Eugene Weekly : Music : 9.30.10

John Craig Comes Home

Ah, Portland, our colossal neighbor to the north. It’s got all of the things a big city needs: buildings, parks, rivers, bridges — and let’s not forget the artists. In fact, Portland has been home to a whole lot of great musicians in its time. 

Here’s another that nobody should miss: John Craig, who started out his days as a musician right here in Eugene. As UO students, Craig and his friend Ryan Dobrowski — who now plays his part for Blind Pilot — created Tympanic, gaining mild success on the West Coast before graduation. Since then, Craig has pursued a solo career based on a touching blend of electro, rock and pop that is hard to categorize. At times, his voice is reminiscent of Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), while other times it’s just something completely different.

Craig’s music is mellow yet danceable, colorful yet gray, grounded yet spacey and everything in between. In each song, he achieves a rich framework of textures and sounds that aims to please. If you are in need of a reminder that Oregon still rocks ridiculously hard, this is your man. John Craig plays at 8:30 pm Sunday, Oct. 3, at Taylor’s Bar & Grille. 21+. Free.  — Andy Valentine

Give Comfort, Get Comfort Back

On her website Anne Feeney calls herself a unionmaid, hellraiser and labor singer who’s been “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable” since she graduated from high school in 1968. Now, it’s time for Feeney, a folk singer whose consciousness was shaped by the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement, to get a little of that comfort back. She was recently diagnosed with lung cancer and, like many independent musicians who become ill, she is struggling with medical bills. 

“Although Anne hails from Pittsburgh, we all feel a local connection with her because she spent so many years performing here both for the Country Fair and for labor and social justice organizations,” says Kate Downing, banjo player and vocalist with the Low Tide Drifters. Walker T. Ryan, the Low Tide Drifters and Mark Ross are performing at a benefit concert and silent auction on Feeney’s behalf, and they’re hoping that many Eugeneans will help make the event a big success. 

“Anne is a wonderful folksinger who has contributed her time and music to social justice causes across the U.S. and in the Eugene area,” says Downing. “We decided to organize the fundraiser for Anne after hearing about her medical issues. All of the performers for the show know and are influenced by Anne’s work both musically and socially. I think that the outpouring of generosity and interest that we’ve had from the community already proves that there are many people here that consider her one of ‘Eugene’s own.’”

Attendees are encouraged to donate whatever they can, and to bid on silent auction items. Downing adds that anyone who would like to donate cash but cannot make it to the show can donate via Feeney’s blog, With help from green Eugene, Feeney can hopefully keep raisin’ hell for years to come. Walker T. Ryan, Low Tide Drifters and Mark Ross play a benefit for Anne Feeney at 5 pm Saturday, Oct. 2, at Tsunami Books. Donation. — Vanessa Salvia

Spastic Aliens & Furries

Dave Sugalski’s alter ego the Polish Ambassador may not be doing a whole lot for Polish-American relations, but Sugalski’s synth-pop collages could really benefit from a little diplomatic immunity. His glitched-out layers of samples and synth noodling lie somewhere on the digital spectrum between Girl Talk’s (otherwise known as Greg Gillis) spastic sardine-tin collages and Dan Deacon’s android music: It’s not so bubblegum that it’ll scare away the technophiles, but it’s dancey enough to entice more conventional pop fans onto the floor. And like Dan Deacon, Sugalski doesn’t lack for a sense of showmanship. He’s known for performing in a neon yellow jumpsuit, and his shows can get pretty wild. How wild? Well, not quite as wild as Greg Gillis’ — so far, no one’s been caught (and encouraged to continue) screwing onstage at a Polish Ambassador show — but Sugalski is poised to become the West Coast’s answer to Girl Talk. If October release First Words can improve upon Sugalski’s prior efforts, in a short time he will be hosting the same sorts of orgiastic, spastic affairs that have come to define Gillis’ and Deacons’ shows. Sugalski’s well on his way, meaning this show will surely sell out. Make sure to get your tickets in advance … but if you forget, you can still dress up like an alien or an animal for a $2 discount off the door price. The Polish Ambassador performs with Sporeganic, Undermind and DJ Diogi at 10 pm Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Agate Alley Bistro. $10 adv., $15 door. 21+. — Sara Brickner 


These Kids Got the Blues

BluesOut!, a brand spankin’ new program through the Rainy Day Blues Society, is designed for kids under 21 looking for a place to rock out and learn new skills. The program was created by Josh Coen, who also runs Blues in the Schools. “BluesOut! is a place where kids can play the 12-bar blues without the ‘bar,’” says Coen. “It’s designed so that kids can play music with others their age, meet potential bandmates, learn from seasoned musicians and get comfortable performing on stage.”

BluesOut’s mentors, all professional musicians, include bassist Natty O, a “Breakfast with the Blues” DJ from KRVM; vocalist Joanne Broh from the Broh-Taylor Blues Band; UO music student and guitarist Ben Rice; and 2010 Northwest Harmonica Champion Lloyd Tolbert. 

Skill levels are all over the board, from those who have never played to more experienced musicians like Po O’Hara, 18, who already has his own band, and vocalist Savanna Coen, 12, who has performed at events like Grrrlz Rock and the Willamette Valley Blues & Brews Festival. Those who need a little more training can attend the mini Blues Jam Basics class at the beginning of the jam, taught by guitarist Carl Falsgraf. This is also good for kids who are hesitant about taking the stage. “It’s all no pressure, lots of fun,” Coen says. “They can come just to watch and check it out for a time or two before deciding to get up on stage.”

It’s a drop-in event, so getting there early is a must to ensure a spot. Best of all, the kids get to jam for free. Drums, mics and amps are all right there for everybody to use. Most kids bring their instruments, though there are some available on loan. Says Coen, “No matter what music they want to play, starting with the blues will give them a great foundation. And that’s what the jam is all about.”

BluesOut! starts at 4 pm Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Lesson Factory (1011 Green Rd.), and will continue on the first Saturday of every month. Free.  — Catherine Foss




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