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Monday, May 12, 2014

Tonight in Music: Damien Jurado, Jacco Gardner, Howe Gelb & More

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Mon, May 12, 2014 at 10:42 AM


DAMIEN JURADO, JEROME HOLLOWAY
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) It's almost easy to take Damien Jurado for granted at this point. The Seattle singer/songwriter has steadily, if somewhat quietly, amassed an impressive body of work over the past 17 years, which rivals any of his contemporaries (and buries all of them in terms of sheer size). Eleven full-lengths and a smattering of EPs—not to mention a strange but enjoyable record of found audio—have seen Jurado following his muse where he's seen fit. He's never been content to fall back on the easier path of the confessional songwriter, and that's often meant turning his gaze outward to create character-driven song-stories, where he's at his best. This year's excellent Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son follows that trend, and marks his third release with Oregon producer Richard Swift. JEREMY PETERSEN


JACCO GARDNER, WL, AU DUNES
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Jacco Gardner's Harold-and-Maudlin baroque pop shamelessly derives from the Brian Wilson/Ray Davies school of music. That's never a bad thing, although you always run the risk of simply aping the greats. But the Dutch songwriter does it right, folding in his influences gently, rather than just dumping them in. Gardner should get equal credit for his production skills. He recorded his latest LP, Cabinet of Curiosities, at his own studio, the Shadow Shoppe—and if those names don't clue you in to where this kid's head is at, the music sure will. These rich and textured pop songs sound great on wax. It'll be interesting to see how Gardner pulls them off outside of ye olde Shadow Shoppe. MARK LORE


HOWE GELB, GRANT-LEE PHILLIPS
(Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta) There's more than one way to pursue an artistic life, and Howe Gelb stands as proof. While the norm might be to find an existing scene, Gelb instead created one, launching the first incarnation of Giant Sand almost 35 years ago from Tucson's sun-baked environs. Gelb's output since has been head-spinning, releasing numerous solo albums of various stripes, at least as many more with Giant Sand, and still others with OP8, the Band of Blacky Ranchette, and Giant Giant Sand. Add to that the odd production credit and direct responsibility for the existence of Calexico and the Friends of Dean Martinez, and it's clear why Gelb is considered something of an icon in certain circles. His latest, The Coincidentalist, is a typically understated collection that finds him joined by Steve Shelley, M. Ward, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, KT Tunstall, and Jon Rauhouse, among others, and ranks with his best work. Bonus: Grant-Lee Phillips opens, making his first Portland appearance since a torn ACL forced a cancellation of a Grant Lee Buffalo reunion show a couple of years back. JP


OREGON SYMPHONY: GUSTAV MAHLER'S THE SONG OF THE EARTH
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) If you want to finally check out some live classical music, please stay the fuck away from the Schnitz Saturday and tonight. All right, come for the miraculous Haydn symphony that opens up the program, but toddle off after its final movement and carry on with your evening. Stream that new political zombie comedy everyone's talking about. Maybe score a rimjob on Grindr. It's for your own damn good because, after intermission, the stage belongs to music so unusually mind-blowing and so exceptionally heartbreaking that classical greenhorns might not be ready for the shock: A drunken tenor and an otherworldly alto join the band to perform a symphonic song cycle based on Chinese poetry, sung in German, and steeped in existential wanderings so potent, composer Gustav Mahler worried that folks would go home and shoot themselves after hearing his work. I'm willing to take that chance, though—not just because it's been 34 years since the Oregon Symphony's last performance of The Song of the Earth, but because Jessica Sindell on flute and Marty Hébert on oboe promise to be unstoppably brilliant throughout this epic endeavor. Even if the worst-case scenario does come to fruition, the silver lining will be having Mahler's quixotically gorgeous melodies still ringing in my head as I pull the trigger. ANGRY SYMPHONY GUY

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