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Honolulu, We Have a Problem: From soothing to raw in four hours 

click to enlarge Jim Stout in CPC rawkstar mode.
  • Jim Stout in CPC rawkstar mode.
Jim Stout in CPC rawkstar mode.The streets and sidewalks sparkled with the crystalline potential of new fallen snow last Thursday night. Downtown, tourists and taxicabs flitted about like carefree winter butterflies - many searching for the fantastical fun-juice that is the nectar of Central Oregon's homegrown live music scene.

The fortunate and/or savvy found their quarry at Summit Saloon and Stage. There, the evening's entertainment began with long-haired, bright-hearted Bill Keale setting meditative notes adrift from the upstairs romper room.

Keale, an islander who makes his home in Central Oregon, is Bend's best-known purveyor of Hawaiian sound. His well-deserved reputation comes from a handful of CDs and his habit of peeling off highly mesmerizing performances just often enough to keep it legendary.

Clad in black and perched on a stool with just a music stand, a microphone and his Breedlove guitar, Keale served up a luau-worthy smorgasbord of mellow music for diners, drinkers and the rest of the Summit's patrons. Justifiably unafraid to reinterpret a wide range of classics, Keale played floaty, rarefied renditions of songs by Rick Nelson, Paul McCartney, and his own late cousin, Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole, among others - even throwing in a nice nod to Hawaiian Christmas with "Mele Kalikimaka." Original offerings included "A Surfer's Song," a Gerry Lopez-dedicated tune from Keale's latest CD.

As the evening grew into night, the music turned from contemplative to third-eye transcendent. Concave Perception Chamber (sometimes known as CPC) took the Summit stage around 10pm, armed with the weapons and creative tactics of a lethal electric army of mind-trippers.

Here's how it is. Led by minimal, yet semi-operatic vocals and psychedelic vision from the realms of the distorted and melancholy, CPC uses a two-guitar audio-surgical technique and exponential intensity to render even somewhat sacred terms like "face-melting jam" obsolete. Far from any kind of narcissistic wanking, their long instrumental breaks and heavy improvisation double as emotive/cosmic exploration, often embodying a seemingly magical union of all four players in the ethereal spirit of their songs.

Yeah...words don't work here. Better just to hear it to believe it, really. You can take Sound Check's word, though...CPC belongs in your headphones, at your wedding and all the rest. Will someone just make them famous, already?

In another step away from Bill Keale's golden, easy-listening greatness, Problem Stick took over for CPC around 11pm. Whirlwind CPC drummer Jim Stout donned some pink arm-stockings and stunna shades, downed some extra beer-fuel and picked up the bass guitar for PS.

Stout's conversion into loose and rowdy mode was reflective of the dirty, meaty aesthetic that splatters out of the speakers when frontman/songwriter/guitarist/keyboard player Wayne Newcome and friends lay into a sound system. In spite of subtle bubblegum pop, folk and rockabilly undercurrents, they just don't come any punker than this. The band's patented, outlandishly gory lyrics and all-around not-so-fresh feeling prompted a handful of crazies - most notably Cable Turtleneck Man and Midriff Girl - to dance freakout-grade death-waltzes like the world was about to explode. Tom Waits, meet The Misfits. Long live atonality. Long live Problem Stick.

Next week: James Taylor vs. the ghost of G.G. Allin.


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