The Essentials

13 Portland Shows, Events, and Pure-Genius Things to Know This October

From George Saunders to a comedy about cockfighting to a major museum exhibit about Laika, here's what you can't miss this month.

By Rebecca Jacobson and Fiona McCann September 13, 2017 Published in the October 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

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Songhoy Blues

Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir

Oct 6–7, The Old Church
With the feverish speech patterns of a televangelist, Reverend Billy—a.k.a. performance artist Bill Talen—leads his flock in original gospel tunes about climate change, corporate rapacity, and deportation. This Boom Arts show is part protest, part comedy, and part earnest call for community.

Rhapsody in Blue/Never Stop Falling (in Love)

Oct 7–14,  Keller Auditorium
Oregon Ballet Theatre opens its season with a world premiere, choreographed by Nicolo Fonte to Gershwin’s famous jazzy composition, performed live by Pink Martini’s Thomas Lauderdale and Hunter Noack. The full band with singer China Forbes, joins later for a reprise of the 2014 OBT hit Never Stop Falling (in Love).

Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings

Oct 9–10, Newmark Theatre
Blazing country-folk troubadour Gillian Welch and her perfectly paired musical partner Dave Rawlings hit the Newmark for two nights to promote the vinyl
release of 2011’s haunting, intimate The Harrow & The Harvest.

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Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch

All Jane Comedy Festival

Oct 11–15, Curious Comedy Theater and other venues
DeAnne Smith, a bow-tied (and occasionally ukulele’d) Canadian who buzzes about the stage with swift, smart jokes, headlines the sixth annual installment of this all-lady comedy fest.

George Saunders

Oct 12, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Few authors anywhere get more hype than Saunders. But the man is truly a prose wizard, as reaffirmed in this year’s Lincoln in the Bardo, which the New York Times likened to “a weird folk art diorama of a cemetery come to life.” Up next? He’s penning a TV pilot starring Glenn Close as a zombie. We’re so in.

Animating Life: The Art, Science, and Wonder of Laika

Oct 14–May 20, Portland Art Museum
The pioneers of stop-motion animation—responsible for Coraline, ParaNorman, and Kubo and the Two Strings—get a star turn in this major Portland Art Museum exhibit. Expect puppets and props, plus behind-the-scenes photos, film clips, and a slew of screenings.

Forced from Home        

Oct 16–22, Pioneer Courthouse Square
Can you re-create the refugee experience in downtown Portland? That’s what this free, interactive exhibit, created by Doctors Without Borders, aims to do, simulating a perilous boat trip and arrival in a crowded camp.

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NW Dance Project's Julia Radick and Elijah Labay in Jirí Pokorny’s At Some Hour You Return.

New Now Wow!

Oct 19–21, Lincoln Performance Hall
The dynamos at Northwest Dance Project offer a triple bill: world-premiere works by Wen Wei Wang and Luca Signoretti (one of the winners of NWDP’s 2016 international choreography competition), plus Jirí Pokorny’s At Some Hour You Return, a stark and striking work from 2014.

Songhoy Blues

Oct 25, Doug Fir Lounge
This foursome originally hail from Timbuktu, Mali, but formed their band more than 400 miles away in capital city Bamako, after they were displaced when radical Islamists captured Mali’s north. Now they’re bringing their exuberant funk-meets-R&B sound to Portland. Expect a joyous basement party to light up the encroaching dark.

The Beyond with Live Score

Oct 26, Hollywood Theatre
Just in time for Halloween, the Hollywood Theatre brings back Italian horror composer Fabio Frizzi—joined by a seven-piece orchestra—for a screening of The Beyond, Lucio Fulci’s 1981 gore fest.

Year of the Rooster       

Oct 27–Nov 18, CoHo Theater
Lauded by the New York Times as “astonishingly entertaining,” Olivia Dufault’s fierce comedy takes on the high-stakes world of cockfighting—in the process requiring several performers to portray the beaked brawlers themselves.

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Read It:

In 2012, Oregon Book Award winner Kate Carroll de Gutes began a 30-day challenge to replace the risotto pics and pithy travel updates of Facebook—the modern-day “back fence” as she calls it—with honest communication about her personal life. That project became a weekly practice, and now a series of essays brought together in The Authenticity Experiment: Lessons from the Best and Worst Year of My Life (Two Sylvias Press), a frank examination of grief, anxiety, and the joy of not pretending.   

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Hear It:

If you don’t already have the witchy rock of Offa Rex’s The Queen of Hearts (Nonesuch Records) on steady rotation, the Halloween creep seems the perfect time to remedy that. Sweetly luminous vocals from English folk singer Olivia Chaney make an uncanny match for the Decemberists’ taut musicianship, giving old English, Irish, and Scottish folk tunes a contemporary flash and relevance.

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