your espressos and wipe off those disaffected expressions: Lisa Papineau, the breathy chanteuse who moonlighted on Air’s last two albums and M83’s Before the Dawn Heals Us, is coming to town. OK, so she’s actually American and has worked with red-blooded acts from The Rentals to P.O.D., but if Night Moves, her debut solo album, sounds decidedly French (right down to her subtle accent) it might be because she’s been living in Paris, collaborating with French musicians Thomas Huiban and Matthieu LeSenechal. The minimalist Night Moves is reminiscent of strolling through an empty mansion; without all of that distracting bric-a-brac cluttering up the salon, it’s much easier to appreciate the grandeur of her vocal architecture. French or not, the astronomical appeal of Papineau’s airy voice translates just fine from Old World to New. While Papineau might be best known for her involvement in the band Big Sir, or maybe for her work as a filmmaker (she co-produced Sundance Creative Vision award winner Treasure Island), it’s her bare-bones solo work that best showcases the delicate, understated power of her voice.
On this tour, Papineau performs with Portland instrumentalists Strangers Die Every Day. The band relies on somber, dynamic conversations between string instruments that often resemble Godspeed You Black Emperor!, but without the creepy voiceovers. And with Papineau haunting their otherwise vacant microphone, goosebumps are guaranteed.
Strangers Die Every Day and Lisa Papineau perform at 9 pm Wednesday, Oct. 3, at Sam Bond’s Garage. 21+ show. $5. — Sara Brickner
When indie bands start out, they always seem to make a vow to each other that they will never sell out, a vow that becomes short-lived once the bands realize that promoting and touring is expensive — and then stop caring so much about artistic integrity and keeping it real. So when you come across a group like Widespread Panic, which has managed to sell more than three million records without being pimped out by MTV or played on every major radio station, you can’t help but want to check them out.
There are hints of country, blues, funk, rock and folk on every album, and at least three of those styles can be found in every song. With no fancy electronics, no gimmicks and no sexy frontman, these six guys from Georgia rely simply on their music to attract an audience. The guys in Panic play as if every day is the best day of their lives.
“It still feels like it did when I first started,” drummer Todd Nance has said about being in the business for over 20 years. “That’s kind of crazy. I think we’ve done over 2000 shows, and the night before we go on tour, I still can’t sleep.”
The band’s honesty and raw talent have earned them a large fan base and respect from the music industry — they have been compared to Led Zeppelin. Even if you aren’t into the classic rock feel their music gives off, you just can’t help but like these guys. They aren’t rock stars; they are everyday Joes living their dream, and for many fans that is refreshing. Widespread Panic plays at 7:30 pm Wednesday, Oct. 3, at the Hult Center. $40. — Deanna Uutela
Celebrating the Big 4-0
The UO’s Chamber Music Series turns 40 this year and begins its season with a coup: The Emerson String Quartet plays at Beall Hall. Cool. All of the CMS concerts, actually, take place in this intimate hall with its excellent acoustics and warm feel (but horrific parking — better bike to this one thanks to Music Dept. construction). And the series isn’t exactly a stranger to big names: The Toyko Quartet played early on and has returned for 10 more concerts. The series history boasts a long list of other quartets — Turtle Island, Melos and a gazillion more — along with “forward-thinking” groups like Imani Winds and Tashi. But Emerson’s program consists solely of Brahms (String Quartets No. 2 in A minor; No. 3 in B flat minor; Opus 51 #1 in C minor), which should please the traditionalists in the audience while continuing to bore our other classical music writer. For the 40th birthday season, the series has lined up a mix of the familiar (Waverly Consort in a holiday concert) with the new (the young group America’s Dream Chamber Artists); help CMS celebrate by attending at least one of the series. More info (and a mind-bendingly hilarious anti-modern screed) at music.uoregon.edu/CMS/index.html Emerson String Quartet plays at 8 pm Thursday, Oct. 4, at the UO’s Beall Hall. $20-$40. — Suzi Steffen
Avant Punk Jazz Pandemonium
Gutbucket exemplifies the intersection — make that collision — of jazz, punk and postclassical music. The “avant-squonk” trio hangs out with fellow New York avant-garders Bang on a Can and Ethel, and then tours and teaches improv workshops at major artsy venues (including the Whitney Museum and Mass MOCA) around the U.S. and especially Europe. But they also blast frenzied explosions of Pixies-style guitar feedback, honk-squealing sax and roaring drums that would make any punk band proud.
