My early musical education, as a child of the '70s, pretty much guaranteed that I would be all but friendless throughout junior high school. Sufficient time has passed that I may declare this fact without (much) bitterness.
It didn't help that my mother thought leisure suits were nice.
My classmates were all about Cream and Three Dog Night, whereas I would be spinning Ferrante and Teicher, or Henry Mancini, or Herb Alpert. This is all great music, of course, but seen through the lens of my rebellious stoner peers it seemed I should be fitted with plaid high-waters and then buried with my collection of records under a gibbous moon. The “grooviest” thing I played at the time was a 45 of “Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter” by Herman's Hermits, owned by my sister (which still puzzles me, since the rest of her collection was mostly Andy Williams and Floyd Cramer). Not exactly cool when stacked against Eric Clapton.
When I reached high school, I became friends with a guy named Larry. Larry was cool in the way I thought of as cool, as in he didn't like the football players or the cheerleaders or the “goat-ropers”, those of a rural persuasion who favored country music and throwing rocks and bottles at those of us they called “freaks” on the other side of our parking lot fence (there was unchecked enmity between these two groups, and the only times when a cessation of hostilities was observed was when a member of Band was within chucking distance). Larry wore a jean jacket and torn Levis, he smoked, and he was absolutely fearless. I rushed to adopt his look and demeanor.
One of the things to which he introduced me was an appreciation of the music he preferred. During nights spent in his cigarette-besmogged bedroom (his parents were very laid-back about his smoking and the hours he kept) he would haul out his copies of early Alice Cooper, T-Rex, Jethro Tull, Frank Zappa, and too many others to name, and we would philosophize wise about any and all things while his turn-table spun ceaselessly. I can thank Larry almost exclusively for the tastes I've carried into middle age, and for my willingness to keep an open mind about new things.
If Frank can wear those pants, I can wear those pants.
Shortly after my missus and I arrived in Portland, we met a younger couple, Wayne and Tamara, who quickly became next-door neighbors and fast friends. Wayne was in a band called Tales Untold, and we followed them from one venue to the next, from Key Largo (alas, no more) to The Alladin, Berbati's Pan (also gone), and others, and getting to hear more local bands along the way. These small rooms spoiled me for arena venues; our one foray to Rose Garden Arena to see The Red Hot Chili Peppers was a disappointment full of nose-bleed seating and pricing to match, inebriated and obnoxious owners of bare bosoms, and dissonant echoes. Why would one want to suffer such when they can squeeze into the Roseland or Doug Fir for a more intimate experience? Might as well watch MTV (*shudder*).
Check this out. Other than the rustic aural goodness of The Decemberists, the musical stylings offered by Martinis both Pink and Dirty, and the arresting Storm Large, there are over 120 bands and solo artists who call, or have called, Portland home base. If you're looking for the best places to go hear and see live local music, take a look here.
Let's see if I get in trouble!
We haven't gotten out to hear music as much recently, and really, I'm asking myself, why not? I'm resolving to get out more (time and resources permitting) and re-discover the music in the city. I have no excuse.