Willamette Weekend: 16 Things to Do and See in Portland, Dec. 26-28

Friday, Dec. 26

The Von Trapps

[THE HILLS ARE ALIVE] Turns out all that stuff in The Sound of Music—Julie Andrews, problems like Maria, "Edelweiss," etc.—actually happened. In September 1938, the von Trapp family fled Nazi-occupied Austria and toured the U.S. as the "Trapp Family Singers." Seventy-five years later, the great-grandchildren of Maria and Georg von Trapp continue to perform under the family name. All four—Sofia, Melanie, Amanda and August—are singers, and lend their precise harmonies to songs across the stylistic spectrum, from classical to Motown to the traditional Chinese New Year song "Gong Xi," which they recorded while in China this year. This spring, they put out Dream a Little Dream with your mom's favorite Portland band, Pink Martini. Yeah, they do "Edelweiss." And yeah, it's beautiful enough to make even the most hardened bartender shed a tear. JAMES HELMSWORTH. Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., 288-3895. 6:30 and 9 pm. Early show sold out. Late show is $13 advance, $15 day of show. 21+.


[THE REAL MCCOY] Naming your band after a tiny village in Ireland could be read as a twee affectation, like wearing a derby or naming your backing band "and Sons." Or it could mean that you're someone that's done a lot of research into the roots of your preferred music, so you know what you're talking—and singing—about. While the the jury's still out on every other band that's named after a municipality in County Cork, Castletown falls into the latter category. The sound is a callback to late-'60s British folk, a seamless, low-key blend of Celtic, Americana and bluegrass. At the forefront is singer-guitarist Robert Ritcher, whose deep and pleasantly weathered voice sings songs of lighthouses and fair maidens that are far more convincing than that of most derby-doffing radio denizens. JAMES HELMSWORTH. Torta-landia, 4144 SE 60th Ave., 445-9966. 7 pm. Free. All ages.

Portland Youth Philharmonic

[CLASSICAL CHRISTMAS] One of the holiday season's most family-friendly classical concerts is also one of its best. All four of Portland Youth Philharmonic's sub-orchestras, as well as a band composed of grown-up PYP alums, perform a program worthy of any adult orchestra, including a breezily joyful recent composition by American composer-conductor Steven Amundson, Angel's Dance, Richard Strauss's gleeful gem Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks and more. BRETT CAMPBELL. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, 248-4335. 7:30 pm Friday, Dec. 26. $16-$47. All ages.

Boxing Day Comedy

[COMEDY] Christmas was yesterday. Today, you're broke and hung-over. Take in some standup from a few Portlanders and Angelenos, including Mikey Kampmann, Jay Weingarten, Jason Traeger and a "surprise guest" whose identity you can probably figure out if you think about which Oregonians-turned-Californians would be in town for the holidays. Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water Ave., 894-9708. 9 pm Friday, Dec. 26. $5.

Oregon Renaissance Band

[REAL HOLIDAY MUSIC] Most common Christmas carols date back no earlier than the 19th century and composers like Mendelssohn. They're mere whippersnappers compared to the fare performed at Oregon Renaissance Band's holiday concerts: centuries-old early Baroque and even Renaissance tunes by composers such as Michael Praetorius and the Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan. The same goes for the instruments: viola da gamba, lute, sackbuts, recorders, krummhorns, bagpipes, racketts, tartold, spinettino, tabor and other unfortunately archaic noisemakers that make ORB's shows unlike any other, and make those so-called "traditionalists" seem like young punks. BRETT CAMPBELL. Community Music Center, 3350 SE Francis St., 823-3177. 7:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 3 pm Sunday, Dec. 26-28. $12 students and seniors, $15 general admission. All ages.

Classical Revolution PDX

[BACH IN THE HOUSE] A bit of wordplay turned tradition, Classical Revolution PDX's eighth annual Bachxing Day gathering invites mostly amateur musicians to play some of J.S. Bach's hits (this year including a Brandenburg Concerto, selections from his comic Coffee Cantata and more) solo and in ensembles of various sizes. In keeping with the spirit of Boxing Day (named after holiday gift boxes), this year's party is also, in collaboration with Ethos Music Center, an instrument drive for young music students in need. Kid-sized violins and guitars are especially needed and music accessories are also welcome. BRETT CAMPBELL. Vie de Boheme, 1530 SE 7th Ave., 360-1233. 8 pm Friday, Dec. 26. Sliding-scale donation suggested. 21+.

Saturday, Dec. 29

Michael Vahrenwald: The People's Trust

[ART] A century ago, when money was money and banks were spelled with a capital “B,” architects built banks with towering columns and statuary to communicate the ideals of stability and tradition. Today, many of the great banks of the last century have closed, their headquarters replaced by cheap shops and restaurants. Photographer Michael Vahrenwald has captured images reflecting this incongruity: staid former bank buildings, their names still chiseled in granite, now inhabited by pawn shops, Payless stores, an El Rancho Mexican restaurant and shops for auto parts, wigs and liquor. Through Jan. 3. Hap Gallery, 916 NW Flanders St., 444-7101.

Midnight Mass

[COMEDY] Host Amy Miller celebrates a bunch of birthdays and holidays (secular and otherwise) at December's installment of this monthly standup showcase. Tonight's show features sets from—deep breath—Kristine Levine, Nariko Ott, Anthony Lopez, Jason Traeger, Billy Anderson, Cory Michaelis, Adam Pasi, Josef Anolin and a surprise guest or two. Funhouse Lounge, 2432 SE 11th Ave., 841-6734. Midnight Saturday, Dec. 27. Free.


