Archive for February 2011

Jazz, Up from the Underground

B DarwishIn a town like Portland, blessedly overflowing with indie rock bands, sometimes jazz gets overlooked. Portland actually has quite a strong jazz scene, and, as befitting our unconventional little burg, that scene is home to a creative substratum that likes to push the boundaries of the genre.

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Why the Wiyos?


photoWe told you that all our McMenamins Music Tours were about to kick it into high gear, and we weren’t kidding. Tonight, the Wiyos kick off their Small Batch Tour (which will hit three properties in two days!) at the Kennedy School.

There’s old-school, and there’s way old-school, and the Wiyos definitely fit the latter. This crew of modern Tin Pan Alley crooners seems to hail from an era when newsboys crowed from street corners and a fedora topped every head. These anachronists somehow manage to infuse their songbook -clearly taken from the popular music of the 1920s and ’30s, with an almost imperceptible modern-ness. The result is both a nostalgic look at the past and an eye on the future.  


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Y La Bamba Kicks Off this Week

photoI challenge anyone to really describe Y La Bamba (currently on the Great Northwest Music Tour) accurately. This band is so original, so genre-bending, so strange (in a good way), they defy the usual modus operandi of lazy music writers everywhere: comparison. Comparing this Portland group to any other band is simply impossible.

So we’ll have to do the best we can, with snippets of aural imagery and forays into the band’s personality. So let’s try: Moody, melodic, multi-cultural post-folk (that is, folk with a bit of a backbeat -which in this case feels like a melancholy heartbeat) centered on singer Luzelena Mendoza’s swirl of a voice. No, “swirl” is too weak of a word. It’s strong and feminine, like a Frida Kahlo painting, this voice. No, not like a painting — like Frida herself. 

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We’re Kicking Our Tours Into High Gear


photoSpring is, if not exactly around the corner, at least within a few flips of the calendar page. What does that mean for us? Well now’s the time of year we really ratchet up our McMenamins Music Tours. But you may be wondering: WHAT ARE THESE MCMENAMINS TOURS, ANYWAY?

Well, we’ll tell ya:



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Our Faves the Avetts, at the Grammys!


photoWe here at McMenamins music have a special affection for the Avett Brothers. After all, we have quite a history with these fellas: They’ve traveled our properties as a Great Northwest Music Tour headliner, played four Crystal Ballroom shows, and absolutely tore it UP at last summer’s Edgefield Concerts on the Lawn (side note: Avett fans are very good tippers. Thanks, y’all!).

So we couldn’t be more pleased to spread the word that our favorite heartfelt stomp-rock-country-roots band will be playing at the Grammys this year! The Avetts will be sharing the stage with Bob Dylan, no less (another Edgefield Concert star from last summer, by the way) and Mumford and Sons, who of course took over the airwaves this past year.

Click through and see some awesome exclusive pics!

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A Call from the Past

ThumbOur McMenamins artists having been painting new historically based panels for the Crystal Hotel (opening in May 2011) for months now. Below, artist Lyle Hehn gives a slightly mysterious explanation of one of his latest pieces…

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Opera TOGOThe word “opera” doesn’t usually conjure up the words “light-hearted comedy,” “kids fare” or even “fun.” The art form, succumbing to the slow change in taste over the centuries, is nowadays often seen as a stodgy old art form, reserved for stodgy old people, to be performed in ornate (but still stodgy!) old opera houses.

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