Music of Oregon
|Music of the United States|
The music of Oregon reflects the diverse array of styles present in the music of the United States, from Native American music to the contemporary genres of rock and roll, country, rhythm and blues, jazz, pop, electronic music, and hip hop. However, throughout most of its history, the state has been relatively isolated from the cultural forces shaping American music. Much of modern popular music traces its roots to the emergence in the late 19th century of African American blues and the growth of gospel music in the 1920s. African American musicians borrowed elements of European and indigenous musics to create new American forms. As Oregon's population was more homogeneous and more white than the United States as a whole, the state did not play a significant role in this history.
The state's main contributions to American popular music began in the 1960s, when The Kingsmen and Paul Revere & the Raiders established Oregon as a minor center of frat rock and garage rock. This led in one direction to the blues-rock tradition of the Robert Cray Band and Curtis Salgado, and in another direction to the hardcore punk scene of the early 1980s Pacific Northwest, led by the Wipers in Portland and like-minded bands in Seattle and Vancouver, BC. Over the next twenty years, punk rock evolved into grunge, riot grrrl, alternative rock, and, eventually, indie rock. In the last decade, Oregon has made a unique contribution to American independent music, with a strong indie music scene developing in Portland. The city's reputation as a hipster mecca has paralleled the rise of local indie musicians such as The Decemberists, Gossip, The Dandy Warhols, M. Ward, and the late Elliott Smith. Floater is Portland's leading example of an indie band. They have remained unsigned to a major label for over 20 years and have managed to be voted the best band of Portland for 2009 in addition to frequently selling out major venues like the Crystal Ballroom and the Aladdin Theater. Other prominent musicians have relocated to Portland, including Modest Mouse (of Seattle), Sleater-Kinney (of Olympia, Washington), The Shins (of Albuquerque, New Mexico), Spoon (of Austin, Texas), and former Pavement leader Stephen Malkmus (of Stockton, California).
The state also has a unique rural-urban dynamic, which has influenced the development of local bluegrass, folk, and alternative country music. Jam bands have a strong presence in the state, dating back to Grateful Dead performances at the Oregon Country Fair, and outdoor music festivals continue to be popular. Portland's Waterfront Blues Festival is the second largest blues festival in the country. Prominent cultural institutions include the Oregon Bach Festival, Oregon Festival of American Music, Oregon Symphony, and Mt. Hood Jazz Festival.
- 1 Portland
- 2 Eugene
- 3 Underground Hardcore Punk Scene
- 4 Salem
- 5 Other Oregon musicians
- 6 Musical events in Oregon
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Seafood Mama was a 1970s jazz band, with singer Rindy Ross, with a substantial local following that tried for national success as Quarterflash. The band was unable to find much success after its first album.
Portland is also home of the world's first and only all-Asian American dance rock band, The Slants, another independent act who has been made international headlines, both for their public battle with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, as well as their active involvement in the anime industry.
Portland had one of the most vibrant hardcore punk scenes in the early 1980s Pacific Northwest, rivalled only by Seattle and Vancouver. The Wipers and Poison Idea are the best known representatives of the scene, especially The Wipers, a major grunge influence. These bands played at The Met (now Dante's) and The Satyricon, and were connected with cult comedian Bill Hicks. Other hardcore bands in the 1980s included Poison Idea, The Wipers, Lockjaw, Final Warning, and The Rats. Hole frontwoman Courtney Love grew up in Portland, and was active in the city's punk scene at the time. She initially met Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain at the Satyricon club in 1989.
The 1990s led to bands such as Passout Kings, Defiance, Resist, Bugskull, Detestation, and Tragedy. Another important Portland cult classic were the Exploding Hearts in the early 2000s, while Dead Moon developed a cult worldwide following with their garage-country punk, starting from the early 1990s.
Bluegrass and old-time
Portland is home to a thriving bluegrass and old-time music scene. Popular Portland bands include Foghorn Stringband, and The Water Tower Bucket Boys. Banjo player Tony Furtado and fiddler Darol Anger, who have both branched out from traditional bluegrass music into progressive bluegrass, jazz, and other genres, currently live in Portland. The Portland Old-Time Music Gathering takes place in mid-January each year, with a variety of Northwest musicians, jamming, and square dancing. This events attracts a more diverse audience than is found at Old-Time events in the rest of the state.
World and world fusion
Portland is home to a thriving world music and international folk dancing scene. including the acclaimed Al andalus ensemble. West Africa is represented by such groups and artists as Obo Addy (Ghana), Jujuba (Nigerian Afrobeat), and Boka Marimba (Zimbabwe). Eastern Europe and the Middle East has music and dance representation through groups such as Brothers of the Baladi , Vagabond Opera, Kafana Klub, Krebsic Orkestar & Balkan Fusion Project, The Underscore Orkestra, Balkan And Beyond, Kef, The Mora, Vequinox, 3 Leg Torso and Chervona.
