Category Archives: Sounds

A Celtic Pioneer

Noah Brenner is the University of Oregon’s first Celtic harp performance major at the UO’s School of Music and Dance.

Noah Brenner plays his Celtic harp in a cramped practice space in the University of Oregon's MarAbel B. Frohnmayer Music Building.

Noah Brenner plays his Celtic harp in a cramped practice space in the University of Oregon's MarAbel B. Frohnmayer Music Building.

You can learn a lot about a musician when you watch him carry his instrument. Flute or tuba, violin or bass, a musician who looks comfortable with his instrument is comfortable with his instrument. When Noah Brenner travels long distances on foot, he uses a homemade backpack to carry his Celtic harp—an instrument that’s almost as tall as he is. The metal skeleton of the pack is fashioned from the remains of two separate external-frame hiking packs. The shoulder straps are attached to the frame, which rests on his back. A second metal rectangle is attached to the bottom like a shelf. This is where the harp rests, wrapped safely in a green cloth case. Once secured to the frame, the heart-shaped instrument leans flat against his back. “Everyone thinks they are very clever and that they’re the first one to think that it looks like wings,” he says. Others have asked if the bulky pack was a tent or a surfboard. He’s even been asked if the bundle on his back was a kayak. “Usually people ask me about it, which is kind of cool.”

Noah is the first University of Oregon student to major in Celtic harp performance. There are other harpists in the music department, but Noah, who also plays viola and sings, is the only student whose primary instrument is Celtic harp. The major was fashioned for him by his university teacher and mentor, Laura Zaerr. A harpist herself, Zaerr worked with the department to approve Noah’s specialization in this area of music performance, which Noah had to petition for during his junior year—when all music majors declare their specializations—before the administration would consent. He started the program in fall 2005 and graduates this spring. “So, I am officially a Celtic harp performance major: the first and hopefully not the last,” he says. “To say that I could do it means that there’s a possibility that somebody else could do it.”

Noah Brenner loves playing Celtic harp because it sounds homier and more imperfect than a concert harp.

Noah Brenner loves playing Celtic harp because it sounds homier and more imperfect than a concert harp.

He has close-cropped facial hair and a full head of brown curls. He is passionate about his music but doesn’t let his music define him—it is just one piece of his personality. In a small office in the music building, he talks about his harp and his career as a solo harpist. He is sociable, well-spoken and rather jittery. While he talks he reaches out to his harp, as if to start playing, but then thinks better of it. He sits in a tiny first-floor office in the music building, a room barely larger than the average prison cell, which serves as a practice room for UO harpists. Along one wall there is an upright piano; along another there is a bookshelf; and in the corner by the door is a desk littered with miscellaneous office supplies and papers. But most of the floor space is reserved for the harps. In total, there are five harps in the room, and among them is Noah Brenner’s own Celtic harp.

Brenner started playing the harp when he was five, but his first harp was purchased before he was born. His mother was visiting the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, and there, amidst the fossils and museum displays, a harpist named Sylvia Woods was performing. Noah’s mother was captivated by the sound. She decided that someday she would buy a harp of her own and learn to play it. Shortly after Noah was born, his grandmother passed away and his mother inherited his grandmother’s earthly possessions. With this inheritance, his mother purchased a lap harp and a plot of land in Crestone, a 90-person town in South Central Colorado.

Here, in this Rocky Mountain town, Noah’s mother tried to teach herself how to play her lap harp. She used an instructional book written by Sylvia Woods—the woman whom she’d heard at the Tar Pits. But she kept her hobby a secret. “She just didn’t want to play for anyone,” Noah says, “She just enjoyed playing for herself.” When Noah was five he asked his mom if he could take piano lessons. They didn’t own a piano and their budget didn’t give them much room to purchase such an expensive instrument. “But it was really important to my mom that I do something,” he says. She went in her closet, pulled out her lap harp and her Sylvia Woods book, and entrusted them to Noah. Stick with this instrument for one year, she said, and then we can find some way to teach you how to play piano. “So I did that,” he says, “and then I didn’t want to play the piano.”

