March 11, 2010

The Night Is Young

AIMSEL L

— By . PONTI

I finally saw a show at Port City Music Hall on Monday night, and oh what a show it was.

Rickie Lee Jones, one of my faves, regaled with new tunes from a forthcoming record and many a splendor gem, including ''Last Chance Texaco'' and ''We Belong Together.''

As for the venue, in a word: fantastic!

Looking at this week, tonight's the night to catch Gunther Brown at One Longfellow Square, or you can head there on Saturday night for Kris Delmorst. On Friday night, Ani DiFranco is holding court at Merrill (and I hear there are still tickets left), or you can venture to Space for the Lord Dog Bird. The North Star also has a couple of groovy shows lined up for this weekend: the Grown Up Noise on Saturday night and Raining Jane, whom I'll delve into below, on Sunday night.

Then of course there's the Indigo Girls show at Merrill on Sunday night (tickets still left for that one, too). They just released ''Poseidon & the Bitter Bug,'' their best record in years in my view. See below for highlights from a chat I had with Emily Saliers on the day the record came out a few weeks ago.

Local Americana/folkster band Gunther Brown is thrilled to bits about the release its debut EP, ''Eustis Ridge,'' and the release show is tonight at One Longfellow Square.

Pete Dubuc's rough and raspy vocals are terrific, as is John V. Boyle's guitar, mandolin and dobro playing. ''Say Goodbye'' is the first of five songs. ''As you walk away, nothing left to say, kick the ground and know that hard times are here again,'' sings Dubuc.

The rest of Gunther Brown is Ethan Gamage on bass, drummer Derek Mills and keyboardist Chris Devlin. Devlin starts off ''The Reason'' with slow and mysterious keys that soon are joined by electric guitar. The song is an acerbic recount of a relationship that fell into the bottom of the well. Boyle's guitar adds to the angst and poignancy. ''Hello Tonight'' is a return to optimism, and I'm awarding bonus nods to Mills and Devlin on this one. Dubuc and Boyle's vocals both fuel ''Minnesota,'' and Boyle's guitar work glistens.

''Great Eustis Jailbreak'' is an old-fashioned romp into the county jail, complete with hidden liquor, ammo and an overly confident warden woven into hand-clapping, countrified rock. I officially dig all ''Eustis Ridge'' tracks and hope that that Gunther Brown (www.myspace.com/musicofguntherbrown) finds its way back into the studio for more.

Gunther Brown CD Release Show, with Dark Hollow Bottling Company & The Lomax. 7:30 p.m. today. One Longfellow Square, Portland. www.onelongfellowsquare.com; 761-1757. $8; all ages

Stay with me on this one. Wilderness is a Baltimore-based indie band on the well-respected Jagjaguwar label. Their guitar player is Colin McCann.

While Wilderness was on break, McCann partook of a solo recording project under the name the Lord Dog Bird. With a four-track recorder, McCann got to work creating a collection of songs that is gut-wrenching and gorgeous.

McCann takes us along on his sojourn into a soul-healing place of self-discovery and ethereal electric guitar on ''The Shedding Path.''

''The Gift of Song in the Lion's Den'' has a stark, almost abrasive piano, and McCann's vocals have the kind of shrill passion that made Johnny Lydon so effective with P.I.L.

''Song for Woodthrush'' is a key that unlocks the secret chamber of McCann's mind: ''Like a wave we can't stop it now, every step is ahead, and all that's coming alive is dying as fast as I can say.'' There will be no shortage of intensity at this show, and it will be all the better for it.

The Lord Dog Bird, with Micah Blue Smaldone and Tom K. 9 p.m. Friday. Space, 538 Congress St., Portland. www.space538.org; 828-5600. $7; 18-plus. www.brownpapertickets.com

The eclectic folk-rock band Raining Jane (BTW, I love that name) from Los Angeles headlines a ticketed show Sunday night at the North Star, with local chanteuse Vanessa Torres opening.

Raining Jane formed in 1999, and in 2004 they were able to take their day jobs and shove them to pursue music full-time. Their sound is built around four songwriters, three vocalists and an arsenal of instruments that includes acoustic and electric guitars, drums, bass, cello, cajon and sitar. This translates to Mai Bloomfield, Chaska Potter, Mona Tavakoli and Becky Gebhardt.

I listened to a smattering of songs at www.rainingjane.com and www.cdbaby.com, and the aural experience was sweetly engaging, harmoniously lovely and musically magnetic.

Raining Jane, with Vanessa Torres. 7 p.m. Sunday. North Star Music Cafe, 225 Congress St., Portland. www.northstarmusiccafe.com; 699-2994. $10; all ages

After spending most of their career with a major label, Indigo Girls Emily Saliers and Amy Ray have just released their first independent record on their IG label.

''Poseidon & the Bitter Bug'' is a two-disc album, the second disc containing acoustic versions of all the tracks, with an extra song thrown in for good measure. This gives the listener the opportunity to enjoy a full-band experience or a stripped-down one; both are superb.

Ray's vocals enter new territory, and her songwriting is as emotive and thought-provoking as ever. The standout track on ''Poseidon,'' for me anyway, is the Ray-penned ''Sugar Tongue.'' ''I've got the blackest boots, the whitest skin, satisfy my sugar tongue again. Sing me lullabies of shoeshine days, gilded verses for your atheling, sing it to me free and clean.'' Ray also hits the mark with ''Driver Education'' and ''Ghost of the Gang.''

Saliers' ''Digging for Your Dream'' opens the record. ''Every day that you get up and force your cards, you're playing your story in fits in starts. You take your prospects and your pick axe, and you trudge down to the stream, and you bloody your hands digging for your dream,'' the Girls sing.

During a recent chat with Saliers, I wondered how it felt to go back to their independent roots after all these years. ''There's something about that fact that we're independent that our fans really like,'' Saliers said. ''They just are glad that we're glad and we feel liberated. The excitement over the independence feels really good.''

As for yours truly, my excitement over ''Poseidon & the Bitter Bug'' feels really good, too. Well done, IGs.

Indigo Girls, with Javier. 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland. www.porttix.com; 842-0800. $45

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

aimselponti@yahoo.com

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)