In September of 2007, I sat inside a new downtown coffee shop called Thump and listened to Mark Ransom tell me about his vision for the second edition of his local music festival, the Bend Roots Revival.
Repeatedly, he used the term “grass roots” to describe the Revival. He was — and is to this day, I believe — committed to putting on an event powered by the community, focused on local art and affordable to everyone, even those without a dollar in their pockets.
That year, the Revival expanded from one day to three, and from a handful of bands to a few dozen. Over the next two years, it would explode in popularity and outgrow its original home, Parrilla Grill and The Victorian Cafe on Bend's west side.
In 2010, it moved down the road to the Century Center, a tidy retail center with several nooks and crannies for bands to play. But the Century Center also has neighbors, and disputes with those neighbors prompted the last-minute cancellation of the 2012 Revival.
So here we are. It's 2013 and Ransom, along with his Bend Roots partner Jesse Roberts of Rise Up International, have identified Bend's charming, cluttered, east-side home-improvement resale yard, Pakit Liquidators, as the festival's next home. Toward that end, Ransom, Pakit owner Matt Korish and a revolving crew of volunteers have been at Pakit for weeks trying to get the place cleaned up and safe for this weekend's big event (see “If you go”).
All summer, I've been getting funny looks when I tell people about the Pakit plan. I understand why. Folks have an image of Pakit in their mind, and it's not one that's necessarily conducive to drinks and dancing after dark.
Yes, Pakit needed significant TLC to get it ready for Roots. And yes, there's probably more work to do, even now.
But — and I felt this way the moment Ransom and Roberts told me they were eyeing Pakit months ago — that place is perfect for this event.
It's funky, free-spirited and quite grubby in places. It values not clean lines and bright spaces, but labyrinthine urban trails that lead to dark corner stages framed by scrap metal, warped wood or perhaps a discarded sign from a favorite old local business.
You see, Century Center was a fine place to hold Bend Roots Revival, but Pakit's art-and-junk amalgam is much more closely aligned with the spirit of Roots. And the work that has gone into the place this summer certainly hearkens back to Ransom's original all-for-one vision. With major cleanup and minor tweaks, Pakit is an ideal forever home for Roots. The major cleanup is done; minor tweaks will likely happen in perpetuity.
This weekend, you have two jobs: 1) Ignore the image of Pakit in your mind and head over to the Bend Roots Revival. Check out not only the venue's endless character, but also some of the best artists — rock, pop, folk, reggae, DJs, metal, jazz and more, 80ish acts in all — that your community has to offer.
And 2) Find Mark Ransom and Matt Korish. Give 'em hugs. Thank them for their hard work. In my mind, they are heroes of the local cultural scene. They had help, for sure, but Ransom and Korish were the primary muscle and brain that powered the effort to make the 2013 Revival happen.
If that isn't grass roots, I don't know what is. Now it's up to the rest of us to make sure this thing grows big and strong.