A Dissenting Opinion (aka What Do YOU Think About Central Oregon’s Live Music Lineup This Summer?)

Thursday, August 13th, 2009, 1:15 pm by Ben Salmon

In last week’s GO! Magazine, I reviewed the recent Sugarland show at Les Schwab Amphitheater, cited the big crowd there (and at Brooks & Dunn last summer, and Willie Nelson the summer before that), and reached the following conclusion:

It’s easy for me to get caught up in the chatter among my friends here in town, and my friends are the kind of folks who want more Modest Mouse, Beck and Wilco, and less Sugarland, Brooks & Dunn and Lyle Lovett. They’re disappointed with this year’s lineup (Ween notwithstanding) and, I admit, I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that their opinion represents a larger feeling across the region.

But that’s just not true, and the numbers prove it. Central Oregon loves its country music, and furthermore, Central Oregonians will drop $40 to $80 apiece to see country’s big stars play here.

I even headlined the article thusly: “COUNTRY IS KING.” As in “Country is king in Central Oregon!”

The next day, I got an e-mail from Mark Smuland, 48, of Bend, who works as a business consultant. Smuland, who was a teen in the 1970s (before music was “bastardized by ‘the industry,'” he says) and lived in Seattle during grunge’s glory years, gently took me to task for declaring country music the ruler of our region.

I read your Sugarland article today. While that cheesy pop-country may be king in Central Oregon, it certainly isn’t in my house. What a musical wasteland we’ve been living in this year. Other than Ween as you noted, I have been soooo disappointed in our local concert promoters. The fact that they couldn’t reel in any of the hundred or so bands playing Sasquatch this year is downright incompetent. I’ve had to burn hundreds of gallons of gas to see any shows this year. The Dead at the Gorge, Wilco at the (Britt festival), upcoming Flaming Lips/Built to Spill in Portland. I was lucky enough to catch Band of Horses on the east coast while I was on vacation.

I was driving down Greenwood yesterday and almost caused a wreck when I did a double take after seeing a name that I actually recognized on the marquee at the Midtown. G. Love on 9/3? Wow! I can’t even recall the last good show at that venue. Help get the word out in your column. If we show some local support for good music, maybe some more shows will come our way and we can stop burning gas to see good music.

See you at Ween, Jackie Greene and G.Love.

Now, if you know me, or you pay attention to the music I flog here on Frequency or as part of my year-end “best of” coverage, you pretty much know where I stand. I’ll cover — as objectively as I can — whatever comes our way. But personally, I’d rather have a summer packed with cool, relevant rock, pop, punk and/or hip-hop bands than adult contemporary acts, bands that are decades removed from their prime, and musicians tailor made for the NPR crowd. My friends — those folks who’d rather have Beck than Lyle Lovett — are my friends for a reason. I, too, would rather see Beck than Lyle Lovett, or The Shins over Pink Martini, or Modest Mouse over Lynyrd Skynyrd. Heck, I’d rather see Ben Harper or Fiona Apple than Jason Aldean or Bonnie Raitt.

So clearly, there are a couple of factions here. There’s a (younger?) crowd that wants the indie/alternative stuff. That group was happy in 2006 and 2008. Then there’s an (older?) crowd that digs the twangy, country stuff, some jazz and blues, and nostalgia acts. Those folks were happy in 2007, and they should be happy this summer.

What I’d like to know is where Frequency readers fall on this debate. What kind of acts would you like to see in Bend? Are you happy with this summer’s offerings? Or are you disappointed? And if you’re disappointed, where do you place the blame? Is it on show promoters? Local music fans for not supporting the music you love? The OLCC?

I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.

2 Responses to “A Dissenting Opinion (aka What Do YOU Think About Central Oregon’s Live Music Lineup This Summer?)”

  1. Eric Metzger says:

    Well, I play bass in Warm Gadget, so you can guess where I stand on the pop country thing. But I’m not a total noise/metal guy. To be totally honest, the only place I’ve gone for “out of town” acts this year was the Bendistillery Martini Bar. Reggie is basically the only promoter in town taking any chances at all, and it’s working for me and many others. 2006 and 2007 were great for local rock/punk/metal bands; I’m not sure what happened to that scene but it’s not happening like it was then for sure. Last show I saw at LSA was Wilco last year -incredible, obviously. Otherwise, I’ve only been to the Midtown/Domino if I get paid to be there (as a bouncer), and I usually volunteer to be cut early so I can see what Reggie has going on, find an Empty Space show, or maybe check out Silver Moon. I think small venues like these can take the risk and bring in good, modest shows and turn a profit, but LSA and even Random Presents seem to be sticking to the safe financial options (Tech9ine again?) that are BORING. Not that I blame them, as a small business owner, but I haven’t spent any money on a big show lately for a reason. Oh yeah- and I still miss The Grove…

  2. scott says:

    I’m much more on the punk/alternative/whathaveyou side of things, but in all fairness, it might be mentioned that Lyle Lovett and especially Willie Nelson have a share of fans among the punk/alternative side of things.

    Last show I went to was MDC which was as entertaining as anyone could hope. Been to well fewer shows this year than in the previous couple. Bend is a rough town to guess. The Melvins are probably my favorite band, and I was stunned that they didn’t do better business. I love industrial music, but can’t imagine any Einsturzende Neubauten turning a profit here.

    The one act I keep thinking should try the LSA is Tom Petty. With or with out The Heartbreakers, (preferably with, I’d be down either way.) I have no idea what Petty charges compared to other acts, but that’s something that would be a great show, and is easy to imagine doing decent numbers in this region.

Leave a Reply