Welcome to this pre-production sneak-peak of Headliners PDX - the story of making a living in music in Portland.
Hi, my name is Corby Stephens, and I’m alive today because of live music. Does that sound weird? Well, it is one way to look at it.
I have posted a picture that you can see in the show notes post for this teaser episode at headlinerspdx.com. The picture was taken in the summer of 1971 at the Clark County Fairgrounds, just north of Portland, OR. It is of three guys in a band playing on a stage that no longer exists. Neither does the band. These guys are The Golden Rebels. The guy on the far right is my dad; Ron Stephens. My mom is the one taking the picture.
Dad happened to be a very naturally gifted musician who started playing guitar around age 6. Not long after the time of that photo, Dad was backing up people like Roy Clark, and Buck Owens when they came through town. Don’t believe me? Check out the pictures in the show notes. In fact, I’m in the picture with Buck.
Dad went on to play with local bands like Hank Rasco and the Wasted Rangers, Jonny and The Distractions, and Puzzle. He engineered records in local studios like Rip-Cord and Recording Associates, he provided backing vocals, pedal steel tracks , wrote songs, if it was music, he was into it.
Then, in the mid 80’s, something changed. One day a few years ago dad made a passing comment about how you could make a living playing live music in Portland, but not anymore. For some reason that comment stuck with me. At the time, I didn’t think to ask what changed.
Well, now I’m asking.
I’m asking as many musicians, music venues staff, and even fans as I can find. I’m not trying to document a list of names, places, and dates. That’s already been done and done well. I’m trying to find the story behind it all.
This podumentary isn’t about Quarterflash, The Distractions, or Nu Shooz, though I hope to get them involved; it’s about the scene. It’s about a culture in a place and a time that has passed us by and deserves capturing.
Headliners PDX - The story of making a living in music in Portland.
We are just getting started. You can follow our progress by visiting the website www.headlinerspdx.com, and subscribing to the email list. You will also find links to our social media channels.
More than that, I might be looking for your help. If you were there, if you were a musician at the time, if you worked at a live music venue, or if you were an enthusiastic fan of local music and have pictures or possibly even audio or video recordings from your VHS camcorder, I would love your help telling this story. On our homepage is a form you can fill out to get the conversation started.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you and to telling this story. Please do like and share us on all your social media. The more we can spread the word the better the chances are we can capture more stories.
Thanks for listening.