[ART] If you've ever been to one of those cheesy rotating restaurants on top of a tall building, you'll understand the conceit behind Jessica Mallios' video installation, Tower of the Americas. Mallios set up a camera in front of the window of a rotating observation tower in San Antonio. The camera focuses not on the view outside, but on the glass window itself, with all its smudges, cracks and dried Windex drips. By honing in on these imperfections, the artist invokes a dreary bathos: the intrusion of mundanity into an otherwise exalted vista. Paired with Kevin Cooley's video installation Skyward, Mallios' contribution makes for a strong double bill in curator-in-residence Rachel Adams' second show at Disjecta. Through Jan. 11. Disjecta, 8371 N Interstate Ave., 286-9449.


[KIDS' SPECTACLE] Imago's long-running extravaganza, which has toured the world and spent time on Broadway, returns for the holidays. It's a family-friendly, fantastical show featuring elaborate costumes and impressive acrobatics. If you're raising kids in Portland, it's basically required viewing—and for good reason.Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8th Ave., 231-3959. Many showtimes through Jan. 4. See imagotheatre.com for schedule. $17.50-$34.50.

Blithe Spirit

[THEATER] eath is entirely a laughing matter. At least, that's the case in Artists Rep's production of Blithe Spirit, directed by Christopher Liam Moore. Noël Coward's 1941 comedy finds well-to-do author Charles (Michael Mendelson) inviting the spacy psychic Madame Arcati (Vana O'Brien) to his home for a séance as research for a novel he's writing. But the joke's on him: The séance accidentally summons the spirit of Elvira (Sara Hennessy), Charles' bratty first wife, who's been dead for seven years. Charles is the only one who can see or hear her, which leads to a slew of gags wherein his current wife, the stern Ruth (Jill Van Velzer), mistakes his jabs at Elvira for comments directed at her. Most of the humor, though, is faster and more novel. Charles—played with a perfect mix of snark and charm by Mendelson—is as clever as he is cruel. "You're not the dying sort," he quips to Ruth. The couple's flighty maid (Val Landrum) supplies no shortage of humor, whether shrieking the names of visitors or sprinting through the house. Posh accents and a lavish set—marble floors, chandeliers, giant bookcase—all denote that it's a period piece, but the brisk pacing allows this production to skirt Merchant-Ivory languor. Blink and you'll miss a bit. JAMES HELMSWORTH. Artists Repertory Theatre, 1515 SW Morrison St., 241-1278. 7:30 pm Wednesdays-Sundays and 2 pm Sundays through Jan. 4. $25-$55.

Holiday Friends, the Weather Machine, Snowblind Traveler

[POP] Few songs sent my roommates and me dancing around the living room this year more than Holiday Friends' "Spirit Girl." The entirety of the band's debut album is like that, full of surf guitars, thick layers of synth and anthemic sing-along vocals, reminiscent of both the Beach Boys and the Killers. But further listening reveals a seriousness beneath the sunny surface. Under the staggering drum beats and hollow organ, Scott Fagerland's woozy falsetto sings of bitter breakups and industrialization. Fresh from opening for Vance Joy, the Astoria quintet is set to perform new material at this month's headlining show. KAITIE TODD. Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., 288-3895. 9 pm. $10. 21+.

Sunday, Dec. 28

Burnside Brewing Fourth Anniversary

Burnside is 4 years old as of Dec. 28, and they're celebrating with free snacks, prizes, $4 beers, live music from Big Wet Country and Oleana, and the tapping of their 500th batch of beer, a NW Red Cedar IPA, which they brewed on inspiration from the Beers Made by Walking series in Forest Park. Cheers! Burnside Brewing Co., 701 E Burnside St., 946-8151. 6-11 pm.

Esme Patterson

[AMBER-HUED ROOTS] Ditching the safety of the three-part harmonies that made Colorado folk-rock act Paper Bird so safe, songwriter Esme Patterson has been consistently on the road and releasing new music. Her latest effort, titled Woman to Woman, finds the songwriter composing rejoinders to some of music's biggest names and the female characters in their songs. She recently wrapped up a fall tour with the bawdy Shakey Graves that brought her through town, but Patterson is setting up shop at Al's Den for a weeklong stint, dispensing the amber-hued roots stuff she's staked her name and overwhelming voice to. DAVE CANTOR. Al's Den at the Crystal Hotel, 303 SW 12th Ave., 972-2670. 7 pm. Free. Through Jan. 3. 21+.

Reignwolf, Down and Outlaws

[THE BLOOZ] With bluesy, distorted riffs and raspy vocals, Reignwolf vibes on a '70s hard-rock blend a la Jack White. It's not necessarily cutting edge, but the project has earned a good deal of hype for being essentially a one-man band, reigned over by Thomas Cook. Not only does Cook write the entirety of his material but he often plays guitar and drums at the same time. And seeing that Cook has toured alongside Black Sabbath, successfully recruited Pearl Jam's Matt Cameron to play drums and been called a musical "badass" by Tommy Lee, Reignwolf has certainly proved worthy of the accolades. ASHLEY JOCZ. Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., 231-9663. 8:30 pm. $20. 21+.

Rick Bain and the Genius Position, the Hugs, Mister Tang

[TRIUMPHANT RETURN] If you've seen Rick Bain around town recently, he was more likely selling you pottery at Saturday Market or fixing your electricity than playing music. The Portland psych-rocker released three acclaimed, atmospheric, '70s rock-inspired albums in the early 2000s, only to disappear from the music scene for almost a decade. But Bain has spent that time dreaming up a new album, which is apparently on the way. He has yet to reveal any details since he began teasing it over a year ago, but it's probably safe to assume that his upcoming show will include at least some new stuff. SHANNON GORMLEY. Rontoms, 600 E Burnside St., 236-4536. 9 pm. Free. 21+.