March 12, 2010

The Night Is Young


— By . PONTI

Talk about a long-overdue music-appreciation moment. I just, as in two days ago, FINALLY saw the 1961 classic film ''Breakfast at Tiffany's.''

Although I've enjoyed a vinyl copy of the soundtrack for a long time, my love for the Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini-penned ''Moon River'' reached new heights when I heard (and saw) Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly singing it from a window of her Manhattan apartment. That version isn't on the soundtrack, and it should be.

Yeah, I know Andy Williams ran away with the song, as did many others through the years, but nothing captures the essence of Truman Capote's book-turned-film quite like Hepburn's turn with it.

What is it about that song that gets to me every time? Can you believe that a Paramount Pictures exec tried to ditch it from the film? The same is actually true of ''Over the Rainbow'' in ''The Wizard of Oz.'' The American music songbook would be incomplete without both. It would be like ''Rocky'' without ''Gonna Fly Now,'' ''Flashdance'' minus ''What a Feeling'' or ''The Graduate'' sans ''Mrs. Robinson.''

OK, I'm through with this rant, have put down the remote and am sending you, my huckleberry friends, out for three shows this week. But wait, did I tell you how divinely and utterly happy I am?

The Lomax is a six-piece original alt-county/pop-rock band of the Portland and Lewiston persuasion. Roll call is Andy Ellis, Dave Ragsdale, Brian Patrick, Chris White, Dave ''Suede'' Fields and Jeff Chipman.

Here are some snippets from their ''Lomax Fun Facts!'' sheet: They're named after father-and-son musicologists John and Alan Lomax; they practice in a converted mill building in Lewiston; Ragsdale and White played together in the Frotus Caper; the lineup includes one plumber, one lawyer, one nursing student, one piano salesman and two cabinet makers; and ''The Lomax Album'' was recorded in several different locations, including Jonathan Wyman's Halo Studio in Westbrook, White's basement and Ragsdale's attic.

I've been listening to ''The Lomax Album'' for a couple of weeks, and here's my couple of cents' worth:

''It's You'' has a summertime radio feel to it despite being a heartbreaker of bitter sorrow. ''Ten thousand miles behind me, who knows how many more will pass beneath these wheels/ Who knows how long before I find a reason to come knocking at your door, it's you,'' croons Ragsdale.

Just one song before ''It's You,'' however, is the sweet and wonderful ''Charming Margaret,'' which includes a truly spectacular lyric: ''What Johnny Mars' guitar did on records with Morrissey, is how I might describe the effect that you had on me,'' proclaims the happy singer. I'm pretty sure Margaret refers to a daughter, and if I'm this kid, I'm psyched to have a song such as this in my honor.

Another entirely enjoyable track is ''On the Bus,'' aimed at a gal named Daisy whose fella stole away in the night and on a rainy bus ride is second guessing himself.

The Lomax also lets its sense of humor shine with ''Lewiston Kids'' and ''She Stares at Art.''

Lest there be even an atom of doubt, yes, I am recommending this show.

The Lomax CD-release show with King Memphis. 9 p.m. Friday. Empire Dine & Dance, 575 Congress St., Portland, 879-8988. $5. Ages 21 and older.

Not since Giraffe Attack have I been so amused by a band name. This time it's the Disco Biscuits, a jam band sprung from the University of Pennsylvania music and party scene of the mid-'90s.

The band is known for converging jam and electronica into a ''trance-fusion'' sound that also adds improvisational jazz with rave rhythms before hitting ''blend.''

The Disco Biscuits spent three years making their fifth studio album with the hip-hop duo of Don Cheegro and the U.K. electronica duo of Simon Posford and Benji Vaughn.

OK, so I know I dig the name of the band, but what's it all sound like? As Monday night crept toward Tuesday morning, I landed on their MySpace page,, and heard the track ''Tricycle,'' with its space-age, tripped-out, fascinating rhythm. Vocals emerged about three minutes into the song, and I almost could have done without them -- the instrumental part was that riveting.

From there, it was ''Jam,'' a live recording, and I was struck most by the free-flowing percussion. I could imagine drummer Allen Aucoin behind that kit with his eyes closed, totally immersed in the moment. Then the bass lines started and some electric guitar and piano, and the song got even better.

For the most part, I've resisted so-called ''jam-band'' music, but based on the stuff I listened to, you won't hear me pigeon-holing the Disco Biscuits into that category, because their sound is also deeply entrenched in electronica and engaging experimentation.

Then I listened to the song ''Caterpillar'' and was won over all the more.

The Disco Biscuits. 9 p.m. Wednesday. Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland, 899-4990. $20 advance, $22 at the door. Tickets at Bull Moose locations and online at Ages 21 and older.

OK, so can you dig this? Thirty artists from different Portland bands of many-splendored genres will be, as the Space Web site says, ''randomly shuffled'' into six supergroups.

The assignments are announced today, and then the new bands have 48 hours to build a 25-minute set to be performed on Saturday night.

Yeah, I know, how cool is that?

The cast of sleep-deprived but ready-to-rock characters includes members of Cougars Kill Cobras, Confusatron, Cult Maze, Purse, Loverless, Sidecar Radio, Ocean, Fire on Fire and Conifer, and believe you me, this is a mere sample the talent primed to fuse into one insane night of music.

Portland will be the city that never sleeps in the two nights leading up to the event, as these local music dignitaries race to their rehearsal spaces, fire up the espresso makers, chill the PBRs and plug in.

Hometown Heroes: 48 Hour Music Festival. 9 p.m. Saturday. Space, 538 Congress St., Portland, 828-5600. $10, www.brown Ages 18 and older.

Aimsel Ponti is a Portland freelance writer. Contact her at:

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