live music

Bearcoon – A New Breed?

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Ask Andrea where they got their name and she’ll tell you she looked out her apartment window and saw a huge animal in a tree.  First she thought “bear”, then realized it was an enormous raccoon. Hence the name “Bearcoon”. Not a bad way to come up with a band name.

Musically this duo is new and exciting.  Solange’s vocals are full of emotion, making the listener pay attention from the first note. Surprising everyone with her guitar skills, you can’t take your eye off Andrea.

Being raised in Virginia, Andrea still has remnants of her upbringing in her slight accent. Speaking with her she exudes and excitement about music that is contagious.  Obviously playing guitar was in her blood and she plays the guitar with an expertise not often seen I hate to say this, but with a female player. You all know what I mean. It is important to her to make their original songs sound just right and the dedication to her craft is apparent.

photo by Dee Anderson
Andrea Walker and Solange Igoa ll Photo by Dee Anderson

After getting a degree in Music Therapy, Andrea worked at a state hospital as an intern. She then continued practicing for a few more years while playing her own music. The desire to make music of her own never decreased.

After moving to the west coast, Long Beach, Ca., and singing in open mics to keep up her skills she met Solange. Solange would play her guitar and sing at these same open mics.  They found each other and the chemistry could not be denied.

Solange came from a musical Basque/French family in Bakersfield, California.  Music is very important in the Basque community and having been surrounded by it she began singing as a small child.  She studied musical theater in collage and that is apparent in her dramatic singing style. Moving from her home in Bakersfield, she set up her new home in Long Beach.

The two have been together for four years.  Asked how they write their music and what inspires the songs, Andrea says it is related to how she is feeling.  Sad songs come from being sad, and vice versa.  That may sound simplistic, but that relates to having beautifully crafted songs that speak to everyone’s emotions.

Photo by Dee Anderson
Photo by Dee Anderson for EDN

Watching Bearcoon perform is a pleasure. Individually their voices are unique and very different from each other. Combined in harmony it adds another layer to their already enjoyable music.  “Would You Like to Walk With Me” settles in to a comfortable rhythm then changes building the volume and surprising the audience delighting them as well. Solange’s strong vocals and her ability to put her feelings into the lyrics is explosive. Mixed in with their original songs they sang ‘Rhiannon’ from Fleetwood Mac and ‘House of the Rising Sun’ both brilliantly arranged.

Photo by Dee Anderson for EDN
Photo by Dee Anderson for EDN

These two have been receiving accolades and awards for their song writing and performances.  Making the decision to give up day jobs and go on the road is a testament to their commitment to the music.  So far they have been traveling for the last eleven months.  The fact that they are still together after living in cramped quarters, traveling, performing for all that time says a lot about their relationship. When on stage their casual banter and easy relationship with their audience makes the people watching  feel as if they are good friends with these energetic performers.

Photo by Dee Anderson for EDN
Photo by Dee Anderson for EDN

If you have a chance to see Bearcoon, GO!  It is a great show with terrific women.

Their music is available at BEARCOONMUSIC.COM.  This tour is supporting their last album “El Guapo”.  Andrea and Solange are working on a new album and hope to complete it by the end of the year.

The Campbell Club rocks on after run-ins with police

If you know anything about the Campbell Club, it probably has to do with either its hippies or its parties — and if you know anything about its parties, it’s that they tend to get broken up. In recent years, the co-op has had two notable run-ins with the police — one in 2008 and another this February. The first resulted in four arrests. The second, prompted by a noise violation, resulted in 23. While the co-op began hosting parties again fairly quickly after the first bust, it is still in the process of recovering from the second.

The Campbell Club is probably the University of Oregon’s foremost venue for live music, organizing open mics on Tuesdays and booking small bands to play parties that end up much larger than those bands’ average draws. But since the raid, the co-op has taken extreme care in organizing its events.

“We weren’t even sure if we wanted to keep having open mics,” said Max Kelner, current resident of the Campbell Club. “But we decided to because we just wanted to keep music accessible to people. I think that’s one of the driving forces behind this place — I mean, how many places can you see live music for five bucks, all ages?”

Not many, at least not this close to campus. That’s why, according to Kelner, bands were still banging on the Campbell Club’s proverbial door long after the raid. He describes one band that came by on their way to California a few weeks prior. “They asked if we could play a show here and we said we couldn’t get it together, but they still got together and played a show for the house,” he said.

