You're an artist and whatever art you make, you make it with all your heart. You drum up little commercial interest for your work, but you keep at it, doing what you do. Years pass, and you meet many other artists in the same genre. You share work with them, and they share work with you. Life's good, but it's not easy.
Then one day, after many years of getting up in the morning and practicing your art, a good friend invites you out for the evening. You accept and the two of you end up at a wooden door. When you open the door, all your friends of many years are behind it, smiling, laughing and yelling surprise. For the last 12 months they've been meeting in secrecy, pooling their artistic talents together into a single work: a gift for you and all you've given over the years.
You're Peter Wilde, a local folk music hero.
Dozens of musicians and bands have recently bestowed Wilde with Hold Me Up to the Light, a newly recorded double CD set featuring 29 covers of Wilde's songs, from his politically rambunctious "Save Your Seeds," done by Mike West, to "Hold Me Up to the Light," played by the Sugar Beets. It chronicles the scope of Wilde's contributions to the annals of American folk music.
When you think of the amount of talent poured into the almost 30 tracks, each track by a different artist, Hold Me Up to the Light becomes bewildering and impressive, especially considering that through 12 months of recording, Wilde never got wind of the project. It wasn't until this March when he opened the door to Eugene's Studio Apocalypse that Wilde came face to face with a roomfull of love and labor pointed in his direction. Represented musically from all corners of the nation, slipped into 500 CD cases, tastefully done and ready for distribution, a country of folk musicians had made a stand for Wilde.
"What the fuck is going on?" he said, and they showed him the CD.
Talent from both coasts contributed, such as phenomenal east coast artists Tom Burris & Jabbering Trout, who open disc one with a howling rendition of Wilde's "Blue Buddha." The more local folk activists Chris Chandler and Anne Feeney play "Sourmouth Sprout," and Eugene favorite Laura Kemp adds the flow of her river-like voice in "Off to Montana."
The ringleader of the sonic subterfuge was Adam East of Portland musical group Adam + Kris. "I met Pete 10 years ago at Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas," says East, who produced Hold Me Up to the Light and contacted all the participating artists. "Traveling troubadours go there each year," he says. "Almost everyone who attends is a singer/songwriter. Shows run until midnight and everyone sits around campfires all night sharing songs. Pete had a baby last November and didn't make it. We missed him. Many people have come to know Peter's songs, and when we played them folks would sing along. Almost everyone we asked to be on the compilation already had some of his songs in their repertoire."
This May 17 proves that Kerrville isn't the sole festival where Wilde holds renown. At the Willamette Valley Folk Festival, bushels of local musicians will take the stage to announce the Hold Me Up to the Light CD release and to pay tribute to Wilde's contributions to the folk music community. From 7 to 9 pm on the Main Stage near the UO's Erb Memorial Union, Myshkin, Laura Kemp, Adam + Kris, Pass Out Kings and many other local and regional artists from the CD will perform renditions of Wilde's songs.
"I've generated such little interest in my work over the last 10 years," says Wilde, who also performs a post-festival show May 17 at Tiny Tavern, "that to have this many people respond really makes me believe in myself. I've got to start writing more songs."
For more information, see www.peterwilde.comor see the Willamette Valley Folk Festival insert in last week's EW.
Hold Me Up to the Light is available at House of Records and online at firstname.lastname@example.org
Floater and TV:616 fans will now have another reason to get excited, as members of those popular bands embark on a new side project called Drumattica. Formerly based in Eugene where they consistently sold out shows, members of Floater relocated to Portland a couple of years ago. Floater's Robert Wynia joined up with drummer Brian Lehfeldt and longtime friend Keith Brown, both from TV:616, after Brown came to him with a disc of instrumental material and asked him to add vocals.
As Wynia explains it, he "just tore into it and started writing lyrics right away. It was so very different from anything I'd ever done and I was attracted to the challenge and the newness of it." Wynia admits that his role in Drumattica and the overall idea of what they are trying to accomplish differs greatly from his work in Floater. For one, Wynia does not play bass in Drumattica. "Floater it is not," he says. "There's a much more sexual and trancelike vibe to the music. It's less psychedelic and more pop. A definitely danceable, acid-house kind of show instead of the theater of Floater."
Drumattica's collaborative approach is also very different from what Wynia is used to with Floater. Brown composes the songs for Drumattica without Wynia. He programs beats, lays out the bass lines, and then collaborates with Wynia over what to keep or change. With Floater, "It's much more me from the ground up. There's also the fact that we're working with electronics instead of an actual band. With Drumattica there's just me and Keith and some machines so the creative process is different."
Jennifer Folker from Portland's Dahlia duets with Wynia on two tracks and sings on another. The addition of a female vocalist adds an exciting dimension to Drumattica's music. Wynia feels that she is "damned talented" and "gives a powerful feminine quality to our music."
Brown and Lehfeldt, formerly of Sweaty Nipples, performed their first show as Drumattica opening for Floater on New Year's Eve 2001. Lehfeldt and Brown are joined by Erik Hansen, a.k.a DJ Slowburn, and bassist Brandon Michael, who has also played with TV:616. Drumattica's CD, A Part of Something, was released May 6th. A CD release party for for Drumattica and guests Deflower (featuring TV:616 member Scott Watkins), will be Saturday night at WOW Hall. Avery Bell opens.
Seattle's Living Daylights will once again return to Eugene, performing at Sam Bond's Wednesday. Enthusiastic crowds greet the Daylights whenever they come to town. Fans are drawn to the powerful music of alto/tenor saxophonist and flautist Jessica Lurie, Arne Livingston's electric bass and Dale Fanning's drums. This jazz trio, commonly called "explosive," is known for "mixing the fun of funk and soul-jazz grooves with the edgy punch and teeth of the avant-garde."
Because the Daylights comprises a three-piece featuring a unique combination of instruments, the members can effectively merge groove-oriented jam music with an electrifying "sax attack" that will leave you breathless. The popular group performs regularly all across the U.S. and in Europe.
Living Daylights released its third CD, Electric Rosary, in September 2000 to critical acclaim following the 1999 and 2000 Earshot Jazz Awards for Best Northwest Electric Jazz Group. The group's fourth CD, Night of the Living Daylights, was self-released May 14th. It was recorded live during two nights of shows at Seattle's Sit N Spin in October 2002
Lurie keeps herself very busy performing and recording with the Jessica Lurie Ensemble, The Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet and collaborations with many nationally known figures, including Eyvind Kang, Wayne Horvitz and The Indigo Girls. Livingston's resume includes having performed with Joshua Redman, Roy Hargrove, Bob Moses and Antonio Hart. Fanning's percussive expertise led him to the slot of principal drummer on the Smithsonian Institute's 1999 recording, Safarini-Music of African Immigrants. He also leads rhythm and cultural diversity workshops at colleges and universities across the country and plays with quintet Vitamin B3.
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