May: A Month of Portland Concerts in 20 Songs

Paul Simon, Leon Bridges, Richmond Fontaine, and Deep Sea Diver—it's all coming together in Portland this month, our first in a sadly post-Prince world. We salute the Purple one and more in this 20-song playlist culled from live shows lined up for May.

By Michelle Porter May 9, 2016

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It feels like it’s all farewells lately in the musical realm, as we shuffle on in a world without Prince. It’s a reminder, at least, to catch others while we can: the Who, Richmond Fontaine, and Paul Simon are all PDX-bound in the coming weeks on farwell tours of some sort or other. This month, take the chance to reacquaint yourself with some musical greats before their live shows, thanks to our nifty Spotify playlist.

May 6: Prince, “Stare": From Prince’s final album, this song showcases the Purple one’s trademark funk sound. Relive the magic of this pop genius at a tribute concert that is nothing if not regal.

May 7: Aesop Rock, “Rings”: This Portland native known for his storytelling through alternative hip hop releases yet another album (The Impossible Kid, 2016) of confessional tunes.  In “Rings,” Aes reflects on his early aspirations as a visual artist and regrets over failing to pursue his passion.

May 9: Blake Lewis & Elliott Yamin, “Wait For You”: “If the love doesn’t feel like 90s R&B, I don’t want it.” This song may not have sprung from the 90s, but it sure feels like it. Yamin is back on tour with fellow American Idol alum, Blake Lewis.

May 12: Yuna, “Crush”: A Malaysian star rising on the American music scene, Yuna takes us to another realm with her airy vocals blended with soulful R&B, making for all-round irresistibility vibe.

May 12: Howie Day, “Collide”: Hands up if this is the ear worm you can't shake. Seriously, even if you don’t know the title or even who Howie Day is, this song has been in your head at some stage (probably because you slow danced to it at prom). Stuff to fuel a teen romance.

May 13: Richmond Fontaine, “Let’s Hit One More Place": This Portland band on the scene since ’94 is saying goodbye on tour behind their final album. This song is an ode to all the years Richmond Fontaine has serenaded the great Northwest.

May 17: The Who, “Pinball Wizard”" This early '60s English rock band needs little introduction. After 50 years, they may well be smashing their last guitars at the Moda Center.

May 18: Andrew Bird, “Are You Serious”: Diverting from his usual cryptic odes to the human condition, this multi-instrumentalist's writing is noticeably more direct and definitely sweeter since he tied the knot. Come see his softer side at the Schnitz.

May 19: Charles Bradley, “Ain’t It A Sin”: A young 67-year-old with a funky fire burning within, Bradley’s success may have been gradual to say the least. This revivalist’s aptly named album, Changes, includes a cover of the Black Sabbath song of the same name.

May 20: Deep Sea Diver, “Secrets”: After stints with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and the Shins, Jessica Dobson now fronts Deep Sea Diver. A plunge into their new release, “Secrets,” sends you head first into the trenches of emotional vulnerability.

May 20: Chris Pureka, “Back In The Ring”: From the album of the same name, “Back In the Ring” is about this microbioligist’s return to the music scene after six long years of declining musical opportunities.

May 21: Farnell Newton And The Othership Connection, “Peace+Love (feat. Jarrod Lawson & Tony Ozier)”: This brass virtuoso, who has performed side by side with musical greats from Aretha Franklin to Stevie Wonder, also happens to be a Portland educator. Partake of the peace and love with Soul Vaccination and special guest, St Johns rapper Vinnie Dewayne.

May 22: Betty Buckley, “Memory”: Glamour cats, rejoice! A paragon of Broadway eminence, Grizabella of Cats graces us with her onstage presence in the form of a night of cabaret. Winningstad Theatre.

May 22: B.o.B, “Psycadelik Thoughtz”: The Airplanes rapper is on tour. “STFU” will feature his latest masterpiece compilation, Psycadelik Thoughtz. Star Theater.

May 24: Kris Allen, “Letting You In”: The eighth American Idol champion is back after a traumatic car crash three years ago, an experience mined for this intensely personal album. Having had to re-learn the guitar after the incident, the singer has plenty to say about how to overcome life’s obstacles.

May 25: Paul Simon, “Cool Papa Bell”: Five years after his last studio solo album, Paul Simon is back at it again with Stranger To Stranger, combining synths and African instrumental influence. Don’t be a stranger. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

May 25: Disclosure, “Omen”: The English electronic duo’s second collaboration with Sam Smith after the widely successful hit, “Latch”, has a lot to live up to. After all that time (“Latch”was released in 2013), "Omen" is a welcome club anthem to bring their latest album, Caracal, to the top. Cutberth Ampitheater.

May 27: Titus Andronicus, “I Lost My Mind ( [email protected] )”: Punk rock, indie rock…art rock? This impassioned outfit can be whatever they want and still work the stage, not to mention the audiences to the point of exhaustion. Guess that’s what you get from a rock opera based on real-life manic depression.

May 28: Chelsea Wolfe, “Crazy Love”: An album inspired by momentarily crippling sleep paralysis, Abyss will definitely teach you to embrace the darkness hiding deep within the creases of your mind—if you haven’t already, that is. Dark child or not, droves flock to see her ethereal and sometimes, haunting performances. She’s like Lana Del Rey—on steroids.

May 28: Leon Bridges, “Coming Home”: They don’t make ‘em like they used to. Whether we’re talking cars or relationships, almost everyone feels like they were born in the wrong generation. This song reminds us of those adorable old couples that make you wonder whether your Tinder dates can ever amount to anything. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

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