Rasputina, American Murder Song, Eliza Rickman

August 24, 2018 - 9:00pm

           On Friday, August 24, the Community Center for the Performing Arts and University of Oregon Campus Radio 88.1 FM KWVA proudly welcome Rasputina back to the WOW Hall along with special guests American Murder Song and Eliza Rickman.

Pioneers in the use of cello as the sole instrument within a rock band, Rasputina has been inspiring young string players to commit a number of musical sins since 1996.  The group's concept was written as a manifesto, and manifested accordingly by directress Melora Creager as a wily subterfuge for a plot to open audiences to adventure.  The funny, the sad, the heavy, the tender -- it can all exist together.

Employing elaborate costuming spanning a number of historical periods, Rasputina brings marginalized historical female figures and stories to light in the pop form, using archetypal characters such as Indian princesses, Hawaiian handmaidens and Medieval queens.  Melora last performed in Europe with Nirvana, on their final tour in 1994.  Over the years, Rasputina has performed/recorded with Marilyn Manson, Porno For Pyros, Cheap Trick, Goo Goo Dolls and many others.  Hardened road-dogs, and with more than seven albums under their belt, Rasputina continues to amaze and amuse.

            Rasputina is touring in support of their latest album, Unknown.

Melora says, “Unknown is 14 new songs recorded alone in a dank basement studio.  I quite liked it though, that dank basement studio.  I didn't feel at all alone.  Using only one microphone, the whole album poured out of me in just three weeks -- writing, recording, the whole thing.

Unknown is a CD only release- non-digital.  Why?  At one level, this album is about trauma, Melora’s trauma at being hacked -- silently and anonymously observed through the Cloud.  Conceptually, this album doesn’t exist on the Internet.  It’s a real and physical thing.  Anyone who purchases it is known to her.

Meet Rasputina:

MELORA CREAGER - voice, cello, banjo

Kansas born and raised, she moved to NYC in the 1980’s.  Melora received classical music training as a child, but her performance career began with rock bands and East Village drag/performance artists.  She founded the alternative/ historical cello ensemble Rasputina in 1991 as a way to meet like-minded girls -- girls that wanted to rock out on the cello and wear fine costumery.  The sound and visual concepts that began in Creager's Rasputina manifestos presaged and influenced movements and trends such as Modern Victorians, Steampunk, freak-folk, corsetry and crafting.  In 19 recordings, and countless public performances, Creager has led a 20-year exploration in cello amplification, recording, and performance.

LUIS MOJICA- piano, beat-boxing

Luis uses the piano to cast wild narrative spells.  His eyes are that of an androgynous monk with rainbow tentacles.  Luis loops words, chants, and sounds through a loop pedal AKA beatboxing, ‘Beat-Boxing Baroque’.  Luis brings his musical madness to Rasputina today.

CARPELLA PARVO- cello, voice

Cello-fingers in flight and with the voice of a bird, Carpella is from another country, but keeps it a secret which one.  She played on Rasputina's debut album, Thanks for the Ether (1996), then succumbed to the very condition from which she takes her name -- carpal tunnel syndrome.  Having healed over 20 years, Carpella jubilantly returns to Rasputina in the 21st century.




Cult musical filmmakers Terrance Zdunich and Saar Hendelman welcome you to American Murder Song.  Embark with them on, “a playful and murderous odyssey through the territories of American identity, looming mortality, and divine judgment” (Sing Out).

Having won the hearts of midnight movie audiences by starring in and co-creating the Lionsgate film sensation Repo!  The Genetic Opera -—hailed as “this generation’s Rocky Horror Picture Show” (Hollywood Reporter) and counted amongst The 25 Best Cult Movies Of All Time by a Rolling Stone readers’ poll — Terrance teamed up with Saar to craft the music and tales for the film series The Devil’s Carnival.  It was declared: “One of the single greatest Devil-centric stories every told” (Ain’t It Cool News).  In these films, they collaborated with the Saw series horror director Darren Lynn Bousman and performers ranging from Joan Jett to Tech N9ne to David Hasselhoff.

From there, the songwriting and performing duo veered into the dusty heart of America with American Murder Song, a collection of original Murder Ballads that explore history through a sensational rogues’ gallery of murderesses and cutthroats.

During American Murder Song’s debut year, Terrance and Saar led audiences back in time to 1816, to the infamous inn that served as the hunting ground for America’s first female serial killer, pretty Lavinia Fisher.  Collaborating with the likes of Chibi from The Birthday Massacre, Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz and Scotty Morris of the legendary swing revival act Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, they produced a series of cinematic concept albums and music videos, and traveled the country with The American Wake Tour.

Now, inspired by 1960’s television spook shows, they have imagined the one and only true retelling of The Donner Party experience via the lens of their own, fictional Twilight Zone style show: The Black Wagon.




There is always a hint of menace and reservoirs of force haunting the corners of Eliza Rickman’s voice, whatever register it occupies.  Her presence on stage -- whether she wears flowers in her hair, or stuffed birds; whether she plays a toy piano or a grand piano -- is an enveloping, soft darkness, impossible to ignore.  It has been three years between Rickman’s first album, O, You Sinners, and her newest effort, Footnotes for the Spring.  In those intervening three years, Rickman added the autoharp to her repertoire, fought illness and heartbreak (and won), and turned 30.  But mostly, she toured.  She is a frequent featured musical act for the live rendition of the popular podcast Welcome to Night Vale, she joined the band Rasputina for a handful of dates, and she organized her own successful solo European tour.

During those three years, Rickman’s vocal delivery has also developed a new breathlessness.  She wrote all the string arrangements on her debut.  But friend Jason Webley produced and orchestrated Footnotes.  Here, Rickman’s voice casts its shadow against Webley’s shimmering strings and a Phil Spector style wall of sound, flecked with melancholy and nostalgia.

This clutch of songs comprises, among others, “Lark of my Heart”, written to commemorate the wedding day of Margaret Rucker, an unknown poet whose scrapbook was found in a dumpster many years after her death;  “Now and Then”, whose opening lines encapsulate the juxtaposition at the heart of the album -- “Oh, to be young again/blood is on my hands” -- and “Wax Nostalgic”, whose title speaks for itself.  But this is nostalgia without sentimentality.  Rickman’s voice has the power to hold the smallest grain of sadness, an intimation that the longed-for innocence depicted in her lyrics has slipped just below the glow of the orchestra and out of sight.

Tickets are $14 in advance, $16 day of show.  Doors at 8:00 pm; showtime 9:00.  And if you’ve never been to a Rasputina show, be warned that most longtime fans come dressed appropriately for the event.  Better hit the used clothing stores first.


Door Time: 
August 24, 2018 - 8:00pm
$14 Advance, $16 Day of Show