Imagine if you could look through the surface of a garden and watch the botanical processes that eventually produce plants happening underground.
That's kind of what we're seeing on the Central Oregon music scene right now.
It seems like every year in mid-February and March, we see show announcements for May, June and beyond start to pop up here and there, and summer concert series lineups start to take shape.
It's always a nice, mid-winter reminder that, while area stages aren't exactly fallow right now — look at the pages elsewhere in this section for proof — even brighter times are ahead for local lovers of live music.
A handful of developments on the scene over the past few weeks are stoking my excitement for the coming months. Here's a roundup:
• Earlier this week, Bend's biggest music venue, Les Schwab Amphitheater, announced two shows in its 2013 season: classic rockers the Steve Miller Band on June 28 and Portland “little orchestra" Pink Martini on July 12. (Speaking of which, did everyone see Pink Martini's Thomas Lauderdale sitting next to Ted Nugent at the State of the Union speech Tuesday night? Weeeeird.)
I posted that news to Facebook and Twitter and saw a range of reactions, from excitement to yawns. To the former, I say: Yay! To the latter: More shows are coming, including at least one very cool and unexpected band that has never been to Bend. Be patient!
• Speaking of LSA, the crew over there has nailed down all but one show in its lineup of free (and hugely popular) Sunday-afternoon shows. It looks like this:
June 9 — Tremoloco (Mexican-American roots)
June 23 — Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside (throwback roots-pop)
June 30 — Marley's Ghost (traditional country)
July 14 — Tumbleweed Wanderers (Americana)
July 21 — Sassparilla (blues-punk)
July 28 — Tony Smiley (one-man loop-rock)
Aug. 4 — Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole (Cajun/zydeco)
Stay in touch with the amphitheater at www.bendconcerts.com.
• Late April is looking up at the Midtown complex of venues on Greenwood Avenue, where three shows in eight days should bring big crowds.
First up is the return of Bay Area global-tronic fusion band (and belly dance troupe) Beats Antique on April 20 for local DJ collective Slipmat Science's 11th birthday party. The group absolutely packed the Midtown about a year ago in one of the most stunning scenes I've seen in Bend. I expect this year will be no different.
After that comes two Random Presents shows: Yonder Mountain String Band on April 24 at Midtown Ballroom (which they always fill) and Aesop Rock on April 27 in the Domino Room. That one was rescheduled from January when the indie rapper injured his ribs.
• Meanwhile, over at Parallel 44 Presents, busy local promoter Gabe Johnson is doing work, as the kids say. He recently announced four new installments of his Volcanic Funk Parties series, all at Liquid Lounge: Monophonics and The Quick & Easy Boys on Feb. 23, Naive Melodies (a Talking Heads tribute) on March 1, Polyrhythmics on March 23 and The Pimps of Joytime (with Vokab Kompany) on March 28. More info is at www.p44p.biz.
(And while we're here, can we get some kudos for Liquid Lounge? After years of building a less than stellar reputation as a brawl-magnet meat market under the name Boondocks, the downtown bar is hosting lots of live music in its good-sized room. That's a great thing.)
• Finally, your ol' friend the Tower Theatre will host its own version of March Madness this year with a wildly varied lineup of entertainment next month. That lineup includes a women's conference, Ignite Bend, the annual trivia bee, a comedy show and a film festival, but we're here for the music, right?
Jazz guitarists Kevin Eubanks and Stanley Jordan will play March 3. African singing stars Ladysmith Black Mambazo return March 10. And big-time Cajun band BeauSoleil was just added to the Tower's calendar for March 17. That's called mixin' it up!
Besides all of the above, unique series like Jazz at the Oxford and the HarmonyHouse continue to roll along, while schedules for smaller places like Silver Moon Brewing, The Horned Hand, McMenamins Old St. Francis School in Bend and The Belfry in Sisters are getting longer as the days do, too.
Make hay while the sun shines, I think is the saying. Same goes for music.