A real mainstay of the Bend music scene, the free Summer Sunday Concerts at Les Schwab Amphitheater, offer something for just about everyone. Regardless of socio-economic status, Bend music lovers can access some of the finest shows of the year at these free concerts, providing an opportunity for small and mid-sized bands to get in front of several thousand people. With a capacity of 8,000, even a slower Sunday show will bring in a significant audience for these bands.
This issue we'll focus on the three bands playing Sundays in June, but look for information on the July bands later this month.
We'll cover the Latin/Afro-Caribbean group Tiempo Libre in a larger piece this issue, so let's dive right into Bel Mizik.
Hailing from Portland, Bel Mizik's sound is something akin to Creole/hip-hop. The seven-piece band stands out with its instrumentals in a way that seems both improvisational yet tight. Lead singer Anael Jeannis combines his Haitian French Creole/English lyrics with hip-hop, jazz and jam band flows to create an incredibly unique sound. Here is a selection from an interview with Rod Meyer, the keyboard player and co-founder.
Source Weekly: Where did you guys come up with the Creole/hip-hop vibe?
Rod Meyer: The Creole/hip-hop thing comes 100 percent from our lead singer Anael Jeannis.
TSW: How did you guys find each other?
RM: The origins of the band are a good story. I (Rod, keyboard player, cofounder) knew AJ's cousin Jean from the gym, and one day he invited me to join the Zoe Boys Haitian hoops team in the PDX City League. They needed another big man to help AJ out. So I joined their team and I got to know the group.
SW: And it took off from there?
RM: Yeah, I invited AJ and crew over for jam and barbecue in August 2012. I had no idea about his skills on the mic, but he jumped on it at the barbecue and we all loved it. Out of that night, we decided we should start a band. It took a while to stabilize the lineup, made up mostly of my friends from the scene. Had a rock feel early on, then we added a couple horns in 2013 and the sound came together more in a neo-soul feel, and we all dug it. Basically our sound has been out together by seven people from different musical backgrounds, with AJ's lyrics and hip-hop background really driving the group.
Five Pint Mary is a straight-ahead Irish folk/punk band that has been playing all over Central Oregon for years. Their shows are high energy, their music infectious and their performances enthralling. With a dash of bluegrass added to their Irish traditionals and originals, they are a band thriving on true unpredictability. Here is an excerpt from an interview with vocalist and guitarist Sarah Pollock-Holmes.
Source Weekly: Do you prefer indoor shows or outdoor shows?
Sarah Pollock-Holmes: We love playing the outdoor shows. Our biannual outdoor St. Paddy's performances at McMenamins Old St. Francis School, out at O'Kane's, is our absolute favorite. Always a great crowd of revelers (regardless of how cold it may be) filled with the kind of energy that we feed off of and have a ton of fun with. But as local musicians all know, outdoor shows can be a hit and miss experience.
SW: But no preference?
SPH: It's really apples and oranges to us, two different experiences altogether. We would have to say that we appreciate them both. Nothing beats a crowded room of energetic and spirited dancers on a mission to have a memorable Saturday night, whisky and pints a'flowing, and smiling faces all around.
SW: Have you played Les Schwab?
SPH: This will be our first time playing the Les Schwab Amphitheater, so yeah, and we have nothing but great expectations. Having attended many great shows there, it's a real honor for Five Pint Mary to have been asked up to the stage.
SW: Is there an area of the country you prefer touring in the most?
SPH: For us, performing at home in Bend really is the best, especially in the summer. We experience a great mix of locals and tourists alike, coming out to hear us perform. We love the uniqueness of this, having met many great folks from literally all over the world, while delivering our own piece of the diverse and talented music scene that is found right here in Central Oregon!
June 5, 2:30 p.m.
June 19, 2:30 p.m.
Five Pint Mary
June 26, 2:30 p.m.
Les Schwab Amphitheater
344 Shevlin Hixon Dr., Bend