Yesterday, the Chicago Reader published a warm and loving remembrance of soundman, musician, and recording engineer Pat Kenneally, who was an influential figure on the Chicago scene and also spent several years in Portland. While here, Kenneally opened the legendary Blackbird nightclub, which operated from 2001 to 2003. As those who remember him describe, Kenneally was a tireless worker with opinionated views and a knack for bolstering community. He died on June 6 at age 43. A memorial fund has been set up to provide for his five-year-old daughter Cadence and to raise awareness of depression, which Kenneally suffered from. His memorial notice read, "In lieu of flowers, take a friend to lunch." Kenneally's loss is great, and he will be dearly missed.
Of Kenneally's time in Portland, Chicago Reader reporter Leor Galil writes:
In fall 1999 Kenneally moved to Portland, Oregon, where he opened a studio called Ground Score. In 2001 a local alt-weekly released a compilation of local bands called Portland Mercury Presents Compact Disc of Sound, and Kenneally recorded most of them. He met Prids guitarist-vocalist David Frederickson when he mastered their song. "We chatted for a few moments, but we hit it off," Frederickson says. They became friends after Frederickson recognized Kenneally sitting at the bar at Portland club Satyricon.It's a great piece about a person who contributed to the Portland music scene in ways that are still being felt today. I have a copy of Portland Mercury Presents Compact Disc of Sound here at my desk, and I'll be paying tribute to Kenneally this morning by giving it a spin."We liked some of the same music—he was into heavier stuff—but mostly what bonded Pat and I was skepticism," Frederickson says. "We were both atheists—and this was 20 years ago, so people didn't talk about atheism as openly as they do now. He was smart and liked to bloviate—he was a talker."
Frederickson is a vegan and Kenneally was an ethical vegetarian, which also helped them connect. When Kenneally opened an intimate venue and restaurant called the Blackbird in 2001, he put vegetarian and vegan food on the menu. Chantelle Hylton, who left a booking job at the Medicine Hat to do the same work for the Blackbird, describes the city's music scene in those days as small and tight-knit. "He was recording a bunch of bands in Portland, and was a little bit on the periphery and a total force—and he did it, he made a venue for us, he made it happen, and none of us could have done that," Hylton says. "The Blackbird ended up being a catalyst for Portland's music scene finding itself in that moment."
"He changed the landscape of the club scene in Portland when he opened the Blackbird," Frederickson says. "I was in a young band at that time, and gosh, you never thought you'd get paid. But Pat's club—he'd feed you, give you drinks, and get you some money at the end of the night." Other local clubs started to follow suit.
"It was such a small community that everyone who worked there played in a band," Hylton says. "We knew everyone who came to the shows, and it was really, really strange when there was a person at a show that you didn't know." Perhaps because the scene was so small, the Blackbird didn't discriminate when it came to genre. "There would be four bands playing totally different music," Hylton says. "That was something Pat created."
Read the very worthwhile article in its entirety over at the Chicago Reader. And if you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, help is here for you. The Portland Suicide Lifeline is 503-972-3456, and for those outside of Portland, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) or 1-800-273-8255. You can also text "help" to 741-741.