MICHAEL THE BLIND AND THE ELS, NO REY, TOWERING TREES
(Kelly's Olympian, 426 SW Washington) Classically trained Michael Levasseur, who performs under the name Michael the Blind, is without a doubt one of Portland's most exceptional musicians. As a songwriter, he's nearly impossible to pigeonhole: "Another Circle of Fifths," the first track off his latest LP Are's & Els, combines eccentric, opaque lyrics, and the velocity of punk rock with mellifluous traditional folk instrumentation, a hybrid which in Levasseur's hands sounds fresh and effortless. The Mountain Goats-esque "Have It Out," which is actually a superior, extended rerecording of one of Levasseur's older songs, is definitely the standout despite being an old composition, with a breathtaking vocal melody and cathartic chorus that is guaranteed to take you by surprise in all its heart-stirring beauty. Are's & Els not only showcases Michael the Blind's versatility—it's a crash course on solid songcraft. MORGAN TROPER
SOUL'D OUT MUSIC FESTIVAL: PORTLAND CELLO PROJECT, DJ COOKY PARKER
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) The beloved, local, mostly cello ensemble plays three shows (including an all-ages afternoon show on Saturday) to celebrate the release of Homage, their album of oddball covers and original material. Read our article on Portland Cello Project.
8 1/2 DJS: SOUL AND R&B EDITION: DJ COOKY PARKER, DJ CUICA, DJ PRETTY UGLY, DJ HANUKKAH MIRACLE, SEX LIFE DJS, NEW DADZ, DJ SGT. FORKNER
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Who's in for a scavenger hunt and dance party featuring mayoral candidate (and rug-cutter) Charlie Hales? Choose a "rockin' team name" and hightail it around town, then meet up at Holocene for a chance to watch Hales get down to the beats of Portland's finest soul and R&B DJs. It could get weird. ALEX ZIELINSKI
SOUL'D OUT MUSIC FESTIVAL:
(Jimmy Mak's, 221 NW 10th) The legend goes that Oregon soul singer Curtis Salgado inspired John Belushi to start the Blues Brothers back in the late '70s. Since then Salgado's been through numerous ups and downs; having fully recovered from health problems over the past few years, he plays two shows to celebrate the release of his new Soul Shot album. It's slick, crisp, competent soul music; if you thought Briefcase Full of Blues was an adequate substitute for classic sides by Junior Wells and Sam & Dave, Soul Shot will probably knock your socks off. NED LANNAMANN