Full Disclosure: comics in Canada, Nike’s band grab, DIY radio, PoMo power shuffle

A new ArtsWatch column of updates, notes and quotes.

Portland’s a small enough arts town that many of us know each other, and MOST critics carry some overt or covert bias. As an arts writer with a few producing and promoting friends (and credits) of my own, I’m especially cautious of this…and up to this point, it’s paradoxically prevented me from sharing stories about which I have the most to say.

“Full Disclosure” is a new column ArtsWatch is letting me try, featuring news and notes collected from conversations with my friends, associates, and sometime collaborators. For each item below, I have a social connection or a creative stake in the story. DESPITE but not BECAUSE of that, I’ve still deemed each item noteworthy. Hence, full disclosure.

Local comedians make it to Montreal.

We’ve already ex-Ported Ron Funches, Richard Bain, and Virginia Jones to LA. Now, another two local comics seem to have fledged: Ian Karmel and Shane Torres are currently tromping around Montreal as “new faces” at the prestigious Montreal Comedy Festival.

Karmel, the much-beloved “Portland As F-ck” writer and “Portlandia” personality, was already planning to seek his fortune in LA this fall before the Montreal gig underscored his destiny for the wider world. But for Shane Torres, Montreal’s approval is more of a coup. His climb to “Funniest Person” and headlining upcoming gigs has been gradual, and he’s only recently begun to travel enough to merit his own airplane material (including a pretty great bit about emotional turbulence in the on-flight toilet).

“I’m just relieved that I can finally tell people about [the gig],” Torres gushed on the day of his departure, agreeing to my hypothesis that the stuff that gets laughs in poutine-gobbling, bookish PDX will translate well to the French Canadian crowd. He also showed off a brand-new shirt he planned to wear onstage that featured—of all things—a “manther” in a sailor hat and cutoffs playing a pointy electric guitar. With this image at least, the jokes make themselves.

Nike’s 8-Track Relay: foul play on PDX Pop?

ppn_stage

The Nike 8-Track Relay, a concert series with an all-local lineup suspiciously scheduled last weekend at the same time as PDX Pop Now!, looked like Nike’s attempt to punish its rival Adidas, a longtime sponsor of PPN. “There weren’t very many people there, though” admitted a Relay attendee—and depending on the time of day, the same could be said of PPN. Suffice to say that though the ticketed Nike event siphoned away some of the rival nonprofit’s talent and hype, it was less than a runaway success.

Prominent Portland bands that Nike swooshed out from under PPN can hardly be blamed. Many have already donated shows and songs to the free fest, and at some point, they need to get paid. Maybe this means it’s time for PPN to consider paying bands a stipend, even under a “brought to you by” sponsorship model, because if Nike had written the same checks to the same bands to play the PPN stage, they’d be hometown heroes. However, Nike’s choice to compete rather than collaborate is a rare blot on PPN’s ten-year record of bringing rivals together for a greater good. Portland Mercury and Willamette Week have shared the PPN turf; Red Bull and Viso have also played ball. Why not Nike and Adidas? Nike comes away from this match looking like the lone spoilsport.

Nike, after they walk it off, might also consider reviving their original summer brand Run Hit Wonder, a lighthearted but memorable concert series that complemented a 10k run with bands who’ve had (ahem) short runs of their own. By comparison, a 24-hour relay race with complete concerts by current local bands was an overreach and a forced fit.

“Destination DIY” celebrates and calibrates.

“It’s kind of crazy to be like, ‘Well, we have no obligations right now,’” says radio producer Julie Sabatier of her partially crowd-funded, OPB-ratified radio series and podcast Destination DIY. With the promised 5 new episodes in the can and on a summer sabbatical from her day job with OPB’s Think Out Loud, Sabatier is reaching out to listeners via “Makin’ It” craft parties at ADX and a listener thank-you show at Mississippi Studios.

In order to fund new production and grow the series nationally, the 10 existing episodes need more podcast listeners. Fortunately, the content recommends itself. In broadly themed episodes a la “This American Life,” contributors share personal stories about what led them to take on particular DIY projects, from growing vegetables to throwing home funerals. They also offer helpful how-tos.

Staffing shake-ups at Portland Monthly Magazine

Recent staffing changes at my former workplace Portland Monthly Magazine put Rachel Ritchie and Zach Dundas in the top spot as co-editors-in-chief, rendering longtime chief Randy Gragg “at-large.” Ritchie is known to Mag insiders as a no-nonsense planner and organizer, while Dundas is known to current PoMo and former Willamette Week coworkers as a witty, pragmatic writer and a flexible, engaged reporter.

Veteran arts and events reporter and former web editor John Chandler has also just ended an 8-year tenure with the magazine. Whether these internal changes will affect readers’ experience remains to be seen—but it seems likely.

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A. L. Adams also writes for  The Portland Mercury and is  former arts editor of Portland Monthly Magazine.
Read more from Adams: Oregon ArtsWatch  | The Portland Mercury

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