Posts from — August 2008
On the heels of his amazingly eloquent acceptance speech at the DNC last night, Barack Obama campaign representatives have announced they will be making selected appearances during shows this fall at Doug Fir to get unregistered voters signed up to vote in the most important Presidential election of our generation. We will make sure to keep you updated once we have confirmed dates.
August 29, 2008 No Comments
The inaugural San Francisco Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival featured lots of great music from a varied selection of artists but also had its share of logistical problems, particularly during the first evening.
August 29, 2008 No Comments
Rouge Wave is currently touring in support of Jack Johnson this summer and the pair made a NW stop at Columbia Meadows last week. While on the road this summer with Jack, Rouge Wave had scheduled some special small venue/club shows along the tour & the Doug Fir was lucky enough to get one! The plan for these intimate gigs was to be different from the normal sets and will feature all acoustic/stripped down songs. Rouge Wave is a California based-outifit that was recently signed to Jack Johnson label, Brushfire Records (Jack Johnson, G. Love, Matt Costa, ALO, Mason Jennings). The acoustic set-up was a surprise, but the band did not dissapoint! In fact, I think the songs translated better than the large venue show & you could tell the group was into it. All sitting down on folding chairs the band navigated their way through a 1-hour show on acoustic guitars & a stripped down set-up which featured tracks from the band’s most recent album, Asleep At Heaven’s Gate. The show climaxed with a female concert-goer being brought on stage to sit in for a Neil Young song after many shout-out requests. Cheers to Rouge Wave for trying something a little different and finally starting to get some of the exposure they deserve!
August 25, 2008 No Comments
The Decemberists, PDX’s finest featuring Colin Meloy, Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee, Nate Query & John Moen has been quiet on the touring front lately, but that does not mean they have not been busy. The band just kicked off it’s new digital/vinyl singles series, the first installment of which features a tune called “Valerie Plame” is ready to be released. According to a press release, “Valerie Plame” is “an amorous tribute to the onetime CIA operative…written from the point-of-view of one of Plame’s inside contacts upon discovering her true identity.” [Hey, doesn't that sound like it's the sequel to "The Bagman's Gambit" from Picaresque?- Ed] We’d expect nothing less labyrinthine from the makers of The Crane Wife.
Always the Bridesmaid: A Singles Series comes in three volumes. Volume I features “Valerie Plame” and “O New England” and comes out October 14. Volume II features “Days of Elaine”, “Days of Elaine [Long]“, and “I’m Sticking With You” and comes out November 4. Volume III features “Record Year” and “Raincoat Song” and comes out December 2.
In the U.S., Capitol will release Always the Bridesmaid digitally, and the Decemberists’ own Y.A.B.B. Records, in conjunction with Jealous Butcher Records, will handle the 12″ releases via the band’s online store and select independent shops. In the UK, Rough Trade will release Always the Bridesmaid digitally and as a series of 7″s.
The Decemberists are planning some yet-to-be-announced U.S. shows for November, but for now, their only date is an Election Day Eve (November 3) appearance on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” to perform “Valerie Plame”. They’re also working on a full-length follow-up to The Crane Wife with Always the Bridesmaid producer and The Crane Wife co-producer Tucker Martine.
August 22, 2008 No Comments
JANELLE MONAE, the protege of Outkast arrives Friday in Portland @ the Doug Fir. Tix available at the door. Her debut EP arrived in stores to solid reviews last week. She was a featured player in Outkast’s feature film Idlewild. We’re expecting big things for this soul, r&b;, hip hop child. Janelle was recently featured in Paste Magazine as a top artist to watch in 2008. The press has been pouring in for her. Catch JANELLE MONAE at a small venue while you still can!
Simmering soul from Atlanta, GA sci-fi funk princess
Friday August 22
Doors 6pm, Show 6:30pm
$8 in advance, $10 at the door
August 22, 2008 No Comments
Today’s spotlight is on the old school R&B; pioneer Charles Walker, and The Dynamites, the eight-piece backing band from Nashville, TN. The 68-year-old vocalist himself watched soul grow from its infancy and come back again in force. He recorded songs in the late ’50s and the ’60s and became a star in New York, fronting several bands, including Little Charles & The Sidewinders. He toured as an opening act for stars such as James Brown, Etta James, Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke. He also cut sides for such labels as Chess and Decca, and worked as a Motown songwriter. He released several successful albums in the U.K. in recent years, before returning to his native Nashville and hooking up with the band led by guitarist/arranger/producer Bill “Leo Black” Elder.
