Hunkering down to see what happens

Local Music: The winter of our discontent
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  December 26, 2013

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TAKING SHELTER Worried Well release Winter Defeats on December 28 at Slainte, a highlight of the
smaller music venues serving up local tunes this winter.
 

Winter in Portland has always been a sleepy time for local musicians. The tourists are long gone and the fall season has closed with a New Year’s Eve bang and it’s time to hole up, write songs, woodshed, and emerge in the spring with new energy and new material.

But I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a slate as sparse as this coming January. Sure, maybe folks are slow to get things up on the web, but Empire has just a single January gig as of this writing and it’s not local. One Longfellow doesn’t have a local show (unless you count Jonathan Edwards, which I guess I do). SPACE doesn’t have a single local headliner, either. Port City? Nope. Nor the State Theatre. Asylum has Rap Night on Wednesdays, but just one other scheduled gig in January, and it’s not local. And the Big Easy . . . oh, yeah.

Looks like it’s time to retrench at the smaller venues. Blue never disappoints with a steady slate of all-local roots, Irish, and bluegrass. They’ve got local jazz every Saturday night now, which is something Portland hasn’t seen in years. SlainteWineBar.com is covered with Japanese Kanji, so I’m not sure how you’re supposed to know what’s happening there, but if you head down there on a Friday or Saturday, you’ll probably find something local and decent. The DJs at Flask on Friday are usually pretty solid. Shit, maybe just head down to Wharf Street and try to get sweaty.

I’m at something of a loss, to tell the truth. This shit is bleak. So, make sure you make the most of the end of December.

On December 28, Worried Well continue their stream of solid releases by playing a show to announce Winter Defeats (man, if ever a title was apt) at Slainte. Look for big vocals from Daniel James, supported by the ubiquitous Cam Jones on drums.

And then there is New Year’s, where the choices boil down to two biggies: Rustic Overtones’ CD release at Port City or the roots jam at Asylum featuring North of Nashville, Tricky Britches, and Ghost of Paul Revere. The former will be explosive, with Let’s Start a Cult, Part 2 getting an introduction, certainly, but also likely the crowd pleasers like “Combustible,” “Gas on Skin,” and “Check,” which have never sounded better. To pre-game, check out the new and nostalgic video they’ve put together for the new single, “Martyrs.” Damn, it’s pretty.

The latter is a show that recalls Portland’s roots glory days, bands like Diesel Doug and the Long Haul Truckers, the Coming Grass, and Jerks of Grass (oh, wait, they still play...). Those three bands come at the genre from very different angles, but you can be sure of a high-energy performance all around. North of Nashville may even have copies ready of their new album, recorded this fall with Jonathan Wyman and getting the Adam Ayan treatment at Gateway Mastering.

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