can you argue?
Dolinger comes to play
Self-proclaimed new-age redneck and hillbilly hippy Danny Dolinger
hitchhikes 100 miles from Eugene to Portland's Snake and Weasel
every Tuesday for happy hour.
In and of itself, the happy hour isn't bad; $2.50 pints of excellent
small-batch microbrews (check out the Shipwreck Stout) can be had
from 6-8 p.m. Moreover, with its deep-purple ceiling, darkly colored,
intimate lighting, comfortable couches and unusual shape, the Snake
and Weasel is a very pleasant space to bide-a-wee.
But that's not what brings Danny Dolinger. He comes to play.
Battered, stained cowboy hat firmly planted on his head, Dolinger
leans into a short set of rain-related covers. Some you'd expect
from a countrified spiritual Oregonian, such as "Who'll Stop
The Rain," "Let It Rain" and "Fire and Rain."
wasn't born a hillbilly hippy, but he's clearly drawn that way.
But then starts "That's The Way Of The World" by Earth,
Wind and Fire? In slow-burn bluegrass stylee? After such impeccably
chosen covers, how can you argue?
Dolinger picks a mean, worn-down acoustic guitar. Speeding Kentucky
solos careen wildly away from the tunes, yet always lead right back.
Mostly, his deft strumming points up the beautiful, razor-sharp
songwriting of his covers set. But Dolinger proves he can write
as he winds up the first set with his own tunes.
Dolinger's been in Oregon about a year and a half, mostly by way
of Austin, Texas. Though he misses that vibrant scene, he says he
really likes what Oregon has to offer musically the bluegrass
scene in particular and otherwise.
After just a few months of Tuesday happy hours, he's got a devoted
cadre of fans who enjoy his medium-high lonesome voice and energetic
picking replete with behind the back solos, no less.
More of that delicious stout and some fine company keeps me happy
till Dolinger takes the stage again. He's in good company, too,
as I see a serious fan recording his set and others singing along
to almost every song.
Dolinger's work is highly charged politically. Songs addressing
inter-familial Pagan/Christian conflicts and the victims of American
global imperial-capitalism are presented alongside an anti-establishment
national anthem that the audience sings along with, word for word.
But then there's his cover of Elton John's "Rocket Man"
and a song sung from the point of view of Speed Racer's nemesis,
a lovesick Racer X. The contrasts in Dolinger's set settle things
right nicely; his homespun bluegrass folkism is humane, combining
wit and good humor with deep convictions.
The Snake and Weasel earns points for earnestness and great beer
a perfect spot for some new-time religion and a warm grin.
Dolinger winds down, a little spent, as a steamy-windowed bus,
perhaps reminding him of the long trip home, lumbers down Southeast
12th through the wind and rain.
Catch Danny Dolinger:
The self-proclaimed new-age redneck and hillbilly hippy appears
Tuesdays at the Snake and Weasel, 6-8 p.m.