more preaching to the choir
of Northwest Music shuts down
've been feeling sort of old-fashioned lately, listening to plenty
of roots music and lots of radio.
I like radio as a form of entertainment, not just something in
the car that gets you from A to B. Not that I don't do a lot of
radio-listening while driving, lacking all but a radio in my bucket
at home: a religious experience.
Radio is good at home, too. The content is certainly less banal
than Fox's newest reality series. Try listening to basketball or
baseball some day. You'll feel the years roll back as your imagination
But now the days of each month fall like dominos on the calendar
page, and things change. So on May 15 at about 12:42 a.m., KBOO's
Church of Northwest Music, the premier live music radio show for
Northwest musicians, clicked off after 25 years with a brief, tinny
The Church passed through the hands of a few hosts before landing
in Marc Baker's lap at the start of the '90s, and for the last 13
years he presided over joyful noise made by bands hailing mostly
from Portland and the Northwest, though national and international
acts squeaked through on occasion even, according to Baker,
from as far as Northwest Tokyo, Japan.
Baker's farewell lap on the airwaves included lots of humor, both
good and sardonic, with barely an echo of wistfulness or bitterness
and plenty of highlights from his extensive archives of the show.
Delightfully, in each song the sound quality and performances (mostly)
are so crystal clear and tight as to totally belie their live-music-on-radio
origins. It's a testament to Baker and his compatriots: Brother
Jay, Datmaster Eric and Harry and Barry.
bulletin: Volume One is worth snapping up.
From Kaitlyn Ni Donovan's lush, funky and naively nerdy opening
clip to the wretched version of "My Sharona," a Satyricon-recorded
salute to Baker that concluded the sermon, a range of style and
talent was put on the air in a fast-fading format.
Fernando wailed en español, shaking the neighborhood
with his talent-heavy band (Warren Pash, Luther Russell ...) and
So Sadly F**cked lived up to the name with a rainy-day singer/songwriter
whisper. Little Sue sang a sweet tune with elfin guile and Rick
Bain and the Genius Position muffed the start of some smart '70s
pop-rock (who said live radio was easy?).
Baker, intelligent, passionate and irreverent about music, took
the time to touch on other musical institutions in Stumptown that
have met similar fates as the Church, such as the recently-sold/closed-fate-unknown
Satyricon and Bill Fisher's legendary practice-studio paradise,
the Palace, where now a Pearl District condo and a Starbucks stand.
to tell: the premier live music radio show for Northwest musicians
What it boils down to, as distilled by Baker, is that purported
cliché, "community." You could hear it in the obvious
fun Baker had with his crew and the flawless glee in each recorded-live
The sense of community the show fostered will definitely be missed.
Nonetheless, KBOO has deemed it appropriate to suddenly axe the
Church, and any contention is in the minds of the KBOO Board of
You can probably still find copies of the Church of Northwest
Music Volume 1 CD here and there, and they're worth snapping
up, because the Church is closed and we're moving on.