Fir Talks East African Jazz, Traditional Recording, and Transport Ecstasy

FirIt’s no secret that the Pacific Northwest is a mystical place brimming with rolling mountain ranges, lush forests, and meandering rivers. It inspires a collective ethos that draws people from all over the world and influences a rich and diverse culture. All of this enables Portland to offer the ideal nourishment for budding and rooted creatives alike, most of which take this persona to heart. Wearing it proudly on their sleeves, folk-surf-psych band Fir brandishes Cascadia’s archetypal flag symbol as their name, paying homage to the region’s esoteric musings.

They’ve earned the title, as they share multiple commonalities with their adopted home city. Much like Portland, Fir is a classic old soul, but not without a strong sense of youthful enthusiasm. Their style is difficult to define; having blended a myriad of eclectic sounds from an application of exhaustive musical exploration. And, in proper Portland affinity, they know how to make you feel like you’ve been transported to a world outside of your own, fully immersed in a moment within their music.

I had the opportunity to meet with Fir a couple weeks ago before their show at Turn Turn Turn in NE Portland. We talked about navigating the Portland music environment, learning from antecedent influences, and making a name for themselves in an increasingly distracted music world.

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The Wednesday People release Yesterday’s News

The Wed People - Yesterday's NewwsIf there’s one thing that has always rang true for The Wednesday People, it’s that they’re dynamic, and constantly shifting. This can be said about their music, their members, and their direction as a band. That fact is more evident than ever, with their release of Yesterday’s News. The title illustrates a lamentable irony; a harsh realization that although it’s their first full-length LP, it also happens to be their last.

The People got their start as a humble folksy group, singing songs of the woods and mountain men. After a handful of years and a few handfuls of lineup changes, they’ve since morphed into a powerful and passionate groove rock outfit, wailing about smooth grooves and Mississippi Blues. Yesterday’s News, the inaugural LP for the group, is a fluctuating ride over a wide range of turbulent and flowing sounds.

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Brave the Slothrust Trail! – Slothrust creates Oregon Trail-inspired touring game

The Slothrust Trail

Oh, the open plains, how their beauty mystifies the soul – that is, when they’re not killing your little 12 bit avatar with dysentery. Many of us fondly remember the elementary days of braving the Oregon Trail in a virtual western world wrought with plentiful diseases, frequent thieves, and arbitrary bone fractures that mercilessly plagued you and your loved ones as you struggled to survive, hoping to one day reach the wondrous sanctuary of Oregon. Now you can relive this glamorous and not at all disheartening experience with Slothrust‘s The Slothrust Trail!

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Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats at MicMenamins Edgfield Amphitheater

DSC_0080Standing at the foot of the stage at McMenamins Edgfield Amphitheater, the first thought in my head as Nathaniel Rateliff entered in front of a roaring, sold out audience was: damn, for a husky dude, this guy can MOVE. Bounding in from stage right, he quickly set the tone with a remarkably graceful cartwheel while the Night Sweats played him on. From that moment, they gave nothing but soulful energy the entire night.

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The Music Keeps Flowing – Streaming rates on the rise as the industry dives into digital dependency

Music StreamingHold me, love me, please me, tease me – till I can’t, till I can’t take no more. Take me to the river!

Water ain’t the only thing streaming these days. It’s long been known that the internet totally fucks up the norm for everything in its non-digital path, and further evidence is pouring in about the effects of streaming in the music industry. We currently stand at a critically pivotal time in entertainment history as on-demand content continues to warp the way people interact and how they spend their money. This Titanic-esque disruptor is showing persistent waves of growth, and it’s already having significant impacts on the digital fluidity of music.

Before we try to understand what all that means, let’s look at the facts.

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Ultimate Baddass Dave Grohl Releases 23 Minute Instrumental

Dave Grohl Broken Leg ConcertFrom founding Nirvana, to directing documentaries, to breaking his leg onstage, finishing the show, and still continuing the tour, Dave Grohl is widely considered one of the coolest motherfuckers around.

