Saturday, March 29, 2014

PREVIEW: Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings 4/1 @ Crystal Ballroom

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
The Crystal Ballroom - 1332 W. Burnside
Tue, April 1, 2014 - Doors 7pm / Show 8pm / All Ages
$25 Adv / $30 Door

Posted by Matt 
Host of "Subterranea"
Tue 10-11pm / Thu 11pm-Midnight
facebook/SubterraneaPDX  |  @subterranea 


Sharon Jones doesn’t hold back. 

Not onstage, not in interviews.  Her life and music are as exposed, raw and real as it gets.  

As of 2010, after four critically-acclaimed albums, she was still living with her mother in the projects of Far Rockaway, Queens.  Although leaving at times to sing on the David Letterman Show, or to open for Prince in Paris or tour nationwide playing with people like Lou Reed, David Byrne and Rufus Wainwright.  

And before that, she was a guard on Riker’s Island, where she sang so sweetly that the prisoners wouldn’t go into their cells until she did sing to them.  And after that they did whatever she wanted.  Her voice brought order.  One might poetically say that she brought soul to a soulless place.  In fact it was the prisoners who encouraged her to get out of there and sing her way to a better place.  “You’re too nice to be in here,” they told her.

(Although Riker’s Island is officially a “jail” not a “prison” - more penalty box than penitentiary.  It’s guys doing one year or less, who can at least keep looking forward to getting out, going home.  And it also holds guys awaiting trial who couldn’t raise the cash to make bail.  Those guys might going to a worse place, depending on their future jury.)  

Sharon Jones - "This Land is Your Land"

Sharon Jones’ stage-1 pancreatic cancer recently went into remission.  She took 2013 off for aggressive surgery – removal of a tumor from her bile duct, removal of her gallbladder and 12” of small intestine - and intense chemotherapy, complete with a valve installed in her neck for easy access so the poisons could save her. 

Earlier this year in support of her new album, “Give the People What They Want,” she boldly and defiantly shot a music video for the song “Stranger to my Happiness.”  In the video, still bald from the chemo, she sings out soul at what appears to be a welcome back party - and happiness clearly ain’t no stranger to the room. 

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings - "Stranger to My Happiness"

“Give the People What They Want” is the fifth album for Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings.  Previous albums include “Dap Dippin'” (2002), “Naturally” (2005), “100 Days, 100 Nights” (2007) and “I Learned the Hard Way” (2010).  

A strong theme emerges looking through past press on Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings.  It’s their sense of mission.  To spread the word, to let people know soul music is still alive and growing, evolving.  They’re a ten-piece touring band proving it every time they board the bus to the next gig.  Full horn section, backup singers.  Real-deal Motown stuff.  

Jones recently told Matt Singer at the Willamette Week, “I have a goal to pursue. Since they left me here, and I’m able to do my music, my goal is to make the music industry realize there is soul music around today. If you look at the award shows, there’s no award for soul music. They say soul music left in the ’60s and ’70s. Soul music needs to be recognized by the music industry - even if they don’t want to give me an award.”

Gabriel Roth (aka Bosco Mann), bass player for the Dap-Kings and co-founder of Dap Records (along with tenor sax player Neal Sugarman) penned this creed in the liner notes for their 2005 album, “Naturally” – “Somewhere between banging on logs and the invention of M.I.D.I. technology we have made a terrible wrong turn. We must have ridden right past our stop. We should have stepped down off the train at that moment when rhythm and harmony and technology all culminated to a single Otis Redding whine. That moment of the truest, most genuine expression of what it means to be human.”

It’s been a two-pronged approach for the band, raising that awareness.  The Dap-Kings as an entity have recorded legendary soul icon Al Green on his Grammy-winning Blue Note release, “Lay It Down,” with Public Enemy beatmaster/producer Hank Shocklee on the soundtrack of the feature film, “American Gangster,” and of course, they sent Amy Winehouse into superstardom laying down the neo-soul on her 2006 Grammy-winning album “Back to Black.”  

