By Nathalie Weinstein
What started out as a listserv for people in Portland's music community has become PDX Pop Now!, an annual all ages music festival showcasing the latest and greatest musical talent Stumptown has to offer.
Now in its 7th year, Benna Gottfried, PDX Pop Now's media director, said the festival has continued to be a self-sustaining entity run entirely by volunteers and offered free of charge to PDX music lovers. She attributes the festival's success to sponsorship by businesses and the hard work of its army of volunteers. This weekend's show promises to be better than ever, Gottfried said.
¬Å“We're taking a big leap this year and increasing the festival's production quality for fans and musicians,¬Â Gottfried said. ¬Å“We'll have amazing light shows inside and outside, better sound quality and a big mature music venue.¬Â
There will be 44 bands performing this year, including Monarques, a sixties pop-inspired group who have been playing around Portland for the last three years. PDX Pipeline sat down with Joshua Spacek of Monarques to talk about his first-ever performance at PDX Pop Now.
PDX Pipeline: Can you describe your band's sound?
Joshua Spacek: We have a sixties pop thing going on. The Beatles are an obvious influences as well as The Kinks. We listen to all those old records. It's piano driven music with guitar and lots of harmonies. I'm really into soul music. I was fascinated with the Motown process of song production. They'd have a weekly rotation and all their writers would bring their best songs every week. They'd write for three days, pick the best songs, the bands would arrange it and they would record the songs on the weekends. We've never achieved that level of streamlining, but its something we've attempted on a monthly scale. I like to get a good new song every month.
PDX: What is like being a musician in Portland?
JS: It's great. I grew up here in Portland and always loved playing in bands. When I was a kid, there were lots of all ages clubs like Solid State and the Meow Meow. Now we play in much different venues that are mostly 21 and over. But they're good venues with good people running them. I think every city I've visited has its own music scene. But Portland definitely has a large support system for musicians in the city.
PDX: How do you think having fewer all ages clubs has affected Portland's music scene?
JS: When I was in high school, I'd go to the Meow Meow every weekend regardless of who was playing. I still have friends I made from that time in my life. (Live music) was so easily accessible. Now, it's a different social structure. It's house parties. Back then, you didn't have to know someone who was having a party. You could just go. That's a good thing about PDX Pop is it brings everything to everyone of any age all at once.
PDX: How are you feeling about your first performance at PDX Pop Now?
JS: I am very excited. (PDX Pop) brings so many bands to the all ages crowd that otherwise don't get to see these bands. The scale of PDX Pop Now is pretty incredible. They pull it off so effectively with just volunteers. I've gone for years and it just keeps getting better.