By Andy Valentine
The Cuthbert Amphitheater
It’s almost that time of year when our very own Cuthbert Amphitheater opens its gates for another summer-long concert series. As with every season at the Cuthbert, the 2011 summer series will be home to an eclectic mix of performances ranging from hip-hop to classic rock to country. For those that need a refresher, the Cuthbert Amphitheater is that glorious outdoor concert stage in Alton Baker Park, just up the road from Autzen. The Cuthbert’s location is especially great because it means that if you can’t make these shows, you can just come sit on the grass outside the amphitheater and be merry while the concerts take place. Here’s what to expect this season:
First up on the 2011 summer lineup is Ms. Lauryn Hill—the R&B-hip-hop vocalist, musician and producer that cut her teeth with the Fugees back in the mid-‘90s. Later in that same decade, however, Hill hit widespread international success with the release of her 1998 solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which features the single “Doo-Wop (That Thing).” Fans of smooth R&B mixed with incredible hip-hop flow will definitely have a great time at this show. Lauryn Hill is one of the greatest female rappers ever to live, don’t miss her.
Lauryn Hill plays on Friday, May 20th at 7pm; $55 rsvd., $35 GA.
To keep the hip-hop vibe flowing, the following weekend will see Tech N9ne and Andre Nickatina hit the stage for a high-energy rap show. Akin to last year’s Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube show, the Amphitheater will no doubt be filled with clouds of unidentified smoke and intoxicated people dressed in bling by the time this night is over. Tech N9ne’s rap style is odd; almost tribal in its use of chanting synchronized vocal patterns and double-time lyrical verses, and this creates a contrast to the style of Andre Nickatina, who maintains a cooler façade behind clever wordplay and drug glorification. For lovers of the genre, this should be a fun night.
Tech N9ne and Andre Nickatina play on Sunday, May 29th at 5pm; $38 adv., $41 door.
A mere three days later, the Cuthbert welcomes one of the finest and most well known bands of the late sixties and early seventies: The Moody Blues are an English classic rock band with more to offer than meets the eye. Coming from the same realm and dreamscape with their work as the likes of Yes, the Moody Blues create progressive, orchestral buildups and explosions of sound in a very unique way. This was their trend earlier on, though moving into the mid-seventies came a time for a poppy-come-mellow reflective sound not unlike some of the Beatles’ earlier work. Here, the song “Dear Diary” comes to mind. If you are a fan of classic rock that has somehow not yet had a chance to hear the Moody Blues, this is the show for you.
The Moody Blues play on Wednesday, June 1st at 7pm; $61 rsvd., $36 GA.
Kid Cudi will make an appearance this season as well. Hailing from Brooklyn, NYC, he’s got that New York flow and East Coast attitude, but remains far more stylized and hipster-oriented than much of today’s popular East Coast rap. Many will remember his single “Day ‘n’ Nite,” the track that ushered him into an explosion of fans and commercial success. If you like Kid Cudi, then you know his sound well and there is no doubt in my mind that this one’s going to sell out.
Kid Cudi plays on Wednesday, June 15th at 7pm; $42.50 adv., $48 door.
The day after that comes welcoming the definitive flute-rock sound that can only be made by Jethro Tull. This British band formed in 1967 and is known for progressive blues-rock that utilizes elements of folk and jazz (as characterized by the unique use of flute). The track “Aqualung” was recently inducted to a list of the greatest guitar solos of all time, and the group continues to enjoy success touring and jamming. Again, this is one of those bands that everyone should have heard by now, even if for nothing but the experience.
Jethro Tull play on Thursday, June 16th at 7pm; $55 rsvd., $35 GA.
July marks the beginning of the 2011 Cuthbert series’ second half, which will be kicked off by Widespread Panic, a progressive jam band out of Georgia that formed in the mid-‘80s. At times this may seem like an odd era for their sound to take root as it is very reminiscent of the jam bands of old—Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, etc.—but they’ve found a place in the annals of history with their incredible guitar playing and seemingly endless improvised jams. This is a talented bunch of oldies that will definitely throw down an entertaining show. Lovers of the jam; this is your chance to boogie.
Widespread Panic play on Wednesday, July 6th at 6pm; $41.50.
The summer swelter will be picking up heat at this point, and what better way to cool off than with some reggae fusion? Slightly Stoopid is a group of guys out of Ocean Beach, California that draw much of their influence from reggae-punk legends Sublime (who incidentally ended up signing Slightly Stoopid to their label). With mellow acoustic grooves, upbeat reggae tones and a mixture of blues, punk, rock and roots, Slightly Stoopid know how to put on a show. If you have children pleased be advised that there will be probably be an above-average number of intoxicated people at this show. If you don’t have kids: Party on, I guess.
Slightly Stoopid play on Sunday, July 24th at 6:30pm; $32.50 adv., $35 door.
Pink Floyd is one of the greatest bands ever to play on this earth, and while this may be a matter of opinion, it seems that at least one group of dudes agrees: The Floydian Slips are an excellent Floyd tribute band out of Portland. They generally play entire albums through—as was Pink Floyd’s style—and they’ve managed to capture a true sense of the differences between Floyd’s studio and live work—right down to the subtle differences in Animals and Dark side of the Moon. If, like me, you are too young and missed out completely on Pink Floyd’s touring days, this is probably one of the closest experiences you’ll get. Well worth the price.
The Floydian Slips play on Friday, July 29th at 7pm; $16.
Amos Lee will play some fifteen days later, bringing a calming sense of reflection to the Cuthbert with his folk-country crooning and delightful road-trip-esque sound. His most recent album features greats such as Lucinda Williams and Willie Nelson (who played the Cuthbert last year), and he’s been able to develop a unique style alongside these artists that stays true to country and folk traditions while straying into new realms of modernity.
His voice is silk and his style is smooth; this should be a relaxing one.
Amos Lee plays on Sunday, August 15th at 6:30pm; $40 rsvd., $27 GA.
Rounding off the season is a true American rock success story: 311 blend elements of everything from reggae to hip-hop into their style and eleven albums after their start in 1988, the word on the street is that they’ve still got it going on. Their sound is definitely nineties, but it’s not the cutesy ditty pop found throughout much of the decade. Joining them will be two founding members of the legendary Sublime—Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh—who have teamed up with guitarist Rome Ramirez to collaborate together and play a whole bunch of Sublime songs. This opening act may almost overshadow 311, but here’s hoping that the limelight won’t be entirely hogged.
311 and Sublime with Rome play on Thursday, August 25th at 6:30pm; $40 adv., $45 door.
This year’s Cuthbert season will be, as always, an epic assortment of bands. If you’re going to be in Eugene this summer, it’s definitely the place to be for live music.