Noah was hooked. The harp felt natural for him, so his desire to learn piano was overpowered by his connection with the harp. Soon he was performing his music for others. In terms of technique, he is self-taught because no one else in Crestone knew how to play harp. While he continued to teach himself, eventually switching from a lap harp to a floor-size instrument, he also studied music theory and viola with music teachers. When he reached the end of his high school years, he searched for a university where he could study Celtic harp. “For one thing, harp in general is not terribly common but not too hard to find,” he says, “But Celtic harp: Where am I going to be able to actually study that?”

Though it's sometimes difficult to walk around with a six-foot-tall instrument, Noah is glad he stuck with the Celtic harp instead of taking up piano, which he wanted to do before his mother introduced him to the harp.

Though it's sometimes difficult to walk around with a six-foot-tall instrument, Noah is glad he stuck with the Celtic harp.

Noah explains that many musicians might view the Celtic harp as a starter instrument, training wheels for the concert harp. This mentality irks him. “It’s not a lesser instrument, it’s not a stepping stone and it’s not the half-way harp. It is a different instrument.” The harps are different sizes: the concert harp is much larger and looks more ornate. The frame is more than five feet tall and generally has 47 strings. At the base of the concert harp there are seven adjustable pedals that alter the pitch of the strings. Unlike the Celtic harp, the concert harp has a substantial repertoire of music, and large-scale music performance opportunities are more available for concert harp players. “I have to clarify when I say I play the harp; that I mean this one because the assumption is not this one.” Since attending the UO, Noah’s learned how to play the concert harp, but he still prefers his Celtic harp.

Thirty-eight strings stretch from the base of his Celtic harp’s chocolate-brown frame. The taut lines span across the open center and pass through a metal sharpening lever which is the size of a child’s pinky finger. At the top frame, small metal pegs secure each string to the frame. Like keys on a piano, the strings are grouped into octaves. All the red strings are the same note but are part of a different octave; the same goes for all the blue strings. The rest of the strings are either white or clear. The metal levers and pegs are just part of the assemblage which not only keeps the harp strings attached to the frame but also influences the strings’ pitches.

A tweak here and a turn there adjust the sting’s tension and thus its pitch. With the flip of the sharpening lever an F note becomes an F sharp. For some songs, he adjusts the levers then ignores them for the duration of the piece, but for other songs he needs to flip the levers to change keys as often as every few seconds.

In the UO practice room filled with harps, Noah demonstrates the differences between the Celtic and concert harps. He takes a seat on a small bench and tips the harp back towards his torso. The harp balances on the back two legs of its stool and the edge of the harp’s frame rests on his right shoulder. With his left hand on one side of the strings and his right hand on the other side, his fingers skim across octaves then pluck the desired strings. A captivating tune floats from the harp’s hollow sound-box and fills the small room. On the Celtic harp, the song gives the room a different sense of place; it feels more warm and comfortable, as if the room is filled with friends and family. When the piece is done he skims his palm across the strings to mute the melody’s final echoes. “Something, to me, in the sound is more subtle with the Celtic harp. It’s not just a note,” he says. “Sometimes concert harp, to me, can sound impersonal and distant. This harp sounds like it’s right here with you.”

While the warm glow continues to drift around the room, Noah steps over to a concert harp and prepares to play the melody again. He adjusts some of the pedals located at the base of the harp to turn natural tones into a sharp note or a flat note. He sits on a different bench, but this time the harp stays flat on the ground. Once more, he places his right hand on the back of the strings and his left hand on the front. His hands play the same melody but the sound is different. The music is beautiful, yet the notes sound fixed and make the space feel more formal. “The concert harp is more consistent over its whole range—all the notes are the same,” he says at the end of his demonstration. While some people may prefer the concert harp for this very reason, he prefers the Celtic harp because its sound is different. “I don’t know why, necessarily, I would want inconsistency, but it makes it more real. It makes it more human,” he says. The Celtic harp also feels more personal to Noah because he can repair and maintain his harp without much assistance—the pedal mechanisms of the concert harp are harder to repair without help from an expert. “I feel like I am less scared of messing with my instrument,” he says. “It’s mine; we can actually interact.”

