Jan 11 2011

JMFor years, James Mercer has been known as many things.

He is, for one, a Shin. In fact, he founded the Shins, one of the most lauded bands of the decade.

He's also a Broken Bell. Or, more specifically, he's half of the Broken Bells, the collaboration between Mercer and master producer Danger Mouse that blossomed into one of the most atmospheric, beautiful and (yes) lauded albums of the year.

Now Mercer's something a bit different: He's a Puddletown proponent.

To explain: Mercer will perform a special, intimate solo show at the Bagdad on Thursday, March 10. The show is a benefit for the Puddletown School, a Montessori preschool located in SE Portland.

Puddletown needs the dough: The school is moving and faces an extensive—and expensive—litany of needs to prep the new building. Garden and playground renovation; electrical, plumbing and construction improvements; and the cost of relocating are just a few of the costs facing the school, which already relies greatly on fundraising.

Now, no offense, but some Portland parents—even in hipster-heavy PDX—may not know much about James Mercer, the Shins, or Broken Bells. Trust us: Mercer's one of the best songwriters of the past 10 years. His quirky, clever tunes come at you from all angles. These are soft songs with hard lyrics, ebbing and flowing, and always saturated in pop and gentle hooks, like the Beach Boys filtered through some sort of hallucinatory miasma. Sure, you should go for the kids and all, but oh boy, the music, as Natalie Portman's character says of it in the movie Garden State, "will change your life."

About the author: Jonanna Widner, McMenamins Music Marketing Assistant, is a former music editor for the Santa Fe Reporter and the Dallas Observer.
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