Even in Central Oregon, where it moseys on in around mid-May, spring is a time of rebirth. Of green shoots. Of new beginnings and an eye toward the future.
Spring is when you clear away the cobwebs, clean up the clutter, and reset yourself for tackling whatever task seems slightly less ambitious, slightly more illuminated in the warmth of the sun.
Artists are no different. For a musician, summer is the time to go out and play gigs on some restaurant's deck, or the sidewalk, or next to a lake.
Make hay while the sun shines, I believe is the saying.
What that means, though, is that for musicians, winter is the ideal time to hunker down in a studio (or with some home recording equipment) and try to put ideas to tape.
And what that means is that right about now, local musicians are wrapping up their recordings and we're experiencing a little spring surge in new local albums and EPs. (For the unfamiliar, “EP” stands for extended play, a format that generally contains four to seven songs.)
So far in 2011, the most productive subset of the local scene is the hard rock and metal bands. Of the pile of new recordings on my desk, no fewer than four come from bands that crank up the amps and aren't afraid of rough edges.
Jones Road and Kleverkill both lean slightly more to the gruff alt-rock side of things, and each has an EP out this year. Going up the loudness ladder, local throwback metalheads Stillfear recently got their debut album into stores, as did the gory death metal band Bloodlust.
Then there's the long-awaited new self-titled album from Bend-based post-prog-rockers Empty Space Orchestra, who held their CD-release show Thursday night. You've probably heard enough about that one.
Other releases already out in the world this year include hip-hop entrepreneur Jay Tablet's “Put It on the Tab,” The Bobby Lindstrom Band's classic-rockin' “Bring It On,” Tim Coffey's elegant “Strings Unbound” and “The Risk of Tragedy,” the first release from young Prineville alt-rockers ER.
Plus, Laura Curtis — whose “Loving A Ghost” album is excellent — may live in Salem these days, but she cut her teeth in Sisters High School's Americana Project program, so I'm going to claim her.
That brings us pretty close to the end of May. Not bad for a five-month stretch. But as mentioned, a bunch of local artists are gearing up for summer releases, starting next week with local folk-rocker Brian Hinderberger and his “Natasha's Fight” project, which he funded through Kickstarter.com to help raise money for his sister's battle against breast cancer.
Hinderberger will hold a release show for “Natasha's Fight” on June 4 at The Annex. More details on that in a couple of weeks, or hit up www.natashasfight.com.
Then, on June 10, adored local folk singer Erin Cole-Baker will celebrate her new album, “Big Sky,” with a show at The Oxford Hotel. (Psst ... I heard a rough mix of the title track and it's more of what we've come to expect from Cole-Baker: Gentle, fluttery, beautiful melodies that bounce around your head for days.)
And this just in: Mostly local pop-punk kingpins Tuck and Roll have just nailed down a June 26 CD-release show for their new EP, “Broken Radios.”
Beyond that, things get a tad less confirmed, but that won't stop us from hoping.
Among the soulful singer-songwriter types, Shireen Amini is out there raising funds to finish her upcoming album “Saving Grace,” and if you're inclined to help her out, you can find out how to do so at www.shireenamini.com. And it's been too long since we heard from Eric Tollefson, whose most recent album, “The Sum of Parts,” came out more than two years ago. Fortunately, he's working on the follow-up, but in a place and with people that can't be revealed quite yet. Patience!
I also got word just this week that both hip-hop-influenced soul singer Caitlin Cardier is readying a solo album, and one of Bend's most popular bands, Mosley Wotta, has started work on an album that will come out after a series of singles.
Finally, we have a trio of rootsy bands. First, Bend's popular Moon Mountain Ramblers are hard at work on their fifth album, with an eye toward a fall release.
Second, Boxcar Stringband has added a drummer (Tuck and Roll's Sean Garvin) to anchor its old-school rockabilly/blues sound, and is working on an album for release later this year.
And, of course, there's Larry and His Flask, whose first full-length album in their current punk-grass incarnation is in the can and set for release in June on the Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club record label. Unfortunately, the Flask isn't likely to get the album in time to throw a CD-release show here in Bend before they have to join the Warped Tour. But! But! For the first time ever, the band will play the Bend Roots Revival in September, shortly after they get home from a summer on the road. So there will be time for partying then. And you can bet a party will happen.
In the meantime, keep an eye on GO! Magazine. Whenever a local artist releases a recording, we like to give it some ink. So anytime you see those magic words — “CD-release show” — do your local scene a favor: Show up and support, because that's an accomplishment that takes lots of time, money and effort to achieve.
Last, but not least: If I've missed something, e-mail at the address below and let me know.