Though the co-op’s reputation may be intact among musicians, it has suffered among those less familiar with its environs.

“It was interesting to see what people really thought of us,” said Cruz Castillo, a former Campbell Club resident. “KVAL did a story on us and we’d look at the comments. Some people really supported us, but other people … ”

Comments on the video run the spectrum from, “Our sad little country has turned into a police state,” to, “I’m glad all those people got arrested and I wish that more did.” Some say the KVAL video portrays the co-op in a negative light, splicing the anchors’ commentary with shots of empty bottles and Solo cups lying outside the building.

“I think we became more mythical,” Castillo said. “When people walk by this place they kind of stare at it. I think the raid helped create this mystery, because nobody really knows what happened.”

Resident Taylor Hulburt insists the celebrations will continue, though likely less often. The co-op has even hosted small parties after the raid — low-key affairs featuring acoustic acts. Residents didn’t even make a flyer for the first one. “It was nice that we were confident enough to throw another party and not be too shaken up by the police,” Castillo said.

But will there be more parties like the one police busted in February?

“I hope not,” Castillo said.

Benefit for Kennedy Middle School Music Program

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Flyer Lizard | Build flyers online

Saturday, July 20th at Luckey’s Club: 933 Olive St. in Downtown Eugene.

This is the first show in The Exiled In Eugene Future Musicians Concert Series, a series of shows with proceeds going to the Kennedy Middle School’s Music Program.

“We believe that children (who play music) are the future!” – J. Isaac Finch.

Music by:
SHGORA
The Procrastinators
Black Delany

$3-7 Sliding Scale. Of course donations are gladly accepted!!

Wine Down Special: Memorial Weekend Events in South Willamette and Umpqua Valleys

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Wine Down Eugene – Special Memorial Weekend Issue May 22-28

Delfino_Vineyards with flag
Delfino Vineyards tasting room | photo: wineries.findthebest.com

As I write this, wineries throughout the South Willamette Valley and Umpqua Valley are preparing for the biggest weekend of the year.  Memorial Weekend open houses at the wineries signifies the official kick-off to summer.  While some wineries re-open after being closed for the winter, others simply extend their hours and days of operation.  Many will be featuring tastings of their newly released wines, library wines; as well as, offering special pricing, food, live entertainment and even children’s activities.

This year, since we are so close in proximity to our neighboring Umpqua Valley wineries, I’ve decided to highlight their Memorial Weekend events in addition to highlighting the events happening at the South Willamette wineries.

Down in the Umpqua Valley, Delfino Vineyards will be featuring a wine tasting social hour just before Portland’s New Iberian Blues and Zydeco Band will take the stage for a live concert on the Delfino’s beautiful estate property.  North of Delfino, at stunningly gorgeous Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards, another concert will be taking place with a ’50s – ’60s rock and roll band named Flashback. ’50s style sliders will be paired with the newly released limited edition 2011 Grenache. The amphitheater at Reustle Prayer Rock is one-of-a-kind with views that are truly unmatched.  Not too far from Reustle Prayer Rock is Henry Estate Winery, where the entire family is welcome to join in on the festivities. In addition to wine tasting and live music, they will have a bouncy house, miniature golf and a petting zoo.  At umpqua’s Melrose Vineyards, a converted 100 year old barn with rustic yet refined beauty houses the tasting room and shop with loads of wine related products.  Along with live music and a BBQ, Melrose is celebrating their 11th anniversary. The view of the vineyards and rolling hills beyond is absolutely breathtaking from the porch off the back of the tasting room.

Reustel prayer rock piano amphitheater
The amphitheater at Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards | photo: reustlevineyards.com

In the south willamette Valley, Winemaker Jonathan Oberlander of J.Scott Cellars will be opening the door to his tasting room located in west Eugene inside an urban-warehouse-style tasting room. Jonathan will be offering samples of his entire line-up of wines.  Special guest winemaker Mark Nicholl of William Rose Wines will be joining Jonathan on Saturday and pouring his current releases, as well.  Gourmet food truck Gastro Nomad will be parked outside of the winery preparing tasty treats that will be available for purchase for wine-goers.  Head a little west of the J. Scott tasting room, to Veneta’s Domaine Meriwether, and all weekend long the Meriwether wines will be available for tasting; in addition to, wines from a featured guest winemaker each day: Ray Walsh of Capitello on Saturday, Mark Nicholl of William Rose Wines on Sunday and Jeff Kandarian of Kandarian Wine Cellars on Monday.  There will be live music and BBQ foods available for purchase, and the best part about Saturday is that Ray Walsh will be releasing his unique Straw Wine, the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.  I’ve been following Ray’s making of this wine since I first spotted the drying grapes on straw mats inside Domaine Meriwether last October, and I’m looking forward to trying my first-ever straw wine.

