Enjoy live music, do you? Out to the clubs every weekend? Sometimes, on the fourth beer, as the
guitarist twists every drop of transcendence from a riff and the audience sways communally, do you wish that you could go out to live music every single night? Josh Orchard has shown us what exactly that would be like. He has visited at least one show a day (more than 520 at 108 venues in all) the past year and, somehow, kept his job, his health and his hearing while compiling a weblog about the experience. "It started out as a challenge," Orchard says, "then became an obsession, and turned into insanity."
Rather the opposite of a proper blog's analysis of everyday minutiae, Orchard's blog, Exploring PDX (www.mediacampus.com/music-notes), charms the reader with simplicity—sorta like text-messages from a roommate with an alarmingly vibrant nightlife. Orchard admits he's not much of a writer and the criticism rarely ventures beyond good/bad capsule reviews, although a collegiate fling with sound
engineering lends his venue descriptions a casually academic tinge. He's not a critic at heart, really.
He loves musicians and live music with a boyish adoration, and he set upon his journey without any pretensions or, seemingly, any fixed tastes.
Ragtime. Zydeco. Reggae. Klezmer. Bluegrass. The Thrills, Prince, Stereophonic, String Cheese Incident. There's a marked trend toward jazz-blues and jam bands and an aversion for the hipster elements of modern rock. But overall, the range of genre and venue is staggering. From Portland Art Museum afterhours to Saturday Market street musicians, from classical performers at vineyards to a high-school choir at the Oregon Zoo, Orchard delineates the
overwhelming options available to the open-minded aesthete with the unvarnished joy of a new disciple.
Now a 36-year-old software developer, Orchard had essentially set music aside the past 15 years until a friend started taking him out to clubs. Those evenings escalated and, inevitably, "she looked at me and said, 'You've been out 11 days in a row.'" Then, a co-worker said the record was 64 days—probably pulling the number out of his ass—and I said I'll go out for 128 days. Then, I tried for 143, then 180, then 200, and I figured I might as well try for a year." That year ends March 2, although Orchard will stretch it through the week, concluding this Saturday at Imbibe.
Through his yearlong club crawl, Orchard has met a number of musicians, and, in addition to hosting their websites on discount, he's written programs specifically for various bands: discography databases, dynamic calendars, streaming blogs. That will continue, and he still intends to see live music—just on his own schedule and without the dogged intensity of his live-music binge.
Josh Orchard will be watching Higher Ground and Sweet Juice plays Saturday, March 5, at Imbibe, 2229 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 239-4002. 9:30 pm. $6. 21+.