May 17 2012

This week's blog post is gonna be a quickie, but a goodie.

Will West, "The Life Single"

 

Will West has been holding down a lot of forts for us lately – heading up the White Eagle's “Eagle Time” and “Add Love” showcases, kickin' it at Rock Creek Tavern, etc.

We like West for his hand-clappy, call-and-response approach to Americana....

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Apr 25 2012

photoUnless you've been living under a moss-encrusted rock somewhere on the nether side of Mt. Tabor, you know that Portland's beloved Wild Flag will be gracing the Crystal Ballroom stage on May 4.

If you like rock 'n' roll even a little, teeny bit, go. Go to this show. Wild Flag puts on one of the best shows you'll ever see.

But today's blog post isn't about Wild Flag. Today's blog post is about one of the support acts -EMA-  who will be playing this show. 

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Apr 18 2012

photoI'll be honest: I'm not a big fan of Celilo's occasional new age driftings. But when the group corrals its inner Enya and sticks to its own brand of mellow California 70s rock, it's fun and groovy and gently rocking, in a Laurel Canyon kind of way. It's a sound as airy as sea foam, but rooted, too, like a sequoia. If that makes any sense. 

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Apr 12 2012

photoLast week I wrote a blog post (here) with some preliminary thoughts about the nature of "Americana." I use quotes around that word because I mean the nature of "Americana" as a term -or at least that's how I intend to start the conversation -because it's a term that gets bandied about like a mofo and I wonder if it's lost some meaning in the process. It might be interesting to unpack it a bit.

Pinning down the definition of music genres is something I think about a lot (Seriously. I know, I'm a nerd. But I once wrote a 1,200-word piece on the true definition of "emo" and got all sorts of hate mail about it, so obviously I'm not the only nerd who cares.), and my interest was re-piqued by Frank Fairfield's recent stint at Al's Den.

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Apr 4 2012

photoMaybe it's spring's slow, long drag into summer (which I'm choosing to view as romantically rainy, rather than what it really is), or maybe it's the lingering effects of Frank Fairfield's recent old-tyme revival in Al's Den -for some reason I've found myself drawn to dreamy, down-tempo, reverbed-vocal-laden tunes of late. We're talking the type of music that is very broadly termed "Americana "-which is lazy as hell, as far as I'm concerned, because what does that term even mean any more?

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Mar 21 2012

photoPerhaps you're thinking, Hey, I should go out and celebrate Ruby's birthday tonight. After all, pints of Ruby are a mere $2.50 all across McMenamins-land. You would be thinking correctly, friend. Ruby's big day is one of the most popular we have. The air around us carries with it the same zingy crackle as Ruby's raspberry infusion. The beer's a-flowin', the smiles are...smiling, and the music's jinglin', janglin', rippin', and roarin'.

Music? You say. Why, of course! What's a birthday without music? And you would be right. You're a smart person, friend, and don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

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Mar 14 2012

KMRIAI have spent the last 8 hours wracking my brain, trying to figure out how to tell you exactly how awesome KMRIA – Portland's Pogues tribute band – is. The band, which consists of some of the best musicians the Pacific Northwest has to offer, will kick off the Saint Patrick's Day weekend festivities tomorrow (Thursday, March 15) at the Olympic Club.

The Pogues are not your normal band, and this not your normal tribute band (after all, what tribute band can boast members of the Decemberists, the Eels, and Dr. Theopolis, among others?), and so I feel compelled to get the message out. And the message has gone through all sorts of fancy permutations in my head, borne of panicky questions: Do people know who the Pogues are anymore? Do people know what an amazing band they were? Do people understand the level of talent that's in KMRIA? Do people know what “KMRIA” stands for?

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Mar 7 2012

Sarah JaffeThe first time I heard Sarah Jaffe (who is opening for the New Multitudes boys at the Crystal Ballroom this Friday, March 9.) she was maybe 20 years old. It was 2007. I had just moved to Dallas to take the music editor position at the alt-weekly Dallas Observer, and one of the first things I heard out of the mouths of those in the know was, "You gotta go hear this girl, Sarah Jaffe. Singer-songwriter. She'll blow you away."

I was doubtful. I had already spent four years covering music elsewhere, and I had grown cynical about the genre. The words "singer-songwriter" to me equated "bore you to tears," not "blow you away."

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Feb 27 2012

Beardos, take heed! All your dreams are about to come true!

photoSeems some of America's most favorite be-whiskered gentle rockers have teamed up to tackle a very Americana-esque task. Going under the moniker "New Multitudes," Jay Farrar (Son Volt, Gob Iron, Uncle Tupelo), Will Johnson (Centro-matic, South San Gabriel), Anders Parker (Varnaline, Gob Iron) and Yim Yames (My Morning Jacket, Monsters of Folk) have joined forces, gathered up some previously unpublished Woody Guthrie lyrics, and set them to their original compositions, on which they all collaborated.

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Feb 20 2012

photoLike clothes? Like supporting Portland's finest designers? Like music, beer, and a fashion scene that's fun but not snotty? Then you'll dig the Fade to Light Fashion show at the Crystal on Wednesday, February 29.

We'll be honest: When we first heard about this show, we weren't quite sure what the deal was. A fashion show's a fashion show, right? You know: Clothes. Runway. Models. Repeat until the drinking can start.

But Fade to Light...well, it's much more than that. For one thing, DJ Gregarious will be holding down the musical fort, along with Brainstorm* and that, friends, equals fun. But more important, event producer Elizabeth Mollo promises it will bust the boundaries of your usual fashion show, in some very creative ways. We chatted with Mollo on the phone today to get her thoughts on things.

