Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sam Bond's Garage Bluegrass Jam

I don't know how you spent your Tuesday evening, but personally I spent it in a bad part of town, drinking beer from a mason jar and listening to a bastard form of country music played by a group of old-timers and crazies. Were there hipsters pathetically misinformed of their own coolness shouting rebel yells at annoying intervals? Was there a washboard player? The answer to both is a hearty yes.

Sam Bond's Garage is one of my favorite spots in Eugene for music. They never get anything resembling big acts, but they're so unpretentious in their presentations that it's actually quite refreshing to spend a few hours there. The decor is a subtle combination of neon beer lights, oil paintings of boxing matches and furniture made out of logs. The crowd is generally locals, which in this case includes everything from college students to aging intellectuals to old-fashioned drunkards to that one guy in the tie-dyed Oregon Country Fair tee shirt who is stumbling around and muttering to himself to a guy who I swear looked uncomfortably like Kurt Vonnegut.

The Bluegrass Jam happens every Tuesday night at 9:30. No cover, so it makes a cheap date if you happen to be twang-inclined. The band started off with five guys and quickly grew to seven. This included a mighty fine banjo player, two guitarists, two fiddlers, a mandolin player and the above-mentioned washboardist (standard for guys who play the washboard, he had an unkempt beard and a goofy demeanor. I latter found out he was the owner and operator of Eugene Jeans, one of the town's finer local vintage shops).

Bluegrass is one of those forms that I'm slowly growing fond of, thanks to a few solid tribute albums I've picked up ("Moody Bluegrass: A Nashville Tribute to the Moody Blues," best country album of 2004, check it out) and a slight obsession with Bill Monroe. This is the first time I've checked out the Sam Bond's jam. Might become a regular fixture for me. Not much else happening on a Tuesday night.

Monday, February 25, 2008


I write a lot of things on the internet. Mostly bawdy nonsense that I think up while sitting in this coffee shop or that. This is one of the few things I've thought of writing that has a specific focus behind it, i.e. to give my impressions of the various forms of entertainment in the city of Eugene, Oregon. A modest goal to be sure, but I think I can manage to make it stoke my own ego to a satisfying extent.

A little history on myself and my qualifications. I was born and raised in Oregon and have lived in or near Eugene for most of my life. I went to college here and wrote about arts and entertainment for my college paper. Had some strong ties to the art and music communities. Knew most the venue owners in town.

Then I left town for three years and lived in Grand Forks, North Dakota. My reasons are my own.

In the end I moved back to this area. I'm currently living just outside Eugene, with plans to move back into town as soon as I can find gainful employment. I'm starting to reconnect to the city after my absence, catching up with old friends, stopping in at old hang-outs. Eating the food. Breathing the air. Absorbing the indescribable ethereal atmosphere. Chilaxing. This blog will deal with this process and describe for anyone interested some of the more compelling activities in this corner of the Northwest.

For a little introductory nod, here are some of my favorite spots in town:

For Coffee: Espresso Roma on 13th near the UO is my favorite for atmosphere and essential coffeehouse aesthetics. The coffee is motor oil, no subtlety but enough kick to make me a happy caffeine junkie. Great pastries as well. For actual good coffee, Full City is my local fav (though I've heard good things about Wandering Goat, and there is a shop in town near the 5th Street Market that is bringing down Stumptown coffee from up Portland way).

For Music: Depends on the mood. Sam Bond's Garage is a favorite for the decent country sounds they bring in (something lacking in this town, unfortunately. Bluegrass is an art, people. Respect the twang.). The WOW Hall get a lot of the good small level acts and is nice if you can stand the underage crowd. Nothing too thrilling on the calender right now though, for me anyway. Not a big fan of The Shedd, as it's mostly Old White Guy music, that particular brand of jazz and blues that caters specifically to the Boomers. If I want something respectable, I'll shell out for tickets to a decent traveling show at the Hult Center. There used to be some good jazz/jazz fusion acts roaming the city, but I haven't heard any word on them since I got back.

For Food: Taste of India, Laughing Planet, Burrito Boy, Ta Ra Rin, Rennie's (the burgers, dear god the burgers), the Bier Stein (the beer, holy christ the beer), the Oregon Electric Station and others that will be spoken of later as I reconnect to them.

There are more that I'll call out as time goes by. I'll be updating pretty infrequently at first, but once I get a job and place in town, I'll be making a stronger effort here.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Under Construction

This is intended to be a blog about entertainment in the city of Eugene, Oregon, or at least my experience of it. I'm currently working on the format and will have actual postings within the next week or so.