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Music of Oregon

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Title: Music of Oregon  
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Subject: Music of Oregon, Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Music of Alabama, Music of Alaska, Music of Arizona
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Music of Oregon

Woody Guthrie wrote several songs about the Northwest under the commission of the Bonneville Power Administration.

The music of Oregon reflects the diverse array of styles present in the music of the United States, from Native American music to the contemporary genres of rock and roll, country, rhythm and blues, jazz, pop, electronic music, and hip hop. However, throughout most of its history, the state has been relatively isolated from the cultural forces shaping American music. Much of modern popular music traces its roots to the emergence in the late 19th century of African American blues and the growth of gospel music in the 1920s. African American musicians borrowed elements of European and indigenous musics to create new American forms. As Oregon's population was more homogeneous and more white than the United States as a whole, the state did not play a significant role in this history.

The state's main contributions to American popular music began in the 1960s, when [4]

The state also has a unique rural-urban dynamic, which has influenced the development of local bluegrass, folk, and alternative country music. Jam bands have a strong presence in the state, dating back to Grateful Dead performances at the Oregon Country Fair, and outdoor music festivals continue to be popular. Portland's Waterfront Blues Festival is the second largest blues festival in the country. Prominent cultural institutions include the Oregon Bach Festival, Oregon Festival of American Music, Oregon Symphony, and Mt. Hood Jazz Festival.


The Kingsmen, best known for their 1960s rock classic "Louie, Louie", were originally from Portland, and Paul Revere & the Raiders gained popularity in Portland after relocating there from Idaho.

Seafood Mama was a 1970s jazz band, with singer Rindy Ross, with a substantial local following that tried for national success as Quarterflash. The band was unable to find much success after its first album.

Portland is also home of the world's first and only all-Asian American dance rock band, The Slants, another independent act who has been made international headlines, both for their public battle with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, as well as their active involvement in the anime industry.[5]

Punk rock

Portland had one of the most vibrant hardcore punk scenes in the early 1980s Pacific Northwest, rivaled only by Seattle and Vancouver. The Wipers and Poison Idea are the best known representatives of the scene, especially The Wipers, a major grunge influence. These bands played at The Met (now Dante's) and The Satyricon. Other hardcore bands in the 1980s included Lockjaw, Final Warning, and The Rats. Hole frontwoman Courtney Love spent time in Portland, and was active in the city's punk scene at the time.[6] She initially met Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain at the Satyricon club in 1989.

In the 1990 bands such as Defiance, Resist, Bugskull, Detestation, and Tragedy rose in popularity. An important cult band from Portland was the Exploding Hearts of the early 2000s. Dead Moon developed a cult worldwide following with their garage-country punk, starting from the early 1990s.

Bluegrass and old-time

Portland is home to a thriving bluegrass and old-time music scene. Popular Portland bands include Foghorn Stringband, and The Water Tower Bucket Boys. Banjo player Tony Furtado, who has branched out from traditional bluegrass music into progressive bluegrass, jazz, and other genres, currently lives in Portland. The Portland Old-Time Music Gathering takes place in mid-January each year, with a variety of Northwest musicians, jamming, and square dancing. This event attracts a more diverse audience than is found at Old-Time events in the rest of the state.

World and world fusion

Portland is home to a thriving world music and international folk dancing scene. including the acclaimed Al andalus ensemble. West Africa is represented by such groups and artists as Obo Addy (Ghana), Jujuba (Nigerian Afrobeat), and Boka Marimba (Zimbabwe). Eastern Europe and the Middle East has music and dance representation through groups such as Brothers of the Baladi, Vagabond Opera, Krebsic Orkestar & Balkan Fusion Project, The Underscore Orkestra, Balkan And Beyond, Kef, The Mora, Vequinox, 3 Leg Torso and Chervona.

Indie music

In recent years, a number of indie music bands from Portland which have played local venues have won recording contracts with promoters such as Partisan Records and Knitting Factory Records and have been touring nationally. These include Emil Amos of Holy Sons,[7] Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside,[8] AgesandAges,[9] Ash Black Bufflo,[10] Dolorean,[11] and others.

Other Portland musicians

Songs that reference Oregon

Over the years, a number of songs have been written about Portland specifically.

According to the New York Times, the dozens of karaoke bars in Portland, Oregon make it not just "the capital of karaoke" in the United States, but "one of the most exciting music scenes in America."[15]


Formed in 1984, the Surf Trio was a punk/surf band based in Eugene.[16] Founding members included Ron Kleim on guitar and vocals, Pete Weinburger on guitar and vocals, Dave Myers on bass and Aaron Temple on drums.

The ska-swing-funk band the Cherry Poppin' Daddies were formed from the ashes of Eugene psychedelia band Saint Huck in 1989. The Daddies gained a large Northwest cult following during the early 1990s, conversely attracting harsh criticism from protesters who perceived the band as sexist and obscene. The Daddies rose to mainstream notoriety with the ska and swing revivals of the late 1990s. The group continues to be based in Eugene, along with their side projects, the glam punk outfit White Hot Odyssey and the piano rock trio The Visible Men.

