“A newly released instrumental album says more about the relationship between two brothers than any words could.
'The Homecoming,' recorded by Wood Village resident Craig Bidondo, 43, and his Alaskan brother, Pierre, 47, culminates six years of efforts by the siblings to create an album together. By the end of listening to it, you realize these men have a relationship that goes beyond sharing blood to sharing soul.
Craig, who plays keyboards, and Pierre, who's primarily a guitarist, have produced a sonically rich album steeped in samba, modern jazz, rock, blues, reggae and Basque music. It's a recording that should please the easy listening set, bringing to mind sitting with your lover or spouse at a romantic outdoor cafe as dusk envelops a city or resort town.
Then again, 'The Homecoming' is a little edgier than your average easy listening album, given its often-festive sound.
In part, Craig credits Dean Baskerville, who's also worked with Sheryl Crow and Everclear, for mixing an album even a hard rocker could love.
'If I had mixed it myself it probably would've sounded more like elevator music,' Craig says with a chuckle during a phone interview while he was traveling down the road with his brother in Alaska.
The brothers grew up in Palmer, outside Anchorage, and have been playing together since they were youngsters. Their father, Joseph, was a Basque from southern France who immigrated to Alaska to work in the 1950s. In Alaska, he met and married their mother, Louise, a first-generation Norwegian-American, and the album's title song reflects the boys' combined ethnic musical heritage.
The song starts out with what sounds like a large family gathering and, indeed, it is, as the tune features audio recordings from more than 30 years of Bidondo family gatherings, including the only one they have of their late father. Anybody who's ever enjoyed a lively Thanksgiving or Christmas family dinner can relate to the feast this song evokes.
However, Craig says, the brothers were not necessarily destined to play music.
'My immediate family wasn't particularly musical but for some reason my brother and I got into music,' Craig says.
As youngsters, one game they would play involved one of them recording something when the other left the room. Then the other brother would come back in the room and record over his sibling's sounds. The boys would continually alternate this process until they produced something sufficiently bizarre.
'Most of the songs we recorded were pretty funny,' Craig says.
The brothers decided to replicate their childhood game on 'Jah-Kuji,' which they call a 'funk-ska-hot-tub song' found on 'Homecoming.'
'It was pretty fun for us to do that again,' Craig says.
The brothers credit their father for not taking the path some immigrant parents take, trying to get their children to study medicine or law, and not an 'impractical' field like music. Hence, they both play music professionally now, and dedicated 'The Homecoming' to their parents for 'all those years … putting up with our practicing.'
In addition to performing jazz and pop standards regularly at such area venues as Jazzy Bagels in Gresham and Tony Starlight's in Portland's Hollywood District, Craig gives private piano and vocal lessons.
Meanwhile, Pierre plays acoustic classic rock and country in Alaska, and the brothers are planning to perform cuts from their new CD in their home state this week before returning to Portland for two concerts next week, including one at Jazzy Bagels at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13.
Craig encouraged families with children to attend the Jazzy Bagels show, and says he and his brother are ecstatic to finally have a finished recording product bearing both their names.
Not to mention, they both have the fine demo they needed to give to music business types.
'Doing this project has been a wonderful solution not only personally, but professionally,' Craig says.
The Brothers Bidondo will celebrate the release of their CD 'The Homecoming' at these shows:
• 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, at Jazzy Bagels, 5 E. Powell Blvd. All ages, free admission.
• 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, at Tony Starlight's, 3728 N.E. Sandy Blvd., Hollywood District, Portland. $5 cover, 21 and older.
- Rob Cullivan
“Here's an article about the Brothers Bidondo which appeared on the Basque website, EuskalKultura.com (which means Basque Culture in Euskera, the Basque language). It focuses on Pierre and Craig's French-Basque ancestry and tells about the release of their CD, The Homecoming. Have fun brushing up on your Spanish as you read this...
And if you really want to get serious about language, try the same article in Euskara (Basque):