Review: Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters in Bend

Robert Plant performs Monday night in Bend. Photo courtesy Mike Albright Photography / mikealbright.com.

Robert Plant performs Monday night in Bend.
Photo courtesy Mike Albright Photography / www.mikealbright.com.

For a guy who long ago achieved global domination via rock ‘n’ roll, Robert Plant’s obsession with American roots music is sort of sweetly adorable.

During his show Monday night at Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend, Plant’s between-song banter included multiple references to his home country “over there” (i.e. England), to music that came to America on ships, to murder ballads and Mississippi Delta blues, plus Charlie Patton, Howlin’ Wolf, black culture moving north to Chicago and more. Before diving into “Little Maggie,” the first song on his 2014 album “Lullaby… and The Ceaseless Roar,” he acknowledged its deep roots in traditional Appalachian music. Introducing a bluesy song later in the show, he offered this disclaimer: “Here’s a song I have no responsibility for.” Then he played “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” a song Led Zeppelin adapted from early 20th century bluesman Blind Willie Johnson on its 1976 album “Presence.”

Courtesy Ed Miles

Courtesy Ed Miles

But it was the songs that Plant is undeniably responsible for — songs he is intrinsically connected to, forever and beyond — that made Monday’s show special. “Lullaby” is a good record and Plant has been touring with his current band the Sensational Space Shifters for three years, but a quick scan around the Schwab showed folks were there primarily to hear Led Zeppelin songs, and Plant did not disappoint them. He sprinkled his 90ish-minute set with both folksy deep cuts (“Black Country Woman,” the banjo-powered “Going to California”) and some of his old band’s most popular, muscular songs, like “Black Dog” and “Whole Lotta Love,” whose iconic guitar riff roared to life under a gorgeous High Desert dusk sky. It was one of the highlights of the night.

Otherwise, Plant and his band played a few songs from his post-Zep career, including the beautiful, gospel-tinged “Rainbow,” complete with a fleet of African hand drums; “Turn It Up,” which stomps along to a thunderous drumbeat; and a cover of Willie Dixon’s blues staple “Spoonful,” which Plant retrofitted with a glitchy, bloopy synthesizer part that showcased just how musically omnivorous a 66-year-old rock ‘n’ roll god can be.

Still, when you go see Robert Plant perform in 2015, you must know that you’re going to be surrounded by folks in Led Zeppelin T-shirts who are going to stand and cheer and dance at the first sign of a song embedded in the soundtrack of their lives. That was the scene Monday night in Bend, where Plant and his band gave the people a healthy dose of nostalgia, while sneaking in a bit of his current interests as well.

Big concert weekend in Bend!

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Fellow denizens of RecentlyOvercastlandia, know this: No matter what the sky does to us over the next few days (and no matter what Pope Gregory XIII’s calendar says), Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to Central Oregon’s concert season.

That’s because in most years, Memorial Day weekend is when Bend’s biggest concert venue, Les Schwab Amphitheater, roars to life. And this year is no exception. There are three great concerts happening over the upcoming long weekend: The Decemberists and Spoon tonight, Ryan Adams on Saturday and Robert Plant & The Sensational Shape Shifters Monday.

Those shows are just the start of a big summer of both ticketed and free shows at the Schwab. We’ll cover all that later, but for now, let’s dig deeper into this weekend’s acts. Below, I’ve included a few words about each artist, plus a YouTube playlist of 10 of their best songs. Perfect for killing off the rest of your Friday soundtracking your hard-working Friday afternoon!

The Decemberists (tonight)
Led by folk-pop laureate Colin Meloy, The Decemberists — perhaps Portland’s most Portland-y band — have been one of the most consistent acts of the past dozen years or so, with seven fine-to-classic albums under their belt. Their most recent, “What a Terrible World, What a Wonderful World,” finds the band augmenting its usual folk-song model with choral vocals, horns, piano and more. Tonight, The Decemberists will play the Schwab for the fifth time; expect lots of witty between-song banter from the charismatic Meloy.


