Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Portland Musicians Launch “Fair Trade Music” Campaign


Project Seeks to Establish Minimum Pay Guarantees for All Working Musicians

Portland, OR – September 8, 2009 – A coalition of Portland musicians has launched the “Fair Trade Music” campaign, which is seeking to establish minimum pay guarantees for all performing musicians in the Portland area.  Co-sponsored by Local 99 of the American Federation of Musicians and the Labor Education and Research Center, the coalition includes union and non-union musicians.

Most music fans assume that 100% of the cover charge goes to the artist but in fact, through extensive deductions for venue expenses like sound staff, door staff, promotional fees, and ‘house fees,’ musicians routinely see their compensation reduced to a tiny fraction of what was brought in.  “This is simple,” stated Bruce Fife, President of the Musicians Union, “we think there ought to be a reasonable, minimum compensation for musicians when they work for a business enterprise.  And when you, the consumer, pay your $5 or $10 at the door, we want you to know that your money actually makes it to the artists.”

In response to this ongoing problem, the Fair Trade Music coalition has developed a tiered pay scale based on venue type and capacity that adequately compensates musicians while still allowing the house to make a fair profit and eliminates questionable deductions for venue overhead.  Fair Trade Music asks the general public to only patronize venues displaying Fair Trade Music window stickers indicating their support and commitment to fairness.

Ryan Biornstad of the band Starf*cker said, “I fully support the Fair Trade Music campaign.  It reimburses musicians fairly for their time, both onstage and off – where most of the real work happens.  Musicians need to realize that their time and energy is worth something and clubs need to properly appreciate that.  You spend a lot of money on equipment and a lot of time writing and recording and then you have to haul your gear to the club and that’s just to get paid nothing.  That’s just the norm right now, but we can change it.  I hope all Portland musicians will join the campaign.”

Fair Trade Music is endorsed by over 200 Portland-area bands including such well-known acts as March Fourth, 3 Leg Torso, and Keegan Smith.  It is also supported by the Cascade Blues Association, the Portland Songwriters Association and the International Alliance of Theater Stage Employees (Local 28).

The coalition is offering all musicians Fair Trade Music buttons and stickers to display at their gigs in silent solidarity with the campaign.  Musicians are encouraged to visit the Fair Trade Music website ( for more info and to register their endorsements. Additionally, the campaign will be hosting regular gatherings to raise awareness and answer questions about the program.

Simply put, “When a band performs for exposure,” said local blues great Norman Sylvester, “they expose themselves to poverty.”

** FAIR TRADE MUSIC – Because Music is a Day Job!  **

Calexico & Bar Avignon

Had very fine salami, cheese, hot pepper & tomato plates at Bar Avignon on Division. Then off to see Calexico at the Crystal Ballroom, a Arizona-based Yo Lo Tango style band. I’m a sucker for live trumpets! And many parking spaces near the venue, which just rocks.

Shiny Toy Guns, Part the Deuce

Funny thing is, I was coming on here to post about the Shiny Toy Guns when I see Geoff’s post! Too little too late?
Eh, maybe…

Here’s the thing, unlike Mr. G, I was going to come here and confess about my guilty pleasure, Shiny Toy Guns.

You see… I’m that girl. I worked at a record store for all of college and a few years after to supplement my income. I was that girl who gave you that look when you couldn’t figure out what you were looking to buy… or when you bought that certain album. I still remember the day I first heard about the Spice Girls. *shudders* I was the girl who gave Fairuza Balk that look when she couldn’t find the Fugazi CDs *but don’t think I harbor any notions that she cared/paid attention*.

Ok, I can still sometimes be that girl…

SO! When I found myself seriously liking We Are Pilots (well… half of it) despite the videos, I had to come out of the closet to my best friend… who assured me it was all ok. … and who wondered why everyone keeps saying that?!

