Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wednesday picks - great songwriters and the Portland Jazz Festival

This is a busy music week in Portland ...

After the Mysti Krewe's fabulous Mardi Gras Ball this past weekend (you were there, yes? ... No! well, sorry you missed it) and parade on Mississippi Ave last night, I realized I could no longer ignore the incredible pile of great shows happening over the next weeks.

So here's a few to note for tonight and the next couple of days - and it's a particularly strong set of songwriters hitting town this week.

The iconoclastic Fred Eaglesmith tonight at the Alberta Rose. As a songwriter/performer Fred is kind of hard to pin down (I think he likes it that way) - but this is a pretty good description:
He is known for writing songs ... about trains, tractors, trucks, cars, and engines. Rural life, dogs, guns, drinking and farming/ranching are other common themes. Many of his songs are about failing farms and small businesses. Down and out characters dealing with loss of love or livelihood, and quirky rural folk also populate his songs. His songwriting uses many of the techniques of short story writing, including unreliable narrators, surprise endings, and plot twists.
His music styles range through folk, country, bluegrass, and rock. His between-song monologues - he is a funny and incisive social commentator - can have audiences in stitches. He's good on recordings, but needs to be seen to really appreciate why his fervent band of fans are lifelong "Fredheads" ... 8 pm, $25

It might be just an in-store to promote the release of his latest recording, but if you can make it over to Music Millennium, you will be rewarded with a Steve Earle set and CD signing ... you should buy the CD to guarantee getting into the store. The last time he was there, I listened from three rooms away. Get there early ,.. 6 pm, free (but buy the CD at MM)

And at the Secret Society, it's acclaimed Irish songstress Susan McKeown. ... 7 pm, $20

Last night was the kickoff to two weeks of the Portland Jazz Festival ... Tom D'Antoni and Oregon Music News do a great job previewing the festival and making some great recommendations on shows ... including tonight's Bebel Gilberto performance at the Newmark and Freda Payne at Jimmy Mak's tomorrow.

The Alberta Rose is in the midst of a string of great shows ... tomorrow (Thursday), it's Slaid Cleaves. Slaid is another great songwriter/performer who is just bit under the radar ... one of two Austin-based performers I highly recommend this week ... 8 pm, $22

Having Steve, Fred, and Slaid in town the same week is amazing, but add the Secret Society show with Jon Dee Graham and Fernando makes it ridiculousness. Jon Dee is another Austinite touring the NW and on Friday teams with his traveling buddy, Mike June, and Portland's Fernando for a great triple-bill. Though much too modest to hear such praise, come out and see why Graham is recognized as one of the finest and most influential songwriters anywhere ... 9 pm, $12 (show up early and catch Pete Krebs and His Portland Playboys at happy hour)

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