A Guide to Oregon’s Music Scene
When you think of Oregon, images of trees, waterfalls and lots of greenery probably come to mind. You may also think about our flourishing culinary scene or our tax-free shopping; but what I want residents and visitors to start thinking about is the incredible music scene we have throughout the entire state.
As an avid music lover and concert-goer, here are some of my favorite local bands from around the state that are worth checking out. You may recognize a few, but my goal is to introduce and inspire you to experience one of these bands perform live.
Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside: Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside has been intertwining elements of swinging roots rock, country, jazz, and blues with a contemporary lyrical stance and Ford’s instantly raw, recognizable voice. The Portland quartet has continued to ascend through the ranks, earning a growing following throughout the Pacific Northwest and Europe. Check out the video for the song that got me hooked, “I Swear.”
Radiation City: Hailed as the best new band of 2012 by Willamette Week, Radiation City can be described as ‘50s doo-wop swirled with indie dream pop. Their classical sound is supported by irresistible pop vocal hooks and the use of minimal electronics which provide rhythm but leave plenty of space. Watch this video for “Find it of use.”
The Holiday Friends are a quintet from Astoria that combine great harmonies, thoughtful lyrics, and a winning blend of organic and electronic instruments. Their first album “Chicks” came out last March and has become one of my go-to albums to listen to. The first track will have you hooked.
Mosely Wotta: Although I’ve never seen him perform live, I’ve heard rave reviews from trusted music sources who say he’s an amazing performer. MOsley WOtta hails from Bend, Oregon, and performs as both a full live band and as solo performer Jason Graham, a prize winning competitive poet and performer. MOsley WOtta solo or ensemble, is fun, uplifting and high energy.
Bitterroot is a folk rock, blues, funk, soul, bluegrass and roots band that originates from Northeastern Oregon. Their eclectic style will take you from high mountain peaks to lonely desert plains and back to the city streets. They frequently play shows in Portland, but love traveling back to “The Valley of Peace” to play gigs, sticking to their home roots. It is music that will set you free. Check them out here.
Organik Time Machine is a four-piece electronic fusion rock band from Ashland. Fusing live drums, guitar, keys and synths with their own electronic produced tracks, the band creates a sound that is all their own. With the use of live instruments and electronic instruments the band retains the feel of a live band and can move from exploratory live improvisation to crushing electronic grooves in a matter of seconds, creating a sound that is electronic and organic all at the same time. Check them out here.
You may have already heard of the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies (a.k.a. The Daddies), who were established in Eugene and play a mix of swing, ska and have recently started incorporating elements of Americana into their sound. Their hit “Zoot Suit Riot” launched them to mainstream fame for a few years in the 90s. Although they took a hiatus, they are back to touring and have a new album called “White Teeth, Black Thoughts” which is set for release in February.
Mt. Hood/The Gorge
This region is well known amongst outdoor enthusiasts, but you can still find booty shakin’ music like The Richard Wilkins Blue Band, who frequent the Gorge’s live music scene. Their boogie-woogie, soulful ballads and vintage blues-rock will have you hitting the dance floor.
About the Author: Allison Keeney
Allison Keeney is a music fanatic. Born and raised in Oregon, Allison grew up in a music-loving family where The Beatles, Elvis Costello and The Rolling Stones were frequently played. She now lives in SW Portland, which is just a hop, skip and jump from some of Portland’s best music hot spots. She currently works in the Global Sales department at Travel Oregon where she’s the coordinator for the European, domestic/Canada and Oceania markets.