Arts & CultureCover StoryMusicScene Guide

Get to know some college town sounds at the Willamette Valley Music Festival



The Willamette Valley Music Festival only happens once every year—and you should take advantage of it since it’s all free. Here’s the low-down on some of the bands you’ll regret not going to see.

Evergreen

by Meerah Powell, @meerahpowell

12699116_10154539401812306_2126042271_o-1Makayla Meador, the electronic producer Evergreen, didn’t always know she was going to be a DJ. But one day, everything just clicked.

It was the morning after attending an electronic show in Portland two years ago, she was having breakfast with her aunt, uncle and best friend. Meador’s family asked her friend what she was planning to do after college. She said she wanted to be a neuroscientist.

They turned to Meador, then a student pursuing a degree in communications and media studies at Lynchburg College in Virginia, and asked her the same thing.

“You know what I actually want to do?” she said to them. “I think I want to be a DJ.”

Meador decided to relocate back to Eugene, and she began producing music. She holds close ties to the Eugene-area music scene, playing frequently at house shows and local venues. Meador currently makes music mixes for the local radio station 104.7 KDUK every other week.

“I’m really inspired by super peppy [music],” said Meadow. “I call it, like, rainbows and butterflies and unicorns music.”

This energetic type of music influences Meador’s production and the way she performs.

“I try to have a really energetic performance,” said Meador. “I know a lot of DJs just kind of stand up there and bob their heads. I want to be as engaged as the crowd is and connect with them on that level.”

Catch Evergreen at 5:45 p.m. at the Garden Stage. Listen to her music here.

Trucks Go Easy

by Meerah Powell, @meerahpowell

TrucksGoEasy-Picturegreen (1)Trucks Go Easy has been a band set on having a good time.

The blues and southern rock-inspired group, formed in 2012, came from meek beginnings.

“I’m sure one of the first things we did together was play music in a dorm room,” said Trucks Go Easy drummer Taylor Jones. “I’d hit sticks on the ground and play on canteens for a makeshift drum set.”

Along with drumming for Trucks Go Easy and other local band, Pancho + The Factory, Jones was a part of planning Willamette Valley Music Festival two years ago.

“I was the festival coordinator for WVMF 2014,” said Jones. “I worked with a partner to plan the festival: book artists, plan cultural workshops, schedule events, work with campus organizations, develop a marketing campaign and all the odd jobs that come with planning an arts and culture event.”

Though working with WVMF in the past, this will be the first year for Jones and the rest of Trucks Go Easy to perform at the festival.

“We have set up so many house shows at this point,” said Jones. “But really, Trucks is a down-and-dirty band, and we are excited to perform anywhere and everywhere.”

“We are excited to be on a stage with professional sound and lights — up from the underground,” said Jones.

The band has played the Eugene house party and venue circuit heavily since their formation.

“We have set up so many house shows at this point,” said Jones. “But really, Trucks is a down-and-dirty band, and we are excited to perform anywhere and everywhere.”

Led by wavy, psychedelic guitars and oscillating, funky bass, “down-and-dirty” is a pretty spot-on description of the band’s style. It’s easy to tell Trucks Go Easy is a band filled with soul.

“I love playing with these guys, because we all have a great time on stage together,” said Jones. “It’s easy for us to have fun, and I think that translates to and engages the audience.”

Catch Trucks Go Easy at 2:45 p.m. in the Memorial Quad. Listen to their music on bandcamp here.

Out & About Music Series

by Craig Wright, @wgwcraig

The Out & About music series is a new addition to the Willamette Valley Music Festival. Throughout the weekend, artists will be invited to record acoustic versions of their songs at campus radio station KWVA. The videos of these performances will later be available on YouTube and through WVMF’s social media11x17-wvmf-proof-01-1shlbg5

“I think it will give people an opportunity to see a different aspect of the bands, a different side to them, the different sounds that they can produce, their versatility,” said Aidan D’Angelo, the Out & About coordinator. “Also it will give [the performers] a nice video to show potential promoters or bookers recordings of the bands.”

The first series will be recorded on May 7. This is the first year of the Out & About series, but D’Angelo hopes it will be an ongoing part of the festival.

