Portland’s collection of A-list musicians — indie-rock heroes the Decemberists, neo-tango-band sophisticates Pink Martini, punk combo the Thermals, rock quartet Wild Flag, just to name a few — is nothing if not varied. Likewise, the Rose City boasts a wide array of music halls.
Legendary jazz drummer Mel Brown, with his septet, quartet and B3 organ group, is in residence three nights a week at Jimmy Mak’s. The Pearl District club has been ranked by Down Beat magazine as one of the top 100 places in the world to hear jazz. More Portland Jazz >>
On the east side, the rocket-ship-meets-log-cabin décor of the Doug Fir Lounge exudes chic charm. Expect a regular lineup of nationally and internationally known indie bands, often buoyed by trend-setting local openers. The vibe is also fiercely independent at Mississippi Studios in North Portland. Shows at this recording studio/performance space have included mellow record-release parties and a unique mash-up between the Oregon Ballet Theatre and a local folk band. At the nearby Wonder Ballroom, wooden floors and cozy quarters offer an intimate setting for a variety of artists. The newest addition to the Portland music venue scene, Revolution Hall is housed in a former high school auditorium; the surrounding Washington High building features creative office space, bars and plenty of old-school high school charm.
Touring rock acts frequently grace the stage at McMenamins Crystal Ballroom, a historic venue in downtown’s West End, which features an unusual floating dance floor. The Moda Center, home to the NBA’s Trail Blazers, is also Portland’s largest live music venue, and attracts big-name performers and productions. Rounding out the Rose City’s trio of big stages, downtown’s grand Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall is not only home to the Oregon Symphony, but also welcomes major acts, from Wynton Marsalis to the Black Crowes.
When the sun is shining, Edgefield reigns supreme. Located on the site of a historic poorhouse and farm, the venue is part of the McMenamins empire of interesting sites masterfully restored as hotel resorts. Just 20 minutes east of Portland by car, Edgefield has a popular summer Concerts on the Lawn series that’s hosted everyone from the Doobie Brothers to Vampire Weekend.