ANYWAY… I’ve heard from a few people that they are one of the hardest working bands around… When I kept seeing them in that LA Weekly, I just figured, well they’re an LA band! I mean… Incubus used to play all the time back when… and WAY before you could find Jane’s Addiction all over the place! … Ok so MAYBE that should have given me a clue *author’s aside: please don’t think I’m placing them in the same categories as the aforementioned bands… or most importantly Jane’s Addiction* I have to say that I had not had the pleasure (seriously! After all those chances in LA…) of seeing them live, and the old job sorter made it difficult for me on the off night that there was a possibility. Still, I’ve heard a good bit about the show they put on… and Geoff is one who apparently knows first hand.

So, yeah… for any closet fans, I’ll be there in the back with a martini… singing along under my breath.

Seriously, though, I’ve heard great things and I only hope that they can continue to surprise me and keep this …for now… well, I guess not anymore… “closet fan” for ever.

Shiny Toy Guns 9/25 @ Berbati’s Pan

The New Shiny Toy Guns

The New Shiny Toy Guns

I’ve been a fan of Shiny Toy Guns for quite some time. Back in 2006 the band played a show at the Aladdin Theater for a crowd of about 10 people. They played their hearts out.

They’ve come back to Portland several times over the past few years promoting their break out debut album We Are Pilots.

Now the band has re-organized. Lead singer Carah Faye Charnow has been booted from the band and replaced by Sisely Treasure (one of the contestants from The Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search For The Next Doll). The band has a new album on the horizon called Season of Poison (out this November) and is coming to portland on Thursday, September 25th at Berbati’s Pan @ 8:00pm.

Shiny Toy Guns has two songs from their upcoming album up on their Myspace page and they sound really good.  I’m planning on going to the show and so I’ll post my complete report here, later in the week.

Buy tickets to the Shiny Toy Guns Show here.

The Prids Benefit – Wonder Ballroom 9/13 @ 9pm

The Prids

The Prids

This summer Portland band The Prids were in a horrible auto accident while their band was on tour.

Here’s the account from their site:

“A tire blew and they lost control of the van and it rolled several times. David was airlifted from the scene of the crash, he suffered a broken collar bone, broken ribs and has 6 staples in his head. Chris broke his arm in two places. Maile has a broken vertebra and toe and a severe cut with stitches on her knee. Joey broke ribs, Mistina suffered a concussion, and Kristin has a snapped joint in her collar bone.”

Saturday night at the Wonder Ballroom there is a benefit show for the band to help with their medical bills (most of the band members did NOT have health insurance)

The show features: Super XX Man, Tea For Julie, Leigh Marble, The Online Romance, Saturna, Reporter, Go Fever, Days, Myrrh, Jon Garcia, Kacey Anderson

$5-10 sliding scale at door; 21+ show with full bar. Doors @8 show @9

Show your support for Local music and go to this show. It’s important that Portland take care of its own!!

KNRK – It’s Absolutely Not Different Here

It was late, well past midnight and it was the last day I was going to spend in the San Francisco Bay Area before heading off to college. I had called in to Live 105 and was chatting with Big Rick Stuart who was jockeying between our phone call and the on air play. Rick came on the air and wished me a safe trip and played a song to send me off. That was the kind of radio station Live 105 was.

Mark Hamilton was a DJ at Live 105. He was the voice you’d also hear promoting the DJ’s spinning tunes down at One Step Beyond or The X nightclub. He was surrounded by great music and great people. So it was a fantastic revelation (Back in 1994) to find that he landed here in Portland at the very young KNRK. I met him at one of the early KNRK snowball shows, the one with Everclear and No Doubt. He seemed like a great guy.

Unfortunately it seems that Mark has forgotten what makes a great radio station. Over time he tweaked the playlist favoring retreading bands like Sublime over debuting new music and new artists. Sublime might be a slightly notable band but I doubt they should be continually haunting the airwaves of an alternative station.

Recently KNRK did a major revamp to their playlist, out was most of the new or truly alternative music (except for bands coming to town in KNRK sponsored events) and in were classics. KNRK effectively remade themselves into a Rock Mix station. The switch started gradually, with ‘classic alternative’ artists like David Bowie. Listen to KNRK for 2 hours and you’ll hear classic Bowie at least once….Then came bands like The Cars and Tom Petty. Tune in enough and you’ll wonder if KNRK hasn’t fused with KGON. At times even KUFO is more alternative… Which is sad.

