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July 5th, 2006 MARK BAUMGARTEN | Riff City
 

Local Cut

Three years in the making, Portland's (amazing, love-stuffed, daily) Music Journal arrives.

     
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The first time the phrase "Local Cut" appeared in the pages of Willamette Week was Jan. 7, 2004. Bold, in all caps and accompanied by the unfortunate tagline "Like Crack for PDX Music Fans," the title stood atop a slender 500-word column. Local Cut wasn't only a new name in the paper, it was also a new concept. Replacing a general music gossip column called Hiss & Vinegar, Local Cut was a small amount of real estate dedicated to Portland music.

In the two and a half years since that first appearance, Local Cut has transformed dramatically. Last September in this column, I announced that Willamette Week would become the paper of record for Portland music, that WW would cover this town's industry and focus on its massive amount of talent more than any other publication in town. As a part of that effort, I expanded Local Cut's real estate from a single column to an average of five Local Cut featurettes every week. While some doubted the ability of our local music scene to support that amount of coverage, Portland's musicians answered the call, filling our writers' ears with arresting music, our pages with compelling stories and, we'd like to think, local clubs and basements with a few more local music fans. So, we decided to do more.

To that end, Willamette Week will once again expand the reach of Local Cut. This week, that name will lead a revolution in Portland music journalism, when it is expanded from a featured section of the weekly paper to a new online entity called, fittingly, Localcut.com. The tagline for this one is better. It reads, simply, "Portland's Music Journal."

Go to the site and you will find my dream: an entire online publication devoted to the music in our back yard, filled with daily news updates, streaming music, live reviews, tour diaries, listings for shows, and a complete database of every show—that we know about—that fills this town's bars and clubs. And it's all penned by the same group of writers you've come to trust every Wednesday in the print version of the newspaper.

Three years ago, when I moved to Portland and became music editor of this inky rag, I brought with me a vast knowledge of local music. The only problem was that it was the local music of Minneapolis. I've already told this story a couple of times during my tenure here, so I'll fast-forward to the point: The growth of this paper as an organ for informed criticism of and news about Portland music runs parallel to the growth of my love for the music made here.

That first Local Cut column, an introduction to recently transplanted blues punks the Gossip, reflected my fledgling love for Portland music. As is the case with any affair, those early stages were filled with clumsiness. The article was by no means an ideal piece of local music journalism. The writer conducted the interview with the local band via telephone from her hotel room in Chicago. Also, in my somewhat naive excitement as editor, I allowed the writer to focus the article almost completely on what a "perfect choice" Portland is for a rootless band, at the expense of actual criticism.

My writers and I still praise our town as a mecca for bands, music fans and casual listeners, but now it's different. After three years of immersion in the music of Portland, we know what makes this city amazing better than anyone else in town. And now, with Localcut.com, we can share it with you every single day.

 
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