If a guitar is the vehicle for rock music, then beer is the fuel.
It's been that way since the dawn of time, but it wasn't until Strum (1415 SE Stark St., 971-229-0161) opened on Stark last month that Portland has seen the two elements paired so conspicuously. Like its surfer bro Up North Surf Club, Strum uses commerce as a lifestyle-adjacent placeholder for the vibe most other operations rely on lighting and mismatched tchotchkes to achieve.
In this case, it's a spread of vintage guitars and amps, like a $2,300 '76 Fender Telecaster Custom or a $2,500 1995 Matchless Chieftain, that are certain to make the Jack Whites of the world giddy. It's a precariously pricey accompaniment to the four taps that dispense regional hits like Pfriem Strong Blonde and North Jetty Raspberry Hefe ($6).
But it's all in service of the rock, which is reliably found free of charge when walking by most early weekend evenings.
A recent trip found local hip-hop artist Jermaine doing a one-man show with an acoustic guitar and loops of vocal harmonies and beatboxing, which transformed Strum into a classy, low-key open-mic night not unlike what you'd find near a university campus in the hours before the collegiate rush took over. A handful of moms nursed cans of aptly titled Dear Mom wine ($6) while their kids played in the alley behind the makeshift stage, posing obvious questions whether the fleet of vintage blond amps in the corner could withstand the potential calamity of minors running loose in a vintage guitar shop.
Still, Strum provided a perfect backdrop for the gentle soul music emanating from the single PA speaker Jermaine was plugged into. In an area where modest, low-commitment music venues for small-stakes gigs like this are scarce, a vintage guitar store may be the most crowd-pleasing option at the moment.