Interview: PDX Pop Now! 2012

Immediately upon coming to Portland and starting house shows almost five years ago, everyone at the Banana Stand has been very impressed and appreciative of all the efforts of the non-profit project PDX Pop Now!, especially the low-cost, double-disc albums that they distribute across the city every summer. As PDX Pop Now! is set to host their famous all-day festival from July 20th – 22nd at Refuge PDX, we asked Communications Director Benna Gottfried some questions.

Why did you start PDX Pop Now?

In 1998, PDX Pop listserv began when a few dozen Portland musicians, fans, and writers started a listserv that focused on promoting and discussing the local music scene. PDX Pop Now! was started based on conversations on the listserv surrounding accessibility to local music – particularly to minors, and desire to increase the national profile of the Portland music community. The founders of PDX Pop Now! believed that Portland’s self-sustained scene had reached a level deserving of recognition, discovery, enhancement, stimulation, participation, accessibility and—most importantly—celebration! Thus, the PDX Pop Now! music festival was born in 2004.

What are the goals of the project?

The mission of PDX Pop Now! is to promote and enhance Portland's local music community, and provide accessibility to live, local music to people of all ages and economic backgrounds. We achieve these through the PDX Pop Now! festival by opening the festival to all ages, free of charge, and by working with the volunteer booking committee to make conscious and booking decisions to showcase the wide array of musical genres being created in our city.

What has changed since you started?

A lot has changed since PDX Pop Now! started, but the organization has stayed true to it's mission keeping the essence of the organization the same. In 2008, PDX Pop Now! became a registered 501 (c) 3 non profit organization which opened up the doors for granting opportunities, expanded outreach programming, and individual donations of support. Our festival production value has matured significantly over the years, most notably with our move from Rotture to RefugePDX last year. Through these changes, however, PDX Pop Now! has remained a volunteer-run organization – a unique model which seems to work well for us. We intend to remain volunteer-run for the foreseeable future. and continue focusing on our three programming areas: festival, compilation and youth outreach programs.

What are your favorite Portland bands?

I'm personally a big fan of Onuinu and Y La Bamba [seen above] right now. I always get a new favorite at the festival each year though. After her performance at the PDX Pop Now! comp release show, I'm also really into Rose.

In what ways do you think Portland could improve its music community?

We really need to push harder to open up our live music venues to people under 21. Kids are often the most energetic, enthusiastic fans. The musicians in our city deserve a chance to play to such encouraging crowds. It would be great if the city could rally around developing an all-ages venue and workshop space similar to Seattle's Vera Project that would not only produce shows, but also offer the opportunity for kids to learn about the industry – event and sound production, promotions, screen printing, etc.

Find out more about all the great things PDX Pop Now! does on their website, which includes a full-schedule for the festival.