Noah says more than one person has joked that his harp case, which he made himself, looks like a pair of wings when he wears it on his back.

Noah says more than one person has joked that his harp case, which he made himself, looks like a pair of wings when he wears it on his back.

Noah Brenner spent a year establishing residency in Oregon before he started school. During this time, he earned his income as a solo harpist. At first he played at a cafe. Then he decided to showcase his talent at the Saturday Market. Eventually, his name was circulating around Eugene and he started getting gigs for weddings and parties and cultural festivals. Though he didn’t make much money at some of these events, it was positive publicity. He says that people began to call him to offer performance opportunities, and now that Eugene knows who he is, he has an easier time fitting performances in his already hectic academic schedule. “While I’ve been in school I’ve had time, though not a lot, to do gigs,” he says. “But I certainly don’t have time to chase them.” School has helped him expand his skills and learn to play better, and this pursuit for knowledge is what drives his studies. “I don’t need the piece of paper that I’m going to get in the end. I’ll be happy to get it; it’s a sense of completion,” he says. “But that’s not my motivation.” While many undergraduates need their degree to get a job, Noah is already performing and implementing his talents. His academic motivation is different because he is already a paid harpist.

After he graduates he’ll have more time to perform and teach others about the Celtic harp. Many of his past gigs presented his talent as background music—his music created atmosphere but wasn’t the main event. “Something that’s always important to me is showing the different sounds that the harp can make,” he says. Brenner emphasizes that the harp can do more than whimsical arpeggios and grand crescendos. He combines storytelling and music to create a more personal experience with the audience. Sometimes he’ll play a song which is accompanied by a story, but sometimes he tells the story just to teach the audience about his instrument and the music he plays. “I really like engaging an audience and creating a world they get to come into for a little while,” he says. When he is done with school, he plans to create a solo performance line-up featuring a wide variety of music, from classic Celtic melodies to arrangements fit for Tango. “Pretty soon I’m going to plan on creating a really good show,” he says, “Getting visible so that I have a name that exists outside of the music building and those who organize events.” With a pluck of luck and some self-promotion, he and his Celtic harp will draw crowds to a solo concert. Background music is a good gig, but, as the first Celtic harp performance major, Noah Brenner looks forward to preparing and organizing performances that will showcase his musicianship. “When I graduate I will actually have more time to actually be a musician,” he says.

Blues Musicians Struggle for Revival

[deck]Eugene blues musicians branch out to local youth in the hopes of instilling interest in the blues scene.[/deck]

Eagle Park Slim performs at the Saturday Market in Eugene, Oregon.<br>

Eagle Park Slim performs at the Saturday Market in Eugene, Oregon.

[cap]A[/cap]fter the band finishes their set, a swarm of women hop up from their cocktails and skip over to the bespectacled Ben Rice, who sounds forty-years old onstage, looks eighteen offstage, and is actually twenty-one. But his youth does not deter the ladies, who were all over fifty-years old, from dishing out kudos to the young blues singer and guitarist as though they were trying to fatten the stocky college senior on compliments alone. “You have to come back, please,” begs one frizzy haired, big bosomed fan. “Oh yes, of course,” agrees the flock of likely grandmothers.

In a small city where blues talents are abundant but aged- it is something to talk about when a young person is spotted at a blues event. Tim Volem, Secretary for the Rainy Day Blues Society in Eugene, is trying to change that. Enthusiasts like Volem are concerned that without their elders’ help, young people won’t care enough about the blues to preserve them. Some of these people are working to eliminate this concern, but it’s unclear whether or not their efforts are working.