“That first gig was packed,” Walker says. “It’s been like that ever since.”
If this all sounds retro, think again. The Dynamites are far from being alone in their second millennium pursuit of rekindling funk’s original flames. A renaissance of funk and soul is snatching up listeners from coast to coast and beyond. As the NY Times article “What’s Going On? Everything Soul is New Again,” from February 2007 says loud and clear; soul music is making a formidable comeback. “More than at any time in recent memory, soul music’s pressing syncopation and stirring hollers are churning within the popular mainstream.”
For the unconverted or simply indifferent, listen to thte band’s latest record entitled Kaboom!’s, first track, “Body Snatcher,” which provides a potent wake-up call. But no worries, this body snatcher isn’t the grisly stuff of horror movies, but a smoking instrumental that simultaneously underscores the band’s virtuosity while skillfully dismantling their listeners’ aural inhibitions.
And, part of being real is a willingness to accept a little grit. The disc’s fourth song “Come On In” features a raw bass break. The segue recalls the hallmark sound that deejays have dubbed the “Deep Funk” movement. The international movement includes acts like the Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Breakestra, Poets of Rhythm, New Mastersounds and The Bamboos. Doyle says the Deep Funk movement got its moniker from British deejay Keb Darge. Darge coined the name to encapsulate the little known funk music from the ‘60s and early ‘70s he spun on his turntables, as well as the newer recordings derived from that sound. According to Doyle, Deep Funk is more ‘gritty, raw and soulful’ than the funk-inspired disco characteristic of the late ‘70s. As Elder puts it, “We keep it in the swamp, and away from the spaceships.”
While The Dynamites are the first to acknowledge their roots in the Deep Funk movement, they are by no means purists. The genre’s producers and musicians tend to aim for an antiquated sound. Listeners are often kept guessing; were the songs recorded 30 years ago or yesterday? The Dynamites have taken a different approach. The richly recorded sounds of Kaboom! attest that while The Dynamites are devoted to an old school sensibility, they aren’t afraid of sounding like their music was recorded in 2007.
“Way Down South,” a wailing, mournful song, is further proof that The Dynamites aren’t content to live in the past. Elder, who grew up in New Orleans, uses the song as a springboard to voice the conflicting feelings that any modern Southerner knows too well. His lyrics face up to the hard truths and ironies of segregation and Katrina while at the same time embracing the beauty that even a brutal hurricane can’t completely erase. “Way down south we got hurricanes with beautiful names, 287 years gone up in flames. Now the soul of a nation flooded in tears, half of a city just disappears!” The song eerily blends Hammond organ, lowdown percussion and spooky horn lines filled with Crescent City grit to create a backdrop for Walker’s woeful and yet strangely hopeful wailings.
After the dark musings of “Way Down South,” “Slinky” kicks in with all The Dynamites’ cylinders burning. The organ, guitar and horn lines work together like a well-greased funk machine with Walker crooning at the top of his game. The song is a beautiful marriage of a heavy, danceable groove and the flexible woman that the song describes. On “Every Time,” Walker reaches deep, and the nasty horn lines fly the listener like a 747 straight to the ‘Nawlins streets that must have inspired them.
“Dig Deeper,” a heart-wrenching soul ballad, shows why 40 years of professional singing has given Charles Walker a distinct advantage over the competition. Walker builds the emotional ending into an edge-of-your-seat crescendo. Just how high he can take it? “Killing It” finishes the album at the same blistering pace with which “Body Snatcher” started it off.
For soul veteran Walker, finding songwriter Bill Elder has been an epiphany. More importantly, he’s found in Elder a songwriter that writes for his voice. This stands in sharp contrast to the days when he was asked to record songs whether they inspired him or not. “I didn’t have the songs that I felt were right for me. Now I can pick and choose the songs I want to do. When I was with Chess and Decca I did what they wanted me to do.” The result being that Walker is more relaxed and at ease in the studio. “I feel so confident now. I can remember being under so much pressure to try and get a hit record. Now I’m just in there doing what I like to do.”
