That’s the sort of “attention-grabbing” headline thrown around when talking about Jake Bugg, the 19 and soon to be 20 year-old UK breakout guy. Well, at least the Bob Dylan part of it. OK so he plays a harmonica and has a free-from-fanfare approach to his performance, plus there’s a unique twang to his voice that he can actually dial down into what someone behind me at the Crystal Ballroom last week declared to be “baby-making” music.


My friend and and overnight-guest,  frequent concert-goer and guest blogger Cynthia Orlando (see her review, below) and I did the unthinkable (at least from MY perspective) and went out in the middle of  the week to see Mr. Bugg do his thing. (Folly, maybe, because of a very early wake-up call the next day… and yeah alarms were slept through).


We grabbed a bite and got into the Crystal in time to catch  two openers.  Brooklyn-based The Skins and a truly impressive Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes fame, shown below.




As far as I can recall, Cynthia was the one who turned me on to Jake Bugg. And that was when he was being called the “next Bob Dylan”. I listened and thought ok, he is good. But it wasn’t until I listened to his newest collection of tracks on the Shangri La release, that I heard what makes him irresistible.  Favorite track, Slumville Sunrise,  is below, after Cynthia’s review. I was thinking about the media-feed going on now about Justin Bieber, and then you see his UK equivalent , if only in age and initials, and I am really liking the serious and subdued  quality Bugg offers. (Though who knows how HE prefers to kick out his jams and when). Read on for Cynthia’s review, below.


Jake Bugg at Portland’s Crystal Ballroom: Just another perfect performance 

Even long-time fans of singer Jake Bugg had to be surprised and delighted to hear audience members at the Crystal Ballroom chant his name as the rocker from Nottingham walked onstage Wednesday night to launch into his setlist, but that’s how it happened.

He opened with “There’s a Beast, and We All Feed it,” the first track from new release, “Shangri La.”  a cynical song filled with observations about life, and the bad choices people make on a daily basis. Bugg tours with only a drummer and bass player, a perfect combination for his style and musical genre. The stage held several guitars, including the same small acoustic with incredible sound and warmth he toured with last year.

For the next 90 minutes, the young, talented musician delivered a well-paced, perfectly performed setlist before a diverse crowd of fans – not quite as large as his last Portland show, but no less passionate and enthusiastic. 

Show highlights included “Pine Trees,” “Simple As This,” and my own personal favorite, his Hank Willilams-ish “Storm Passes Away.”

Another highlight? From his second album, ” A Song About Love,” – it’s equivalent being the transcendent “Broken,” which he also sang Wednesday. It’s a pity music listeners aren’t hearing “A Song About Love” yet on the radio – but they will, soon.


While he won’t be touring here in the near future, music enthusiasts can find Jake Bugg’s albums on iTunes or streaming from Portland Radio Project’s website.

~Cynthia Orlando