The Rainy Day Blues Society has become particularly proactive in getting young people interested in the blues. Musicians founded the organization to do just that– provide the blues to local youth. Just before the death of deejay “Rooster,” the society was founded to preserve and promote the culture of the blues. Given that in the last decade the Eugene blues scene has lost both blues deejay Gavin “Rooster” Fox in 1999 and avid harmonica player Ted “Papa Soul” Lee in 2009, blues fans have come to realize that sooner is better than later.

“I think it’s undeniable that kids aren’t going to have much exposure unless we give it to them,” says Volem.

Slim playing his kazoo

In addition to his guitar, Slim uses a kazoo in some of his songs. Kazoos are a popular accompaniment in blues, especially for individual performers, due to its ability to imitate larger instruments like the clarinet or trumpet.

For instance, take Rice, the young guitarist surrounded by women twice his age. When he started college in Eugene, the society immediately booked him. Rice, whose vocals and impressive guitar work compare to rocker Jonny Lang’s, is one of the organization’s most successful connections to younger crowds. But it’s a wonder that Rice, a smokey-voiced prodigy who played at almost every bar in Portland and Seattle by the time he was eleven, seems to be the only one in the bar who would not be considered over the hill. “Ben Rice is a great example—in fact, he is the example of a young person who’s taken the initiative to get involved with the blues,” says Volem.

And that’s exactly why silver-haired members are doing their part to capture the attention of more youth. Many society members volunteer in the growing Blues in the Schools program that lets any Lane County school book local musicians for a day. The musicians, all members of the Rainy Day Society, volunteer their time to conduct classes and workshops, allowing kids and young adults to write their own songs, play the instruments, and meet mentors. These volunteers have played with the likes of Aretha Franklin, the Temptations, Gladys Knight and many more great blues musicians.

Granted, veteran musicians have noticed kids don’t always adopt to the blues readily. “A lot of them just want to listen to hip hop. They’re not always interested in hearing the stuff that has influenced it,” says Volem. But by the end of the day, the kids have written their own songs and often share them with their peers. Rainy Day Blues Society director Josh Coen hopes that someday students will share these songs at a public venue. “It’s just planting a small seed, and our hope is that it will encourage the kids to explore on their own,” says Volem.

Other ambitions of the society are to get college students more involved by offering credits for aspiring musicians at the universities, and encouraging students to perform in the community and off-campus. “I contacted three different people in the music department at the University of Oregon, but I got nowhere,” says Volem. “I think the University people are just so busy that they just don’t have time for one more thing.”

David Gross, a local musician and craftsman believes that if the radio played the blues more, young people would start to care. “It’s been stomped out,” he says. Volem agrees to an extent, and as a retired English teacher, he knows exactly what Gross means. “It’s like the zeitgeist—the spirit of the ages takes over,” Volem says.

In  another song Slim adds bells for rhythmic accompaniment. In addition to  his hour of official stage time, Slim warms up by doing more relaxed  street performances in quieter parts of the market.

In another song Slim adds bells for rhythmic accompaniment.

However, some young people believe that the older blues musicians in the community have been talking to the wrong people. “If local blues musicians contacted campus radio, we’d be more than happy to play their stuff,” says Lex Chase, a deejay and events coordinator at KWVA, the University of Oregon’s campus radio. “It’s just that we get Indie-Alternative music from promoters, but we never get any blues.”

Though KWVA does not list one single blues station on its website, she says they play what blues they can. Few musicians contact the station with new music or ideas. According to Chase, there needs to be a greater effort on musicians’ parts to offer something of interest. She recognized that blues does lend itself towards the digital sound of recent popular tunes, but innovation needs to happen. “People either want the original or an alternative of it. Like my friends–they love Miles Davis. But they want to hear the original Miles Davis, not just someone else singing his songs,” she says. “If people do variations and twists on the old music, that might work. If you mixed in blues with electronic mash-ups that would be so cool.”

At one time, the blues held a lively role in the lives of Eugene youths (local legend Curtis Salgado inspired John Belushi’s character in the 1980 film “The Blues Brothers”). Perhaps the traditional style of blues does not resonate with young people, but more of the reason seems to be that there are not enough blues sources marketed to young crowds.

