The Olympian Ideal: Yo Yo A Go Go

Olympia's Underground Summit Beckons to Hepcats Far and Wide

Simply stirring the bucolic boredom in the evergreen, ever-serious town of Olympia isn't enough for its college-aged and lingeringly collegiate-minded residents. While many Portland music fans have come to view superhip Oly as either Rose City's northernmost artistic suburb or a microcosmic ideal to be emulated, the residents of Washington's capital aren't afraid to dream big. They want to build communities of music and love--tightly niched and internationally networked indie-rock communities.

Yo Yo A Go Go, Olympia's biannual five-day indie-revel, started in 1994 as a continuation of the K Records-organized International Pop Underground Festival. In its seventh year, Yo Yo probably isn't far removed from countless other gatherings of spruced-up hoi polloi, but it has branched out from a mere music festival to include roller skating, art happenings, fashion shows and rock operas--things "you'll never get to see outside of Olympia," as Ed Varga, one of the four directors of the event, puts it.

The bands taking part this year aren't exactly the city's stereotypical acoustic-guitar-wielding, pedal-pushers-clad, sour-dour 'n' merry-jolly advocates of tuneful humdrum and trim trumpery. With the Evaporators and Mecca Normal from Vancouver, B.C., four bands from Japan, one from England, ex-Portlander Jody Bleyle's the Infinite X and Texan Tim Kerr's Now Time Delegation, Yo Yo shouldn't be too cliquishly Olympian, although the festival remains relentlessly regional.

Folksy locals look forward to Unwound's 10th-anniversary performance and C Average's live score to cult classic film Nosferatu. From Portland, the immortal Dead Moon, hardcores the Haggard, string clinkers the Intima and the plucky Sarah Dougher take part. Nardwuar, the notoriously kooky Canadian "human serviette," may provide novelty and stimuli for fans exhausted by the five-day-long, 50-band festival and neighboring bazaars, workshops, film screenings and stylish social minglings.

Although the event doesn't provide lodging, those without friends in Olympia are encouraged to show up and hook up, and to win the indie-cachet of the city. After all, Olympians are, as Varga says, "extremely friendly" in the "spirit of punk and DIY." Robert Becraft

Yo Yo A Go Go takes place in Olympia, Wash., Wednesday-Sunday, July 18-22. The Capital Theater (116 5th Ave., (360) 352-1855) serves as the festival's primary venue. Cover charges for individual shows vary; a pass to all festival events costs $60. See for more information.


Hiss & Vinegar

* We'll quote this thrilling dispatch directly: "At 11:45 pm, Friday night, July 20, Fez Nightclub will open its doors to the city of Portland, unveiling the next level of the nightlife experience. Incorporating the legend that is Panorama and pushing it beyond all boundaries...." Ye gads. We're quaking--absolutely quaking--with sheer terror. But it's true. The crew from the just-closed Burnside Triangle dance club will take over the top floor of the West Burnside Street and 11th Avenue building that houses the esteemed Ozone Records on Friday and Saturday nights through the end of summer and into fall. Weekends of that trademark Panorama rumpshakin' wackiness will have 'em lining up from here to Tigard, we're sure. Meanwhile, the "old" Fez, a vaguely Levantine rock club and ballroom, will continue to do its thing on weeknights.

* We want applications for Musicfest Northwest. And we want them now. See for the 411.

* Yeah, Nina Simone is a legend--but let's just say that many who attended her July 3 show at the Schnitz were not entirely thrilled to have paid upwards of $50 for Simone's short, sloppy and disorganized set. Apparently, the jazz diva wandered on and off stage and in and out of songs in a fashion entirely befuddling to audience and backing musicians alike. Witnesses describe a siege of refund demands at the box office--though, this being Portland, Simone got a standing ovation. A discriminating public, as always.

* Are you as fuggin' totally PSYCHED as we are that 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, the reportedly feculent glorified bar band led by Aussie flick hunk Russell "Greasy Tits" Crowe, will play Roseland in late August? Portland must prepare for an invasion of polymorphously perverse Gladiator fans that will make Benicio Mania '01 pale. When los Grunts did a weeklong residency at Stubb's in Austin last summer, "music lovers" from as far away as Iceland and Taiwan flew in to taste the dubious magic. Tickets are, we are assured, "on sale now and selling fast!" And they say good taste is dead.

* In sorta related news, Dennis Quaid's band plays the Taste of Beaverton this weekend--lucky them. Quaid and the Sharks play "rock and roll classics" (we bet) at 5 pm Sunday on the Taste's main stage. Gee, hope they don't blow Alejandro Escovedo off the stage.

* Tickets for Nick Cave's show at the Crystal Ballroom on Sunday, Sept. 23, go on sale this Saturday at all Ticketmaster locations and at the Crystal box office (1332 W Burnside St., 225-5555). Walk-up only, nightrangers.

* Virtually every major new form of music that's emerged in the past 100 years was born and built in the USA--yet there's virtually no public financial support available for non-classical musicians in this country. Fortunately, Portland's Regional Arts and Culture Council encourages musicians from all genres to apply for one of its scores of "project grants," stipends of $1,500 to $5,000. Call RACC's Lorin Schmid Dunlop at 823-5408 for info on the grant program, which carries a deadline of Sept. 17 and requires that projects have a public component.

* Could it have been? Did Miz Jackson while away the
wee hours, after her triumphal tour-opening Rose Garden gig last Saturday, at Club Z, downtown's all-ages teahouse for tranny teens? Hiss & V. will believe it when we see the photos.

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A Mover, A Shaker...

It's always a trip when one of jazz's more adventurous itinerant musicians makes a pit stop in town. Alto saxophonist Bob Mover's three-day drive-by residency will be a moveable feast for Portland's jazz-hungry.

Beginning with a trial-by-fire apprenticeship with tempestuous firestarter Charles Mingus, Mover has taken the high road, tag teaming with a wealth of envelope pushers: Chet Baker, Lee Konitz (with whom he shares a knack for constructive phrasing), Phil Woods, Zoot Sims and Tom Harrell.

Not content to let the sweeter side of his instrument prevail, Mover squeezes brawny tenorlike tones from the alto, swerving like a manic drunk driver. This muscular approach sets him apart from most altoists and has put power behind his ongoing efforts to shake up the jazz scene in his native Toronto. Mover understands that to learn the language of jazz you need good tutors, and his apprenticeship of the Canadian metropolis' up-and-comers translates into a dedicated reciprocity. In providing the same kind of jump-start he himself received to Canada's current young lions, Mover nurtures jazz's next generation.

Mover will lend the Rose City a little of that tutelage during his brief visit. He warms up on Hump Day at Jimmy Mak's, sitting in with Rob Scheps' B3 Trio. The tenor-alto sparring match should throw some sparks, especially with Seattle drummer Mark Ivester's precision thrashing to foment the rhythmic rebellion.

Thursday's Opus gig finds him en quartet with our own rhythmic tempest, Alan Jones. He moves up Burnside to the Blue Note for a Friday quintet gig, then winds things down on Saturday with a jazz workshop at Ethos. All told, it should be three days for the ages. Bill Smith

Jimmy Mak's, 300 NW 10th Ave., 295-6542. 9 pm Wednesday, July 18. Cover.
Jazz de Opus, 33 NW 2nd Ave., 222-6077. 8:30 pm Thursday, July 19. Minimum.
Blue Note Lounge, 503 W Burnside St., 222-3334. 8:30 pm Friday, July 20. Cover. Ethos Inc., 2 N Killingsworth St., 241-8824. Noon-3 pm Saturday, July 21. Cover.