Simmering Under the Surface: Corvallis’ Music Scene Thrives Despite Disorder; Noisemakers to the Rescue

Having lived in and around Corvallis for a few years now, one of the big things I’ve noticed is the distinct lack of an active music scene. In most towns with this large of a college population, you can’t walk more than two blocks downtown without seeing a flyer for a show, and at night you can’t go that same distance without hearing one. Here in Corvallis, not so much. And when I speak with the musically inclined or interested, I hear the same complaint over and over: Corvallis has a terrible local music scene, there are no good bands here, blah blah blah. If we’re talking about organization and continuity, sure, in this writer’s opinion that part is accurate. But if you’re talking about a lack of what I’d modestly call seriously fantastic talent, you’re either thinking of a different city, or you’re really into One Direction and collecting toenails and ear wax in little jars. Hey, no judgments.

Cloudy with a Chance of Rock

IFIf all that existed here were acts like The Exit Electric, The Van Meyers, Summer Soundtrack, and unknown solo musicians like Chance Roberson, I’d be good. And everyone knows by now that there’s sonic talent oozing all along 1st Street during the farmer’s market. But there’s far more than that going on right under our noses, and most of it just as worthy of mention. In fact, the jazz offerings here are especially vibrant, as I’ve learned. Recently I had the pleasure of listening to a partial set by Red Hour during a recent Advocate meeting. It was fantastic even through a couple of Imagine Coffee’s walls.

So why aren’t we seeing multi-local-band shows at least once a month at larger venues like Whiteside or The Majestic, or every single night at the smaller venues? Where are the pseudo-famous local bands that everyone knows about? Where are the promoters? Why does only one out of every three musicians I talk to even know that Wild Rose Studios exists? I haven’t seen a single person put on Mr. Potato Head Glasses and ride a tricycle off the stage, Jazzmaster in hand, since I moved here. That’s just unacceptable.

It’s a compound issue, but a big part of it is a lack of a real network. Before coming to the Advocate, I worked a good number of years as a recording engineer and was in a few gigging bands in different locales. I’ve seen this before, and it doesn’t have to be a permanent situation. Corvallis just seems unusually susceptible to this sort of thing, as the art scene is the exact same way. Since founding the Temporary Artists’ Guild, we’ve made some headway repairing the latter of those two situations, but cultural change takes time and many, many hands.

Corvallis Noisemakers

When it comes to most problems, there is no one solution. Regardless, I’ve tossed a snowball down the hill to see what happens. Corvallis Noisemakers, a new group for local music enthusiasts on Facebook, was recently founded with the moral support of the Advocate in an attempt to revitalize our music scene. The goal is to network all of the musicians, vocalists, composers, bands, etc. in the city for the purpose of collaboration, help getting shows, recording assistance, or whatever else. If everyone gets together in one spot, it can act as a hub for connecting musical entities that would perhaps never otherwise meet. Who knows what could come of it?

In just the last few days, I’ve learned about previously unknown bodies of work created by people I’ve been friends with for a while, all thanks to the forum. That’s quite a good sign that this could work. We just all need to band together (pun possibly intended) and get the gears grinding until the machine turns on its own.

If you’re interested or know anyone who would be, feel free to log onto your friendly neighborhood World Wide Web and visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/170330219821871/, or just search for “Corvallis Noisemakers” on Facebook.

By Johnny Beaver

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3 thoughts on “Simmering Under the Surface: Corvallis’ Music Scene Thrives Despite Disorder; Noisemakers to the Rescue

  1. One big issue that I see is that adult professional musicians can not get decent paying gigs in this burg (with the notable exception of Cloud and Kelly’s.) It wasn’t always like this!!! Some of the venues got together a few years ago (so I’ve heard) and reasoned that since we have quite a few young ensembles (college & H.S. who are being subsidized by their parents) and older groups whose members have good paying OSU/HP jobs, ergo we have a big supply of musicians with other sources of income so we can book bands and pay them a beer and $4.37 each in tips and they’ll be fine with it. This simultaneously got the public believing that they can hear local bands for no cover. The ONLY solution for this is for the local musicians to NOT UNDERCUT!!, i.e. to agree on a minimum p/p and not play gigs below that. I suggest $50 p/p for a two hour gig regardless of the size of the band. If your cup runneth over with money you can return goodness to the venue indirectly by spending it there on yourself or other friends you bring in.

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