Melrose Vineyards barn tasting room
Melrose Vineyards converted barn tasting room | photo: Melrose Facebook page

If you never made it to the Eugene Wine Cellars tasting room located in the Whiteaker Neighborhood (across the street from Wandering Goat), this is your chance to check it out after they closed their tasting room to the public six years ago.  This location has mainly been used for distributing their wines from the winery that’s connected to the tasting room.  This weekend, Eugene Wine Cellars will welcome wine enthusiasts back inside their Whitekaer tasting room to sample the line-up of their B2 wines, and they will continue to welcome guests Wednesday through Saturday from 4 pm to 8 pm and by appointment through the summer.  Another urban winery that’s not too far from Eugene Wine Cellars is Territorial Vineyards and Wine Company, and they’ll be offering case discounts along with live music Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Memorial Weekend events at the wineries abound, so check the side bar listing of featured events for everything that is happening in both the South Willamette and Umpqua Valleys.

Remember to take a moment and raise a glass to those who have fallen in battle fulfilling their obligation to this great country in which we live. The freedoms that we enjoy everyday are protected and ensured by men and women who have put their lives on the line to protect our country and what it stands for.  Once I’m out swirling, sipping, and savoring all that our stellar local wineries have to offer, I’ll be sure to raise a glass to our American heroes.

 

 

Devil Makes Three set for McDonald Theatre

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By Susan Latiolait for Eugene Daily News

On Nov. 11 the eclectic trio, The Devil Makes Three, will bring a little bit of country, a little bit of punk, a little bit folk, and a lot of blues to The McDonald Theatre in Eugene. Their fifth album “Stomp and Smash,” released in Oct. 2011,  brings a new level of eccentricity to the band’s already unique “drum-less” sound. Recorded over two nights at the Mystic Theater in Petaluma, this live-recorded album features fiddler Andy Lentz, two new songs, cover songs, and old fan favorites.

As a self-described “rhythm based” trio, The Devil Makes Three creates a wide-range of acoustic music that captures the essence of multiple genres. Consisting of guitarist and front man Pete Bernhard, bassist Lucia Turino, and guitarist Cooper McBean, the band combines their  individual influences such as McBean’s folk favorites John Hurts, Doc Watson and The Reverend Gary Davis, with Berhard’s inspirations of Lightnin’ Hopkins and Tom Waits to create their inimitable blues sound with multiple twists.

Bernhard and McBean first bonded in the eighth grade over their similar music styles while growing up in their hometown in Vermont. Ten years later, Berhard and McBean moved to Santa Cruz after high school to begin their music careers and were soon united with U.C. Santa Cruz student and other Vermont native Turino. Although Turino lacked bass skills, her spiritual personality and passion made a perfect fit for The Devil Makes Three’s simple, finger picking, rhythmic sound.

Devil Makes Three
Devil Makes Three is set to perform at McDonald Theatre this weekend for a performance that will surely impress. Photo courtesy of Devil Makes Three/Brian Parcells

This style is epitomized in songs such as “Old Number Seven,” one of the trio’s most popular hits and re-released on their new live album is a tribute Jack Daniels Whiskey, in which their lyrics states, “Thank you Jack Daniels, old number seven, Tennessee whiskey got me drinking in heaven.” This song illustrates how their mixture of bluesy genres meshes with the band’s “rock out” style of their live shows.

“Stomp and Smash” can be viewed as an album that perfectly reflects their live concerts; a rocking, beat down, acoustic dance concert; a unique feat for a blues bands. But in reality, the name was derived from a misquoting from Frank Zappa that Turino’s father used to say to her as a child. Nevertheless, this album name exemplifies the band’s live persona of a bluesy, country, folky trio, with rock edge.

