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High Notes: The Best Live Music in Portland This Week, July 28 - Aug 2

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Esperanza Spalding by Johann Sauty

Sure, we trumpeted the arrival of PDX Pop Now as one of the best summer concerts in the area. But that was last week! We can’t dwell on ancient history with Pickathon on the horizon. It’s time to air out your sleeping bag and track down your tent stakes, because this year looks like a real whopper!

Esperanza Spalding

July 28 @ 9pm

Portland native Spalding has bloomed into an international sensation since she split the Rose City for the Berklee College of Music in Boston back in 2004. As a jazz bassist and singer (in three different languages) she’s carted off four Grammy awards, including a 2011 win as Best New Artist, beating out some nobody named Justin Bieber, and earned herself a substantial following, including the leader of the free world, President Obama. Her current touring project is called Emily’s D+ Evolution (a reference to her youthful alter ego), which features a collection of bold new songs, including “Funk Your Fear” and the incendiary groove “Good Lava.”

$40. Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside St.

Stooges Brass Band

July 28 @ 9pm

No need for chairs at this shindig. The Stooges Brass Band is a powerhouse pack of New Orleans street kings that glide between hip-hop (they’ve backed Mos Def and Talib Kweli), horny funk, and the unbridled joy of Big Easy marching jazz, constantly inciting audiences to laugh, shake, and make merry. SBB absolutely dominate in a live setting, releasing only one full-length studio album, ‘It’s About Time,’ more than 10 years ago. Stake out some ground and be prepared to move.  

$13-15. Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave.

Clorox Girls

July 30 @ 9pm

Hopefully the current tour is a sign of things to come, as this Oakland/Portland trio hasn’t released anything since a demos and rarities collection two years ago. Clorox Girls’ guitarist and singer Justin Maurer knows his punk history from Adolescents to Zeros, and a few languages to boot, as the band has recorded songs in French (“Le Banana Split”), German (“Nicht Miene Stadt”), and Spanish (“Mi Cuidad Natal”). Continental appeal aside, Clorox Girls play bristling, unvarnished punk that’s catchy as all get-out and never fails to scratch the itch.

$12. Star Theater, 13 NW Sixth Ave.

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell courtesy Nonesuch Records.

Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell

July 31 @ 8pm

The inimitable Harris, who began her career singing sweet harmony with the late Gram Parsons, has recently collaborated with former Johnny Cash son-in-law Rodney Crowell on a pair of excellent duets records, the Grammy winning ‘Old Yellow Moon’ (2013), and this year’s ‘The Traveling Kind,’ produced by Joe Henry. But their friendship dates back to 1975 when Harris recorded the Crowell tune “Bluebird Wine” on her debut album ‘Pieces of the Sky.’ Needless to say, the two are quite comfortable trading verses on original material as well as dusty covers from the Nashville archives.

$45-79. Oregon Zoo, 4001 SW Canyon Rd.


July 31-Aug 2

The annual Pickathon music festival is the blessed antithesis of the corporate campout concert experience, where you’ll probably pay through the nose for that 12-ounce bottle of water to ward off dehydration. Lovingly situated at Pendarvis Farm, with multiple stages and plenty of walking-around room, this three-day hootenanny is like a rejuvenating bucolic retreat, with tasty and affordable food (from local favorites like Bunk Sandwiches, Robo Taco, Bollywood Theater, and Podnah’s), kids activities, and amazing music.

Though Pickathon began life as a country and bluegrass showcase, it has evolved into a provocative stylistic potpourri that includes jazz (Kamasi Washington), rock (King Tuff, Ty Segall), and hip-hop (Shabazz Palaces). Langhorne Slim, Freakwater, Sinkane, and Giant Sand are also part of the awesome festivities.

$80-270. Pendarvis Farm, 16581 SE Hagen Rd.

John Chandler has been writing about rock and/or roll for 25 years with The Rocket, Portland Tribune, Portland Monthly, Magnet, Dagger, No Depression, and Puncture. He also writes about beer, booze, and bars for Portland's BarFly website and plays in a couple goofy bands when the mood strikes him. He can most often be found at the wheel of horrificflicks.com, a review website dedicated to horror movies.


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