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Music and the Creative Spirit

Terry Currier: A Coalition for Music Freedom

By Published: December 11, 2009
AAJ: Yes and for me, the knowledge base is one of the strongest aspects of independent record stores. I'm willing to pay a little more for that type of service.

TC: Right and record stores also used to be the base for their communities. Many people met their best friends in record stores through a connection in their taste in music. I also know of people that have even met their spouses. And I think that record stores could still be the community centers of the future but there has to be enough people interested in the physical goods to continue to come in and still make that a reality.

But like you were saying earlier, there has to be a generation that gets out and smells the roses. So many consumers today and so many in the American population and world population are in front of a screen of some sort for most of their daily lives. They're either in front of a computer screen, the screen on their cell phones, a TV screen, or a video game and it just takes up so much time in so many people's lives.

AAJ: You previously mentioned that you had your own independent record distribution company. Is that something that other independent record store owners are pursuing?

TC: There are a number of record stores that get involved with that. I once had Burnside Records and Sideburn Records but I'm only involved in the distribution as I sold the labels. But it hasn't been uncommon for independent record stores to start a label. And in most cases, it's because they have been trying to help artists in their community get their music out. We're very passionate about music but if you get too passionate, you start a record label (both laugh).

And though not many of us have been very successful at making money; it was never the priority. My first record label started with Johnny and the Distractions who had made records on A&M records in 1982. John was a regular customer of the store and we would always get calls asking if we had Johnny and the Distractions on CD, and we'd reply, "No." And so John was in the store one day and we asked, "Hey, do you know if A&M is going to put this record of yours out on CD?" He said he didn't know but that he would give them a call and find out. They didn't seem to be interested so we took the band into the studio and re-recorded some of their best songs and got them to cut a few new songs and put out a record by them. And we did it because our customers wanted to have Johnny and the Distractions on CD (laughs).

AAJ: That's a great story!

TC: It's interesting because there are a couple of record stores in Portland right now who have started labels. Jackpot Records has put out four or five releases of reissues of bands that came from this area. And they have done this because they are passionate about those records and they know that customers want those records. They also put out a couple of records by the Wipers, who were a very important band that was part of the Punk movement and very highly regarded in collectors circles. But they also put out a record by a 60s band called, A New Dawn, that was fairly unknown. They were an Oregon band that made this cool psychedelic record and the store owner wanted to make sure that people had the opportunity to hear it. He was that passionate about it.

There is another local label called Mississippi Records but they have only been putting out vinyl records of music from the 40s, 50s and 60s. They put out a re-issue of a guy that played fifty gallon oil drums on the street named Bongo Joe. It's amazing that they did it but they are passionate about the music and they are trying to turn other people onto that music because it's been long gone and out of print.

AAJ: I believe you have also been involved in other aspects of the music community.

TC: I was also involved early on in the Cascade Blues Association, which has been around for twenty-one years and is now one of the most respected blues organizations in the country. And this blues association was part of the catalyst of the first Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, which has turned out to be the largest Blues Festival this side of the Mississippi River.

I also started the Oregon Music Hall of Fame six years ago at the urging of other people, even though I said I didn't have time to do this (both laugh) and I caved in! And the main focus and goal of the organization is to promote and preserve the musical arts of the state of Oregon. And one of the primary things that we are trying to do is to raise money for music education, as music education budgets get cut within the school districts within the state. But eventually we would like to have a music program in every single school within the state.

Additionally, we are also trying to raise awareness of the rich culture in music that we have here in Oregon, as well as preserving the musical heritage of the people who have contributed to the musical arts throughout the years.

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