A few years ago a Northwest music mag (now defunct) interviewed some Portland "best new band" character and the moron spouted out that nothing had been going on in Portland before his band moved to town - that this was the turning point when things got really musically happening in sleepy little Rose City. I was so blown away by that comment. Shit, I still am. Pure fucking ignorance on every level. Ignorance running so deep and so completely dismissive and uninformed of everything that has happened in this city for 100 years. I've always had respect for those people that created great music before us, and even at my first touring gig in Portland in 1987 (at the Satyricon!) I was keenly aware that The Wipers and the Kingsmen were from this city. That alone should put any city on the musical map. To NOT understand that music had been created, played, recorded and enjoyed in this city for many years before his pathetic group of hirsute jackasses moved here seemed just amazingly clueless and rude.
We have to believe in ourselves to create art and move forward, and at times being dismissive of current fads and ignoring music that doesn't appeal to us is an important way to determine and define what it is we really do want to create. But to think that nothing at all was happening or had happened in a metro area of 2.5 million people is just inexcusable.
Just the other day I recorded a song with the great local band Dolorean for the Jackpot! Covers Portland project that my studio has been doing. It was a song called "I Wanna Live", originally recorded by Gary Ogan (the song's author) and Bill Lamb for Elektra Records 40 years ago. Shit, the album was even called Portland. The cover came out great, we'll be posting it soon. But while we were working up the arrengement we Googled Gary Ogan, found his website, and noticed not only did he still live in town but that he was playing shows in the area. Two days later my wife and I dropped in at Music Millenium, and before I knew it owner Terry Currier dragged us across the store and I was shaking hands with Gary. When told of our cover song exploits, Gary added the song to his solo in-store set. It was an excellent treat.
It's been interesting how this covers project has been educating me about Portland music history. I didn't know about Cool'R and Pleasure, some amazing R&B music from the early '80s, until we recorded a cover a few months back. And now I've learned about another amazing songwriter from this city. Who knows where this will lead?