- Rob Cullivan
- Portland Tribune - Features
San Diego producer/songwriter Greg Laswellholed up in an Arizona cabin with his dog to record his latest soft-rock album 'Take A Bow.' If you've ever watched 'Grey's Anatomy,' you've heard this cat's baritone voice as a handful of his tunes have been placed on the show. Featuring a dozen impeccably produced originals, 'Bow' is intelligent pop music served up in an easy-on-the-ear platter. Its folk music and semi-classical structures combine to carry your introspective self away on a sonic magic carpet to fluffy clouds of caring floating above this insensitive earth. Occasionally, Laswell surprises you with how loud he can get, as he does on the pseudo-operatic 'Come Clean,' with its bombastic chorus. But fear not, he's clearly a nice guy, and probably never hit that dog.
Greg Laswell, 6 p.m. Thursday, May 6, Music Millennium, 3158 E. Burnside St. Free; 8 p.m., Mississippi Studios, 3939 N. Mississippi Ave. $12. Info: 503-288-3895, www.mississippistudios.com.
Ben Darwish, one of Portland's most accomplished and rhythmic jazz pianists, is about to release 'I Don't Want to Live on the Moon,' an EP which has already earned the composer the 2010 ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award for the instrumental 'Under the Bright Red Sky.' The title track does not indicate any real animus toward the lunar surface on Darwish's part, but was written by Jeff Moss for 'Sesame Street' in 1978. The EP, which ranges from pop to jazz, also contains four originals, including 'Sky,' and features Tim Willcox on tenor saxophone, Bill Athens on bass and Randy Rollofson on drums. Darwish shares the stage with the Afrobeat jazzers the Andrew Oliver Kora Band, with Kane Davis on the kora, a 21-string harplike instrument from West Africa.
Ben Darwish, Andrew Oliver Kora Band, 8 p.m. Friday, May 7, Jimmy Mak's, 221 N.W. 10th Ave. Minors allowed until 9:30 p.m. $12, includes free copy of EP. For seated reservations, call 503-295-6542. Info: www.jimmy maks.com.
Multi-instrumentalist Evan Stuckless, better known to Portland dancers as Papa Coyote, uses his neon-lighted accordion as an aural cattle prod to zap people off their fannies and onto the floor. This howlin' wolf celebrates the release of his band's debut album, 'Harmony and Unity.' The record's highly danceable tunes, which echo the Meters, among others, range from funk to reggae, Afropop to zydeco, and are evidence of Coyote's musical education, which includes gigging with such acts as Little Feat, Toots and the Maytals and Moe. The current Coyote lineup includes Hurricane Katrina refugee Ben Rougeou on bass, singing his native Louisiana songs live, Kevin Fisheron guitar and Mike Kakoulis on drums.
Papa Coyote, 10 p.m. Saturday, May 8, Jolly Roger, 1340 S.E. 12th Ave. Free. Info: 503-232-8060.
Blonde California songstress Sara Haze was away from her boyfriend for three whole weeks, reunited with him, gave him 'a big hug,' then wrote a pop-rock epic about the embrace called 'Melt Into You' that makes it sound like they were apart three freakin' years. This is why she's massively popular and you're not. With songs that speak to young women's inner struggles, like 'Lovely' and 'My Own Hands to Hold,' she's built a huge fandom, especially since her tunes have been featured on such shows as 'The Hills.' She possesses a rather mature voice that holds within it the possibility of real greatness someday. She shares the stage with Portland acoustic instrumentalist/ singer Tracy Klas, who's not afraid to add some pretty cool percussion to the mix of her folk-rock originals.
Sara Haze, Tracy Klas, 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 12, Hawthorne Theatre Lounge (21 and over), 1507 S.E. 39th Ave. $10 in advance, $12 day of show. Info: www.hawthornetheater.com, 503-233-7100.