Laura Gibson – Tickets – Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR – September 13th, 2014

Laura Gibson

OPBMusic.org Presents STAGEPASS featuring acclaimed Oregonian singer-songwriter with gorgeous vocals

Laura Gibson

Vikesh Kapoor

Sat, September 13, 2014

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:00 pm

$10.00

This event is 21 and over

Laura Gibson
Laura Gibson
La Grande (pronounced in the way of the American West, without any hint of French inflection – "luh grand") is a town just east of the Wallowa Valley in northeastern Oregon where native Oregonian Laura Gibson found inspiration while writing the songs that would become her new album of the same name. Gibson describes La Grande as a place that "people usually pass through on their way to somewhere else, but which contains a certain gravity, a curious energy." She's done more than her own fair share of traveling, playing over 200 shows in North America, Europe and Asia since the release of 2009's acclaimed Beasts of Seasons (Hush Records), andLa Grande is, in part, an album about journeys and transitions.

The thematic notion of aggressively taking matters into one's own hands was at the front of Gibson's mind during much of the process of developing La Grande, a period in which she also took on the task of transforming a 1962 Shasta trailer into a makeshift studio/private writing place. The twin projects of restoration and transformation – all that sanding, painting and do-it-yourself problem solving – seeped into her music, a sometimes surreal blend of styles that doesn't belong to any particular decade or genre, but leaves the listener with the distinct impression that something old has been repurposed in a brilliant new way.

One reason the sound of La Grande is so purposeful is that, for the first time, Gibson remained in the producer's chair throughout its making, bouncing between home- recorded vocal sessions – piling as many as 15 Laura Gibsons on certain tracks – and proper takes at Type Foundry Studios alongside engineer and good friend Adam Selzer (M Ward, Norfolk and Western) and some great players including Calexico's Joey Burns, members of The Dodos (Meric Long and Logan Kroeber) and The Decemberists (Nate Query, Jenny Conlee), clarinetist Jilly Coykendall, and the drumming duo Rachel Blumberg and Matt Berger (affectionately known together as "Blumberger"). Don't get the wrong idea, though. While La Grande's stage is shared with some very special guests, Gibson is at the center of every last note; contributing bits of bass, guitar, piano, pump organ, vibraphone, synthesizer, marimba, even a marching drum. The result is richer and more revealing than any of her previous records – two solo albums and an experimental LP with Ethan Rose – but it never loses sight of her start as a young singer-songwriter who felt more at home playing in an AIDS hospice (where she had a standing weekly gig for two years) than in Portland's vibrant (and overwhelming) indie music scene.

Gibson's previous work was praised for its timelessness, for the almost vintage quality of her voice. But of course her art and outlook aren't solely influenced by the past. "I am someone who loves old things and could easily dwell in nostalgia," she explains, "but I really felt this needed to be a statement about the future – about moving forward fearlessly – and I think the process of making the record and the finished album reflect that desire." As Gibson sings on the ninth track of La Grande, "Time is not against us."

As a whole, the record might be interpreted as nine meditations on mortality. This is not to say it is a work of philosophy, but rather a group of meditations, or gut reactions to the idea of death. Written from a room in a house overlooking the mossy gravestones and mature maples of one of Portland's oldest cemeteries, Gibson notes she finished the last song just days before moving out. "When I was finished I felt a great relief," she offers, as if an epilogue to the opening line of the album: "I have carried beasts for many seasons…"
Vikesh Kapoor
Vikesh Kapoor
Following a spur-of-the-moment cross-country trip with a pair of fiery European girls, Vikesh Kapoor left school for a brief yet inspiring stint as a mason's apprentice. The America he had previously known resided narrowly between his childhood home in rural Pennsylvania and the New England university he left home for. Alongside his parents' own immigrant struggles, these experiences quickly witnessed Kapoor to the scope of the American dream.

A few years later, Kapoor performed at Howard Zinn's memorial service in Boston, in front of Zinn's family and colleagues (including Noam Chomsky). Roused by Zinn's lifelong battle against class/race injustice, Kapoor spent the next two years in Portland, Oregon working on his full-length debut record. The Ballad Of Willy Robbins, a concept album loosely based on a newspaper article, chronicles the brutal but hopeful story of a working class man who slowly loses everything: ambitions, health, family and shelter. It's a worker's tale, less specific to the blue-collar life as it is about anyone struggling to make something of themselves.

The Ballad Of Willy Robbins was co-produced by Adam Selzer (M. Ward) and features Nate Query (Decemberists, Black Prairie), Jeff Ratner (Langhorne Slim) and Birger Olsen (Denver).