In recent years, a number of indie music bands from Portland which have played local venues have won recording contracts with promoters such as Partisan Records and Knitting Factory Records and have been touring nationally and include Emil Amos of Holy Sons, Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside, AgesandAges, Ash Black Bufflo, Dolorean, and others.
Other Portland musicians
Songs that reference Oregon
- "Back to Oregon" (2007) - Broadway Calls
- "California One Youth and Beauty Brigade" (2002) - The Decemberists; references the Multnomah County Library
- "City of Roses" (2012) - Esperanza Spalding; refers to her childhood days spent in her hometown and the nickname of Portland, Oregon
- "Dream of the 90's" (2011) - Jason from LA
- "Eugene, Oregon" (2009) - Dolly Parton
- "Everyone Knows Everyone" (2004) - The Helio Sequence; music video contains scenes throughout Portland
- "Hot Time" (1987) - Poison Idea, references Old Town
- "I Will Buy You A New Life" (1997) - Everclear; references Portland's West Hills
- "Light-Rail Coyote" (2002) - Sleater-Kinney; references the city of Portland and its residents. Title derives from a coyote that boarded a MAX train in 2002.
- "Night of the Living Rednecks" (1979) - Dead Kennedys
- "On The Bus Mall" (2005) - The Decemberists; references downtown Portland. The song title refers to the Portland Transit Mall
- "Paul's Song" (2005) - M. Ward; lyric "every town is all the same/when you've left your heart in the Portland rain"
- "Portland" (1980s) - The Replacements
- "Portland" (2013) - Sharks
- "Portland, Oregon" (2004) - Loretta Lynn and Jack White of The White Stripes
- "Portland Oregon You're My Home" - (2000s) Carrie Brownstein
- "Portland Rain" (2006) - Everclear
- "Portland Song" (2010) - Jewel; first performed live at the Oregon Zoo in 2010
- "Portland Town to Klamath" (1941) - Woody Guthrie
- "Portland Water" (?) - Michael Hurley
- "Portland Woman" (1969) - New Riders of the Purple Sage
- "Solid" (2000) - The Dandy Warhols; references Old Town
- "Pride of Cucamonga" (1974) - Grateful Dead
- "Oregon" (2011) - Tall Tale Excursion Local band from Eugene, Oregon.
Over the years, a number of songs have been written about Portland specifically.
According to the New York Times, the dozens of karaoke bars in Portland, Oregon make it not just "the capital of karaoke" in the United States, but "one of the most exciting music scenes in America." 
Eugene has been a childhood home for many national musicians including Tim Hardin, Dan Siegel, Richard Smith and Rob Thomas. In the early 1990s a thriving local music scene that slowly died out in the early 2000s left many of the local musicians frustrated with the lack of interest in the scene from outside entities. Popular mainstream venues include the W.O.W. Hall, the EMU Ballroom, the Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Cuthbert Amphitheater, The Shedd, Sam Bond's Garage, Beall Concert Hall and McDonald Theatre.
Underground Hardcore Punk Scene
The Eugene scene in the 1990s consisted of several bars, an anarchist teahouse, Icky's, and almost nightly basement shows. There were several houses that were basically music venues that were notorious enough for larger independent acts to stop at them while on tour in the Northwest. Icky's Teahouse was a stop for acts such as Jawbreaker, Green Day, AFI, Defiance, UK Subs, Mukilteo Fairies (now known as …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead), and F.Y.P.
Eugene, Oregon has had a long history of punk rock that came and went various times since the 1980s to the early 2000s. Early 1980's bands were: Ether-Teen (or Etherteen), Wasted Effort (notorious for the punk house where the band members lived), Moose Lodge, Osgood Slaughter.