Jonny Fritz , formerly known as “Corndawg” will join The Devil Makes Three at the McDonald Theatre on Nov. 11. As a country singer-songwriter, Fritz has played in every U.S. state as well as Argentina, Australia, Canada, India, and multiple European countries. First touring around the U.S. on his motorcycle in 2001, Fritz now travels in a retired UPS van with his band, the In-Laws, around the country. His hits such as “Shaved Like a Razor” and “Chevy Beretta” of his latest album “Down on the Bikini Line,” released in Aug. 2011, combine quirky lyrics with a genuine country acoustic sound.

With their unique personal and musical styles Jonny Fritz and The Devil Makes Three will undoubtedly compliment each other as well as the eccentric music loving Eugene community for an unforgettable live performance.

Rare Monk

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Rare Monk

Indie Alt Rock Fusion

Rick Buhr – Drums
Forest Gallien – Bass
Dorian Aites – Vocals, guitar, keyboards
Issac Thelin – Violin, tenor sax
Jake Martin – Guitar

The crew of Rare Monk getting set for a gig. Photo courtesy of Rare Monk.

Fresh off their latest EP Death By Proxy, Rare Monk has been showcasing their talents all along the West Coast as they get prepared to launch their next full album, their first since Astral Travel Battles.

Though many classify this band in the Indie category, Rare Monk is also very experimental with their sound. At times resembling the sounds of Modest Mouse, Rare Monk experiments with the fusion of Indie with other genres such as alternative and rock. Composed of five members, this band from Eugene, Oregon uses a variety of instruments (including the violin and saxophone) to create a unique sound that keeps their audience wanting more.

 

An Evening at the Cuthbert: Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers

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By Sandy Harris for Eugene Daily News

This last Wednesday, Grammy-award winning comedian Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers performed a sold-out concert at Eugene’s Cuthbert Amphitheater. When Martin led the group on stage, the crowd went wild. Martin made sure to point out the white color of his pants, as contrasted with the other performers’ suits and ties. They are a sophisticated and handsome group of men.

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers performing on July 25, 2012.

The Steep Canyon Rangers are a bluegrass band from North Carolina. Voted bluegrass entertainers of the year, they have played on the lawn of the White House for the President of the United States. Even if you never heard bluegrass music before, this concert had the power to turn anyone into an ardent fan.

Martin introduced each member of the band, leading with comedic flairs. He introduced Charles R. Humphrey lll on Bass, which, according to Martin, is nice to have on tour as “it doubles as a refrigerator.” Next were Graham Sharp on banjo, Woody Platt on guitar, Nicky Sanders on fiddle (an instrument he has played since he was five years old), and then Michael Guggino on the mandolin.

After a few songs, Martin took a short break. As he left the stage, Humphrey opened up a secret compartment on the front of the bass and handed him a beer. The crowd loved it.

“I Can’t Sit Down,” a beautiful song about Heaven, moved the crowd to major applause. The quartet of banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin came together in perfect harmony and the singing was incredible. After this performance, Martin came back on stage and they all sang “Atheists Have No Songs” — a fun song, full of comedy.

The house was packed with barely any room to stand. At 7 pm, when the concert was scheduled to start, it was 91 degrees. Attendees did whatever they could to stay cool in the summer heat. As the sun beat down on them, Martin humorously asked the audience who had the best sunburn.

Steve Martin provided a great combination of comedy and music.

The Rangers left the stage as Martin played “The Great Remember,” a song he wrote and performed in honor of his deceased friend Nancy. Platt, the guitar player, talked about how playing music makes him feel. He said,

“It feels good for a lot of reasons. It’s really fun to have that kind of team work. There are distinctive rolls for each member. There’s a joy when it all comes together and a kind of pride carrying on a tradition. You feel great when you entertain an audience, bringing music to people that they can genuinely enjoy [and] knowing it enriches lives.

As the band finished the evening, they received a standing ovation from the crowd. It felt like a privilege to be a part of the experience. The warmth of the staff and volunteers at the Cuthbert added to the entire experience as well. They were helpful, kind and knowledgeable. Despite the heat, they always had smiles on their faces.

I went to the concert with the intention of finding a good story. After hearing Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers play and entertain the audience, all while braving the summer heat, what I found was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and joy.