Students at the University of Oregon used to enjoy the presence of Eagle Park Slim, who has played in Eugene for thirty years and was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rainy Day Blues Society. Slim played with the greatest: Muddy Waters, James Brown, Joe Cocker, Ike Turner, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Percy Mayfield. After his brushes with fame though, he played mostly for students. “A lot of kids knew me,” he says. One day a young man was stopped from robbing his friend, just because he heard Slim playing. “Your music is something. I was going to rip off my friend, but your songs made me stop. I’m glad I ran into you,” Slim recalls the strayed youth saying. One student wrote his thesis on Slim, and another volunteered Slim to open for the Red Hot Chili Peppers when they played at the EMU ballroom (And he indeed opened for them.). But now, Slim can’t make it far from his home downtown and doesn’t often get to see campus. He plays the kazoo and his cherry-stained guitar at the back of the farmers’ market for little kids passing by with spare nickels for a tip.

“Blues is the basis for jazz, country, and rock-n-roll. We teach this music because it moves us,” says Volem.

And it is his hope, along with many others, that the blues continues to be taught. No matter the age, everyone can enjoy a good blues session. Rice, who plays for the old, and Slim, who plays for the young, can attest to that.

There is no better example of, as Volem calls it, the “spirit of the ages.”

FLUXCast 03: Feruza Ashirova

[podcast]https://www.fluxstories.com/files//2010/04/Fluxcast-Episode-3.mp3[/podcast]

[cap]T[/cap]his is episode three of Fluxcast, a regular audio installment. This week FLUX features Feruza Ashirova, a University of Oregon Business Administration senior originally from Uzbekistan. Ashirova talks about the differences, challenges and lessons she has faced and learned by moving across the world to study in the United States.

SoundBites: Fruit Bats, Tu Fawning and Jared Mees and the Grown Children

[deck]On the evening of January 30th, 2010, Eugene’s historic WOW Hall, a venue known for offering a wide swatch of upcoming musical acts, once again rang with the sound of handclap and pedal steel guitar, its folksy twang echoing some of the city’s most infamous years.[/deck]

[caps]T[/caps]he first act might not have been on the bill, but Jared Mees and the Grown Children brought their best, surprising the crowd with a set bursting with energy and a fun, full sound, adding percussion, keyboard, trumpet, and violin to the traditional rock mix with trusting abandon.

Although Mees, the founder of the group, seemed soft-spoken in introducing the band, he came to life in song, joined with perfect aplomb by charismatic keyboardist and co-singer Megan Spear. Playing songs primarily from Caffeine, Alcohol, Sunshine, Money and from an as-yet-unnamed upcoming album, the songs got the crowd moving the way an opening act should – “Tallest Building in Hell” and the sing-along “Shake” stand out as favorites.

The second act was on the bill, and although it didn’t quite mesh with the folk rock theme of the night, Tu Fawning enchanted the crowd in its own way. Folding harmonizing vocal tones into synthesized keyboard hums, the high-concept Portland band led by Corinna Repp and Joe Haege mixes the organic with the mechanical, creating the kind of experimental indie pop the Northwest is increasingly known for.

With tambourines in hand and guitar feedback at the ready, Tu Fawning put on a performance notably louder and more raw than their studio recording, pairing heartbeat-like rhythms with Repp’s haunting vocals to create something all at once charming and tense and trancelike.

The night’s main act was folk rock outfit The Fruit Bats, a group of tweed-clad Chicago imports now making their home in Portland. The Fruit Bats are out promoting their fourth album, The Ruminant Band, generally regarded as their strongest entry into the indie pop category.

What the Fruit Bats do, they do well: folksy jams with a touch of rockabilly and a surprising dash of electric guitar carry the show, with many of the songs punctuated by lead singer and guitarist Eric Johnson’s heartfelt wailing lyrics (a sound quickly becoming a uniting factor in today’s indie scene). It’s the moments when guitarist Sam Wagster jumps onto pedal steel guitar (as in “Primitive Man”) that you can best hear the album’s roots in 60’s folk rock – most notably, Dylan collaborators The Band – but there are clear dashes of influence from contemporaries like Wilco and The Shins (whom Johnson tours with) as well, mellowing the music from protest rock to late summer soundtrack.