Spoon (tonight)
This Austin, Texas band has one of the most recognizable aesthetics in indie rock, thanks to the distinctive songwriting of founder and frontman Britt Daniel, whose songs are rough-hewn and tightly wound. But they’re irresistibly rhythmic, they crackle with nervous energy and they’re reliably melodic, though sometimes in an unconventional way. Spoon’s most recent record, “They Want My Soul,” is the sound of a band reinvigorated after a four-year hiatus. It’s one of Spoon’s best, and that’s saying a lot.


Ryan Adams (Saturday)

Ryan Adams couldn’t even legally drink alcohol when his alt-country band, Whiskeytown, emerged from North Carolina’s fertile music scene in the mid-1990s. By the 2000s, he’d gone solo, and ever since, he has released a staggering number of albums, most spilling over with great songs. (His hyper-prolific pace has resulted in a few duds here and there, too.) Adams’ self-titled 2014 record is his best in years — it earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Album — and his current live show is a stunner.


Robert Plant (Monday)

For more than three decades, Robert Plant has been proving there’s life after Led Zeppelin. From his successful solo career in the 1980s to his ’90s albums with Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page to his blockbuster collaboration with Alison Krauss, Plant has masterfully navigated life after fronting one of the biggest bands of all time. His 2014 album “Lullaby and… the Ceaseless Roar” is a warm, wonderful slice of cosmopolitan folk-rock that received excellent reviews: “An album to get lost in,” said Allmusic.com.

You can find the rest of Les Schwab Amphitheater’s 2015 lineup — including Phish, Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss, Ben Harper, Sheryl Crow, Wilco and more — here. And don’t forget about the venue’s free Summer Sunday concert series, which features Sunday-afternoon concerts that are pet-friendly, picnic-friendly and free for all to attend!

Keep an eye on this blog … we’ll have a roundup of free live music in Central Oregon this summer in the coming weeks!

Wilderness performs on MyWindow, raises funds for second album

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Here at BendBroadband, we’ve been fans of local pop-rock group Wilderness for a while now. The band’s music has soundtracked our ubiquitous Rock On commercial for about a year, and we’ve talked to frontman Jared Smith about the role the Internet plays in recording and promoting a band in 2015. (Hint: It plays an important role.)

Anyway, Wilderness was recently on the daily, Central Oregon-focused TV show myWindow, where they played a new song called “Join the Chase” that’s likely to be on the band’s sophomore album, according to Smith. You can watch that performance, plus a short interview, below.

Also, Wilderness is currently running a fundraising campaign to press said sophomore effort to vinyl. If you’d like to check that out and consider supporting the effort, click here.

Last but not least, the band will play the popular Summer Sunday Concerts series at Les Schwab Amphitheater Aug. 2. BendBroadband is proud to sponsor the series, which is free to attend, pet- and picnic-friendly and almost always bathed in glorious High Desert sunshine!

Introducing Mittens, the Alpha cat

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This is Mittens.

At first glance, Mittens appears to be a sweet, friendly kitty, ideal for an evening of lap-warming and TV-watching.

But look more closely at Mittens’ eyes. Mittens is a mischievous cat. A cat who cares not one bit about your well-laid DVR plans. And Mittens is fickle — he is a cat, after all. His allegiance is motivated not by love or loyalty or tasty snacks, but simply by who’s sitting on the couch at any given moment and whether they have a hand suitable for petting a cat.

Or maybe Mittens is just a convenient, fuzzy scapegoat.

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Regardless of the cat’s internal inclinations, Mittens is the star of BendBroadband’s new commercial for Alpha, our in-home entertainment solution that allows you to record up to six shows at once, watch them on any TV in the house and manage your recordings remotely.

Keep an eye out for Mittens’ dazzling performance in the coming days, and check back later this week for an interview with the soon-to-be-famous feline.

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TV is a sports fan’s paradise in May and June

This Saturday is shaping up to be one of the biggest and best sports days ever, with the NBA and NHL playoffs in full swing, the NFL Draft in its third day and baseball’s premiere rivalry playing out in Boston, plus the 141st Kentucky Derby and the hotly anticipated boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao

It’s just the beginning of a strong couple months of sports programming. Here’s a roundup of what’s happening, sports-wise, on TV in May and June.

