For a period of about three years I devoted every waking moment of my life to volunteering at an all-ages co-op music venue. While there are plenty of fond memories from this stretch of my life, the one underlying realization I had then, and still maintain now, is that running an all-ages venue is a near-impossible task best left to saints, martyrs, and those with a never-ending sense of patience and kindness. Basically, not me. Throw in the general lack of business experience, the fact that everyone wants to book shows (but no one wants to balance the books), plus the random crapshoot that is music promotion, and it's surprising that there are any all-ages venues left.
But, of course, there are—and in nowhere else does the passion for all-age music exist like it does here in Portland. On the frontlines of this movement is StumpClub, self-described as "a collective of greater Portland music lovers dedicated to building community and ensuring live music is available to everyone of all ages," with the noble goal of opening a brand-new, community-friendly, all-ages show space in the near future. The volunteer-run StumpClub recently kicked off a series of benefit shows, in addition to releasing compilation albums, the most recent being StumpClub Vol. 2, out this week.
To shed a light on StumpClub's plans, I talked to one of its volunteers, Damian Vander Wilt, about how this new venue will come to be. "We're looking into becoming a 501(c) [nonprofit tax exemption] and we really want to do something smart with this because, obviously, Portland has seen a number of all-ages venues fall through, pop up, and fall through again."
Modeling the future space after Berkeley's punk mecca 924 Gilman, and Seattle's ode to all-ages power, the Vera Project, Vander Wilt knows that StumpClub has its work cut out for it: "We're still coming up with a business model and drafting plans and making sure we have a real solid foundation that's able to sustain itself, rather than just setting up something quick and having it fall apart because we are unable to adapt or we didn't think of something else."
As for that brand-new compilation, StumpClub Vol. 2—which features recent material from All Girl Summer Fun Band, 31Knots, Copy, Golden Bears, and more—it will be available this Saturday, August 9, during the CD release party at the Coop (3535 N Lombard, 8 pm, $5-8, all ages). Performing will be Reporter, Experimental Dental School, and Teeath, all three of which are represented on the hand-screened compilation as well.
If you can't make the show, the benefit will hit stores later this month, or you can contact StumpClub online (stumpclub.org), and Vander Wilt will (literally) go the extra mile for you. "I will get on my bike and deliver the CD to your house." They might not be ready to break ground on the venue, but the volunteers at StumpClub already have the kindness part down pat.