The Avenues Stage
August 19, 2008 No Comments
August 19, 2008 No Comments
Our Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival coverage continues today with one of the more intriguing artists on the schedule, French born singer and political activist Manu Chao. He began his musical career in Hot Pants, a French band that combined several musical styles and languages. Chao sings in the English, Spanish, Galician, Portuguese, French, Arabic and Wolof languages, often mixing them in the same song. His music has many influences: punk, rock, French chanson, Iberoamerican salsa, reggae, ska, and Algerian raï. These influences were obtained from immigrants in France, his Iberian relations, and foremost his travels in Mesoamerica as a nomad following the disbanding of Mano Negra.
Chao’s new Politik Kills EP features a reggae remix collection of the La Radiolina album track by artists like Prince Fatty, icons Linton Kwesi Johnson and Dennis Bovell and Island Records founder Chris Blackwell. Fans can visit the new website, to preview tracks from the remix EP as well as online-exclusive remixes. Fans and DJs can also download different parts of the song and create their own remix. Finally, the site includes commentary from social leaders, writers, artists and more; all in the name of reflecting on the misuse and abuse of power plaguing the world.
August 18, 2008 No Comments
Keyboardist Robert Walter has built a reputation as one of the world’s premiere jazz-funk players, though due to the complexity of his compositions, one may categorize the music as “fusion”. Walter cultivates a vibe from an earlier, sweatier jazz tradition. As he puts it, “the problem I have with some of the hardcore jazzbos is that they seem sort of cookie-cutter in their attitude towards other forms of music and composition. I like to play around with ideas, and get into improvisation and all that, but it’s got to be something that makes people move. And that’s really where jazz started out. People forget that.”
$15 day at the door.
August 15, 2008 No Comments
“When I turned 11 I got my first AC/DC record and that’s when I stopped putting the guitar down, let’s put it that way. I’m 33 now, my guitar playing’s 22. That means last year it became old enough to drink in America,” laughs the patently indescribable one-man-band Bob Log III. The Tucson-based Log has just lobbed Log Bomb, his latest bundle of bluesy, boozey and breast-obsessed mayhem, into an unsuspecting world. His is a baffling but playful mix of talent and novelty, truth and fiction. Accompanied only by his guitar (played with one human hand and one fabled “monkey paw,” allegedly transplanted onto his arm after a boating accident), he offers an almost ridiculous but somehow compelling musical ride, fuelled as much by his love of the guitar as his “appreciation” of the fairer sex.
To truly understand the phenomenon that is Bob Log III, one must attend one of his live shows, slightly surreal, must be seen-to-be-believed experiences where Log plays the guitar like the salvation of his soul depends on it, his face hidden under a requisite helmet. Log claims the helmet serves the dual purposes of housing a mic for his vocals (“If I fall over I can still play guitar and sing,” he explains) and obscuring his face form the girl he’s hiding from (It’s like a security barricade”)>
When dealing with Log, it seems likely there’s more than just one girl who might make anonymity necessary, but the loquacious performer seems as though he could talk his way out of almost any awkward moment that might come his way. And while he may be on the lam from a few ladies, he’s more than happy to accommodate any others who would like to join him onstage to sit on his lap.
The helmet also presents the unique element of making it almost completely impossible to know what Log is singing (which is probably not such a bad thing sometimes), but as he admits, it’s of little importance – the music speaks for itself. Log has a large following in Japan (“OK, there’s flowers in the dressing room,” he laughingly says of his stature there) and he assumes many of his fans there also have no idea shat he’s talking about, but as he explains, that’s part of the charm.
“I tend to think that with probably 90 percent of my music the words are not important. I mean, sometimes people ask me what I sing and I’ve got lyric books you can buy. I love my words, I’m not ashamed of them. I actually spend more time writing the words than I do anything else, it’s really kind of funny.
Broke down-blues-punk from brilliant one-man-band lawbreaker
BOB LOG III
plus SCOTT H. BIRAM
plus LEFT LANE CRUISER
Saturday August 16
Doors 8pm, Show 9pm
$12 advance, $12 day of show
August 14, 2008 No Comments