In only its third year, the Bend Roots Revival has solidified itself as the quintessential who's-who gathering of Bend's musical community - well, at least the acts that fall somewhere near the definition of "roots music"...sorry punk and metal bands. This weekend brings three days of music to the Westside for what Bend Roots director (and captain of local jamsters The Mostest) calls a "block party." And it pretty much is a block party - and it's also one of the best parties, block, birthday or otherwise, of the entire year if you're a local music fan.
"It's about the community, not about any one act," insists Ransom, fresh off the plane after a three-week stint in France. Does his time in France have anything to do with the Bend Roots Festival? Not exactly, but it's nonetheless noteworthy.
"Well, you know there's the Oregon Country Fair, this is kind of like the Bend City Fair. It's important to recognize that there's this almost Austin-style scene that's emerging," Ransom says.
To compare Bend and Austin is obviously a stretch, but if there's one weekend during the year that would make you feel like your town has the musical ammunition to battle Austin's live-music prowess, the Bend Roots weekend would be it. Over the span of three days you'll see more than 40 acts, all but two of which are based in the area - and you'll see it all for free.
There are names you probably already know on the bill: Person People (headlining Friday night's lineup), Taarka, El Dante, Brent Alan, David Bowers, Allan Byer. But there's other names you should know: Empty Space Orchestra, The Dirty Words, Space Hoax, Estrola, the Sweet Harlots, and many others. Also, the music never truly stops as local DJs (Barisone, Swett, just to name a few) take the wheels between bands and also spin during late-night shows inside the Victorian Café. There would be even more names on the Bend Roots poster, but given that the festival occurs solely between Parrilla Grill and the Victorian Café at the intersection of 14th Street and Galveston Avenue, there are some clear spatial restrictions.
"I don't like saying 'no' to anybody, but there were 12 or 13 bands that didn't make the list this year that we're trying to get on the bill for next year," Ransom says.
He has dreams of building up Bend Roots (which took a step forward this year by teaming up with community radio station KPOV 106.7FM) to spill out of the Galveston/14th roundabout (which it almost already does) and spreading into other businesses in the neighborhood for extra stage space. This would certainly give Bend Roots that true block party feel and maybe get it closer to comparability (well, at least a bit closer) with the prolific live music offerings of a town like Austin - if only for one September weekend.Bend Roots Revival
Friday-Sunday, September 26-28. Parrilla Grill and Victorian Café. Intersection of 14th Street and Galveston Avenue. Visit kpov.org for complete schedule and lineup.
Three Bands Not to Miss at Bend Roots
If there's one gripe we hear more than any other in the realm of local music it's that we don't have a good contingent of indie rock bands. That might be true, but the youngsters (as in high school-age, or slightly post high school) are carrying the indie torch and it looks like the frontrunner of this group is Space Hoax, a four-piece band that have appeared at a few rare all-ages shows at the Silver Moon this year. The band plays a Strokes-ish take on simplified out-of-the-garage rock with surprisingly mature vocals. For a taste, check out "Glass Ball Weather" at myspace.com/spacehoax. (2:30pm Saturday. Victorian Café).
Leif James and his Band
Remember when this very paper was proclaiming Leif James' band Poor Bastard's Romance as Bend's most promising act? Well, PBR unraveled soon after that proclamation, but front man Leif James is still at it and fresh off a six-day stint at the Pendelton Roundup. Having played a few solo gigs around Bend this year, James is still kicking with his strongly Springsteenian vocal skills and excellent range of styles. (7:30pm Saturday. Parrilla Main Stage).
You may know him as Matisyahu's good buddy, or Bend's reggae/hip-hop/dancehall master or maybe as Aaron Chambers, but whatever you want to call him, Mystic is a stalwart of the Bend music scene. This guy can get the party going and that's precisely what he'll do to keep your feet moving late into the evening on Friday night. (10pm Friday, Victorian Café.)