One thing that has always driven Grohl to ultimate badassery is his urge to conquer new musical frontiers and regularly bring content to fans in ways they’ve never seen before. One such effort featured the Foo Fighters frontman and co. travelling through iconic music cities in the US showcasing historical venues and artists of each town, inspiring the HBO series Sonic Highways, as well as the Foo Fighters album of the same name.

His most recent brainchild is a 23 minute long instrumental of a modern-day rock and roll symphony, with all parts recorded himself. He also filmed each recording session and layered the takes on top of one another, giving us 23 minutes of Dave playing along with Dave, Dave, Dave, Dave, Dave, and Dave.

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Father John Misty at the Edgefield Amphitheater

DSC_0173It’s been a busy couple of years for Josh Tillman. Of course, he’s better known by his boisterous, swashbuckling musical identity, Father John Misty. By this time last year, he was celebrating the release of his critically acclaimed album, Pure Comedy. It would later go on to receive Grammy nominations for best alternative album and best recording package, the second of which he was awarded with the golden horn. As the third full-length offering in his catalog, Pure Comedy serves as a critique on the human existence – a product of society’s contempt turned on itself for the imperious and exorbitant grandeur of its ways. Misty’s persona has often been known to embody both sides of this dichotomy – frequently praising himself while at the same time calling out his own bullshit, as he does on “Leaving LA,” conceding, “Oh great, that’s just what we need / Another white guy in 2017 / Who takes himself so goddamn seriously.”

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Live Nation’s National Concert Week – A smoke screen for monopolistic selling tactics

Live-Nation

“I think I’m gonna be sad. I think it’s today, yeah. The girl that’s driving me mad – is going away. She’s got a ticket to ride… But she don’t care.”

It’s long been known that the concert ticket industry has some peculiar, under-the-table, and definitely questionable selling strategies, especially when it comes to selling tickets for major artists at some of the largest venues in the world. Concert and event ticket conglomerate Live Nation, along with its multiple subsidiaries including Ticketmaster, is easily the largest in the industry, and they’re no stranger to controversy. Now they’re even being investigated by the DOJ for possibly violating established antitrust laws, pressuring venues in multiple US cities to adopt Ticketmaster as the primary selling utility or risk losing the opportunity to host major acts, and, more specifically, lose out on the revenue that they bring.

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Shaking the Neighborhood – The Wednesday People Find a Home Away from Home

 

The Wednesday People GroupHouse shows get rowdy. Things get broken. The cops get called. The liquor cabinet gets raided. Sketchy guys named Trevor show up and seem not to know anyone, yet proceed to grab an armful of beers and stash them in his van out front before coming back in and attempting to sell acid to all your friends claiming that it’s ‘really cool stuff’. House shows exhibit all the recklessness of a standard house party in addition to an elevated sense of enthusiasm influenced by the primal impetus of organic rhythm. Blood runs hot as a living room turned auditorium pulses with every drum kick and guitar wail, shaking the neighborhood with waves of vibration.

House shows are also iconic. People dance. Drunken friendships are discovered. New fans are planted. They’re the historical birthplaces of some of the world’s greatest musical careers, and Utah-based psych rock outfit The Wednesday People are no strangers to this phenomenon. In fact, they’re often the catalyst on such an occasion. On their third tour through the Pacific Northwest in the last 8 months, the Ogden locals stopped by a modest bungalow in the heart of SE Portland to shake things up on St. Patrick’s Day.

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Blurred Lines on Infringement Laws

robinthickepharrellThis one hurts. Despite the fact that I have literally zero regard for Douche of the Day Robin Thicke, I do greatly respect Pharrell. And regardless of my opinion of Thicke as a human being, I also greatly respect a musician’s right to draw upon their influences and deliver an individual take and style in a new interpretation of their heroes’ artistry. Unfortunately, it’s been reaffirmed that this is not to be tolerated in our ever so litigant society.

If you couldn’t already tell, I’m referencing the case of Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams defending their song, “Blurred Lines” against the estate of Marvin Gaye prosecuting infringement of Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up”. Though originally decided in early 2015, the case has since been appealed, and the Federal Appeals Court recently upheld the original decision and determined that the song was in fact infringed upon.

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