Perhaps KNRK is a victim of its own success. Late last year their morning show with Greg Glover began to beat the competition. Perhaps that taste of popular success fueled them on to chase the popular audience. But what used to be a fairly descent alternative station is gone. Many of the good people are still there. Greg is smart guy, knows his music and takes risks (Listen to his Bottom Forty Sunday Nights). Gustav is still the friendliest face of the station, his perfect playlist and track 7 show he wants the station to be a good one. Tara is just plain great, she knows what’s going on, but she’s as powerless to fix it as anyone.

It all boils down to Mark Hamilton… Program director. Who has made a major misstep with the station by building a playlist that simply isn’t alternative. At my home office I’ve switched of KNRK and listen to KEXP online. KEXP, based in Seattle, ironically is the station supporting MusicFest NW (while local KNRK is notably absent). I hear new music via myspace and am more likely to fire up my mp3 player than my radio…

Next year Community Supported KZME 91.1 is set to launch. If KZME follows KEXP’s model it could give KRNK a serious run for its money. Until then fans of alternative music need to email Mark Hamilton and let him know that the playlist changes aren’t welcome, and remind them what ‘It’s Different Here’ really means. KNRK keeps saying it’s YOUR station… So tell them what YOU want.

Monotonix Redux – MusicFest NW

With Drum Kit on the dance floor this concert was unlike anything I've ever seen

Monotonix at MusicFest NW

It’s taken me a few days to process what happened at Satyricon on Friday night as part of MusicFest NW. It was one of those situations that was so outrageously amazing that after it’s over you begin to doubt if it actually happened.

Growing up in Northern California I was blessed by a phenomenal music scene. Concert promoter Bill Graham helped make San Francisco mecca for rock shows. With my varied interests in music I’ve seen a lot of very different shows in a wide variety of venues. Few shows have left me as mouth-open-awe-struck as the Monotonix show at Satyricon.

I had heard tales from friends who had seen Monotonix live: drummers body surfing, instruments set ablaze and all around insanity. It was my friend Ian Jane who most emphatically insisted I see them perform… I don’t know how I’ll ever thank him.

Many bands are known for their onstage antics. It’s the very showmanship which earns bands a following when they play live. You go to a U2 concert, not because the music is great (although it is), but for the amazing show that they put on. Some bands are all about show. Kiss rocks, but would you really go see them if they played without the grease paint and pyrotechnics? Would Hannah Montana be the same without the four story video screens? What Monotonix did in their Friday night show went far beyond antics or showmanship, it was a complete musical revolution.

From the first note of the show Monotonix declared their musical independence. Rather than setting up their instruments on stage they put them right in the middle of the show floor. Everyone encircled them as they assembled their drum kit and plugged in to their amps. Then it happened, like an explosion Monotonix filled every corner of the room with their music, the entire (and I do mean entire) club erupted in dance.

I’ve been in my fair share of mosh pits in my time (the most memorable was Pantera when they played in Watts/Los Angeles), but I’ve never been in a pit that included every single person in a club. Also the ‘pit’ at the Monotonix show was unlike any pit I’ve been in before. Rather than people pushing and shoving eachother, elbowing and flailing, the entire room bounced and danced together.

As Monotonix played you could see the sheer glee on the faces of everyone in the club. Monotonix somehow was re-capturing something that we all thought was lost – a real, honest to goodness punk rock show. True punk has become extremely rare, there are many bands out there trying to be punk rockers, emulating the bands which came before them, but so few simply ARE Punk. Monotonix is punk.

It’s impossible to capture what happened that night…This is the best I can do:

Flying through the air lead singer Ami Shalev crowd surfs as he sings, pausing only to climb up to a high ledge on the ceiling of the club. A trash can is bounced around, water is flying through the air. The high hat is kicked over and promptly reset. The guitarist leaps up onto the stage and then jumps back off. Nothing in the room is still. After a few songs the band picks up their instruments and moves them further to the back of the club and the circle of people follow.

