Who doesn't love dive bars? Nobody, that's who—although few love a good dive as much as And And And's Bim Ditson. That's why he put together the Underbelly Bender, a six-week crosstown concert series dedicated to celebrating Portland bands and the bars that nurture them. In conjunction, each week here at wweek.com we will be profiling the hosting bar and its local music history. For the full itinerary, go here.Or don't, since this is the finale.
Underbelly Bender #7: Blood Beach, This Charming Man, and And And And at Kenton Club, 12/31
The World Famous Kenton Club
2025 N. Kilpatrick St.
Year Opened: 1947
Description: Although its Web site makes it look like a Rat Pack-y martini lounge, the Kenton Club is a true, glorious dive through-and-through. "It used to be biker bar," says music booker Billy Lee Turner. Made "World Famous" by its appearance in the 1972 Raquel Welch roller derby flick Kansas City Bomber, its original redwood interior now attracts metal and punk bands who love to stand on its shin-high stage and punt wailing squalls of distortion off its walls. "It's still all pretty intact," Turner says of the wood paneling, "which is why it sounds really good in there."
Clientele: Some people in town think the antiquated Kenton neighborhood is the next area of Portland to blow up big, and that's probably because they see the growing number of young kids who've taken a shine to the Kenton Club. Even so, Turner says the patron base is "still a mix. It hasn't been co-opted by one single group."
Memorable Shows: Although it's become a haven for loud bands, the Kenton also hosts several local alt-roots groups, including "gospel bar band" the Git-Rights, who used to host a monthly Sunday afternoon "gospel revue" at the club. "Everybody in town has played here at one point or another," says Turner, who's been booking the bar for about a year now. "It's nice but it just gets rambunctious in here. And people like that. It's not a sterile environment." The band that sticks out to him is experimental outfit Muscle Beach, which he describes as sounding "like David Lynch and Dario Argento created a band."
Bim Says: "It seems like a ski lodge had a kid with a punk bar, all in the best of ways. It's got a rad stage and even better bartenders, plus they offer the extra entertainment of old locals. For me, that's always a plus."
Download or stream Bim's compilation of songs from all the participating bands at Into the Woods.