“Next year when we’re booking the WVMF, we’re going to be asking bands perhaps to come in during the fall and winter terms to kind of start promoting the festival, and also work with KWVA whenever they bring a band into their studio for their live sessions,” D’Angelo said.

Out & About performances will not air live on KWVA, but all stage performances at the WVMF will be broadcast live on the station.

The Nouns

by Daniel Bromfield, @bromf3

nounsAbout a year ago, The Nouns were a formidable and rising presence on the Eugene music scene. The live hip-hop ensemble attracted an enviable following within months of forming, playing in Portland and winning Cozmic Pizza’s Phi Psi Battle of the Bands.

But they seemed to vanish, laying low and playing only occasional small gigs.

Mohammed “BigMo” Alkhadher, the band’s rapper and frontman, attributes this to lineup changes following “difference of opinion,” though he’s mum about the detail.

“For the most part, the sound didn’t match how we wanted to sound,” he said. “I’ve never been in a band before and I understand this happens often.”

The new members of The Nouns are Alvin Johnson on keyboards and Alistair Gardner on the drums. Both members play in other projects: Johnson in Soul Vibrator and Alvin & the Chipfunks, and Gardner in Era Coda.

“Alvin has added so much to the composition of all the songs,” said Alkhadher. “And Alistair’s a machine on the drums. It’s phenomenal how good he is.”

This new lineup has been eating up gigs. They’re playing at Willamette Valley Music Festival, and the following Friday they’ll appear at Hamstock on the University of Oregon’s Humpy Lumpy Lawn. Thanks to their recent win at the Ethos Magazine’s Bandest of the Bands, they’ve got a spot at the Campus Block Party on June 3.

Among the other prizes at Bandest of the Bands was six hours of recording time at Ninkasi Studios, which the band intends to take advantage of to record an EP before Alkhadher graduates.

When asked about whether his graduation spells the end of The Nouns, Alkhadher was optimistic.

“The distance can make things harder,” he said. “But every opportunity we get, we’re all gonna rock together.”

Catch The Nouns at 5:15 p.m. at the Memorial Quad. Listen to their music here.

The Zendeavors

by Daniel Bromfield, @bromf3

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Things are going to be tight for the Zendeavors when they travel from their homebase of Portland to Eugene to play the Willamette Valley Music Festival.

For one, drummer Jason Miller is currently in South Africa. He’s attending AfrikaBurn (South Africa’s answer to Burning Man) as his girlfriend works for the Peace Corps in nearby Lesotho. Secondly, they haven’t practiced with their new lineup yet. They’ve got a new guitarist, Chris Kirkpatrick, but he hasn’t been in the studio with the other five members.

“I didn’t want to play guitar anymore,” said singer-guitarist Andrew Rogers. “I wanted to focus more on vocals and performing. So we talked to him, and he was sick, so now we have a five person lineup and it’s a fuckin’ party.”

Their WVMF performance will be their first with Kirkpatrick. In order to show him the ropes, the band will practice extensively the night before the show — it’s the only time Miller can do it once he gets back from South Africa.

“I’m gonna give Jason a big, old hug and a kiss and then we’re gonna go on down to Eugene. We’re probably gonna drive to Eugene and eat burritos and play music all night,” said Rogers.

This isn’t the first lineup change the Zendeavors have seen as of late. The group started out as a three-piece consisting of Rogers, Miller and bassist Andrew Poletto, who met at the University of Oregon and have since graduated.

In 2014, they added saxophonist Ted Schera, whose sound was more central to this year’s self-titled debut than guitar. Perhaps Kirkpatrick’s presence will change these dynamics again.

“It’s gonna be next level,” said Rogers. “The beginning of the next level of the Zendeavors. It’s very good, it’s very fun, it’s very antsy.”

Catch the Zendeavors at 12 p.m. at the Memorial Quad. Listen to their music here.

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Meerah Powell

Meerah Powell

Meerah Powell is the Digital Managing Editor for The Daily Emerald. She is currently studying journalism and philosophy at the University of Oregon. Before her current position, she worked as an Arts and Culture writer for the Emerald. She's also worked with Oregon Public Broadcasting, Eugene Weekly, Ethos Magazine and OR Magazine.