Bright Eyes Oakland Concert

By Michael Palecki

Shortly after Conor Oberst and his band Bright Eyes released their breakthrough album I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning in 2005, a larger musical audience began to take notice. As the recording moved into the Top 20 of Billboard album charts, it also brought attention to the independent label Saddle Creek Records and Alternative Country/ “Indie” Folk Music.

There was also quite a bit of critical acclaim and a lot of chatter about Emmylou Harris singing duets with Oberst. On first listening, his long wordy stanzas seemed almost impossible to sing, but he pulled them off with perfectly syncopated vocal articulation.

His song writing themes were fraught with emotional angst, isolation and the fragility of life. Just about the time all but the most hardcore listeners had enough of darkness, the next song would be a jaunty Country Rock jam reminiscent of a young Joe Walsh.

For the most part however, Oberst remained true to what set him apart. During an NPR music interview for the radio program All Things Considered, Oberst commented, “Sometimes when you’re not feeling good, you have to listen to really sad music like Eliot Smith. He wrote some of the sweetest, saddest and most gentle tunes, I have ever heard”.

In the music business, there were others in addition to Emmylou Harris that gravitated to Oberst. Bright Eyes collaborated on separate projects with Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and Steve Earle. Oberst credits his early influences to Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, John Prine, and coming full circle-to Emmylou Harris.

Although the 2007 Bright Eyes album Cassadaga was a bit over the top in orchestration and dramatic intensity, Oberst returned to his roots in 2008 with an exact opposite solo album. For that effort in his newfound apparition of the Mystic Valley Band, Conor Oberst was named, “Best Songwriter of 2008” by Rolling Stone Magazine.

Looking back at Cassadaga in a recent Rolling Stone Magazine interview, the enigmatic Conor Oberst disclosed, “That one felt like it was left in the oven too long”. For his reunion with Bright Eyes and songwriting for their new album just released, Oberst suggested to his band mates, “Let’s leave space”.

And that they did. In their new CD The People’s Key, Bright Eyes ventures back to a quasi-Punk sound with plenty of electric guitar and synthesizer. Although the truly Oberst quixotic departures in songwriting remain in place, Bright Eyes has moved away from melancholy into techno-pop. The song “Triple Spiral”, which is destined to become a hit single-is a rousing dance anthem.

Bright Eyes will perform on Tuesday April 12 at the Fox Theater in Oakland. While general admission standing room tickets are sold out, some reserved seats are available in the balcony. Don’t miss Oberst singing, “In with the new! Out with the old”! - presented by Another Planet Entertainment.

To purchase tickets, go to: or Ticketmaster.   


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In celebration of jazz legend Dave Brubeck’s 90th birthday on December 6, Masterworks Jazz releases two new titles from the Original Album Classics series: Dave Brubeck and The Dave Brubeck Quartet – TIME, available November 2. Both releases are specially-priced 5-CD collections of Brubeck’s classic albums. Each box set contains essential titles in their original album format, packaged in individual sleeves featuring the original album art.

The TIME box set includes the classic 1959 album Time Out (featuring the famous “Take Five”) with the Dave Brubeck Quartet and the four albums it inspired in the decade that followed: Time Further Out, Time Changes, Time In and Countdown: Time in Outer Space.

The Dave Brubeck box restores to the catalog five vintage titles (four featuring his quartet with Paul Desmond) from his golden years as a Columbia Records artist (1954-70): Jazz Goes to College (1954), the solo album Brubeck Plays Brubeck (1956), Gone with the Wind (1959), Brandenburg Gate: Revisited (1961) and Jazz Impressions of New York (1964).

Dave Brubeck is one of the most influential and respected pianists in modern jazz. The subject of a forthcoming documentary film from Malpaso Productions (Clint Eastwood’s production company), Brubeck was chosen for the Kennedy Center Honors in 2009, was presented the Grammy® Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996, and named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress.