Having its name determined by a coin flip is not the only interesting thing about this vibrant city. Known as a laboratory of everything that’s hip and cool, Portland’s music scene is nothing less. The city’s highly diverse musicians range from the feisty youngGrammy award-winning jazz princess Esperanza Spalding to Tommy Thayer, the lead guitarist for the hard rock band Kiss – also known as The Spaceman. With this kind of creative diversity, a fabulous array of artisan baristas and dog-friendly bars, Portland is understandably a very popular city and many people are settling there.
The Secret is Out, And It’s Causing Trouble!Since it became common knowledge that Portland is oh so cool, the city is no longer one of America’s best kept secrets. Unfortunately, since so many people are honing in on the coolness, Portland’s rents are skyrocketing and this is severely affecting the music scene. Venue after venue started shutting their doors. Old favorites that welcome patrons of all ages like Slabtown and Backspace were the first to go. Then venues that had liquor sales to keep them afloat, like Blue Monk and Alhambra were not able to sustain operations (and insane rents!), and also threw in the towel. With music lovers struggling to find places to go to and artists having the same battle with venues to perform at, Portland’s music scene had no choice but to evolve.
Out With the Old And in With the NewWith limited venues hip-hop scene-sters had to come up with alternative ideas to keep the music alive. This gave rise to a new-fangled DIY music scene that involves hosting house shows from home basements. Although this emerging house show culture is kept relatively local, visitors are welcome as long as they stick to a few basic rules. Racism, sexism and homophobia are not tolerated and it is expected that visitors don’t get predatory after they’ve had a few (or even before they’ve had a drink). While this is probably not an ideal way to experience live music, it is an imperfect solution to an issue that would otherwise leave Portlandian music enthusiasts hanging around in silent boredom on weekends.
The Portland Hip-Hop Music Scene is FlourishingEven though venues are dropping like flies, the Portland hip-hop community is not taking it lying down. If they are not lighting up dank and gloomy basements with their jams, the big acts like Mic Crenshaw and Cool Nutz and newcomers like jammy Maze Koroma, the jazzy lo-fi sensation Blossom and Karma Rivera are cranking tunes at monthly gigs. Then there are the hip-hop dance nights hosted by the YGB (Young, Gifted and Black) community at places like Holocene and Killingsworth Dynasty. And if the music is not enough for you, Deep Under Ground is the name to watch for, when you enjoy visual art performances with your hip-hop. Really Portland, what’s next? Can't wait to see!