— If you’re not already sick of the hype, you can order Saturday’s long-awaited Mayweather/Pacquiao bout by tuning your TV to channel 997 (HD) or 998 (standard definition) and ordering right from your set-top box. Or, give your BendBroadband account manager a call and they can order it for you.

— Saturday is also Derby Day in the great state of Kentucky, where the 141st Run for the Roses is scheduled to begin at around 3:24 p.m. They call it the most exciting two minutes in sports, so make sure you tune to NBC a bit early so you don’t miss it.

— The Portland Trail Blazers may be out of it, but the NBA playoffs will continue through May and into June, broadcast on ABC, ESPN and TNT. Pro tip: When given a choice, tune into a Western Conference game. Most of the best teams are in the West, and the East’s best are either hurting (the Cleveland Cavaliers have just lost former Lake Oswego high school star Kevin Love for the rest of the season) or not playing their best basketball (the Atlanta Hawks went 17-0 in January, but have come back to Earth since).

— The final eight teams in the chase for Lord Stanley’s Cup are set, and the NHL playoffs are about to heat up. Hockey fans may be few and far between in this part of the country, but true puckheads will tell you there’s nothing quite like playoff hockey. Games will air on the NBC Sports Network. During intermission, check out these 22 facts about one of sports’ most hallowed trophies.

— Our insatiable appetite for all things NFL has turned the NFL Draft into a huge spectacle, and this year, both the NFL Network and ESPN will broadcast all seven rounds. The first round happens tonight, the second and third round air Friday and rounds four through seven air Saturday. Both networks will offer lots of previews and analysis, too. Stick it through all the way to the end to find out who’ll be Mr. Irrelevant!

— Every four years, the FIFA Women’s World Cup captures America’s attention, and this year’s event begins June 6. Games will be played across the host country of Canada, from Vancouver to Moncton and several points in between, with the final set for July 5 in Vancouver. They’ll be aired by the Fox Sports family of networks.

— Summer is baseball season, which means the Seattle Mariners are on ROOT Sports almost every day. Here’s their schedule. And if you’re part of the national fan bases of the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox, you’ve got some games to watch this weekend. Tonight and Saturday’s will be on the MLB Network, and Sunday’s on ESPN.

— The College Baseball World Series is set for late June in Omaha, and will air on ESPN’s phalanx of channels.

— The grandaddy of the grand slam events in tennis, Wimbledon, runs from late June into mid-July. ESPN and ABC will broadcast the matches.

As always, you can find all of BendBroadband’s offerings — including a whole bunch of sports channels — in our channel lineup.

Save big on Showtime starting today

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Beginning today, BendBroadband customers can save big on a subscription to SHOWTIME, just in time for the season premieres of popular shows like HAPPYish and Penny Dreadful.

Sign up for SHOWTIME with the form below and you’ll be locked in at a price of $6.95 per month for 12 months. That’s a 60 percent savings over the normal cost to sign up for the channel (and more if you sign up for SHOWTIME and another premium channel).

This is a great time to add SHOWTIME to your menu of viewing options. The seventh and final season of Nurse Jackie premiered on April 12. The new comedy HAPPYish premieres Sunday. Penny Dreadful, a British-American horror series, premieres May 3. And July will bring the premieres of Masters of Sex and Ray Donovan.

A subscription to SHOWTIME includes access to more than 150 hours of Video On Demand programming at no additional charge, so you can watch movies, specials and original series when it’s most convenient for you. Sign up right here:

Earn rewards while you watch, surf and talk!

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At BendBroadband, we love and appreciate our customers. Truly.

So this month, we’re rolling out another way of saying thank you for your patronage.

We now have a customer rewards program! And it’s super easy to use. Simply point your trusty web browser to www.bendbroadband.com/rewards and fill out the form. There’s no catch, no card to keep track of. Once you’re signed up, you’ll simply receive one point for every dollar you spend with BendBroadband, including fees for services, equipment rental, Video on Demand and Pay-Per-View … everything! There’s also a 100-point sign-up bonus.

