Local Music News

As you may have gathered from the tortured cries of your nicotine-needing friends, or the jubilant cheers of your clean-living colleagues that still echo through the halls of Portland's few remaining smoke-filled venues (the last on the West Coast)—change is in the air. Back in June, the Oregon legislature passed a long-expected bill putting the kibosh on smoking in bars, bowling alleys, and, yes, even bingo halls—the three exceptions that had been stipulated in a 2001 bill banning smoking in indoor workplaces. The technical distinction between a bar that hosts music and a music venue that serves alcohol being debatable, it is only as of January 2009, when the new law goes into effect, that we can expect all local venues to count clean (or at least smoke-free) air among their features.

But music-loving sinners flexible in their self-abuse needn't despair, as downtown experimental music hotspot Valentine's recently acquired a liquor license and now features a full bar. Unfortunately, this does mean that minors will no longer be allowed on the premises after 10 pm because, well, Oregon's liquor laws are really ill considered. Additionally, the space will now host top-notch live music only Sunday to Tuesday, offering hope to Portlanders disappointed by lackluster non-weekend show offerings. DJs and such will fill the rest of the Valentine's week.

Meanwhile, the pair of fresh New Jersey transplants behind Rererato, an art space at NE 42nd and Sumner located in a former Hare Krishna temple, have been quietly dipping their toes in the live music waters, hosting concerts to accompany their art openings. This young tradition will continue Saturday, July 28, with a handful of local acts ringing in the opening of Zzzzz... (Between the Sheets), an exhibition about sleep. One of the aforementioned bands will be the Ocean Floor, the unspeakably bizarre, strangely fascinating prog-folk project of another new Portlander, Lane Barrington. Connoisseurs of Portland music trivia will be tickled to know that Barrington has history with two notable local music weirdos: Ryland Bouchard (better known as the Robot Ate Me), who released the Ocean Floor album Tall Tales and Small Tales on his Swim Slowly label earlier this year, and Alan Singley, who recorded the first Ocean Floor album in 2001, when both musicians lived in Orlando. There are no plans for the three to collaborate, but the new Portland-based Ocean Floor percussion-less trio does include Shannon Steele of White Fang.

Finally, keep on eye on your television for Portland's awesome Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls. Fresh off a feature last week on the Today Show, they will be highlighted on ABC's Nightline on an as-yet-undetermined night this week, undoubtedly inspiring countless young women across the country to pick up an instrument and make some noise.