Aug. 10


Aaron Meola, manager of Portland electronic music label Dropping Gems, and John Kammerle, aka Rap Class, sit in Pinky’s pizza joint on North Interstate Boulevard in North Portland, and struggle to define their label’s music.

“Music to zone out to,” Class says.

“It’s not electronic dance music,” Meola adds.

“But it can be uptempo,” Class responds.

Finally, a certain music writer suggests, “Lounge-tronic?”

Both men seem satisfied with that moniker, as they talk about the label’s latest compilation release, available on cassette and digitally, called "Gem Drops Four." The album features 21 tracks from various artists, including Rap Class, Philip Grass, Ghost Feet, Free the Robots and Natasha Kmeto, probably the label’s best-known artist.

It’s best listened to from start to finish, as each track builds on the one before it, creating a meditative mood in the listener who is drawn in, rather than pushed on, by the music. For those unfamiliar with experimental electronic music, it’s a compelling introduction to a genre that uses live performers, “real” instruments, laptops, turntables, samplers — everything that goes into music these days.

Every artist on the label generally creates the music in their humble abodes using home-recording equipment, as opposed to a single studio, Meola says. Despite its growing reputation in the international electronic music scene, Dropping Gems is more about friends enjoying music than about celebrity-seeking musicians frantically trying to “make it.” Rap Class, a multi-instrumentalist who got into sampling and who will deejay any event from weddings to happy hours, echoes that sentiment. Like Meola, he’s more about the journey than the destination.

“Dropping Gems is very much a collective,” Meola concludes as Class nods in agreement. “Overall, the ethos is this group of friends putting music out there because we like making music.”

Dropping Gems, free, 21 and older party, 3-10 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 10, at White Owl Social Club, 1305 S.E. Eighth Ave. DJ sets from Bone Rock, Break Mode, Brownbear, Citymouth, DJAO, Ghost Feet, Natasha Kmeto, Philip Grass and Rap Class. Info:

Aug. 13

Heat wave

One of the most successful reggae bands ever, Third World, has enjoyed such hits as “Now That We Found Love” and “Try Jah Love,” and puts on one of the more crowd-friendly shows in the genre.

The band has long mixed elements of R&B, funk, pop, rock and dancehall, into their four-part harmony-style reggae, which they continue to develop on their latest studio album, “Under the Magic Sun.” The band lost its lead singer to cancer, William “Bunny” Rugs in February, and AJ Brown — who has sung with the band on a previous tour — has taken on vocal duties. Third World also features Stephen "Cat" Coore on guitar and vocals, Richard "Bassie" Daley on bass, Tony "Ruption" Williams on drums and percussion, Norris "Noriega" Webb and Maurice "Smooth Lion" Gregory on keys, and new member Brown on lead vocals. Reggae-rock-psychedelic-hip-hoppers Sol Seed, from Eugene, shares the bill.

Third World, Sol Seed, 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 13, Alhambra Theatre, 4811 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd. $20. 21 and older. Info: 503-610-0410,

Quick hits

• Grammy-nominated, bebop-soaked jazz pianist Eldar was called a “genius” by no less than Dave Brubeck, and the 20-something star takes the stage at 8 p.m. Friday Aug. 8, at Jimmy Mak’s, 221 N.W. 10th Ave. Joining Eldar are Dave Captein on bass and drummer Todd Strait. $15 general admission, $19 for reserved seating. Info: .

• You can hear some blues and rock ’n’ roll for free this Saturday when Concordia University, 2900 N.E. Rosa Parks Way, hosts a Blues Fest from noon to 8 p.m. Dedicated to the memory of pianist Janice Scroggins, who died recently, the fest features Jim Wallace, the Jim Mesi Band, Kevin Selfe & The Tornados, the Lloyd Jones Quartet, Norman Sylvester, the Linda Hornbuckle Band with Reggie Houston & Richard Arnold, and The Strange Tones. Food and beverages for sale on site. Info: 503-493-6532, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

• Tonic Lounge, 3100 N.E. Sandy Blvd., will host the Punk-a-Palooza Red Room Reunion Toga Tube Top Show. The show kicks off at 7 p.m. and features Mr. Plow, Erik Anarchy, Second Best, God Bless America, Taint Misbehavin', Chase the Snakes, Ether Circus and The Mormon Trannys. Admission is $3 if you wear a toga or a tube top, and $6 without. And there’s free bacon! Info: 503-238-0543,

• Once a month on Wednesdays, Alberta Street Pub, 1036 N.E. Alberta St., hosts the Local Roots Radio Live Concert Series. The next showcase takes place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 13, and features Rachel Taylor Brown, The Moonshine, Melissa Ruth, Carlos Severe Marcelin, Professor Gall and Millstone Grit. The shows are recorded for broadcast on the "Local Roots" radio show heard from 7 to 9 p.m. Sundays on KMUZ-FM 88.5 in Salem and streamed live at $5. Info:

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