“Sit Down”, “Everybody Sit Down!” yells Ami, and miraculously everyone listens. I am drenched in sweat, I am thirty seven years old and haven’t been in a pit in years. I am half leaning and half supporting the people around me as we sit on the floor of Satyricon. Ami thanks everyone for being at the show and then instructs everyone to wait till he counts to four till they jump up and dance. “One… Two… Seven…. Nine…. Five…. What comes after Three?!?!”, everyone yells “FOUR” He says, Wait for it!”… and then “FOUR”. Again Monotonix is an explosion of sound.

A few songs later they’re heading towards the door. Stretched way past the end of their amp cables, so they unplug, carry their instruments outside where Ami climbs a tree, moons everyone and makes a speech. The drum is lifted with the drummer on top and he bangs on it. The concert ends in a street side celebration of music.

Everyone stood, mouth agape looking at eachother… “Did this just really happen?” “Oh my fucking God!”

The Monotonix show was one that people will talk about for years, it’s the kind of show that you thank your lucky stars you were at or curse the sky that you missed. Monotonix returns to Portland at the end of the month with The Silver Jews at the Wonder Ballroom. They are not to be missed

Israeli Punk Band Tops MusicFest NW

Tonight’s Monotonix show at  MusicFest NW featured of the best shows on a stage in Portland. It was truly punk. It was crazy, wild wonderful and simply amazing.

I’ll have a complete report on the Monotonix Show soon. Here’s a gallery of pictures from the Monotonix show as well as video from David Walker of

A Tale of Two Festivals – MusicFest NW and TBA

The Battles at MusicFest NW

The Battles at MusicFest NW

Tonight two major arts and entertainment festivals had their kick-off events. Both showed that Portland is big enough to support two huge festivals, even when they run at the same time.

I started the evening at MusicFest NW, their kick off party was an outdoor cocktail party in the lot next to the Wonder Ballroom. Less of a scene than a gathering, the party was most notable for the extremely long line for the open bar. The bar line was almost as long as the line of people waiting to get in to see the bands. Did I really wait fifteen minutes for a shot of Soco?!?

I caught the Battles whose set was well received. As I listened to their mostly instrumental music, I couldn’t help but think “Music Geeks”. The Battles play with passion and energy but their music often is over-thought and muddled. I enjoyed some of their songs but wasn’t ever pulled out of my ‘hey I’m watching a music show’ space and so my aside from some toe tapping and light head bobbing the set left me a little cold. I was surprised at how many people brought kids to the show. Maybe mathrock is something that appeals to kids.

TBA at The Left Bank Project

TBA at The Left Bank Project

Just a hop skip and jump away at the new Left Bank Building PICA launched their Time Based Art festival with a warm and welcoming party. The party was open to anyone and everyone and the scene was a nice mix of people. The Left Bank Project (which is dubbed ‘The Works’ for the TBA Festival) is a very cool venue with so much space that there were tons of nook’s and crannies to explore. One area’s tenant was a version of Backspace Cafe just for the fest. Also a nice patio area featured a work in progress by Justin Gorman whose large format graphic painting was fantastic to see in progress.

Some of the other art, including Big Skin by Lizzie Fitch, Anna Halprin’s Blank Placard Happening and the Flash Choir were solid misses. (Perhaps the Flash Choir would have done better performing in the outdoor space).

A solid start though to two landmark Portland festivals

On moving and Old 97’s

Thanks to keepin’ on with the keepin’ on, we’ve finally got our own little place to call home and it’s FINALLY fully moved in and put together (also, thanks to those that offered advice about stalking/calling/harassing future landlords in order to get a place)!

The problem with moving is that it’s not only a time drain, but a money drain. Generally I suck it up and take it but we’ve got MFNW here and this means that no matter how cheap it is… I’m going to have to REALLY justify going vs. food.

The one I don’t want to miss? Old 97’s tonight at Berbati’s Pan. This means that I have to come up with a good plan and fast!

Still, I figured I’d put the word out there that they were playing tonight so that others might enjoy them. They put on a good show and I figured, maybe the good people of Portland are better with checking out bands than the people in LA. Some friends of mine filmed a show they went to and sent the footage, which was, I thought, very very nice of them.

You know, in case you want to check out something new, and you have the means and the wherewithal to do so…

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