And bringing it back to the Music Where You Live… be aware that the soul revolution has blossomed here in Portland as well, with our own Brownish Black, guaranteed to knock your socks off.  

Brownish Black - "Footsteps"

Sunday, March 23, 2014

DJ Klyph presents...The Movement

Hot16 1983 EP Release event at 360 Vinyl

The spot was packed with family, friends and legends – all out to support one of Portland’s finest producer’s EP release titled 1983.

Hot16 was spinning a mix of hip hop, soul and funk as people browsed through stacks of records at Portland’s 360 Vinyl. Shop owner DJ Kez was busy restocking shelves with copies of the EP as well as taking care of customers buying vinyl and CDs. Conversations were being had, smiles shared and number’s exchanged. It was a family affair!

Producer and MC DaiN hosted the event, gathering everyone’s attention for MC Epp  of TxE who kicked things off with performances from his project Chrome Plated Chronicles, verses from TxE projects and his contribution to the 1983 EP “Forever”.

Then Portland legendary MC Vursatyl, 1/3 of the crew Lifesavas performed tracks from his upcoming EP “Crooked Straights” before going into “Turned Away”, the track he rhymes on for the Hot16 project. Check out the visuals below:

So cool to have so many artists showing support here from Portland and Seattle showing the NW hip hop community is alive.

Be sure to pick up your copy of the EP from 360 Vinyl or online from Liquid Beat Records.

Check out some pics below of the event:

Note: Re-blogged with permission from DJ Klyph Wordpress.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Guantanamo Baywatch and Boom! Tour Kickoff

Guantanamo Baywatch and Boom! kicked off their tour Wednesday 3/5 at The Know. These bands are on their way to SXSW. I was exhausted all day but I managed to drag myself to the show because I knew these bands liked to party.

If you don’t know, The Know is a hole-in-the-wall punk/metal bar and venue on NE Alberta. It’s cozy and split into the two sections: bar and stage. It was crowded with punk rockers which reminded me of the days when the Satriycon was my home.

Boom! opened the show with straight to the point, upbeat, garage rock jams. The power trio shares a drummer with Guantanamo Baywatch and played short sweet catchy tunes.

I’ve been listening to Guantanamo Baywatch for a few years now ever since my buddy said he went to a house show and saw them play. I love when a band’s name can tell you a lot about their music. Guantanamo Baywatch was everything I’d hope for: a tough combination of surf, garage, and punk. I was right up in front dancing myself sober. This hot drunk girl next to me kept stepping on my toes with her 6 inch heels but I just 
kept moving.

Their drummer kept the danceable up-beat tempo while bass player Chevelle, a cute punk rock Portlander, held down the rhythm and bass licks. Their intoxicated lead singer/guitar player sang his scratchy vocals and shredded the surf riffs while riding the whammy bar on his guitar. He kept on turning his amp up filling the tiny space with reverb. My ears rang up until work the next morning. The show made me want to shred the gnar and break stuff.

Good luck Guantanamo Baywatch and Boom!  Drink a sixer of PBR and get weird for the northwest. Make us proud.  Follow these dudes on Twitter. You won’t be disappointed. 

Guantanamo Baywatch

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mother Falcon Rocks Mississippi Studios

Some things you just need to see. The northern lights, for example. Or a New Orleans Mardi Gras. Mexico’s Copper Canyon. And a Mother Falcon live show.
If you’re not familiar with the Austin based band, their Tiny Desk Concert is as good a place to start as any. This symphonic rock outfit has been blowing the minds of concert goers for years now. With a revolving door of multi-instrumentalists, usually numbering between twelve and seventeen, they are a kind of traveling musical circus. But more Cirque du Soleil than Barnum and Bailey. Simply put, they are symphonic rock bad asses. Case in point: the Valentine’s Day show they put on at North Portland's Mississippi Studios. The place is probably my favorite small venue anywhere. Mother Falcon member Claire Puckett was so enamored of it when they played here back in August 2013 that she was walking around taking pictures and posting them to the band’s Facebook page.
Portland audiences, however, are notoriously talkative. And the Valentine’s show had its share of loud mouths. But a really interesting thing happened throughout Mother Falcon’s set. Song by song, more of those people stopped yapping about whatever and took notice of what was happening in front of them. By encore time, the entire audience was eating out of the multitude of hands on stage. Any band that can tame an unruly Portland audience has got chops indeed. Moral of the story: next time they're in townget yourself to a Mother Falcon concert.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. @ Doug Fir Lounge March 3rd 2014

