January.... A Month of Portland Concerts in 20 Songs

Josh Ritter, JD McPherson, and Jessica Lea Mayfield: The new year is playing host to a plethora of musical acts, from homegrown greats to international superstars—and we have the playlist to prove it.

By Fiona McCann and Ramona DeNies January 4, 2016

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Image courtesy Fe Ilya

Image: Fe Ilya

For a new year, some new (and some old)  tunes, PDXers. This month promises an eclectic live line-up in Portland, from indie rockers to revivalist rollers, South African a cappella to San Diego reggae. We’ve put together another 20-song playlist from the best shows to get you warmed up for 2016.

Jan 6: Patti Smith, “Gloria”: Forty-odd years after recording Horses, the Godmother of Punk tours to perform, live, one of rock’s all-time greatest albums. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall,

Jan 8: Federale, “Black Sunday”: The Portland’s band darkly vampy, atmospheric anthems have found their way into films from Iranian noir A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night to The Lego Movie.

Jan 11: Sama Dams, “Pretty Ghosts”: These three continue their subtle, perseverant dig into our psyches, bringing their haunting prog rock to Mississippi Studios as the support act for LA’s Haunted Summer.

Jan 12 (Postponed): Janet Jackson, “No Sleep”: Unbreakable indeed; the pop diva is on a massive six-month tour for her 11th album—that’s the irony of a hit single called “No Sleep.”

Jan 13: DeVotchka, “All the Sand in All the Sea”: This multi instrumentalist Denver four piece that sounds like a European gypsy band saw their star rise thanks to the score for 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine, as well as a German Nutella advertisement.

Jan 13: JD McPherson, “Let the Good Times Roll”: From Broken Arrow, Oklahoma comes this rock-n-roll revivalist with a thrum and punch that’s all 21st century.

Jan 14: Gregory Alan Isakov, “Amsterdam”: The smooth-toned South African singer-songwriter says latest album The Weatherman focuses on overlooked miracles—like the climate prophesizing of a TV anchor—that mystify the mundane. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall,

Jan 14: Nick Jaina, “True Hearts Are as International as War”: Jaina takes a break from writing high-minded memoir to reconvene his longtime alt-folk act.

Jan 16 & 17: Nareh Arghamanyan, “Morceaux de Fantasie, Op 3: No.1 Elegie in E-Flat Minor”: The 25-year-old virtuoso dedicates her opening show to the memory of the victims of the Armenian genocide—marking the tragedy’s 100th anniversary with original music alongside works from artists from Komitas to Bach. Lincoln Hall,

Jan 20: Tribal Seeds, “Dawn of Time”: This San Diego roots reggae band with some sunny pop overtones brings the beach to the Crystal Ballroom.

Jan 21: Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, “Tha Crossroads”:  Bizzy Bone, Wish Bone, Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, and Flesh-n-Bone stop by PDX on their final tour, having announced last year they’d print only one copy of their final album, and sell it for millions. Failing that, catch them at the Crystal.

Jan 22 & 23: Josh Ritter, “Getting Ready to Get Down”: Recorded in New Orleans, the new album Sermon on the Rocks—Ritter’s eight in a career spanning more than 15 years—delivers what the smooth-talkin’ Idaho artist calls “messianic oracular honky-tonk.”

Jan 23 & 24: Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, “S.O.B.”: Paste magazine heralds the Denver-based nu-folker’s “Creative rebirth.” Spin loves his “massive, alluring” voice. Even NPR says Rateliff is on fire with an eponymous new album that leans to the “rockier side of soul.”

Jan 23: Car Seat Headrest, “Something Soon”: The music wunderkind is growing up, with a Matador Records release boasting some power-pop anthems and smart lyrical drive. Oh, and he’s still only 23.

Jan 26: Farnell Newton, “Sweet Sauce”: Portland’s resident jazz maestro has his finger in a lotta pies, and they all turn out delicious. He’s with jazz funksters The Othership Connection at the Doug Fir.

Jan 27: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, “Yimani”: Since the 1960s, the a cappella troupe has toured the world with richly moving songs of global peace and love, building bridges as “South Africa’s Cultural Ambassadors to the world.”

Jan 29: Saintseneca, “Sleeper Hold”: Sunny pop rock with anthemic arcs and some serious lyrical matter: this Ohio band earns plaudits for its studio output, but the real raves come from the live shows.

Jan 30: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, “Multi Love”: Summertime saw lead singer Ruban Nielson perched atop a white piano on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Now the Portland-by-way-of-New Zealand psychedelic pop band brings Multi-Love back home.

Jan 30: Jessica Lea Mayfield, “Oblivious”: Known for her sweet-voiced, trainwreck themed, alt-country sound, Jessica Lea Mayfield marks new territory in her 2014 release Make My Head Sing with some grungy guitar sounds and hard rocking reverb.

Jan 30: The Wood Brothers, “American Heartache”: Chris and Oliver Wood, with drummer Jano Rix, add some Americana and roots to the Roseland’s January roster.

Jan 31: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, “Asunder, Sweet”: Montreal’s post-rock darlings have a new album, full of their trademark soaring guitars, hazy strings, and serious soundscapes. 

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