And I found a story, too — a story of musicians bringing together their phenomenal talents and becoming one amazing act.

Blackberry Jam Festival: Making Charity Fun for the Family

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The Blackberry Jam Festival takes place this weekend, July 27-29, at Rolling Rock Park in downtown Lowell.

For the last 17 years, the city of Lowell, Oregon has held the annual Blackberry Jam Festival. The weekend-long event features an array of events and activities — music, crafts, a car show, and a fishing derby, just to name a few. That is not to even mention the popular pie-making and pie-eating contests that feature — not surprisingly — blackberries.

Organized entirely by volunteers, the Blackberry Jam is run by a committee of fourteen core members and then receives assistance from many more volunteers during the actual three days of the event. As the festival takes place at a city park, it operates under the auspices of the City of Lowell.

Maureen Weathers, the Secretary-Treasurer of the Blackberry Jam Festival, says that the event originated with a desire to improve the lake habitat in the city of Lowell. Weathers says,

“The idea of the festival was originally to promote Lowell and to encourage the Fish and Game Department to stock the lake. We thought that, by holding a fishing derby every year, we could help remove the trash fish from the lake.”

Another key inspiration involves the “blackberry” part of the festival’s name. Weathers says,

Organized entirely by volunteers, the Blackberry Jam operates under the auspices of the City of Lowell.

“The jam portion, of course, refers to music. The blackberry part came from turning a negative into a positive. For a lot of people in this area, blackberries are a nuisance vegetation. So we decided to make something good out of this nuisance. So we have a pie-baking contest and pie-eating contest—blackberries being the focus.”

And the festival did not just stop with turning a nuisance vegetation into delicious pies. They took that love for pies and transformed the actual area.

“The park where the festival is held—it was a weedy field overrun by blackberry bushes before the festival existed. We turned it into a beautiful park.”

Now in its 18th year, the Blackberry Jam has grown substantially. Over the years they have added live music, car and quilt shows, a parade—and this year, for the first time, the Lowell Volunteer Firefighters Association is bringing an annual “5 Alarm 5K” to the Blackberry Jam.

Weathers is very excited about this newest addition. She explains that,

“Our fire department is a volunteer organization. So their mission with this race is to use the proceeds to benefit both the Lowell Fire Department as well as the National Fallen Firefighter’s Association.”

The festival prides itself on having free admission and being a wholesome environment in which families can relax and enjoy themselves—and all for good charitable causes. Most of the events have their own targeted charities.

Now in its 18th year, the Blackberry Jam has grown substantially. Over the years they have added live music, car and quilt shows, a parade—and this year, for the first time, the Lowell Volunteer Firefighters Association, is bringing an annual “5 Alarm 5K” to the Blackberry Jam.

Weathers believes everyone should attend—it is fun, free to the public to enter, and helps all sorts of people.

So many people drive down the 58 and say they didn’t even know Lowell was there. This event brings community awareness, fun for both the community and visitors, and gives us pride in being residents of Lowell. We’ve made so many important contributions—we’ve improved the lake habitats, we’ve built a park, we’ve built a huge stage—there are so many physical improvements to the area. That’s not to even mention the charitable causes. And in a little town, raising even 500 bucks goes a long way.”

And, of course, Weathers adds,

“The kids just have a good time. And parents love that.”

The Blackberry Jam Festival takes place this weekend, July 27-29, at Rolling Rock Park in downtown Lowell. It is free and everyone is invited. For more information about the event, visit the festival’s website at http://www.blackberryjamfestival.com/.

Friday Night on the Town

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Night on the Town – FRIDAY

After spending most of this day in the Gorge at Bonneville Hot Springs, soaking in a very hot mineral bath, I do believe I’m ready to get myself together for an evening in Eugene to hear some amazing music.  This time of the year, with the leaves turning is such a stunning sight!

Since it’s the last Friday of September, what better way to start tonight off than at the Wandering Goat for the Last Friday Art Walk.  The art of Jeff Mason goes on display tonight as he’s the new house artist for October. The evening kicks off around 6pm.  Why would I not stop by to enjoy the free snacks and wine? Seriously?