The set transitioned well, segueing from a foot-stomping rendition of “When U Love Somebody” (from 2003’s Mouthfuls) to the melancholy “Singing Joy to the World” with relative ease. (Kudos go out to the band for continuing to tolerate the tremendously rude crowd, who, in between shouting out requests, continued an incessant chatter through even this quiet acoustic piece.)

FLUXCast 02: Matt Knauss

[podcast]http://www.fluxstories.com/wp-content/uploads/podcast/FluxcastEp2.mp3[/podcast]

[caps]T[/caps]his is episode two of Fluxcast, a regular audio installment. This week, FLUX features Portland, Oregon native Matt Knauss, a psychology major at Portland State University who enjoys breaking and entering. Knauss talks about the last time he broke into a high school and the trouble he encountered.

Soundbites: Zion I, S.O.J.A., and Rebelution

Zion I

[podcast]http://www.fluxstories.com/wp-content/uploads/podcast/zioni1.2.mp3[/podcast]

In a night of Reggae, Zion I’s hip-hop was a refreshing opening. The duo of DJ AmpLive and MC Zumbi hail from Oakland, California. Zumbi’s high-energy performance combined with AmpLive’s beats and samples transformed a sluggish crowd into a bouncing, cheering mob.

S.O.J.A.

[podcast]http://www.fluxstories.com/wp-content/uploads/podcast/Soja1.mp3[/podcast]

Bringing their distinct sound all the way from Arlington, Virginia Soldiers of Jah Army put an interesting spin on Reggae music with its 80’s hair metal guitar solos. The seven-member band includes a saxophone and trumpet that make for some great interludes during their otherwise very Reggae songs.

Rebelution

[podcast]http://www.fluxstories.com/wp-content/uploads/podcast/Rebeultion1.mp3[/podcast]

They may look like frat boys, but don’t let that fool you. Rebelution has a laid-back style that mellows you out and promotes socially conscious ideals. The Santa Barbara-based band has already garnered radio play and seems well on their way to a mass following.

FLUXCast 01: Derek Schmidt

[podcast]http://www.fluxstories.com/wp-content/uploads/podcast/Derek3.mp3[/podcast]

[caps]T[/caps]his is “Episode One” of Fluxcast, a regular audio installment. This week, FLUX features University of Oregon senior Derek Schmidt, an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast. Schmidt talks about the nude photo shoots that go on when he hikes with his friend Charlie.

Soundbites: Fruit Bats

[caps]O[/caps]n the evening of January 30th, 2010, Eugene’s historic WOW Hall, a venue known for offering a wide swatch of upcoming musical acts, once again rang with the sound of handclap and pedal steel guitar, its folksy twang echoing some of the city’s most infamous years.

The first act might not have been on the bill, but Jared Mees and the Grown Children brought their best, surprising the crowd with a set bursting with energy and a fun, full sound, adding percussion, keyboard, trumpet, and violin to the traditional rock mix with trusting abandon.

Although Mees, the founder of the group, seemed soft-spoken in introducing the band, he came to life in song, joined with perfect aplomb by charismatic keyboardist and co-singer Megan Spear. Playing songs primarily from Caffeine, Alcohol, Sunshine, Money and from an as-yet-unnamed upcoming album, the songs got the crowd moving the way an opening act should – “Tallest Building in Hell” and the sing-along “Shake” stand out as favorites.

The second act was on the bill, and although it didn’t quite mesh with the folk rock theme of the night, Tu Fawning enchanted the crowd in its own way. Folding harmonizing vocal tones into synthesized keyboard hums, the high-concept Portland band led by Corinna Repp and Joe Haege mixes the organic with the mechanical, creating the kind of experimental indie pop the Northwest is increasingly known for.

