PoMo Picks: January's Best Bets For Things to See and Do

The Decemberists release a new album, pop culture meets Chekov, and Chamber Music Northwest brings back record-breaking numbers of classical fans

By Aaron Scott and Matthew Schonfeld January 5, 2015 Published in the January 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

Decemberists front man Colin Meloy announced the band’s new album in November while busking on a New York street before a mural of the cover art by Carson Ellis.


January Playlist

Fight winter darkness with three lush albums from local artists

  • The Decemberists: What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
    After a four-year hiatus following 2011’s chart-topping The King Is Dead, the indie rock kings are back, fresh-faced, with perhaps their most dynamic and pop-hook-riddled record yet, from the doo-wop ooh waa’s of “Philomena” to the rousing, golden melodies on the first single, “Make You Better.” On sale Jan 20; release concert Mar 21.
  • Ezza Rose Band: When the Water’s Hot
    On her previous albums, Rose brandished a spare blend of bluegrass-tinged folk, paring her delicate, halcyon voice with plucked and strummed strings. Now she ventures into richer, denser, more daring territory. Release concert Jan 17.
  • Robin Bacior: Water Dreams
    Joined by cellist Dan Bindschedler, Bacior’s brand of folk is dulcet, vibrant, and sonorous, the interplay of piano and cello verging on the classical. Her newest album collects beautiful songs loosely based on her abandonment of New York for Portland. On sale Jan 13; release concert Jan 21 

Chekhov courtesy Shutterstock; Lohan courtesy Helga Esteb/; Bullock courtesy s_bukley/; South Park courtesy Comedy Central


Russian Smoothie
“If everyone took antidepressants, Chekhov would have had nothing to write about,” laments a character in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Playwright Christopher Durang says the black comedy doesn’t so much parody Chekhov as run the Russian playwright’s characters and scenes through a blender. Add to that a hefty portion of pop culture references (South Park, Lindsay Lohan, Sandra Bullock), and you have the winner of the 2013 Tony Award for best play and the top-produced show in America this season (excluding, of course, the old chestnut about that antidepressant-averse Scrooge). Jan 10–Feb 8 | Portland Center Stage


Classical Music’s Greatest Hits

Don’t tell Chamber Music Northwest that classical music is fading in popularity. The 44-year-old presenter returns for its second Winter Festival after its Summer Festival set new attendance records. This time, the weeklong program focuses on masterpieces by the greats: Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, et al. Consider it a classical crash course. Jan 27–Feb 1


The Good Stuff

“Personally I would prefer to see bookstores shelve all fiction together regardless of genre. Or maybe just have two sections, ‘Good Stuff’ and ‘Crap.’ Into Crap we will consign all novels regard-less of genre or reputation that trade in cliché and dead language. If I ever own a bookstore I will do it that way. Only I will just leave out the Crap section.” 

—Michael Chabon, the Pulitzer-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and Telegraph Avenue 

Jan 15 | Portland Arts and Lectures | Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

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