There has been a surge in chatter about climate change over the past few weeks, thanks in large part to the re-election of President Barack Obama and a couple of big (and very different) storms in the Northeastern United States.
Here on Central Oregon’s music scene, we have our own extreme climate event brewing in mid-December: a rare hot streak for pop-music fans in the middle of winter, highlighted by a just-announced show by hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg on Dec. 18 at Midtown Ballroom.
If you’ve lived here for long, you know that December, January and February tend to be pretty sparse as far as opportunities to see and hear live music go.
Certainly, there are the usual bar shows and the occasional big name at Midtown Ballroom or the Tower Theatre, plus an annual slate of Christmas concerts and New Year’s Eve parties. For the past couple years, Jazz at the Oxford has provided a handful of steamy evenings during our chilliest months, and the Sisters Folk Festival’s Winter Concert Series has come along to shake us from our post-holiday stupor.
But generally speaking, those three deep-freeze months are the local scene’s hibernation period.
This year isn’t much different, at least so far, except for an 11-day run in December that has come into focus over the past few weeks and will bring an array of pop options to Bend in a short period of time. Let’s take a look.
• It begins with a familiar face, Northwest-based singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, playing two shows in one night at the Tower Theatre on Dec. 7. Since they’re being billed as “very special" Christmas shows, I assume we’ll be hearing seasonal faves filtered through Carlile’s likeable style, which might actually be preferable for those who’ve seen her do her own stuff plenty of times during her many trips to Bend in recent years. You can definitely hear her band doing “Jingle Bells," can’t you?
• The next night brings the return of Central Oregon’s venerable Slipmat Science electronic-music crew, which has been throwing beats-and-bass-fueled dance parties in these parts for a decade. Slipmat put on its most impressive season yet last year, and it’ll continue that roll Dec. 8 at the Midtown Ballroom by bringing in Z-Trip, one of the best-known DJ/producer/mashup types on the planet. There are gonna be some sweaty kids freezing out on Greenwood Avenue after this one.
• On Dec. 13, the hot streak moves to The Horned Hand, where a roots-rock band called Current Swell will come to town. Now, a roots-rock band at The Horned Hand is definitely no rare occurrence, but this one — a five-piece from Victoria, B.C. — seems to be rising much faster than most. Current Swell has been touring the globe for years, but this’ll be its first official headline tour of the country, and let me be clear: This band’s super-accessible blend of roots music, reggae influence and catchy pop hooks has tremendous potential to catch on, and quickly. They sound like a grittier, creakier Mumford & Sons and thus, could be huge.
• An old West Coast hip-hop favorite will descend on the suddenly music-friendly Liquid Lounge on Dec. 14: Blackalcious, aka MC Gift of Gab and DJ/producer Chief Xcel. Blackalicious hasn’t released an album in nearly eight years, but they reissued their classic “Melodica" EP last summer and declared on their website: “Blackalicious is back." Nothing new since then, though.
• Finally, this winter hot streak was capped Tuesday with the Snoop Dogg announcement. As I said on my Frequency blog, you can quibble with some of Snoop’s artistic choices over the past 15 years or so, but he’s still the man behind one of the greatest rap albums ever (“Doggystyle"), he’s still a reliable hitmaker, and he can still bring it live, as evidenced by his strong performance at Coachella last spring.
Snoop is a big booking for Bend, and his show is a clear exclamation point on a welcome stretch of quality live pop music coming soon to our wintry burg.
It’ll be nice to have lots of good stuff to write about!