Rock/pop Clubs by Night
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Rock/Pop Bands in Town
Jazz Clubs by Night
Jazz Club Directory
Jazz Bands in Town
Whatís the Portland music scene missing? You hear this question all the time, and the answers are as varied as the questioners: one more club, a Jessica Simpson/Justin TimberlakeĖstyle pop act, a mid-sized venue, more people, the list goes on and on. Has anyone ever said, "You know, we could really use a 110-page glossy magazine dedicated exclusively to a small subset of our local rock scene"? Well, at least one guy has: Joe S. Harrington.
A sometime freelancer for the Portland Phoenix, and the author of the 595-page Sonic Cool: The Death of Rock Ďní Roll, Harrington is just the kind of tightly focused personality (probably OCD) who could dedicate himself to a labor of love like Kapital Ink, the aforementioned 110-page glossy magazine heís published thatís dedicated almost exclusively to Portlandís rock/punk/heavy rock scene. Itís billed as a quarterly and the first issue came out just last week carrying the headline "No, No, No Buddy: Itís Swamp Witch Revival."
The cover story? Itís a 50-page (yes, 50-page) Q&A with the principal members of the now-defunct Portland rock group that has spawned any number of spin-offs on the Portland scene, among them Redeemer, Supersoul Challenger, Ocean, and Eldemur Krimm. It is, without a doubt, the definitive piece on the band, who were, indeed, influential, even if they never released any product. The cover story is also just about impossible to read. Itís published as a giant, continuous question-and-answer session (could it possibly have all been done at one time?), with no line breaks, very little editing of ramblings that cover numerous bands (I forgot to mention Nova Dose, Hell Wheel Drive, Fury 440 (though maybe that was before Swamp Witch?)), more than a few clubs, side characters ranging from Dice the Doorman to BB Buell, just about anything you could imagine a band talking about. Even Harrington canít seem to keep it all straight, as speakers get a full name sometimes and sometimes not, subjects are covered and recovered, and questions sometimes seem to come out of left field.
Thereís some great stuff in there, donít get me wrong. A discussion of Swamp Witch playing the old all-ages Salvation Army club the Well gets pretty hilarious. Vocalist Jessica Borelli mentions, "We were drinking at the Tavern. We were drinking in the backyard. We were drinking in the van. We were sneaking it in. It didnít matter. Nobody liked us there either."
"They hated us," confirms Sarah Coggeshal after a bit.
Then Drummer Greg Arnold says, "The funny thing was, I had to lie about it to actually get the gig. I gave them little snippets of some of the lyrics that sounded very spiritual and uplifting ó which it was yíknow? Swamp Witch Revival. I totally wanted to sleaze in on a couple of these Christian rock shows just to fuck with people, but we never really pulled it off."
"They never asked us to come back," Arnold says later. Surprising, no?
Then there are the multiple discussions of band members coming and going, which can read a bit like a juicy soap opera. Fred Dodge (sometimes referred to as Frederick Dodge) sums it up nicely: "Itís always rough with musicians, especially when you got three guitar players, whether or not one of íemís playiní bass or not, youíre gonna have a row. Especially when youíre fucking downing the fuckiní beers and youíre a bunch of hotheads anyway, a bunch of rock íní rollers, youíre gonna butt heads and itís gonna be ugly."
Thatís the side of Portland rock that Kapital Ink gets at better than most, the underbelly, the drinkiní, fightiní, fuck-you side of rock that has been marginalized like lots of fun things in this age of PC niceness and bands knowing as much about marketing themselves as playing guitar. Plus, Joe isnít very nice, really.
In a review of Cerberus Shoalís Bastion of Itchy Preeves, Harrington leads with "These split-level a-heads try their darnedest to confuse in the latest installment of their completely ridiculous ó but admittedly unstoppable ó crusade." He refers to a "typically shoddy blurb in Thursdayís ĎGoí section" in a review of a show from April 9, 2004. Of the Points he says, "As usual, these knuckleheads left you wanting less ó so after 15 minutes they pulled the plug (a typical abdication which befits their whole passive/aggressive demeanor)." He even allows Matthew Edmund Lister to review The Rick Solomon Tape, which is about three minutes of some guy having sex with Paris Hilton. The highlight? "During these scenes she stops and answers her cell phone while Solomon sits there with a boner looking annoyed."
What does that last piece have to do with local rock? Itís unclear. But a friend of Harringtonís did grab a pretty slutty picture of Paris, which is apparently exclusive to Kapital Ink, so maybe heíll end up selling a million copies (and at $5 a whack, thatís some good money). Certainly the advertising wonít support this mag, and when you consider the number of book and CD reviews Harrington has contributed here, and the fact that half the shows reviewed occurred more than a year ago, itís difficult to imagine what issue #2 will look like if it could possible come out just three months from now.
Well, some portion of the Portland rock scene will be waiting to see it. How big? That probably doesnít really matter.
Sam Pfeifle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Issue Date: July 22 - 28, 2005
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