Portland’s Pickathon Independent Music Festival is known as an event musicians love to attend as much as fans. So what’s on their turntables, tape decks and iPods this summer? We took advantage of the proliferation of artists at the Pendarvis farm to ask a range of musicians about what sounds are turning them on.
“We’ve been listening to him for a long time in our tour vans but I was reminded of (this) song,” said Garbus. “I listened to (the Sudanese-born Brooklyn synth pop artist) Sinkane here and their stuff reminded me a lot of him. Specifically, that song is so good because it says when the going is good, many, many people will be your friend! And the words are just very truthful and sad. Meanwhile the tune is very happy and upbeat. It just got put out in this amazing box set by Luaka Bop.”
“We recently played a gig out at McMenamins’ Edgefield, and on the way back in, the sun was going down. And Leslie put on the record, and it was the perfect sound for the perfect place, watching the sun go down,” said Kreb.
Brazilian-born singer-songwriter Rodrigo Amarante had the crowd eating out of his hand with an intimate set at Pickathon’s Woods stage. Amarante mixed impossibly catchy Latin beats with some velvety, spell-binding ballads.
He didn’t have to think long to come up with the summer sound: “Curare” by João Gilberto
“I’ve been humming a song. It’s an old Brazilian song that I really love,” he said. “Curare, that’s the name of a tribe in Brazil … It’s a very complicated melody but it’s very fluid. It sounds sad and warm, and I like that.”
“Sticky Fingers always works for me, ever since I was 14,” said Gelb. “The production, by Jimmy Miller, is the best-produced record I’ve ever heard. I tried to make all my early records in the 80s sound like that, even though I know Keith wasn’t happy with the way Jimmy cut up the tape. He packaged it so nice. The lick on ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’ is just great, and that jam at the end is what I’m talking about.”
Gospel Soul phenom Liz Vice took home the prize for most bodies moved on the first day of the festival. As the sun set, the TreeLine Stage was awash with people dancing, as Vice and her ace band rained down praise and worship.
So what’s on Vice’s playlist this summer? “Take Shelter” by Years and Years.
“I just discovered this band — they’re not new,” she said. “This song is so awesome. I love the way it makes my body feel when I listen to it. I feel like I can dance the ghost beats. It has a lot of old reggae. I’ve probably listened to it a hundred times.”
“I go for comfort food. I go to the essentials,” said Johnson. “When I was writing my last record I did Joni Mitchell. So I’ve been on an early 70s Neil Young and Crazy Horse kick. And I’m also reading the Neil Young biography, ‘Shaky’ right now. (I like) the minimalism, the simplicity. So effortless, so beautifully boneheaded sometimes, in the best possible way — it’s immediacy.”
Erika M. Anderson is better known on the noise rock scene as EMA. Summer brought a wholly unexpected sound her way: Force Publique’s “Hopeless”
“The first time I laid ears on it, I didn’t know these guys,” said Anderson. “(T)hese two kids came over, and they gave me their tape! It’s very beautiful, it’s purple. I like listening to tapes. It’s my tape jam of the summer.”
Here’s a playlist featuring tunes recommended by Pickathon artists: