Author, journalist, and performer Walida Imarisha presents “Oregon’s Racial History and King’s Vision of Justice” at an event to commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If you missed a chance to experience something important on MLK Day proper, here’s a great opportunity to hear stirring words live from an amazing performer. Sponsored by the Corvallis King Legacy Advisory Board, this event is free, though a small canned food donation is greatly appreciated.
Polecat, Bombs Away Café, 2527 NW Monroe Ave. 9 p.m. Free
This Bellingham, WA band infuses their folksiness with enough energy to keep your feet stomping long after the show ends. Though the music calendar isn’t exactly short on roots music, this is one of the best and most exciting bands to come through town in January, and seeing them for free is just the gravy on top. Their most recent album, Fathoms, is a pleasure to behold.
Blues/bluegrass/rock duo Hillstomp are like a dirty country Black Keys. They’re from Portland, and not the backwoods of Tennessee, but they’re still pretty authentic sounding. And their show is simmering with energy under the surface that makes their simple, often just banjo and drum, songs sound big. Otis Heat are also from Portland and they’ve got a more funk-infused alt-pop blues sound. They’re also brimming with energy and really solid musicianship. This is quite a strong and refreshing pairing, and probably the best show of the week.
The Deep Woods Band, Calapooia Brewing Company, 140 Hill St. NE, Albany. 8 p.m. Free
This is some pretty unapologetically hippie stuff and Deep Woods has a charming attitude that can make even the most cynical jam-band hater (me) soften a bit. And they’re really pretty good, even if your goal isn’t an acid flashback. But seriously, some of their YouTube videos look like B-roll footage from Gimme Shelter.
The price should alert you to the quality of the show. Fruition is a band that plays a lot and they apparently really like playing Corvallis. This is a bunch of really energetic and folksy Portlandians who put on a strings showcase. Upright bass, guitars, mandolin, and more, and they’ve got great voices and slay the harmonies. Bombs has a stellar weekend going on here.
Corvallis Swing and Blues Weekend, Oddfellows Hall, 223 SW 2nd St. 7 p.m. $15; Majestic Theatre, 115 SW 2nd St. Midnight. $12
I won’t waste space with quips. This is the swing and blues dancesplosion you’ve been waiting for, all weekend long, but this Saturday is the gem. Doors open at Oddfellows Hall at 6:45 p.m. Then there’s swing lessons at 7 p.m., local stalwarts Gumbo playing at 8 p.m., blues band Kevin Selfe & the Tornadoes at 10 p.m., as well as swing DJs on the other side of the building, letting people dance until midnight. For $15. Then at midnight the doors open at the Majestic for the late night party with swing and blues DJs spinning for the dancing masses until 3 a.m. $12 at the door there. A weekend pass to events on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday runs $50.
Blues Jam!, Calapooia Brewing Company, 140 NE Hill St. 4 to 6 p.m. Free
I like to wile away a Sunday afternoon by showing up at a blues jam, knowing nothing of how to play or sing the blues, and then just sitting in like a jerk. But I promise I won’t do it this Sunday, so now may be a great time to check out this foot-stomping lil get together. They’ve actually done scientific studies linking the enjoyment of the blues with beer and dudes in their 50s. I’m kidding, obviously you can’t really enjoy anything when you’re over 50…
No More Blues, House of Ron & Karen Lee, Corvallis. 4 p.m. Suggested donation: $10 to $15
Alternatively, you can skip the blues jam and check out this Brazillian-inspired trio featuring keyboard, rhythm, vocals, and Laura Zaerr on harp. Sounds bananas, and this is a super limited engagement being put on at a private residence. Don’t show up all Axel Foley and crash the joint though, contact Ron and Karen Lee via phone or email to secure a reservation: firstname.lastname@example.org, (503)320-3575.
I can’t pretend I know much about traditional West African dance. I know an extraordinary amount about non-traditional West African dance though. I spent a summer learning how to do the robot with an incredible dancer from Burkina Faso. So I guess that’s all to say, I plan on making it to this long-running class at the Oddfellows soon. You just can’t show up to clubs and only do the robot… anymore.
Bryson Skaar, Imagine Coffee, 5460 SW Philomath Blvd. 7:30 p.m. Free
Bryson Skaar is a trooper. This guy shows up and hits the ivories for free at Imagine Coffee every week on the night basically nobody wants to show up to support local music. Even I have to miss it, because I’ll be over at Tradition West African dance class. But if you’re not going to shake it at the Oddfellows Hall you should give this guy a chance. Eventually there just won’t be any shows on Monday if we don’t help Bryson out. Plus jazz piano is just always a good week-starter.
The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Susan Hayward. Corvallis’ only free weekly screening series is on a serious legends bender right now. The last few weeks featured Corman, Hitchcock, and Fred Astaire. Now we get Ernest Hemingway and Gregory Peck together. This is based on one of the great writer’s most famous short stories, and features what at the time was eye-popping special effects in addition to a great. As always, this is a free screening hosted by Advocate contributor Ygal Kaufman and any donations you should choose to part with benefit the Darkside Cinema renovations.
Celtic Jam, Imagine Coffee, 5460 SW Philomath Blvd. 7 p.m. Free
Alright now Beantown transplants, don’t get too excited, this is not an evening of sitting around a fire and telling tales of Bob Cousy and John Havlicek. This is a real Celtic jam, which means Irish folk music is going to be bumping, and nobody will be talking about the 1987 NBA Finals. Imagine Coffee does an admirable job providing us with free sources of high quality music on nights when the other venues in town have seemingly phoned it in. Reward them by buying something while you’re there, and don’t make any House of Pain jokes while the music is going. I learned that last one the hard way…
Ben Blair plays an incredibly pleasant mix of country, rock, bluegrass, and other influences. He’s got a great voice, which is what makes his stripped-down sound really come together. I’d go see this guy for a few bucks, so him playing for free is legitimately a steal. This is the exact kind of music I like to hear in a bar. Take note, whiny singer-songwriters: it’s okay to be awesome.
Wednesday Acoustic Live Featuring Keltocalypse. Les Caves, 308 Sw 3rd St. 8 p.m.
Just in case you weren’t burned out on Irish music or Larry Bird references, Les Caves’ Wednesday Acoustic Live is featuring a terrific troupe of locals who call themselves Keltocalypse. They play a laid back Irish infused acoustic set that features lovely guitars anchoring a swarm of violins and sometimes other surprise instruments. They go perfectly with a fine import beer and hot pretzel, however they’re equally un-amused by House of Pain references, so regardless of your allegiance to the Emerald Isle, please do not “jump around.”
Stephen Paulus’ “To Be Certain of the Dawn” (2005) will be played by our local symphony, with help from the Heart of the Valley Children’s Festival Choir, Corvallis Repertory Singers, and OSU Chamber Choir. The oratorio features singing in Hebrew, German, and English, and is a beautiful composition. With metal-sounding pieces like “Veil of Tears,” it’s a complex work of music and a challenging concert for our local musicians.
Wild Hog in the Woods, Calapooia Brewing Company, 140 Hill St. NE, Albany. 7:30 p.m. Free
Just in case you’re not burnt-out on string bands playing Americana and folk, here’s one of the best local bands who deal in the hard stuff. This is that super-authentic roots music that makes you feel like you’re in an episode of Justified. I’ve always posited these guys would make an amazing and yet a little depressing wedding band. Getting to see them for free without any nuptials will have to tide you over. Y’all come back now, y’hear?