April 4

by: COURTESY OF LCMEDIA - Hes jammed with the likes of The Clash and Bruce Springsteen and hes a preeminent songwriter, and Joe Ely plays in Portland, April 4 at Star Theater.

Little movies

Somewhere in West Texas, Joe Ely gets ready for a show as the dust blows outside.

“My set tonight’s gonna be Dust Bowl songs,” he says over the phone, noting he’ll play his own as well as some of Woody Guthrie’s. “Every night I change it up a bit.”

Ely has been changing it up for decades now, ever since he broke out of Lubbock, Texas, in 1970 with Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock. The now-legendary trio was called The Flatlanders, and all three gentlemen have gone on to play a prominent role in Americana, country, folk, rock, whatever y’all want to call it, but wherever damn good music is played, Ely would fit in.

Over the years, he’s become one of those songwriter’s songwriters, penning classics like “Musta Notta Gotta Lotta,” “All My Love” and “Letter to Laredo.” He’s inspired, influenced and jammed with The Clash, Uncle Tupelo, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and countless others with his on-the-money lyrics and tight-yet-seemingly-loose arrangements. In Portland, he’ll be joined by guitarist Jeff Blankenhorn and plans on doing songs from “brand-new stuff” to “all the way back to the beginning.”

Ely wrote songs for the movie “The Horse Whisperer,” has written a book called “Bonfire of Roadmaps” and sat around a campfire swapping songs with Robert Earl Keen and Ryan Bingham.

“I always like to have a sense of place in a song because I’m a pretty visual kind of person, and I like to see what I’m singing about,” Ely says. “A song is basically like a little short movie you run through.”

Speaking of which, Ely’s life is a bit like a movie, the most famous scene quite possibly having taken place around 1981 when The Clash were in New York City recording “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” Ely was friends with the English rockers and was asked to join Joe Strummer and a Puerto Rican engineer to sing Spanish call-and-response on the tune. Having learned a few phrases from his dad, who owned a used-clothing store frequented by Mexican migrant workers, Ely did his best.

“A lot of it had to do with the rhythm or cadence of the song,” he says with a chuckle recalling the riotous recording session during which Mick Jones told the trio to “Split!’ when they snuck up behind him and startled him as he recorded the lead vocals. Jones’ directive stayed in the tune, and Ely became a part of pop history.

“It was almost a meeting that was impossible to comprehend,” he says.

Joe Ely, David Ramirez, 8 p.m. Friday, April 4, Star Theater,13 N.W. Sixth Ave. $25. Info: 503-345-7892, visit

April 6

Dum dum? Yum yum!

Dum Dum Girls play rock ‘n’ roll with an old-fashioned sense of melody wrapped in contemporary production, and echo everyone from Blondie to the Banshees in style. The brainchild of Dee Dee Penny (aka Kristin Welchez), the band just released its third album “Too True,” which features such singles as the synth-ballad “Lost Boys and Girls Club,” and the shimmering midtempo rocker “Rimbaud Eyes.” This garage-pop show fixes to be the most fun you could ever find on a Sunday night.

Dum Dum Girls, Blouse, Strange Babez, 9 p.m. Sunday, April 6, Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E. Burnside St. $15. Info: 503-231-9663,

April 7

Yes, she Wood

Speaking of Lubbock, like Ely, folksy singer-songwriter Beth Wood also comes from Buddy Holly’s hometown. Now an

Oregonian, Wood possesses a lovely strong alto-soprano voice and has won a number of festival songwriting competitions, including the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival’s.

Beth Wood, Cal Scott, Richard Moore, 7 p.m. Monday, April 7, O’Connor’s Vault, 7850 S.W. Capitol Highway. $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Info: 503-484-8196, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Learning to Croll

OK, so we’re positively puking singer-songwriters this week. “Folktronica” (yes, that is now officially a genre) artist Dan Croll hails from England and the multi-instrumentalist’s tunes have drawn comparisons with those of Paul Simon, Passion Pit, Beck and Beirut. He’s worked with Paul McCartney and won the UK’s “National Songwriter of the Year Award.” Yes, he works harder than you, now get off the couch and go see him.

Dan Croll, 9 p.m. Monday, April 7, Aladdin Theater, 3017 S.E. Milwaukie Ave. $15. Info: 503-234-9694,

April 9

Even girls cry

Hailing from Winnepeg, Manitoba, lovely voiced folkies The Wailin’ Jennys are promoting their most recent album, “Bright Morning Stars.” The multi-award-winning trio has sold out its April 10 show here, but if you’re lucky, you can catch them the night before. All three band members — Ruth Moody, Nicky Mehta and Heather Masse — sing and play such instruments as acoustic guitar, accordion, banjo, percussion and ukulele. We strongly urge every person on planet Earth to learn what you can about these fine musicians, who combine pop, soul, gospel and bluegrass in a strong, yet gentle sound that can chase away any bad thoughts you’ve had and replace them with better biochemicals.

The Wailin’ Jennys, 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, Aladdin Theater, 3017 S.E. Milwaukie Ave. $30. Parent/guardian must accompany minors. Info: 503-234-9694, April 10-24

On sale

This year’s Soul’d Out Music Festival offers a fairly diverse lineup, including famed rapper Slick Rick, jazz pianist Diana Krall, and Grammy-winning soul singer Lalah Hathaway with Ruben Studdard. Meanwhile, Portland’s own swingin’ rock ‘n’ roll queen Sallie Ford, rapper Illmaculate, triply psychedelic rockers Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and the ever-classy Pink Martini, along with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, also play. We’ll take a deeper look at the festival next week. Till then, see

‘Round town

• Folk blues artist Charlie Parr shares the stage with Betse Elis of the Wilders at 9 p.m. Saturday, April 5, in Mississippi Studios, 3939 N. Mississippi Ave. $12. Info: 503-288-3895,

• Slabtown, 1033 N.W. 16th Ave., is home to the Church of Rock ‘n’ Roll, an all-ages collective that presents shows from 3 to 6:30 p.m. each Sunday. The Church takes donations, but no one is turned away for lack of funds. On April 5, you can catch four bands with some of rock music’s greatest names ever: Dumpster Burger, With the Shades Drawn, Moi$t Money and Wormbag. Info: 971-229-1455,

• The Quons perform original music inspired by stories of Oregon Trail pioneers, at 7 p.m. Monday, April 7, in the Mission Theater, 1624 N.W. Glisan St. Free. Info: 503-306-5271,

• Neo-bluegrass kings Yonder Mountain String Band play along with The Brothers Comatose at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, in the Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside St. $25 in advance, $30 day of show. All ages. Info: 503-225-0047,

• Swedish Grammy-winning DJ duo Rebecca & Fiona will present their bubblegum-meets-brains electronic dance music from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday, April 9, at the Whiskey Bar, 31 N.W. First Ave. $10. Info:

Contract Publishing

Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine