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Arts Tax Spared | Filthy Friends | Sidewalk Chalk | Rene Denfeld

This week on “State of Wonder,” live sessions with Sidewalk Chalk and the star-studded Filthy Friends, Rene Denfeld on how her work as a private investigator inspired her book, Artist Rep shakes up the theater season and more.

A Portland Arts Tax reminder flier.

A Portland Arts Tax reminder flier.

Rebecca Roberts Galloway/OPB

The Oregon Supreme Court Upholds the Arts Tax - 1:20

A decision from the Oregon Supreme Court has saved Portland’s Arts Education and Access fund — better known as the Arts Tax — ruling that it is constitutional. Now it’s up to the city of Portland to figure out how to collect the tax, which currently goes unpaid by thousands of residents. 

As part of the effort to remake the neighborhoods along 82nd Avenue, community groups are turning an old furniture store into a community center and affordable housing. 

As part of the effort to remake the neighborhoods along 82nd Avenue, community groups are turning an old furniture store into a community center and affordable housing. 

Courtesy of APANO

East Portland DIY Arts Space to Transform - 5:42

This weekend, the Jade APANO Multicultural Space (JAMS) hosts the first ever East Portland Arts and Literary Festival, with musical headliners Rasheed Jamal and Glenn Waco as its final event. The venue, JAMS for short, is little more than an old storefront, and now it’s set to transform into a four-story building with 48 units of rental housing, plus new office and meeting space for APANO, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon.

Joseph Gibson plays the playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, who writes himself into his retelling of the historic play "The Octoroon" and dons white face when he can't get white actors to take on the racist roles.

Joseph Gibson plays the playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, who writes himself into his retelling of the historic play “The Octoroon” and dons white face when he can’t get white actors to take on the racist roles.

Russell J. Young

Artists Rep Eschews the Typical Theater Formula for the Provocative - 7:50

Many regional theaters follow a rough formula when they put together their seasons: Open with something big and well-known, balance provocative dramas with comedies and musicals, sprinkle in a couple recent Tony-winners and world premieres, and go out with a bang — preferably with lots of singing.  

It’s a formula that Artists Repertory Theatre artistic director Dámaso Rodriguez has decided to totally abandon this year. Instead, he’s programming provocative and timely works written entirely by playwrights of color and women, including the electric season opener up now, “An Octoroon,” up through Oct. 1.

Listen to our extended interview with Rodriguez, with more on each play, plus the success thus far in throwing the building’s doors open to a handful of other theater companies.

Sidewalk Chalk performs at Portland's Jack London Revue.

Sidewalk Chalk performs at Portland’s Jack London Revue.

Andrew Barrick/opbmusic

Sidewalk Chalk Joyfully Defies Categorization - 22:31

The Chicago band Sidewalk Chalk is a lyrical nu-jazz project. No, wait … they’re a conscious hip-hop collective. Or, maybe … are they an updated mid-‘90s R&B band? At every turn of Sidewalk Chalk’s most recent album, “An Orchid is Born,” the band’s huge, diverse sound gets harder to pin down — and that’s OK by them. opbmusic and KMHD caught up with them for a soundcheck performance and interview before their summer concert at Portland’s Jack London Revue. You can watch videos here.

Denfeld is a former journalist-turned-legal investigator.

Denfeld is a former journalist-turned-legal investigator.

Gary Norman

Rene Denfeld Harnesses Imagination For Healing - 29:47

Legal investigator Rene Denfeld has just published her second novel, drawing on one of the few kinds of investigations she’d never done. “The Child Finder” — which has hit best seller lists in Canada and received glowing stateside reviews — is the story of a private investigator, Naomi, who specializes in missing children, and who was herself abducted as a child. The writer and her creation share a belief in the transformative power of imagination to overcome trauma. Hungry for more? Her entire conversation with Dave Miller on “Think Out Loud” is over here. 

Matthew Halls conducting at the Oregon Bach Festival in July 2017.

Matthew Halls conducting at the Oregon Bach Festival in July 2017.

Athena Delene/Courtesy of the Oregon Bach Festival

Oregon Bach Festival In Freefall - 38:14

Musicians and audiences here at home are reeling from the firing of artistic director Matthew Halls at Eugene’s Oregon Bach Festival. Halls is a rising star in classical circles for his brand of historically informed performance — smaller ensembles, true-to-the-period sound. Eugene Weekly arts editor Bob Keefer broke the story and has been digging up subsequent developments, as others responded to the firing, and details came out about alleged motives for the split. We asked him to tell us what he’s learned. As for next summer’s festival? It’s anyone’s guess.

Filthy Friends perform in the studio at OPB

Filthy Friends perform in the studio at OPB


R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker, and Other Filthy Friends - 43:49

In 1997, R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck saw Sleater-Kinney perform in Seattle and was smitten. “To me, it just felt like there was this world that was on stage and everyone in the audience was kind of part of it,” Buck recalls. “A great band — that’s kind of what happens.” Sleater-Kinney singer and guitarist Corin Tucker bumped into Buck several times over the years, and ended up contributing to two of Buck’s solo recordings. They had such a good time, they opened up the party, founding what would become Filthy Friends. Their debut record, “Invitation,” is out now on Kill Rock Stars Records. Corin Tucker, Peter Buck, Kurt Bloch (the Fastbacks), Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, The Minus 5) and ace drummer Linda Pitmon joined opbmusic to perform six songs in front of a studio audience. Watch them all here.

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