The resulting Curbstock, which he hopes will raise more than $20,000 for Portland Public Schools, brings artists like blues regulars Norman Sylvester and Curtis Salgado, Thermals offshoot Hutch & Kathy, chamber-world ensemble 3 Leg Torso and Irish folk band Darby O’Gill to Oaks Park this Sunday. It’s a lineup he thought would unite students and adults over a good cause: “In our district,” he explains, “students [can] opt out of their failing school and switch to a different one...[but] the failing school is still failing and the school they go to is now one person more crowded.” When asked if students resent his do-goodery, Harris-McCoy quips, “People have always been jealous of my stunning good looks, charming attitude, grace and modesty. I welcome their resentment, but they’re probably maxed out.” Wonder how he has time for homework? “I don’t,” he says. “But I get it done anyway.”
Steve Otis, on the other hand, has been out of high school for a good 10 years. But the 28-year-old office worker, pop musician (with local band Matinee) and sometime-KJ says he was “looking for positive ways to funnel [his] creative energy” when a Brownsville-dwelling cousin told him the Willamette Valley burg’s Central Linn High School was struggling—cutting down its school year, even—due to lack of funds. BrownPort fest was born.
This Saturday, two of Portland’s best dark-folk artists, Run On Sentence and Nick Jaina, as well as pop faves Climber, will take the 90-mile trek down I-5 to play the 1,700-population town’s Pioneer Park Amphitheater—where Otis says the pie-eating contest in coming-of-age flick Stand By Me was filmed. “With two members [of Climber] currently teaching high school,” says Otis, “they were happy to get involved.” But historic Brownsville, he says, is a draw in itself: “There are photos from the late 1800s that look almost identical to current photos.” Claiming little to no fundraising or booking experience, Otis says he was simply “shooting in the dark for a good cause.” Guess that’ll happen—to the best of us.
SEE IT: BrownPort Festival takes place Saturday, May 17, in Brownsville; Curbstock takes place Sunday, May 18, at Oaks Park. See music listings for further details. Photo (right): Lindsey Hiefield.