Sunday, June 21, 2009

Greg Laswell: 2nd Time Around

The previous blurb review of a Greg Laswell performance posted by our sister site, more than adequately defines what it is to see Greg Laswell live. Listening to his music is sufficient in leading the listener into the heart of a Laswell show, and most words that can be rendered by a writer are left grasping to lead a reader into the presence of such an experience. This was true after the quieted set delivered by Greg and his guitar player, Brandon at Portland's Doug Fir Lounge in February and in most ways, continues to be true when attempting to paint a picture of Greg's performance at Eugene's Wow Hall this past weekend. Though this time, it was a bit different.

A full band accompanied Greg and Brandon, transforming his songs from subtly sinking, into hard hitting expressions of emotion. Not able to label one show better than the other... only the word 'different' can be used, and only in its strongest sense. Allowing for moments of the earlier performance's grace by dropping in a few songs played solo by Greg, this Wow Hall set featured drums and bass guitar on many of the songs that made each one more of a journey than in the previous show, culminating in a fantastically varied version of Greg's friendship song 'Comes And Goes (In Waves)'. Beginning the song very much like the Doug Fir performance with only Greg and Brandon; this song transitioned into an anthem by the end, with help from some of the most powerful vocals ever delivered by Greg.

As with his Doug Fir show, Greg continued to connect with the audience through his song descriptions and smartly positioned witticisms. He seemed to feed off the listeners' reactions to his heart filled music. Much evidence derived from the night indicates that Greg seems to show up for life with a great ability to simplify what the masses would complicate. His story telling sums up turmoil in wonderfully impactful lines like "I like how the day sounds through this new song" or " I searched high and low for you and I". His lullaby love song, "Sweet Dream" does so, not with just a singular line, but with everything the song became during Greg's abbreviated writing of the song.

Seven of Greg's songs are featured along with this article and should not be looked upon as a 'best of', but rather a lure into his library which promises to connect with you in one fashion or another. Treat yourself to the exploration.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

RTL Gets A Stamp!

The word "Approved" is stamped all over this talent from Bend, Oregon! It is one of the rarest labels given to artists and bands from Central Oregon by this site. In fact, in this site's opinion, only the smallest handful have qualified for it so far... but Reed Thomas Lawrence was the first.

Finding wisdom for music design through collaboration with other great talents, RTL has blossomed into a great story telling lyricist. Fun and upbeat tracks? Yes. But puff pieces? No. Even early on, Reed was writing songs that traced emotions through events very effectively. This talent only gained strength through the years and took it's most defined shape with last year's release of Reed's self titled LP. Supported by great videos by Rage Films, Reed is launching himself into success and maintaining a childlike exuberance that makes watching him climb through the ranks of artistry so enjoyable.

Reed's first ventures into a recording studio in 2005 produced some great pop songs with an almost jazz feel to them (and if you were lucky enough to have some of this early unreleased music you knew it was the beginning of something special). Since then, RTL has incorporated a fantastic reggae sound into the music that frames his words. The track "Music" even contains elements of that great mid 90's SKA sound and all but demands that you start to move to the beat. His lyrics are accessible and flowing, lacking nothing and are the perfect compliment to the music.

Recently added to the line-up for the gigantic music festival in Rothbury, Michigan in July, RTL will be previewing his outdoor set here in Bend on Sunday June 14th at the Les Schwab Amphitheatre as part of the free summer concert series. This is a must see show for all Central Oregon music lovers and a chance to see Bend's fastest rising star perform for all the people that have helped him achieve so much. PHOTO BY BEN MOON