Blue Lotus Photo Courtesy TheClubCircuit
Blue Lotus photo courtesy The Club Circuit

Then we’re heading over to Ninkasi Brewery Tasting Room to hear the band, Blue Lotus. Relatively new to the music scene this group has some amazing songs with memorable vocal by Brandelyn Rose. I’m looking forward to hearing them perform one of my new favorite songs, The Train. That song has some good rhythms and really makes me want to shake my groove thang.  My colleague Laurel Hayles absolutely loves this band. In her review of the band, Laurel says, “first, you have to know that Brandelyn reminds me of Janis Joplin in looks and sounds completely like Chrissie Hynde from the Pretenders. Put that together with music that sounds like the Dead, and you have a party wherever they are playing. Couple that with Felix Blades, a 15-year phenomenon on lead guitar, and that just starts the outline of the picture of this group.” This sounds like a lot fun!

Stephanie Schneiderman photo courtesy of Stephanie Schneiderman

Next we’ll head over to Cozmic Pizza to hear my Portland friend Stephanie Schneiderman with Laura Kemp. Stephanie is quite an accomplished woman actually. The Talent Buyer for the House of Blues, Adam Zacks, says “her honest, earthy presence and rich, serene vocals separate Stephanie from the hordes of “girls with guitars.” She’s completed six solo albums, has two collaborative albums completed, three music production credits, many film and stage roles as well as a wildly successful concert series to benefit refugees in Uganda since 1999.  She certainly knows how to keep herself busy and amazingly productive!  I’m quite certain, tonight will be an amazing show!

With the rumors floating around that rain is on the way, head out and enjoy the dry roads, and the perfect temperatures for that coat you’ve not worn in months.  I’ll be the one wearing knee-length boots with the bright red mini and matching lipstick.

I will see you out there!
–Nancy Glass, EDN

Original Music

FREE: Black Forest VX-36, Dead Horizon, Explode-a-thon, Cold Blood Ceremony—10; Metal
FREE: Downtown Lounge 12 Dirty Bullets—10
FREE: The Loft Jim Liberato—8; Acoustic
FREE: Ninkasi Brewing Tasting Room: Blue Lotus 7pm
FREE: Wandering Goat: Jeff Mason art opening 6pm
$5.00 Axe & Fiddle Howlin’ Houndog—8:30; Blues, Honky tonk
$8.00 Cozmic Pizza Stephanie Schneiderman, Laura Kemp—8:30; Americana
$6.00 Luckey’s Jamalia, Mar Retrieval Unit—10; Jam, funk
$3.00 Maize Lounge World’s Finest—11
$10.00 Sam Bond’s Hillstomp, McDougal—9:30; Country, blues
$5.00 Whiskey River Ranch Hookah Stew—9; Rock, soul, punk
$15.00 WOW Hall Crossfade, Emphatic, Adakain—8; Rock

Cover & Tribute Bands

FREE: Good Fellas: No Way Out 10pm
FREE: Happy Hours Blazin’ Eddie—8:30; Rock
FREE: Mulligan’s The Devil Apes, Milepost—9:30
FREE: Quackers Rock ‘n’ Roll Jam—9
FREE: Village Green Satellite Jack—9; Rock

Blues, Jazz & Country

Free: Eugene Hilton Aftermath—7; Jazz
Free: West End Tavern Piano Bar w/Rhianna—8
Free: Pizza Research Institute Olem Alves Duo—6:30; Jazz, blues
$3.00 Creswell Coffee & Wine NattyBone—7; Delta blues
$5.00 Granary Marty Chilla & Friends—10
$5.00 Jazz Station Chord Four Quartet—8; Jazz
$5.00 Mac’s Kelly Thibodeaux & The Etouffee Band—9; Swamp rock

Dance, DJ, HipHop, Other

FREE: Embers Retro—9
FREE: Rogue Public House Trivia Night—8
FREE: Two Friends Pub Flashback Friday—9

This weeks listings provided with the help of the eugene weekly

Coming Home to Mac’s at the Vet’s Club

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Scott Zeppa, EDN

“You can’t go home again,” is a cliche that is readily applicable in a number of contexts.  It can be particularly salient in the world of bars, clubs, and restaurants.  Today’s hot spot may become tomorrow’s cold sink, and the epicurean delights served on one enchanted evening may be replaced by barely acceptable fare the next.  There are also a number of bars, restaurants, and live music venues in the Eugene and the ‘Tuck that I used to frequent in a previous life before that life had to change in a number of ways.  I have begun the process of establishing my new relationship with the “scene.”  But it’s been over two years since I’ve visited many formerly favored local venues.  For a bar, club, or restaurant, that can be a lifetime with respect to the atmosphere, amenity, and quality of product, be it food, beverage, or entertainment.