Gutbucket’s fast-forward ADD lurches in rhythm (often using odd meters that sometimes shift from measure to measure), song structure and even genre (one minute they’re channeling Fugazi, the next Ornette Coleman, the next Derek Bailey) keep listeners off balance — not that you’d be likely to doze off when they unleash one of their frequent screams (literally or sax-ually) when the chaos threatens to recede. Yet it’s not all ferocious honk, thrash and squall. The music has a real architecture and carefully layered textures. It’s precisely executed (in both senses), and it packs a sense of humor. Gutbucket blares in your face; they’re not what you’d call pretty; they may disturb the neighbors. But fans of Zorn and Zappa, noise music, free jazz, punk and music that really connects — like a left hook — should give it a try. And bring your earplugs. Gutbucket performs at 10 pm Saturday, Sept. 29, at Luckey’s. 21+ show. $3-$5. — Brett Campbell
Through the Fog
The “disturbed” artist, with all the attendant agony and hardships, is a tired concept that increasingly loses music fans. We can only take so many Kurt Cobains or Elliott Smiths. But what about artists who use their mental illnesses to positive results?
Jenni Potts of Bellingham, Wash., lives with bipolar disorder, a mood-altering illness that results in extreme highs (manic episodes) and lows (depression). While others are hindered by their disorder, Potts uses it to fuel her music. “I’ve had my fair share of unhealthy and destructive habits, stemming from intense emotions,” she says
Potts doesn’t define herself by her disorder; it’s only mentioned briefly on her website. The 20-year-old singer-songwriter is considered to be an “old soul” by some music critics because of her moody lyrical content and stylized vocalizations. In reality, she’s a young adult with obvious influences: Potts is Tori Amos, had Amos chosen guitar over piano. On “Escape” Potts uses Amos’ breathy inflection, but at times it feels unnatural, as if she’s trying to sound older than she is. She redeems herself with songs like “The Fourth,” a beautifully tragic number made somber by passionate piano and cello and some slide guitar. I hope her acoustic set will prove just as satisfyingly emotional. Jenni Potts and Emily Jensen play at 7 pm Monday, Oct. 1, at Cozmic Pizza. $3. — Amanda Burhop
Still Hard to Handle?
|The Black Crowes|
Drenched in two-guitar blues rock that reeks of a bottle of Jack Daniels from 1975, the Robinson brothers are back. The Black Crowes, who were once dubbed “the most rock ‘n’ roll rock ‘n’ roll band in the world” (huh?), are coming into Eugene this weekend to attempt to resuscitate their early ’90s popularity and velvety, love-beaded attire.
The good ol’ Georgia boys became popular in 1990 with the release of Shake Your Moneymaker and made many hard rock fans hopeful that the days of spandex, lip gloss and hair metal were over. Since then, the Crowes have stuck around with the help of some loyal fans and the media attention surrounding lead vocalist Chris Robinson’s marriage to Goldie Hawn’s daughter, Kate Hudson.
The Black Crowes’ still unnamed album was recorded in Shokan, N.Y. and produced by Paul Stacey; recording finished earlier this summer, just in time for the Crowes to kick off their tour in Jackson, Miss. The band will begin mixing the tracks this fall for an expected release in the spring of 2008.
The Black Crowes play with Buffalo Killers at 7 pm Sunday, September 30, at the McDonald Theatre (note change of venue). $32 adv., $39 door. — Katie Cornell