A haunting swing separates the Spokane-based band The Terrible Buttons from its throw-back blues contemporaries. The seven-piece crew is wrought with vocal filters, reverb pedals, folky vocals and perfectly placed details, touches of horns, strings, and vocal harmonies that swell and fade, telling stories of gatekeepers, gambling, cannibalism and Charles Darwin's blue collar woes.
The band's heaviness is a part of its charm; the themes and the scales are timeless, and the Buttons add a grimy varnish, a door to the seedy underbelly of folk. Refrains like "how much for that next best thing," tremble over building guitar refrains and steady slow tambourine percussion. Often, The Terrible Buttons sound straight out of the echoing, murderous void of the climax of a horror film set in rural Kansas. (BB)
Fri., March 21
Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Dr.
Some musicians treat the violin as a clean, classical instrument, waltzing though drawn-out bow strokes read from stiff sheet music. But in the hands of Polecat's lovely Cayley Schmid, the instrument is a barn-burning fiddle, through and through. Shredding the stings and often her bow along with them, Schmid transforms the violin into a tool for cranking out Celtic dance music and downhome country stomp-grass.
Co-headlining and turning the Belfry—the church-turned-venue in Sisters—into a country inferno are string masters Head for the Hills. The foursome covers the spectrum of prairie music, with the solid backbone of Adam Kinghorn on guitar and Matt Loewen on upright bass, with the tumbleweed riffs of Michael Chappell on mandolin and Joe Lessard on fiddle. But Head for the Hills isn't just for the bluegrass crowd. Its new album is said to be inspired by "love, misery and comic books," themes we can all relate to whether we are in the jamboree crowd or not.
The two bands have developed quite a following in Central Oregon, where attracting an exuberant, ready-to-dance crowd is as easy as thinking the words, mandolin solo. (BB)
Head for the Hills and Polecat
Fri., March 21
Belfry, 302 E. Main, Sisters.
And now, for something completely different...
Athens, Ohio, group, Papadosio, might be the best example of how jam bands and computers were meant to be together. The band mixes live instrumentation and electronic elements in a continuous blender of warm fluid jams. Picture Jerry Garcia in the year 2068.
The band's dissociative sound appeals equally to the dread-locked banjo lover of Garcia's age and the bass and drum fanatic of today. An emphasis on keyboards (the band has three keys players) and a jam-based philosophy that mixes jazz-style improvisation techniques with danceable borderline rave electronica, Papadosio has found a niche apart from its contemporaries. The refusal to play a singular style of music or be categorized as such has made for a long changing and evolving band life; the group will celebrate its eight-year anniversary in April.
"We were festival music fans for a long time and appreciate bands that won't play the same show twice. We never play the same song exactly the same way either," said vocalist and guitarist Anthony Thogmartin in an interview with the Source. "Our set up is so complex that it's interesting for a person who is into how it's being done. And it's dance music for people who are into going out for the evening and getting their booty shake on."
Expect a mixture of the industrial club-heads and Grateful Dead fans of the future. (BB)
Sun., March 23
Domino Room, 51 NW Greenwood Ave.