In the late 1990s there was a thriving hardcore/punk/metal scene where bands such as Yob made their beginnings. Popular local house venues that are considered "underground music venues" were the Animal Farm (which was an anarchist house and practice space for the crust punk and grindcore bands Ahimsa and Fuck God In The Face)on 13th and Oak near Farrels' Ice Cream; yet it allowed bands to play from a wide variety of political/religious beliefs all though unknowingly in some cases). The Animal Farm was a stop for larger acts from out of state such as The Locust, Antagony, Boof, End Of All, and Phobia. After the Animal Farm shut down another anarchist punk house opened up for shows called Le Sous Sol which had shows with political hardcore punk bands such as Tragedy,Submission Hold,Three Inches Of Blood and many more tour through. Another popular venue for hardcore and punk was a Christian centered venue in the basement of a Baptist church on 13th street called "The Garage" which was a common practice space for bands such as Denote The Apex (spazztic "danger rock") and Ninja Death Clan (powerviolence/crust punk grindcore). Many of the most important and influential bands in the "underground" scene were The Detonators,Happy Bastards,Human Certainty, Outreach (straight edge hardcore), Ahimsa (anarchist crust punk/grindcore), Fuck God In The Face (doom sludge crust), Self-Inflicted (high school punk), Destitute (political punk), Denote The Apex (danger rock), Ninja Death Clan (Christian grindcore), Compact 56 (new school punk), and a large group of middle school to high school aged punk kids that made a variety of bands that were oldschool punk, and even one Skinhead-oi band. The most popular band from this group of punks was The Skeevies, who played with punk peers Pirate Radio, The Autopsies, Scream N Lizards, Bad Luck Blackouts, Brother Bear and the Skitzo Punks, Manitoba Lights, Butt City, Dissentary, 41st St. Skandal, Wetsock, Pistol Whipped Prophets, among others. Another venue that was used by different promoters was the Irving Grange in the Santa Clara area just outside of Eugene that had all kinds of punk and hardcore shows and even had touring acts. The Eugene underground music scene exploded with popularity in the Northwest and bands from all over Oregon from the cities of Salem, Bend, and Portland toured though as well as bands from Washington. The hardcore/punk/metal scene died down after the early 2000s for unknown reasons.
Popular Eugene bands
White Liberals was formed in 1981 by Michael Billings. A Psycho-Funk band, they recorded "Cat Behavior" on Solid Citizens Records at Triad Studios. They played the University of Oregon Ballroom, WOW Hall, Campbell Club. Michael mentored Steve Perry of Cherry Poppin' Daddies and gave him the stage with the White Liberals one evening in a "theater bit" providing Perry his musical debut. Trey Gunn (later of King Crimson fame) played guitar with the band for a short period, follow by Brent Bosworth.
Formed in 1984, the Surf Trio was a punk/surf band based in Eugene. Founding members included Ron Kleim on guitar and vocals, Pete Weinburger on guitar and vocals, Dave Myers on bass and Aaron Temple on drums.
The ska-swing-funk band the Cherry Poppin' Daddies were formed from the ashes of Eugene psychedelia band Saint Huck in 1989. The Daddies gained a large Northwest cult following during the early 1990s, conversely attracting harsh criticism from protesters who perceived the band as sexist and obscene. The Daddies rose to mainstream notoriety with the ska and swing revivals of the late 1990s. The group continues to be based in Eugene, along with their side projects, the glam punk outfit White Hot Odyssey and the piano rock trio The Visible Men.
Floater was formed in 1993 and made their start playing garage parties and at the University of Oregon. Now residing in Portland, Floater has released eight studio albums, plus three live albums on indie label Elemental Records. They have also received nominations to the preliminary level of the Grammys from NARAS in 1995 under Best Rock Performance for their first album Sink and in 1996 under Best Alternative Performance for their second album Glyph.
Additional Eugene musicians
- Robert Cray, guitarist, singer
- Tim Hardin, singer-songwriter
- Bill Harkleroad (Zoot Horn Rollo when he played guitar for Captain Beefheart)
- Tom Intondi, folksinger, spent his last years in Eugene
- Kelly Keagy, drummer for Night Ranger
- Mat Kearney, singer-songwriter
- Thomas Mapfumo (originally from Zimbabwe)
- Shawn McDonald, singer-songwriter
- Dan Siegel, keyboardist and composer
- Mason Williams, singer-songwriter
- Paul Wright, singer-songwriter
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (July 2011)|
Guitarist John Fahey moved to Salem in 1981 and died there in 2001 at the age of 61. He is buried at Restlawn Memory Gardens, just west of Salem. Larry Norman, who some call the "Father of Christian Rock" lived in Salem until his death in early 2008. The band "40 Ways From Sunday" from Oakland, Oregon wrote a song in early 2007 paying respects to Larry Norman, even know they are a largely agnostic punk rock group. Native American jazz sax player Jim Pepper was born in Salem in 1941 and lived for two years at Chemawa Indian School, where his mother and father were employed.
Salem and the surrounding cities also have had a large influence on the Portland and Northwest music scenes since the 1990s. The majority of the members of nationally recognized alternative rock bands Blitzen Trapper, Dharma Bums and Typhoon were originally from the Salem area and got their start in the Salem music scene, playing at venues like The Grand Theatre, Jimi's Guitar Planet, The Ike Box, The Governor's Cup, The Knights of Columbus Hall and The Space. Ryan Neighbors, keyboardist of rock band Portugal. The Man is from Salem, and was the frontman of defunct experimental rock outfit Shepherds of Ontario, which frequented many Salem venues in the 2000s. Joe Preston, who was the bassist for The Melvins and High On Fire, and now performs solo as Thrones, grew up in Salem.
