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Portland has always been a music town: It's notable for being the birthplace of the Kingsmen's "Louie, Louie" and the longtime home of famed singer-songwriter Elliott Smith. But much of the city's rich musical history involves influential bands, rather than platinum-selling ones. Dead Moon, The Wipers, Team Dresch, Poison Idea, Hazel: These bands still exert a sizable influence on the region's sound, and one can still find members of '80s sensations like Nu Shooz and the Motels performing around town today. But Portland's last decade has been one of transition from a quaint indie-rock community into a full-fledged musical economy. Bands from all over the country flock to the city, attracted by cheap rent and the success of groups like The Shins and The Decemberists. This is great news for area music lovers, even if it makes it tougher for good bands to stand out. There's plenty going on in PDX besides a thriving indie-rock scene: strong jazz, hip-hop, and experimental music emanates from Portland as well, often under the radar. The cliché is that many of Portland's hometown bands are received more enthusiastically in other cities, but some of them even seem to like it that way. They keep coming back for the music scene, the natural environment, the food carts (tons of 'em), and the disastrous job market. Home sweet home.

~ Casey Jarman,
Willamette Week


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