With two cool events happening there this weekend, the new music venue inside Century Center — a retail complex located behind the old Brightwood Mill property on Century Drive in Bend — continues to blossom.
Tonight’s show will feature a headlining slot by local faves Larry and His Flask, and Saturday night is Art for India, with a bunch of local art and a set by Empty Space Orchestra. You can read more about both shows by clicking here.
Both this weekend’s events benefit local humanitarian organization Rise Up International, and are the result of a tight relationship between the Century Center and Rise Up’s Jesse Roberts, detailed here.
That post, however, implies that Roberts will be the sole person booking music at Century Center, and that is incorrect. Owner Dave Hill wants an array of promoters producing shows at the venue, not to mention non-music events such as weddings, business meetings, fundraisers and the like, he said on Tuesday.
“It’s always going to be a for-rent event center. This is not going to be the rock ‘n’ roll mosh pit. We’re not going to morph into Boondocks or the Midtown,” he said. “We’re going to have a few shows a month, and other people can have shows here and there, but I also want other events here.
“I want to make music a cornerstone of what we do,” Hill said, “but not the only thing we do.”
So far, however, Century Center is doing music well. Bend Roots Revival‘s multi-night, multi-stage format fit the venue like a glove, and a Roberts/Rise Up-booked show by underground rap star Talib Kweli went off without a hitch in mid-November. On Dec. 18, the room will host The Soulstice Jubilee, with performances by Mosley Wotta and Eric Tollefson & The World’s Greatest Lovers, and produced by local booking guru Gabe Johnson’s company, Parallel 44 Presents.
“I want there to be diversity here, because I think it’s good to get more people exposed to the center, and I think it’s good for the neighborhood to have something to come to,” Hill said. “If someone wants to do an event here, it’s fine with me. I don’t want to be the sole promoter, so if other people want to promote, that’s great. But we’re only going to do a certain number of shows, and I just want them to be quality shows.”
Hill and his team have been hard at work improving the event center. What was once a stark concrete room now has interesting, locally produced art on the walls, and dozens of globe lamps hang from the ceiling. Hill has begun furnishing a green room with couches and chairs so performers have a place to relax before and after a show.
Hill is also in the process of figuring out a layout for a planned prep kitchen, or caterer’s kitchen, with hopes of completing the work early next year. That way, events can provide their own food by bringing in a caterer or restaurant.
“I’m not going to get into the food business,” he said.
With a capacity of 750 people, Century Center can handle “90 or 95 percent of the events in Bend,” Hill said, and if he wants to do something bigger, he has space outside on the property that can hold well over 1,000. (For the Bend Roots fans, that’s where The B.I.G.S. Stage was.)
When it comes to music, Hill said he doesn’t care what kind fills the space, as long as its well done.
“I’m cool with hip-hop. I’m cool with country. I was raised on classic rock,” he said. “I just like live music, and if it’s good live music, it’s good with me. The community will ultimately weigh in on that (based on) what’s working and what they’re supporting.
“We don’t necessarily have all the answers. We’re just going down the road and seeing what happens,” he said. “I just want to see more live music happen and people having a good time.”