What is the appropriate relationship to the past? A time that can only be accessed by memory, it seems sad to become lost in nostalgia, and dangerous to simply forget the work of those that came before. Portland may be at the center of this question currently, with waves of tech companies and their employees eyeing the city and its livability in the midst of a housing crisis and a couple years removed from “Barpacolypse,” a time when it seemed every worthwhile drinking spot and underground venue was shuttering for re-development, re-branding, or sometimes just to collect higher rent.
Given the current situation, it seems appropriate then to celebrate a name from Portland’s past that contributed heavily to the formation of the music culture that the city became known for even today. Tony DeMicoli was the manager of three legendary nightclubs in Portland, The Long Goodbye, Luis’ La Bamba, and Key Largo. The list of bands that played DeMicoli’s clubs spans from Portland stalwarts like The Wipers to more popular acts such as Sheryl Crow, and his cultivation of music in the city surely lent a cultural weight to a city that was to become a destination for artists and weirdos for years. Now he is suffering from some medical issues and the expenses that go along with that, and it is only fair that the music community he invested so much in should give something back.
The artists involved are legendary Portland musicians from the early 80’s. If you are of a certain age, you most likely remember Nu Shooz‘s “I Can’t Wait,” and maybe even Quarterflash‘s “Harden My Heart.” Jon Koonce, of the band Johnny and the Distractions, who happened to tour with artists like Tom Petty back in the day, rounds out the night. These are working musicians from another time, all signed to major record deals and playing accessible, popular music. Times were different almost 40 years ago, and it is important to reflect on those differences as we look towards the future in Portland.