Accrue 1,000 points and you’ll qualify for a $25 gift card to Amazon or Fred Meyer.

You can sign up, check your balance, redeem your points and get more details on the program at www.bendbroadband.com/rewards.

A new way to know when you’re near your usage limit

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Over the past seven months, only about 4 percent of BendBroadband’s residential Internet customers have exceeded their monthly data allowance in a given month.

Now, we’re implementing a new system to try to drive that number down even further.

As of April 1, customers who subscribe to one of BendBroadband’s residential Internet services automatically receive an email when they hit 70 percent, 90 percent and 100 percent of their monthly usage allowance. Those notifications will go to the email address we have on record, whether it ends with bendbroadband.com, bendcable.com or some other service. To make sure we have your best address, visit our website. And if you don’t want to receive the email notifications, you can opt out of receiving them.

(Note: Usage data is compiled and reported once a day between 4-6 a.m. Notifications are based on this data and are sent once per day at 7 a.m.)

And remember: You can monitor your data usage on our website. Just click My Account, select Internet Usage and enter your BendBroadband email address and password to access your statistics.

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Free Universal Sports preview April 18-27

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Just in time for the 119th Boston Marathon, the Universal Sports Network will offer a free 10-day preview to all BendBroadband customers from April 18-27. The channel — 45 and 645 (HD) — is normally available to TV customers with the Bronze Variety and Sports packages only.

Here’s a roundup of some of the programming you can catch during the preview:

• April 19, 1 p.m. — Boston Marathon Preview Show
• April 20, 5:30 a.m. — Boston Marathon
• April 20, 1 p.m. — Boston Marathon Wrap Up Show
• April 26, 6 a.m. — London Marathon
• April 24, 4:30 p.m. — Drake Relays, a track and field event held in Des Moines, Iowa

Universal Sports will also broadcast Ironman New Zealand (April 22), a beach volleyball event in Fuzhou, China (April 25-26) and the ITU World Triathlon Series from Cape Town, South Africa (April 25-26).

Last year, Meb Keflezighi became the first American man to win the Boston Marathon in three decades. Relive his final steps below!

Keep your children safe online

Today’s children are growing up in a very different world. Do you worry about keeping your kids safe online? Here’s your chance to learn how to prevent digital issues like sexting, cyber bullying, irresponsible use of apps, poor social media behavior and sexual exploitation from affecting your family.

Internet safety

 

BendBroadband has partnered with KIDS Center to put on two events in Bend and Redmond designed to raise awareness in adolescents about the potential dangers of life in the digital age.

The award-winning “Public and Permanent: Preventing Sexting, Cyber Bullying and Beyond” will take place on April 20 and 21. The program is appropriate for children in middle school and older, and an adult must accompany all children. Attendees will gain a greater awareness of negative, irresponsible and malicious online behavior and learn how to reduce the risk of being a victim of cyber-crime, cyber bullying and digital exploitation.

“The Internet and digital technologies provide many opportunities and valuable information to our children,” says Sonja Donohue, manager of community relations at BendBroadband. “However, it’s more critical than ever that both parents and students understand how to be safe online.”

According to a study from the i-SAFE Foundation, more than half of teens have been bullied online or have engaged in cyber bullying.

“It is important that parents understand Internet safety risks and talk to their children about dangers that exist online,” says Kim Bohme, prevention coordinator at KIDS Center. “Adults need to help establish appropriate online behaviors for their children.”

Richard Guerry, author and executive director of the Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication (IROC2), will lead the program, showing attendees how to prevent sexting, cyber bullying, poor social media behavior, sexual exploitation and irresponsible use of apps.

The events will take place at Redmond High School on Monday, April 20 and Bend Senior High School on Tuesday, April 21, both from 6-8 p.m. The cost for each is $5 for adults and free for children.

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Register in advance at www.kidscenter.org. Tickets will also be available at the door the day of the event. All proceeds benefit the KIDS Center, a non-profit dedicated to the prevention, evaluation and treatment of child abuse in Central Oregon.

For more advice, check out this article published by our parent company, TDS, with nine tips for keeping your kids safe online.