On the final day of 2010, I used this space to make a wish list for the local music scene, and the final item on that list was this:
“(Here are) a few evergreens, things I think are always important to a thriving local music scene: Support your local independent record store, Ranch Records. Support your local community radio station, KPOV. And support the venues that are out there providing live music ...”
Today, I bring you two very simple ways to accomplish those first two things.
First up is KPOV's Spring Power Drive, happening now way over on the right side of your radio dial at 106.7 FM.
A little history: In late 2007, KPOV applied to the Federal Communication Commission for a permit to build a full-power, non-commercial radio station at 88.9 FM to serve Bend and other Central Oregon communities. In mid-2008, the FCC granted the station a three-year permit to build to full power. It was one of the first low-power stations to receive such a permit.
Since then, KPOV has been raising funds for its expansion, which would move the station's transmitter from its current location on Awbrey Butte to another high-altitude point near town that has not yet been finalized, said Jill Mahler, the station's office manager. The new transmitter location and other upgrades would increase KPOV's power 400 times, from 2 watts to 800 watts, improving KPOV's signal strength in Bend and beyond.
But the permit expires in June, and if it expires, KPOV loses the chance to expand for the foreseeable future (and maybe forever). So the station's regular spring pledge drive, held every year to raise money for operating costs, is doubling as a final push to raise $26,689 for expansion, too.
The pledge drive runs through April 23, and KPOV has scheduled special programming and other goodies to entice listeners. To support the drive or for more info, visit www.kpov.org or send checks to KPOV at 501 N.W. Bond St., Bend, OR 97701.
Now before I tell you why you should send KPOV money, let's turn our attention to another cornerstone of Bend's music scene, Ranch Records on Wall Street.
It's no secret that CD sales have been declining rapidly over the past several years, thanks in large part to legal and illegal downloading on the Internet. As a result, hundreds of small, independently owned record stores across the country (and a few large chains) have closed their doors for good.
In response, national Record Store Day was founded in 2007 to establish “a celebration of the unique culture” that surrounds the more than 700 independent record stores in the United States. In four years, Record Store Day has grown into a big event among music nerds, who flock to their local dealer to pick up limited vinyl pressings, exclusive releases, special editions, and whatever else they can get their grubby little paws on. (Guilty as charged!)
And glory, glory, hallelujah: This Saturday is Record Store Day! Over at Ranch — the only Central Oregon business listed as a participant at www.recordstoreday.com — they're celebrating with a bunch of official RSD releases (from artists like Nirvana, the Grateful Dead, Mumford & Sons, Pink Floyd and Phish) and “free swag” according to co-owner John Schroeder. Plus, Empty Space Orchestra will perform behind the store on Brooks Street at 1 p.m.
Also cool: Empty Space is producing 50 copies of a two-song release for the event, featuring hand-drawn cover art and unreleased songs “It's Hard to Play Basketball in the Dark” and “Reincarnation of the Sad Panda.” They'll cost $5.
Now, if you've read this far, Ranch's Record Store Day extravaganza just might be for you, so head down there, reintroduce yourself to the wonders of shopping for actual, physical music, hang out with like-minded folks and support your local, independent record store.
Why? Why support Ranch? Why support KPOV?
It's simple: You live in or near Bend (probably), and so do I. And local, independent voices of culture need our support right now. Because it's those voices that most eagerly and regularly bring new sounds into our town.
You can tune your radio to just about any station and hear a song that someone somewhere has already deemed a hit. And you can travel a few miles to a big-box store that sells CDs and find a limited selection of product that someone somewhere has decided is worth stocking because it's most saleable to the general public.
But only KPOV broadcasts more than 40 locally produced programs that feature music and talk you're not likely to hear on commercial or even public radio. And only Ranch carries excellent albums by bands that may not appear on the Billboard charts (or even NPR), but are still terrific.
Also, both support local artists; Ranch has boxes and boxes of local releases available for purchase. You won't find Larry and His Flask or Mosley Wotta (much less, say, Problem Stick) at Best Buy.
And you support supporting local arts, right? Of course you do!
You see, places like KPOV and Ranch are vital to the uniqueness of a town like Bend. With them in place, interesting, different and/or obscure music can infiltrate our town and our ears, thanks to DJs and record store clerks who are as passionate about good music as you are.
Each is as important a piece of the local music scene as a punk club, a jam session or an exciting new rock band. And without them, our funky little town would be a lot less funky, and a lot more boring.
Funky is good. Boring is bad. The existence of KPOV and Ranch are good things, and their existence depends on your support.
So don't miss your chance to support them.