Floater was formed in 1993 and made their start playing garage parties and at the University of Oregon. Now residing in Portland,[17] Floater has released eight studio albums, plus three live albums on indie label Elemental Records. They have also received nominations to the preliminary level of the Grammys from NARAS in 1995 under Best Rock Performance for their first album Sink and in 1996 under Best Alternative Performance for their second album Glyph.[18]

As for songs about Eugene, two country stars have weighed in. [20][21] In addition, Johnny Cash recorded the song "Lumberjack," written by Leon Payne, referring to Eugene Saturday nights: "Well you work in the woods from morning to night, You laugh and sing and you cuss and fight, On Saturday night you go to Eugene, And on a Sunday morning your pockets are clean."[22][23]

List of Eugene musicians


Guitarist John Fahey moved to Salem in 1981 and died there in 2001 at the age of 61. Larry Norman, who some call the "Father of Christian Rock" lived in Salem until his death in early 2008. Native American jazz sax player Jim Pepper was born in Salem in 1941 and lived for two years at Chemawa Indian School, where his mother and father were employed.

Salem and the surrounding cities also have had a large influence on the Portland and Northwest music scenes since the 1990s. The majority of the members of nationally recognized alternative rock bands Blitzen Trapper, Dharma Bums and Typhoon were originally from the Salem area and got their start in the Salem music scene, playing at venues like The Grand Theatre, Jimi's Guitar Planet, The Ike Box, The Governor's Cup, The Knights of Columbus Hall and The Space. Ryan Neighbors, keyboardist of rock band Portugal. The Man is from Salem. Joe Preston, who was the bassist for The Melvins and High On Fire, and now performs solo as Thrones, grew up in Salem.

Other Oregon musicians

Musical events in Oregon

See also



  1. ^ Jarman, Casey (2008-03-26). "Stone By Stone, An Elder Statesman Of NW Moss-Rock Reps Hard, With Or Without You.".  
  2. ^ PDXposed Press, Ben (2009-04-11). Floater" Rocks the Crystal Ballroom""". Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  3. ^ Waterhouse, Ben (2009-04-11). "2009 Best of Portland Reader's Poll".  
  4. ^  
  5. ^
  6. ^ Brite, Poppy Z. (1997). Courtney Love: The Real Story. Simon & Schuster. pp. 44–46.  
  7. ^ "Grails – "Almost Grew My Hair" (Stereogum Premiere)". NPR / Stereogum. February 16, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-28. Seasoned Portland instrumental out-rock quartet Grails are set to release their fifth album, Deep Politics. It the first in three years. During the time off, drummer Emil Amos (aka Holy Sons) recorded God Is Good, his first album with his other... 
  8. ^ Ryan White (January 7, 2010). "Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside build some buzz". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2011-04-27. 
  9. ^ Ryan White (January 2011). "'"The AgesandAges debut is here, listen to 'No Nostalgia. The Oregonian. Retrieved 2011-05-08. 
  10. ^ Caile Michelle (2011-05-13). "Ash Black Bufflo – Andasol album review". MVRemix Urban. Retrieved 2011-05-13. Ash Black Bufflo (or Jay Clarke) comes from Portland, Oregon 
  11. ^ KELEFA SANNEH (November 9, 2003). "PLAYLIST; Elliot Smith's Legacy and Pink's Big Idea". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-13. Alex James leads Dolorean, a band based in Portland, Ore., that began recording its beautiful debut album, "Not Exotic," almost two years ago. 
  12. ^ "Storm Large". Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  13. ^ "Wandering Coyote Booted from Airport Hops a Train Instead". The Scoop. February 15, 2002. Retrieved 2007-06-22. 
  14. ^ "Wily Coyote Tries to Take a MAX Ride".  
  15. ^ How Good Does Karaoke Have to Be to Qualify as Art?, Dan Kois, New York Times, January 17, 2013
  16. ^ "Surf Trio". 
  17. ^ Jarman, Casey (June 23, 2010). "The Band That Wouldn't Die".  
  18. ^ "Angels in the Flesh and Devils in the Bone". World Drum!. Vol. 2 No. 2 June 1 - July 14, 1998 p.2. 
  19. ^ "'"Dolly Parton to release 1972 song 'Eugene Oregon. KVAL News. August 18, 2009. Retrieved August 11, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Eugene Oregon". Dolly Parton On-Line. 2014. Retrieved August 11, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Dolly Parton - Eugene Oregon". YouTube. April 5, 2010. Retrieved August 11, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Johnny Cash Lyrics - Lumberjack Lyrics". MetroLyrics. 2014. Retrieved August 11, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Lumberjack - Johnny Cash". YouTube. 2011. Retrieved August 11, 2014. 
  • Blush, Steven. American Hardcore: A Tribal History. Feral House. 2001. ISBN 0-922915-71-7

External links

  • "Music in Oregon" on the University of Oregon Library website
  • Art of the States: Contemporary Music from Oregon
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