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Live Music

Sept. 30

Learning to Cope

by: COURTESY OF MCT MANAGEMENT - Musician Citizen Cope has retained his voice in the face of commercialism, recording for independent label Rainwater Recordings, and he appears in Portland at the Aladdin Theater, Sept. 30.On Sept. 19, Clarence Greenwood, a.k.a. Citizen Cope, led a crowd of Chicago fans who enthusiastically sang along with a chorus of “Put the gun down/Put the gun down/Put the gun down ...” on his tune “Salvation.”

“I think that’s all bumped up because there’s always some crazy shooting happening,” Cope says in a phone interview.

He played the song out, in part, because of the Sept. 16 Navy Yard shootings in Washington, D.C. — yet little did Cope know that as he and his fans were jamming his tune, someone else was preparing to shoot 13 people in a Chicago park that same night.

You can tell from Cope’s voice on the phone he’s as sick of such mindless violence as anyone. But addressing thorny social topics is one of his songwriting specialties, so it’s not like he’s going to stop asking folks to table their pistols. The former turntabilist for alternative hip-hop group Basehead, Cope has forged a critically and popularly acclaimed career as a guitar-playing singer-songwriter during the past decade, earning plaudits from Eric Clapton — with whom he performed twice — as well as Carlos Santana, with whom he’s recorded. The older cats may respond to Cope’s timeless passion for his craft, which eschews overproduction and excessive layering for honest-to-Woody-Guthrie guts and story.

As an artist, Cope says it’s important to have a point of view, noting it can be anything from chasing women to chasing injustice.

“I think it’s a real artist’s obligation to push the boundaries of society and whatever the ruling norms are.”

Cope draws on everyone from Willie Nelson and Neil Young to Van Morrison and Al Green for inspiration and has released four albums tackling such themes as despair, hope and love. He has an almost strange vocal delivery, as if John Mayer mumbled his songs rather than sang them. Interestingly, however, it seems to work for Cope, who is clearly also a child of hip-hop, which gives his delivery a slight yet distinct twist, bounce and rhythm.

Cope has moved from label to label but now records independently on his own Rainwater Recordings. He says he’s been lucky enough to find his voice in a world where many other artists have been muted by commercial pressures.

“Creatively, I was always able to do what I wanted to do.”

Citizen Cope, 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30, Aladdin Theater, 3017 S.E. Milwaukie Ave. $35. Parent/guardian must accompany minor. Info: 503-234-9694, www.aladdin-theater.com.

'Round town

• Syrupy psychedelic folk rockers Rose Windows will join Great Wilderness and Midday Veil for a what’s sure to be a trippy show at Mississippi Studios, 3939 N. Mississippi St., at 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26. $12. Info: 503-288-3895, www.mississippistudios.com.

• Molly Ringwald, the 1980s Brat Pack heartthrob who now stars on the ABC Family show “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” is also a pretty darn good singer and is touring to promote her debut album “Except Sometimes,” which features her take on various jazz and other standards. You can hear her at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, in the Newmark Theatre, 1111 S.W. Broadway St. $33.50, $54. Info: (503) 248-4335 www.portland5.com/newmark-theatre.

• Tenor saxophonist Joe

Manis — who’s played with everyone from Wayne Newton to the Temptations — will bring his trio, featuring George Colligan on organ and Todd Strait on drums, to Ivories Jazz Lounge, 1435 Flanders St., at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28. Info: www.joemanis.com.

• Grateful Dead tribute band Dark Star Orchestra will jam at the Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside St., at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 5-6. $25 in advance, $27 day of show. All ages. Info: 503-225-0047, www.mcmenamins.com.