Welcome to the first edition of Hilly Town’s revived Friday Roundup, as written by a recovering local music journalist who’s looking to get back into the game for some reason (I actually do miss it, and I always like working with people like Bryan Bruchman). So I’m a little out of touch, but I think this roundup can help give you an idea of what’s happened in the past week, between the daily posts by Kevin Steeves here and articles written elsewhere on the interwebs.
Here’s the first piece of evidence showing how out of touch I am: Lady Lamb dropped “the Beekeeper” part of her name, and I had no idea until I read this Q&A the Portland Phoenix did with her this week (we’ll have more on her later). Also within the pages of Portland’s last-standing alt-weekly this week: my former colleague Jakob Battick, a longtime non-fan of Lady Lamb, finally comes around to “getting it” in his review of her newest album, After. The Phoenix also has a nice profile of Great Western Plain, a band I got to see in its early days before bassist Mike Powers realized that they’re “really bad at being in a band.”
Another former colleague of mine, Ben McCanna, has been running an excellent, prolific photoblog called Post Mortem that documents the heavy music scene in Portland. His most recent post includes a mosaic of photos from a Port City Music Hall show headlined by local stoner rock band Murcielago and a few other shows that same night. The blog is going on a semi-hiatus because of a death in the family (my sympathies, Ben), but it has a great backlog of vivid photography that can keep you occupied for quite some time. And if that isn’t enough, check out Ben’s hilarious photo collection of high school sports coaches losing their minds.
You know that shuttered flower shop near the Nickelodeon theater? Turns out, it’s being turned into a music venue, to showcase local talent! And it’s being started by none other than Ken Bell, the former owner of The Big Easy. As first reported by the Bangor Daily News, the 300-capacity venue at 25 Temple St. will be called the Portland House of Music and Events (HOME), and it will open on May 25, with plans to host music of all genres.
Sidebar: Bell lost ownership of The Big Easy over a lease dispute in October 2013, but it was reopened by new owners in 2014 as a comedy club, as noted by the Portland Press Herald. My question: is the venue still open? Because signs seem to point to no. Also, the venue’s website has since been changed into a spammy-looking WordPress blog with three posts in January, including one with the headline, “A SCINTILLATING RECIPE FOR SUCCESS—FOUR FOODS TO HELP IMPROVE YOUR SEX LIFE.” UPDATE: Krister Rollins pointed out on Twitter that the venue is now operating as a nightclub called Studio 55.
Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is a terrible song, but it’s also now the harbinger of death for musical creativity, thanks to a new court ruling. Portland’s best blogger of all time Alex Steed has a little blurb from Zach Jones, a longtime local musician who’s now in Los Angeles, on why the “jury’s decision could send us all down a slippery slope.” Here’s a sneak peek:
As a songwriter and musician, I wear my influences right on my sleeves and I don’t care who sees it. Proudly displaying my musical influence is part of my own identity. When I write a song that ends up sounding like something Paul McCartney would have written, it makes me happy. I embrace it. Should I run in fear from that now? What does this mean?
Here’s another good question:
What does the Thicke/Pharrell ruling mean for Weird Al’s “Word Crimes”?! http://t.co/4mNgCXtY6u
— Krister Rollins (@KristerR) March 12, 2015
Also of note for dedicated Hilly Town readers: Mama’s CrowBar might close apparently. The Press Herald has the full story on the popular Munjoy Hill dive bar and why it could close before October (spoiler alert: sounds like a dispute with the landlord). The bar had been the home of the Scratchpad Reading Series, an event that was once run by HillyTown. My only memory of the the place: sitting next to a pug at the bar. Isn’t that reason enough to keep it open?
SPACE Gallery’s blog, formerly known as “Have Faith In Worthless Knowledge,” has posted a new Q&A with Norwegian musician Jenny Hval. Jenny played at the venue on March 10 and was touring with St. Vincent just before that. Go through the archives and you’ll find a slew of other interviews and posts about SPACE happenings.
In case you haven’t realized that this blog is up and running again, here are some Hilly Town posts from the past week that you might have missed. This includes our preview of national artists coming to Portland (Spoon and Sufjan Stevens are on the list!), the first article in our new series that looks at the record-shopping habits of local musicians (Leveret, one of my personal faves, is featured) and a roundup of the latest local music to surface on Bandcamp.
Other Hilly Town posts from the past month:
Song of the week:
Leveret’s “Oscillator,” because hot damn.