8 Projects and People Giving Life to Portland Music

An old-school radio mainstay. A record label that gets DIY bands national buzz. An all-local streaming service. Get to know a few vital forces of our sonic scene.

By Tiara Darnell, Rebecca Jacobson, Fiona McCann, and Sam Pape August 14, 2018 Published in the September 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

The OK Chorale's annual holiday sing-along at Mississippi Studios

The Choir

Turn up, get your lyrics sheet, practice with a roomful of strangers, and then belt out “Feel It Still” or “Maneater” in glorious, scraggly synchronicity. OK Chorale is the drop-in chorus we never knew we needed, encouraging participants to rock up twice a month to Revolution Hall and sing it all off, together.FM

The Nonprofit

An artist- and volunteer-run venue and community center in Roseway, S1 offers workshops in electronic music production and hosts experimental shows, many of them all-ages. The four-year-old org also boasts a synth library, which allows members (who pay a sliding scale, starting at $5 a month) access to Moog synthesizers, DJ gear, pedals, and more. RJ

The Promoter

Ibeth Hernandez, cofounder of Chapters Alumni, the Portland-based promotions company, is a self-described diehard music fan and at the forefront of all things hip-hop in the Northwest. Whereas most live entertainment in town is produced for the over-21 crowd, Hernandez has been able to carve out a niche among the all-ages concert-going segment through robust social media engagement, which includes asking teenagers directly whom they’re anointing as the next big thing their parents have never heard of.TD

The Ensemble

For 30 plus years, Third Angle has exploded dust-caked notions of classical and chamber music, presenting contemporary compositions and commissioning new works that defy easy categorization. Among this season’s offerings: a concert exploring the voices of trans women, a guitar opera about Orpheus, and an evening of Indian music and dance. RJ

The Project

Yet another reason to love the Multnomah County Library: in June, it launched the Library Music Project, an online collection of local music, with more than 100 albums available for streaming (or, with a library card, for download). Ranging from instrumental jazz to unruly punk to peppy kids’ tunes, it makes for a fine crash course in our sonic scene. RJ

DJ Baby Boomer, a.k.a. Ted Smith

The Radio DJ

When quitting time rolls around on Friday afternoons, strut soulfully into the weekend with KMHD’s Baby Boomer on full blast. The Boomer—a.k.a. Ted Smith—has been a Portland radio mainstay on KMHD for more than 15 years and counting, with his unapologetically black mix of soul, funk, jazz, and blues. TD

The Bar

Portland’s best all-ages venue is, miraculously, a bar: Black Water is helping save the underground scene that now-defunct venues like the Know once helped flourish, with regular shows featuring bands like Petite and Summer Cannibals. Says co-owner Alex Carroccio: “We want to inspire people to meet each other, to play music together, no matter your age or musical preference.”SP

The Label

Good Cheer Records may be the most artist-friendly record label in the PNW, and their releases have been met with national buzz to boot. Blake Hickman, who cofounded the label with fellow Portlander Morgan Troper in 2014, backs up-and-coming DIY bands—Floating Room, Cool American—with free product up front. Sonically, think, “punks playing pop songs,” according to Hickman. SP

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