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Feb 13 2012

photoThere's a certain brand of female singer-songwriter these days that's hard to describe accurately. These ladies lilt about atop a cloud of influences -jazz, mainly, but also with attachments to ethereal acousto-rockers of yore like Joni Mitchell and Carol King. This new brand of lady musicians takes classic influences and spins them with originality and a personal touch. In a world that insists upon specific definition, such concoctions can be hard to pin down, genre-wise. Is it Norah Jones-like pop? Subtle, sophisticated songcraft? Jazz-based, piano-driven, sultry chanteuse-ery?

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Apr 29 2011

This is pretty magical.

photoBack in the day (as in, 50 years ago), three talented men anchored the hoppin' downtown jazz scene, whose epicenter happened to be clubs that stood where the Crystal Hotel is today: Charlie Gabriel, Mel Brown and Carl Smith.

Each man eventually left Portland to make his way in the music world. All three went on to great success in the New Orleans and Motown scenes; all three left an enduring mark on Stumptown's musical history.

And now, each man is returning to their old stomping grounds -what is now the Crystal Hotel & Ballroom.

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Apr 27 2011

Okkervil RiverOkkervil River's hotly anticipated new album I Am Very Far isn't due out 'til May 10, but tonight the band will be streaming a live performance of the album in its entirety! Wish we could take credit for this one, but the Pitchfork website has the scoop on where you can catch the live webcast tonight at 4 p.m. PST.

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Apr 14 2011

Old TonesAs Deftones fans most likely -and sadly-already know, the band's longtime bassist Chi Cheng suffered serious brain damage as the result of a 2008 car accident.

Cheng has never recovered; he remains in a semi-conscious state.

As of May, 2010, Cheng began to show signs of significant improvement. He can track people with his eyes and slightly move his hands. But, obviously, he has a long way to go.

This is where the Deftone's second show at the Crystal Ballroom, slated for Saturday, April 16, comes in...

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Apr 12 2011

PaleFaceAnti-folk, neo-folk modern folk...whatever you call it, Paleface's upbeat, addictive songs sure ain't your grandpappy's music (although, it certainly owes plenty to Grampa Guthrie). Let's face it, any group that garners the praise of the Avett Brothers and Beck - who cites Paleface as an early influence - has more going for him than just a ratty old acoustic guitar and a harmonica. What sets Paleface apart is his ability to stretch folk to its ultimate boundaries, with a beautiful voice that suddenly dips into a punkish snarl and a drummer who doesn't seem to know that this band is supposed to be folk, dang it (in a good way)!

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Apr 6 2011

 

photoThe stars of our current McMenamins Small Batch Tour, Christabel & the Jons may play an old-timey style, but the group is not anachronism. Rather, the quartet manages to coax jazzy genres from the past out of the mothballs and into the future. The result is simply gorgeous: A mélange of countrified folky jazz swing and, lately, a sultry bossa nova groove, above which floats the voice of Christa DeCicco. DeCicco's voice is tailor-made for jazz; her lyrics -sharp and clever-and melodies are more catchy than any pop song. Despite the bands penchant for thrift-store finds and acoustic instruments, it all feels very much grounded in the now, thanks to smart musical twists and turns, seemingly effortless blending of genres, and a sparkling energy.

 

 

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Apr 6 2011

photoOne of the great things about our new Crystal Hotel is how the entire space blurs the lines between art and music. As you probably know, all of our properties feature intriguing, mind-bending art; in the hands of our artists, wall panels, doors, even pipes transform from the mundane to the visually fascinating. Throw rock 'n' roll in the mix, and you've got an opportunity to do something really special. For instance, every room (all 51 of 'em) here is named after a song that actually has been played on the Crystal Ballroom stage. 

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Mar 25 2011

 

photoTo celebrate '80s Video Dance Attack's sixth anniversary party, I had planned on writing several glowing paragraphs about how much un this weekly event is. After all, every single Friday, hundreds and hundreds of people -many clad in glowing plastic bangles, pegged jeans and Pretty In Pink-esque prom dresses-crowd the Crystal's dance floor and straight up get into the groove. This isn't one of those parties where patrons stand around watching a couple people dance; this is a fun, sweaty, fully interactive blowout that pulls in an age range between those just old enough to drink legally and those who purchased Madonna's first album...on vinyl. The day it came out.

 

 

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Mar 22 2011

LogoShould a band that's been playing since 1958 have a MySpace page? In a musical world full of pop stars whose blip of fame barely registers long enough to produce a ring tone, The Ventures may be the only 53-year-old band to be able to pull it off.

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Mar 18 2011

 

Put your birthday party hats on, because it's time to paint the town red -Ruby red, in honor of Ruby Ale's 25th Birthday.

photoThat's right, the popular ol' gal was first brewed on March 21, 1986, at the Hillsdale Brewery, and with its light taste buoyed by, of all things, raspberry puree. The original recipe (seen below) was more bitter than today's incarnation of the beer. McMenamins brewer John Richen explains, "This version was very heavily hopped among other things: six pounds of hops for a 110-gallon batch versus [today's] half-pound of hops for a 210 gallon batch."

Of course, Ruby's signature is the light streak of raspberry flavor that infuses the beer with a beautiful red glow. Ruby gets her fruity zing from 42 pounds of raspberry puree added to every 210-gallon batch. No wonder she blushes so much!

 

 

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