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Portland Rock History. Get Into It.

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of indulging in a double-header of Portland rock history. To kick it off, I went to another stellar Northwest Passage dinner lecture put on by the Dill Pickle Club (now Know Your City). (If you haven’t checked them out yet and are local to Portland- you need to.)

Toody and Fred Cole

Eric Isaacson, of Mississippi Records, interviewed Fred and Toody Cole, famed founders of Dead Moon, in a comfortably packed cafe in North Portland at the Waypost. Now I’ll be honest and admit that I knew little of the pair or the band, except for hearing their “Fire in the Western World” song covered at many a Mission 5 show- and all the raving on their exceptional influence on many a Portland rock band.

The two traded off telling stories from meeting in a cafe, while Toody was sweeping the floor and Fred was passing through Portland after his van ran out of gas, to raising a family and touring with their latest band, Pierced Arrows. They talked about heading back from LA with their kids packed above the guitars they just picked up for their music shop. When asked about the odd anomaly of why so many punk musicians are running around Portland with expensive, rare guitars, Fred explained that he used to get prototypes from a famous guitar maker (unfortunately, I can’t remember the name) and sold them for cheap. They bounced back and forth, keeping the audience laughing and rounded out the evening with four acoustic songs since the “surprise guest” didn’t show to play covers (or at least that’s what Marc Moscato said, with a wink).

Northwest Passage: Eric Isaacson Interviews Toody and Fred Cole

While I wanted to put the presenters from last month’s series in a room with my grandpa, I wanted to put these two in a room with my mom. They seemed to resonate with her work hard, play hard, tell-it-like-it-is and apologize-to-no-one-for-being-who-you-are method of living.

Sonic Jelly Jam Night w/Steve Wilkinson

Fittingly enough, I then headed over to Rich Landar’s weekly Sonic Jelly Jam with the week’s guest, Steve Wilkinson, at KJs on SE Division. Since Steve was responsible for my initial exposure to Dead Moon, it only seemed right to round out the evening watching him and former bandmate Grant Cumpston, from Gravelpit. (If you haven’t heard of them, I recommend checking out this little Portland rock history article I stumbled upon that picks up a little after where the earlier history lesson left off.) Jolie Clausen played drums, Allan Markel played bass and all four pulled off an energetic set, taking little time between songs to shout out chords and timings. If Steve hadn’t mentioned that they’d never played together before, I would have thought they’d been a band for years. If you haven’t checked out a jam session, I must recommend it. The space is intimate, the crowd laid back and musicians entertaining.

Next month’s Northwest Passage event will feature CALVIN JOHNSON, VANESSA RENWICK, COOL NUTZ and if it’s anything like the last two (and it will be)- it’s not to be missed. Hope to see you there!

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