Other Oregon musicians
- Hoyt Axton, a country singer/songwriter lived for many years in Glide
- Broadway Calls, group from Rainier, Oregon
- Meredith Brooks, singer/songwriter and guitarist from Corvallis
- Falling Up, a Christian rock group from Albany
- Gary "Chicken" Hirsch, former drummer for Country Joe and the Fish lives in Ashland
- Neighb'rhood Childr'n, a 1960s psychedelic group originally from the Medford area
- Mickey Newbury, best known as a country songwriter, lived in Vida
- Johnnie Ray, singer, best known for his 1952 hit, Cry, born in Hopewell
- The W's, a Christian ska/swing group from Corvallis
- Mason Williams, a classical guitarist, best known for Classical Gas, lived in Oakridge in the 1950s, and lives in Eugene now.
Musical events in Oregon
- Oregon Bach Festival
- Oregon Festival of American Music
- Britt Festival, outdoor summer music performances in Jacksonville
- Shanghaied In Astoria is a musical melodrama performed from July–August since 1984 written and performed by local talent
- The Eugene Celebration
- The Oregon Country Fair, although not primarily billed as a music festival, has several stages where musicians perform regularly during the three-day event.
- The Ernest Bloch Music Festival, an annual composers' symposium and showcase for progressive and contemporary music, is held in Newport. Ernest Bloch was a composer who lived in Agate Beach, and has a memorial located in Newport. The festival is regarded country-wide and is a cultural high-point every year for musicians classically or otherwise trained. Traditionally, performers from the Oregon Symphony and other local performance groups attend specifically to play pieces written by the guest composers.
- Vortex I, a 1970 music festival near Estacada
- Jarman, Casey (2008-03-26). "Stone By Stone, An Elder Statesman Of NW Moss-Rock Reps Hard, With Or Without You.". Willamette Week. Retrieved 2009-06-29
- PDXposed Press, Ben (2009-04-11). ""Floater" Rocks the Crystal Ballroom". Retrieved 2009-06-29
- Waterhouse, Ben (2009-04-11). "2009 Best of Portland Reader's Poll". Willamette Week. Retrieved 2009-07-23
- Brite, Poppy Z. (1997). Courtney Love: The Real Story. Simon & Schuster. pp. 44–46. ISBN 0-7528-1337-4.
- "Grails – "Almost Grew My Hair" (Stereogum Premiere)". NPR / Stereogum. February 16, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-28. "Seasoned Portland instrumental out-rock quartet Grails are set to release their fifth album, Deep Politics. It the first in three years. During the time off, drummer Emil Amos (aka Holy Sons) recorded God Is Good, his first album with his other..."
- Ryan White (January 7, 2010). "Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside build some buzz". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2011-04-27.
- Ryan White (January 2011). "The AgesandAges debut is here, listen to 'No Nostalgia'". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2011-05-08.
- Caile Michelle (2011-05-13). "Ash Black Bufflo – Andasol album review". MVRemix Urban. Retrieved 2011-05-13. "Ash Black Bufflo (or Jay Clarke) comes from Portland, Oregon"
- KELEFA SANNEH (November 9, 2003). "PLAYLIST; Elliot Smith's Legacy and Pink's Big Idea". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-13. "Alex James leads Dolorean, a band based in Portland, Ore., that began recording its beautiful debut album, "Not Exotic," almost two years ago."
- "Storm Large". msn.com. Retrieved 2007-06-21.
- "Wandering Coyote Booted from Airport Hops a Train Instead". The Scoop. February 15, 2002. Retrieved 2007-06-22.
- "Wily Coyote Tries to Take a MAX Ride". The Columbian (Associated Press). February 16, 2002. Retrieved 2007-06-22.
- How Good Does Karaoke Have to Be to Qualify as Art?, Dan Kois, New York Times, January 17, 2013
- "Surf Trio".
- Jarman, Casey (June 23, 2010, p. 23). "The Band That Wouldn't Die". Willamette Week. Retrieved 2010-06-26
- "Angels in the Flesh and Devils in the Bone". World Drum!. Vol. 2 No. 2 June 1 - July 14, 1998 p.2.
- Blush, Steven. American Hardcore: A Tribal History. Feral House. 2001. ISBN 0-922915-71-7
- "Music in Oregon" on the University of Oregon Library website
- Art of the States: Contemporary Music from Oregon