Listening recommendations from the past, present Portland and the periphery.
Mississippi John Hurt is the warmest and most conversational of the great early blues singers, and might've come across as a pretty chill guy if not for the eye-for-an-eye school of justice he advocates on "Frankie" and "Nobody's Dirty Business." Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 Okeh Recordings is definitive, containing his best track, "Spike Driver Blues," and 12 others that show off his influential finger-picked guitar playing—John Fahey pretty much bit this guy's style—and his calm, soothing voice.
L.A.'s Sun Kin (a.k.a. Mumbai-born Kabir Kumar) hits a fearsome stride on After the House, whose title gives away its genre allegiance. Dignified and hard-hitting, its seven-track structure as redolent of Gaucho as its gloss, After the House starts with the sound of classic Chicago house producers like Frankie Knuckles and Larry Heard and blesses it with yacht-rock pixie dust. Kumar's disarmingly angelic voice isn't the focus this time around, but they're at least as fearsome as a producer as a singer.
Power-pop historian Mo Troper kicks off his full-album Revolver cover with a reverent version of "Rain," which isn't on the Beatles' 1966 masterpiece but comes from the same transitional period. Fans of the song are probably wondering: Did he nail the drum fill, one of the only ones in rock history liable to make a sympathetic listener choke up? Yes. Yes he did. The full album drops March 12 and benefits Defense Fund PDX.
Pizza paradise New Haven, Conn., boasts a knotty folk scene centered around Loren Connors, a prolific and original blues guitarist. Connors' early acoustic improvisation albums finds him mercilessly attacking a slide guitar, but by the '90s he was making moody, feral, distortion-drenched electric albums like 9th Avenue and Hell's Kitchen Park. His most accessible album is probably 2001's Airs, but as his category placement here should indicate, accessibility is not this guy's selling point.