Detroit, Michigan has had a tough run of it lately.  Most recent news articles about the city portray what looks to be a dystopian, industrial wasteland, featuring pictures of abandoned train stations, homes and office buildings.  It's not the type of place you'd chose to spend your summer vacation.  The fact that Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr's Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein call Detroit home and make the kind of music that they do is a pleasant anomaly.  What "kind" of music is that?

Take their cover of Gil Scott-Heron's "We Almost Lost Detroit" for example.  The song was originally written in response to a partial nuclear reactor meltdown that happened near Detroit during the 1960s. The original song drips with soulful sadness in the best possible way.  DEJJ's version retains the soulful mourning, but invites you to focus on the fact that we only almost lost something valuable, so lets just celebrate that.

Therein lies the band's charm.  Rarely have I heard such weighty lyrics paired with such truly celebratory music.  It's an alarmingly deceptive tactic that results in fans smiling and dancing to songs about things like watching the love of your life die before you at an early age.  They could play at your best friend's funeral and it would be strangely and perfectly appropriate.

Some of their subject matter may be heavy, but that didn't stop these boys from having a truly good time on the Doug Fir's stage.  I'm always impressed when a band can get on stage, especially on a Monday night, and play the same set of songs that they've been playing for months and still have fun. Their layering of live vocals, percussion and instrumentation on top of prerecorded beats and loops sounded true to their albums.  With the exception of a vocal sample that played for a little bit too long, DEJJ put on a very tight show.  They're definitely worth seeing live.  The visual effects, which included an animated videogame-esque face singing in time on a spherical screen, were the icing on the cake, or maybe the extra Jr. on the Jr.

Speaking of that extra "Jr," these guys deserve to win something for that band name.  It fits their style perfectly because nobody knows what to expect when they listen to them for the first time, but everybody's intrigued.  The hook might be a little gimmicky, but once DEJJ has you on the line you're not going to want to let go.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. are currently on a headlining North American tour behind their acclaimed sophomore album, The Speed of Things.  Check out my video footage of this show below.




Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Arc:  a luminous electrical discharge between two electrodes or other points.
Iris:  a flat, colored, ring-shaped membrane behind the cornea of the eye, with an adjustable circular opening (pupil) in the center.

One could easily offer an explanation of this band's name that included talk of "circumference" and "a plant with sword-shaped leaves and showy flowers," especially because their instruments and microphones were wrapped in flowering vines, but I'm going to offer an alternate explanation.  I'm going to talk about how their performance did indeed produce a luminous, electric connection between artist and audience.  Simply put, you can't take your eyes or ears off of Arc Iris.

Hailing from Providence, RI and citing influences ranging from Bjork to Andrew Bird, this band is a sonic spectacle to behold.  My first glimpse of lead singer Jocie Adams in her gold dust cat suit told me I was in for something great.  She did not disappoint, deftly playing multiple instruments and providing stunning vocals.  She was joined by fellow band members Zach Tenorio-Miller(piano&vocals), Ray Belli(drums) and Robin Ryczek(cello).

Watching Arc Iris perform was like watching someone elegantly solve an extremely difficult math problem. You know, the kind of math problem that stretches across the expanse of an entire classroom chalkboard.  Think Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, except with better vocals and a cello.  There is a deep seated intelligence that weaves its way through their songs, but it doesn't come across as condescending.  It comes across as fun to dance to.  

Arc Iris's self-titled debut album is out on April1st on Anti-Records.  Check out my video footage from this show below.  It features opening act Davey Horne, headliner Nicole Atkins and my very talented co-host Brandie G. who managed to get an exclusive interview with lead singer Jocie Adams.