- Rob Cullivan
- Portland Tribune - Features
Sweet home Americana
Drive-By Truckers play what used to be called Southern Rock before it evolved into y'all-ternative, which kind of became Americana, though it's not quite as wispy … oh heck, this is just damn good country-flavored rock 'n' roll for everybody including Jack Daniels drinkers who swear at 'No Smoking' signs and graduate students still swooning over Obama. The Truckers are a gang of Georgia and Alabama boys who mix history, politics, a literary sensibility and an empathy for the characters about whom they write. Led by frontman Patterson Hood, the band is a terrific reminder that the pop revolution that began when Elvis shook his hips and Chuck Berry did his dips started in the American South and continues to this day. The Truckers share the night with Heartless Bastards, whose singer Erika Wennerstrom has the perfect alto voice for the kind of garage-flavored roots rock the band likes to propel at its audiences.
Drive-By Truckers, Heartless Bastards, 9 p.m. Thursday, March 10, Wonder Ballroom, 128 N.E. Russell St. $22 in advance, $24 day of show. Info: 503-284-8686, wonderballroom.com.
Among the many jam bands out there, few are as intricately progressive while still keeping the feet of their audience members dancing as Umphrey's McGee. The improvisational Chicago band owes as much to the Dead as they do King Crimson, and can shift seamlessly from a reggae-infused echo party song that floats above your ears to a down-home hard-drivin' rock 'n' roll attack all in one song. The music shakes, swirls, twists and twirls like a hippie girl in a sundress dancing with a computer programmer taking a break from designing the latest what-cha-ma-call-it Steve Jobs will debut at his next Apple conference. In other words, it's time for everyone, freaks and geeks, stoners and straights, to let their collective hair down and boogie.
Umphrey's McGee, Big Gigantic, 8 p.m. Friday, March 11, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside St. $20 advance, $25 day of show. All ages. Info: 503-225-0047, mcmenamins.com.
If you've ever flown on Continental Airlines, you may have already heard Doug MacLeod, whose voice takes you on the musical journey for the company's in-flight show 'The Blues Showcase.' It's fitting that he's the low-down cat you hear when you're flying high, since few folks have devoted so much time learning the craft of the blues troubadour as MacLeod. He's served as sideman to such legends as George 'Harmonica' Smith, Big Joe Turner and Big Mama Thornton, and written or co-written songs covered by everyone from Albert Collins to Eva Cassidy. From 1999 to 2004, he hosted 'Nothin' But The Blues,' a popular weekend show on Los Angeles radio station KLON-KKJZ. His bottleneck and finger-style technique hearkens back to older bluesmen and women who knew that delicacy and finesse are as much a part of presenting the blues, as is singing with raw emotion. He's releasing a new album this month called 'Brand New Eyes,' so you can come out and celebrate with him as long and forget your own blues by immersing yourself in his.
Doug MacLeod, 6 p.m. Monday, March 14, Music Millennium, 3158 E. Burnside St. Free. All ages. Info: 503- 231-8926; 9 p.m. same day at Duff's Garage, 1635 S.E. Seventh Ave. $8, 21 and older. Info: 503-234-2337.
Change of Pace
Portland's Deklun and Pace combine electronica, improvisation, jazz, rock, New Age, classical and well, lots of other stuff, but probably don't even realize that's what they're doing. That's because Deklun, who plays his computer, and Pace, who blows his trumpet, make everything up on the spot, creating instrumental pieces that sound like an old vaudeville entertainer traveling through time to wind up in some 1980s film version of the 21st century. It's very slow at times, and very exciting at other times, and will definitely take you to places in your mind you haven't visited since you finished that Kafka novel back when you were draining your last glass of absinthe. Electro-indie soulful Americana rockers The Weak Knees share the bill.
Deklun and Pace, The Weak Knees, 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, Ella Street Social Club, 714 S W. 20th Place. Free, donations welcome. Info: 503-227-0116, ellastreetsocialclub.com.
Man, they're weird
It's a credit to the sheer dementedness of avant-garde rock multimedia strange-lovers The Residents that you can randomly pick one of their songs and feel intrigued, repelled, cleansed, uplifted and insulted at the same time. And they've done this for four decades, which is even more impressive, and are releasing something like their 62nd or 63rd album this year (it's about ghosts, of course). Think about it - they may even have great-grandchildren by now, which is a pretty scary thought for those little urchins' brains when you realize playing avant-garde rock guarantees you'll always be somewhat marginalized. The Residents generally appear wearing eyeball helmets, top hats and tuxedos and have authored such classics as 'The Third Reich and Roll' and 'God in Three Persons.' The best part is these guys - Randy, Chuck and Bob - still won't tell us who they really are, remaining anonymous since they first began in the early 1970s.
The Residents, 9 p.m. Thursday, March 17, Wonder Ballroom, 128 N.E. Russell St. $23 in advance, $26 day of show. 21 and over. Info: 503-284-8686, wonder ballroom.com.
Pablo your horn
Hailing from the Big Apple, Pablo Masis blows his trumpet sometimes with the temperament of a romantic poet and at other times the assertiveness of the blowingnest of the beboppers. Masis has been tapped to jam on behalf of Pam Tillis, the Lettermen, Michael Bublé, Gladys Knight, Josh Groban, and the Temptations. He'll be collaborating with Seattle trumpeter and composer Chad McCullough as well as Portland pianist Andrew Oliver when he comes to Portland, so you'll get two trumpets for the price of one, as well as some fine ivory-tickling. Hometown hero Eric Gruber plays bass and fellow local luminary Ken Ollis will hit the skins for this sure-to-be most excellent aural evening.
Pablo Masis-Andrew Oliver Group, 9 p.m. Saturday, March 19, The Blue Monk, 3341 S.E. Belmont St. $5. Info: 503-595-0575, thebluemonk.com.