Around here, taking in live music between October and May generally means stuffing into a dark room and rubbing puffy-jacketed elbows with other folks who, like you, dressed for the chilly weather outside rather than the swampy atmosphere inside.
Central Oregon's long, cold winter usually forces people who enjoy seeing bands under the stars to wait till summer.
Bend WinterFest is an exception to that rule, and a well-placed one, because the six bands on the event's Mojo Music Eruption stage will help warm your toes after they've begun to freeze while checking out one of the other attractions.
WinterFest's musical offerings split nicely over two nights this year: If your tastes lean toward the twangy, you should consider tonight's lineup. If you're more into rock 'n' roll, Saturday might be for you.
Tonight's concert kicks off with two of Bend's best rootsy acts as soulgrass combo Moon Mountain Ramblers and bluesy Americana act Leif James & The Struggle warm up the stage for perennial local faves The Gourds (see “Schedule”).
Over the past 15 years, the Austin, Texas-based quintet has become one of the enduring bands of the late-'90s alt-country boom, thanks to its eclectic style and quirky songs. The Gourds are powered by three songwriters who aren't afraid to spice up their roots-rock with bits of bluegrass, blues and zydeco music. Most importantly, they're tons of fun.
On Saturday, local indie-rockers The Dirty Words will kick things off, followed by Ashland-based combo Brynna Dean and Her Sympathetic Strings.
To cap the night, WinterFest will host a return visit from Seattle's all-female AC/DC tribute band, Hell's Belles, who headlined the event in 2008. The Belles formed in 2000 and play all AC/DC all the time, “from ‘High Voltage' to ‘Back in Black' and beyond,” says their Web site. And as anyone who saw them two years ago knows, they do the tunes justice; these gals sound a lot like their Aussie heroes, and they rock.
To hear the bands or find out more info, visit www.bend winterfest.com. There are links to each of them there.
— Ben Salmon