With tambourines in hand and guitar feedback at the ready, Tu Fawning put on a performance notably louder and more raw than their studio recording, pairing heartbeat-like rhythms with Repp’s haunting vocals to create something all at once charming and tense and trancelike.

The night’s main act was folk rock outfit The Fruit Bats, a group of tweed-clad Chicago imports now making their home in Portland. The Fruit Bats are out promoting their fourth album, The Ruminant Band, generally regarded as their strongest entry into the indie pop category.

What the Fruit Bats do, they do well: folksy jams with a touch of rockabilly and a surprising dash of electric guitar carry the show, with many of the songs punctuated by lead singer and guitarist Eric Johnson’s heartfelt wailing lyrics (a sound quickly becoming a uniting factor in today’s indie scene). It’s the moments when guitarist Sam Wagster jumps onto pedal steel guitar (as in “Primitive Man”) that you can best hear the album’s roots in 60’s folk rock – most notably, Dylan collaborators The Band – but there are clear dashes of influence from contemporaries like Wilco and The Shins (whom Johnson tours with) as well, mellowing the music from protest rock to late summer soundtrack.

The set transitioned well, segueing from a foot-stomping rendition of “When U Love Somebody” (from 2003’s Mouthfuls) to the melancholy “Singing Joy to the World” with relative ease. (Kudos go out to the band for continuing to tolerate the tremendously rude crowd, who, in between shouting out requests, continued an incessant chatter through even this quiet acoustic piece.)

Medium Troy at WOW Hall

SoundBites: WOW Hall – Friday, Jan. 22nd

Medium Troy

Medium Troy at WOW Hall

[caps]S[/caps]elf-described “Bohemian Dub” band Medium Troy has earned itself a solid foothold in Eugene’s local music scene. Formed locally in the Fall of 2006, Medium Troy began as a hip-hop/jam band/singer-songwriter mutt and has since evolved into a new breed entirely. With support from their local fan base known as the Squirrel Crew, the band is in the midst of becoming a full time gig while capitalizing on the success of their first album “Bohemian Dub.”

Medium Troy at WOW Hall

Anthony B

[caps]J[/caps]amaican reggae artist Anthony B has produced 13 albums and written over 1000 singles since his music career began in 1996. His upbringing in Jamaica has had a strong influence on his lyrics, which cry out against social injustice and give a voice to the impoverished and marginalized. His latest album “Life Over Death” is yet another success and another chapter in his ongoing spiritual journey.

For more information on the bands, check out their websites:

Medium Troy
http://www.mediumtroy.com/
http://www.myspace.com/mediumtroy

Anthony B
http://www.anthonybmusic.com/
http://www.myspace.com/officialanthonyb

SoundBites: WOW Hall – Sunday, Jan. 17th

The Dirty Commies

[caps]A[/caps]t first glance, The Dirty Commies look like your average slacker, gutter punk band. Their sound, however, is anything but. A Eugene band, they conjure up a soul-busting Southern style, playing a range of instruments from the jug and the harmonica to the washboard and the bass washboard.

Bloodbath Burlesque Orchestra

[caps]I[/caps]magine a banjo-playing, angsty Ani DiFranco playing with an equally angsty, accordian-playing Regina Spektor singing edgy, French vaudeville and you might imagine something like Eugene band Bloodbath Burlesque Orchestra. With a vocal range from raspy to light and sensual, they put forth a musical sound that is incredibly complex to describe, but a simple, refreshing energy that radiates out.

The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band

[caps]T[/caps]hree people with a GIANT sound that reverberates throughout the entire WOW Hall and floods out into the street. With Jayme Peyton on drums, Breezy Peyton on the washboard – which she lights on fire at the end of the set – and the Reverend Peyton doing crazy things with acoustic guitars, this thrillbilly band from Indianapolis is definitely “Born Bred, Corn Fed.”

For more information on the bands, check out their websites:

http://www.myspace.com/thedirtycommies

http://www.myspace.com/bloodbathburlesque

http://www.bigdamnband.com/