Arts & Entertainment
Keeping up with Eugene’s multifaceted entertainment offerings involves previewing the listings put out by two local newspapers, Eugene Weekly (http://eugeneweekly.com) and the daily Eugene Register Guard (www.registerguard.com); both have good online events listings, with the Weekly being a little more alternative.
Call the University of Oregon ticket office (541/346-4461) for athletic event information.
Dancing and Music
If you tire of watching other folks in action, the best spot for frenetic dancing in town is the W.O.W. Hall (291 W. 8th Ave., 541/687-2746, www.wowhall.org). This old Wobblie (International Workers of the World) meeting hall has remained a monument to Oregon’s activist past in labor history (well, sort of, anyway: Its motto is now “Fighting to save rock & roll since 1975”). Despite having all the ambience of a junior-high-school gym, it hosts some surprisingly famous rock and blues performers. The W.O.W. bills itself as having the best hardwood dance floor in the Pacific Northwest. In any case, it’s probably the most crowded and features an interesting cross section of Eugenians. Beer and wine are served downstairs.
The John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts (868 High St., 541/434-7000, www.theshedd.org) brings in some really fun music (think Buckwheat Zydeco, Dar Williams, Steve Martin playing his banjo) and offers a wide variety of programs, including a performing arts company, a cultural arts center, and a community music school. Concerts are at the Shedd’s Jaqua Concert Hall, the Hult Center, and other locations.
Dancing to live bands at the Erb Memorial Union Ballroom (13th Ave. and University St., 541/346-6000) is a Eugene tradition. Local guy who made good Robert Cray and other nationally known performers have played here. The dance floor is more spacious than the W.O.W. Hall’s but can actually exceed its downtown counterpart in BTUs generated by the mass of writhing bodies.
Concerts frequently take place within the cavernous enclaves of Autzen Stadium, the home field to the Oregon Ducks football team. A good sound system has made it possible for tens of thousands of concert attendees to enjoy such artists as Bob Dylan and U2.
For more sedate listening, the Hult Center is next door to the Hilton. The Eugene Symphony and other estimable local groups like the Eugene Concert Choir perform here along with a wide-ranging array of headliners from the world of music and comedy. This is also where the Bach Festival concerts occur. At Christmastime, the Eugene Ballet’s Nutcracker is always a treat.
The Oregon Electric Station Restaurant and Lounge (27 E. 5th Ave., 541/485-4444) hosts live jazz and is open nightly. This historic landmark features excellent dinner ($18–30) and lunch ($8–16) entrées, a full bar, a back room with wing chairs, and the ambience of an English club. But you never forget you’re in Tracktown, USA, thanks to a wall festooned with photos of Alberto Salazar and Steve Prefontaine.
In the same neighborhood, The Beanery (152 W. 5th Ave., 541/342-3378) has live folk and blues at night and excellent coffee. This spacious coffeehouse, located in a charming old building across from the Lane County Jail, attracts everyone from off-duty cops to madmen playing speed chess. Home-baked goodies and breakfast, lunch, and dinner entrées (under $10) can be ordered at the counter. The Beanery is open every day.
Several clubs are clustered within about a two-block area around West Broadway. John Henry’s (77 W. Broadway, 541/342-3358) is a music-oriented bar, with a bit of a punk touch. Jameson’s (115 W. Broadway, 541/485-9913) has a good atmosphere; it’s classy but not overly fussy. SNAFU (64 W. 8th Alley) is a gay-oriented dance bar with fancied-up disco-ball lighting.
Out in the Whiteaker neighborhood, Sam Bond’s Garage (407 Blair Blvd., 541/343-2635) serves live music (including weekly bluegrass jams), microbrews, and a menu of vegetarian pub grub until dawn; it’s open every day.
While there’s no shortage of movie houses in this town, the real screen gems are usually found at the university (consult the Oregon Daily Emerald, the U. of O. student newspaper, available free on and near campus) and the Bijou Theatre (492 E. 13th Ave., 541/686-2458, www.bijou-cinemas.com). The university series favors cult films and classics, and the inexpensive ticket price helps you forget the oppressiveness of the lecture halls that serve as theaters. For about twice the price, the Bijou is the place to see foreign films, art flicks, and less commercial mainstream movies. Located in an intimate Moorish-style converted church, the Bijou offers great munchies and late-night presentations.
Cutting-edge theater can be enjoyed at Lord Leebrick (540 Charnelton St., 541/684-6988).
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel