I hope that you have picked up the amazing music that has been released this month so far. Frankly, it is one of the best month's Portland has seen for music in awhile, so buy local and buy often!
Let's start out with some quick news. The Goodnight Process has finished tracking their new album this past week, which I am super excited about. The Lucid have come out of hiding after a six month (six months too long I might add) hiatus from playing out.
One band that I've been listening to quite a bit recently is the band This Way. They were named by the Portland Press Herald as a band to watch back in 2009 and were nominated for the coveted Best New Artist Portland Phoenix Award. If you check out their Myspace account, I would say they bring a very Springsteen/Jersey inspired earthy folk sound. I think it would be best be described as Nebraska mixed with Dan Bern raspy vocals. Good stuff, go check them out April 2nd at North Star Cafe.
Now onto the meat and potatoes of the post. While being 1600 miles from Portland, word travels a little bit slower than one would want to. I only recently became aware of North Star Cafe's financial troubles. It really brings back the haunting memory of when Acoustic Coffee closed a few years ago. This is a place that has grown to be an integral part of what Portland is about. In some ways I feel that it has many parallels to Acoustic Coffee. Not only has it been the home and the focal point for the singer/songwriters of Maine, being the primary headquarters for the Maine Songwriters Association; but it has served up more than just coffee and food. It has become part of the community.
I think one of the things that I have personally been wondering are how can such popular places, which are run quite well, get into so much trouble? I watched it happen to a lot of local businesses around the area for years, and music venues a like (well, some of them had their own problems outside of the ownership like The Well, the State Theater not being up to snuff with fire code, etc). I know that the economy has hit the country quite hard, but there has to be something more at work.
I look around and see all the successful places venues in the Portland area and there is a pattern I've noticed. While they all help cultivate a sense of community within the city for its patrons, they don't actually cultivate and sustain a community within their walls. They provide an outlet for patrons to come and gather, but they aren't physically breeding a community like North Star Cafe.
Every night of the week there is something different happening at North Star whether it be dancing lessons, music, poetry, book clubs, or ASL classes ON TOP of being a fully operating restaurant.
Needless to say, some might say that North Star's resources are being stretched by providing all these things to the public. But let's face it, It has brought upon and sustained a community. It is a non-profit minded organization that provides, but trapped in the world of for-profit local businesses.
I think the question that has yet to be answered is, can an entity such as North Star Cafe keep sustaining and breathing as a community and be prosperous financially? I guess we will find out over the next few months.
Tell me what you think by commenting or sending me an email!
The Goodnight Process - http://www.myspace.com/thegoodnightprocess
The Lucid - http://www.myspace.com/dominicandthelucid
This Way - http://www.myspace.com/thiswayband
North Star Music Cafe - http://www.northstarmusiccafe.com