It was in the frame of mind above that I read of the theft at Mac’s at the Vet’s Club at the end of July.  Mac’s!  That’s right, they had all those autographed guitars, what a shame!  I thought to myself.  They had a killer french dip, too.  Maybe I should go back and check it out, see if it still rates.  I decided on Tuesday evening, a quieter time, perfectly apt for sandwich investigation.

I arrived at @ 7:45 pm on a brilliant summer evening, and was pleased to find the place bike friendly and making ample use of the Veteran’s Hall porch space.  The Veterans Hall is one of those stately, colonial, plantation-lite looking public halls, with the interior of Mac’s occupying about half of the ground floor.  The interior was as I remembered, intimate feel, great bar, and a musical theme with an assortment of autographed guitars and other instruments adorning the walls.

All the other patrons were out on the porch, so I sat at the bar.  I was promptly greeted, served my soda, and given a menu.  For starters, Mac’s offers the typical (quesadillas, chicken strips) to the more bold and unique (oysters, bacon wrapped apricots).  They also offer a standard array of salads, sandwiches, wraps, and burgers, many with a signature touch.  Full entrees offer select preparations of chicken, ribeye steak, salmon, and oysters.  Fish & Chips are also available, as well as Memphis Slim’s Mac & Cheese described by a few patrons as, “the ultimate.”  I find the menu prices to be reasonable, but some poor college students may disagree.  But I already had my target in mind, the french dip, now known at Mac’s as the Prime Rib Dip.

For red meat lovers, the french dip is the dream of sandwiches.  Roast beef stacked between french bread with maybe onions, maybe swiss cheese, maybe horseradish depending on taste, and au jus.  Au jus, that lovely fatty juice of the roast cookin’s!  There simply is nothing like the melt in your mouth beefy, bready goodness of a french dip, period.My sandwich was crafted and delivered promptly with a side of potato wedges and garnish.”

The quantity of meat was substantial and the quality was excellent.  The bread was soft, yet held up under dipping conditions.  This puppy had the dip works, swiss cheese, caramelized onions, and horseradish on the side.  The caramelized onions really enhanced this already satisfying sandwich, and the cheese was well melted and evenly distributed.  The au jus was a little thin in my view, but certainly legitimate and very flavorful.  The potato wedges really exceeded my expectations, too.  Seasoned, but not overly so, and just the right density!  They dipped well.  This large sandwich, side, and soda ran $14.  Completely worth it in my view, but not an everyday thing for the budget conscious.

After I made sure I wasn’t going to have to pan the food, I talked briefly with a few employees and regulars about what’s going on at Mac’s and how people feel since the burglary.  They are open Tuesdays through Saturdays at 4pm, with minors allowed on premises until 9.  Tuesdays are $2 Tuesdays (wells), Wednedays feature jazz and free wine tasting, and Thursdays through Saturdays Mac’s touts itself as Eugene’s “Home of the Blues” showcasing live entertainment.

Sara, a bartender/server who started right about the time of the burglary is a fan of the Wednesday wine tasting and recommends the whiskey cured prime rib. If it’s the same prime rib used on my sandwich, I can’t doubt her there.  She said beverage specials are constantly evolving, and Mac’s offers a full array of house specialties, including the Mac’s Fizz.  The secret apparently is emergen-C, but I don’t investigate such things anymore.

Long time (15+ yrs) patron self-identified as Madjim is more specifically a fan of $2 Tuesdays and the overall ambiance of the club.  While Dylan Ficker, a chef at Mac’s for over 2 years, recommends Mac’s version of chicken piccatta and is a fan of the live entertainment and activity of Friday and Saturday nights.  They all agree, however, that they are not going to let actions of the recent past, curb their enthusiasm for the future of the club.

“Things happen,” says Sara, “I’m maintaining a positive attitude and moving on.”  Her sentiment is shared by all present.

Based on this experience, I have to think that maybe sometimes you can go home again, once in a while.  I look forward to returning again on a Friday or Saturday night.