There is typically something artistic going down at Mirror Pond Plaza (often referred to as "The Circle" among locals), the picturesque brick area bordering Drake Park. Most times there is a guitar strumming busker or perhaps some fire dancing or juggling, or maybe something a bit more structured - I once saw a group of 15 or so pre-teens perform a musical number from Aladdin in full costumes.
On Saturday, there won't be any youth productions of Disney musicals - I don't think - but there will be a remarkably diverse showcase of Bend's local music. Often thought of as the unofficial center of downtown Bend, the Plaza makes for the most fitting location for the first-ever Downtown Sound; a free all-day gathering of 14 local acts ranging from indie rock to hip-hop.
Seeing as how the show sprang in part from the brain of Jay Tablet (JT) an MC in Bend's own Cloaked Characters (who are slated for an evening performance before Mosley Wotta closes out the show), the music does lean toward the DJ and hip-hop faction as the day goes on. That said, the diversity of acts is nonetheless impressive and is another sign of what seems to be a recent synergy taking place between Bend's different musical camps. We're probably not going to see a bluegrass/punk/hip-hop collaboration at Downtown Sound, but the range of artists on the bill suggests that we might not be too far from that sort of hootenanny taking shape.
"This is an outlet for independent artists in Bend to get exposure. It's all day, it's free and each artist has 45 minutes to play, which might be more than they'd usually get somewhere else," says JT over the phone as he's driving to distribute flyers a week before the event.
JT teamed up with Monkey (that's what he goes by) of Spice Trader Records, who assisted in booking the acts as well as providing the sound system for the all-day romp. Filling out the Downtown Sound team is Reggie Martinez, of the downtown Bendistillery Martini Bar, which thanks to its prime location, will be providing an after party as well as beverages during the music. (Of course there's a beer garden, any event in Bend must have a beer garden. It's a city statute, look it up).
While the well-connected promoters and the bands should have no problem rallying the troops for the mini-fest, the event's location could be the show's best marketing ploy, says Monkey. In addition to the yearbook of the Bend scene's familiar faces, the Plaza is likely to fill with plenty of fanny-packed, socks-and-sandals tourist types who stumble upon the music.
"It's in an open city space, so you can't not go there if you're walking around," Monkey says of the Plaza.
JT, whose Cloaked Characters are revving up for a summer that includes a West Coast stint on the storied Warped Tour in support of their new record, says he's thought of producing a show of this size at Midtown, but figured a free, outdoor show would be the most effective way to get the word out about local artists.
"Art in Bend is huge," JT says, "And we want to show that this community of artists is out there."
Saturday, June 7 beginning at noon at Mirror Pond Plaza. Free<p><p>
12:30 Necktie Killers
1:15 Made of Skin
3:15 The Dirty Words
4:00 Joanna Lee
4:45 Mc Mystic
5:15 Trevor G
8:00 Cloaked Characters
8:45 Mosley Wotta