Big and Little Beirut
Getting gelato tonight at the neighborhood and heard some great music from a performer named Beirut. I don't usually hear waltz time in public places, and certainly not with the odd mix of organic instrumentation and haunting vocals that Zach Condon has assembled.
He's young(ish) for this kind of music scene, and oddly enough a Santa Fe native who lives in Brooklyn now. The music blends Western and Eastern European styles with traditional and electronic. It's hard to describe, so if you want to hear some of it, check out their Myspace Page.
I didn't have my phone, so I wasn't able to text myself the name of the band. The woman behind the counter said I should be able to remember the name of the band as Portland is known as "Little Beirut" a fact I somehow completely missed in the 15 years I've lived here.
Portland apparently got the nickname back in the early '90s from George H. Bush's staff because of the violent protests he got during his visits. And the name stuck -- in 2003 when George W. came to visit there were demonstrations and protests, and an overzealous police force responding to the protesters. Although most of the large gatherings I've seen in Portland involve brew fests or Santa suits...
The odd thing is how rarely we seem to protest in America, even though this is a country based on dissidence and the power of the people. So rare is our taking to the streets that when you get a particularly vocal group in a town, it's suddenly compared to a war torn city in the Middle East, when in reality, it's a pretty quiet town that just likes to play a little odd music and be heard on important issues.