The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures

Ripple effect

The 10 most influential bands of our first 10 years
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  September 16, 2009



TOO BRIEF THE SUPERGROUP Munjoy Hill Society in a photo from 2000.

The Portland Phoenix launched in 1999, just as the Portland music scene was turning. The Phoenix never saw Raoul's. It never saw Granny Killam's or Morganfield's or the Blue Moon or Leo's. It barely saw the Bitter End. The Kopterz had mostly given up the dream, and Rustic Overtones and Twisted Roots were nearing the end of their first hay days. The era of the Homegrown CDs was replaced by the era of the Greetings from Area Code 207 CDs. Colepitz was about to be the biggest thing that ever was.

More from the Portland Phoenix's 10th Anniversary:

We told you so: Ten years of being right

Portland theater’s losses and gains since 1999

A decade gone by

Portland: From a handful of restaurants to a restaurant town

Diversity times ten

Talking politics: The song remains the same

Marc Shepard: I remember when...

Portland’s art scene has changed quite a lot

As the Phoenix turns 10, we look at 10 bands that have taken us from where we were then to where we are now.

CERBERUS SHOAL The anti-Overtones, the underground mercurial collective to match that larger-than-life mainstream appeal. Similarly, the group's end/hiatus has birthed more than we could have hoped for: Fire on Fire, Threads, Big Blood, dilly dilly, Chriss Sutherland's solo career, for a few. To think they began as a four-piece punk outfit.

THE COMING GRASS One of the first bands written up in the Portland Phoenix, when Ben Monaghan sung their praises in December 1999, the Coming Grass were Portland's premier alt-country band in the early 2000s. Sara Cox is a standard-bearer for Portland's singer/songwriter community; husband Nate Schrock never lost his punk edge. Drummer Ginger Cote is one of the best this town's ever seen and sideman Steve Jones remains a solo artist you're always happy to stumble upon.

THE EXTENDO-RIDE ALL STARS These guys ushered in the era of indie pop/rock that has wound its way into Portland's musical DNA. It's hard to believe their lo-fi clangy guitars first saw Portland stages in 2001, but Jay Lobley, Peet Chamberlain, Joe Lops, and Brandon Davis have gone on to infiltrate indie bands far and wide, Cult Maze, An Evening With, and Metal Feathers among them.

THE STEVE GROVER TRIO(or Quartet or Quintet) When Mark Kleinhaut left town for Cleveland, the mantle seems to have been passed to Grover to keep the momentum going. Jazz's legacy in Maine is great and important, and Grover will make sure the likes of Lenny Breau and Brad Terry continue to be remembered and enjoyed.

JERKS OF GRASS They've essentially founded a bluegrass academy in Yarmouth, they've likely played more gigs than any other band in Portland (mostly at the Bramhall), and they've done nothing but up their game continuously over the past 10 years. It's no wonder they remain the core of the Maine bluegrass scene.

KNOW COMPLEX The kNOw Complex-hosted open-mic night at the Stonecoast may not have gotten Portland hip-hop started, but it definitely brought it into the mainstream (the $2 420s didn't hurt, either). Moshe went on to found Milled Pavement Records, Sontiago became the most recognizable name in Portland hip-hop, and Bread carved out an excellent pair of solo albums. Wally Wentzel continues to be one of Portland's finest soundmen and Navillus . . . well Navillus sort of made Poverty happen, right?

MUNJOY HILL SOCIETY This is the band I'll forever associate with the Skinny, the club that may have had the best run of the past 10 years, even if it was too short. The combined talents of Darien Brahms, Chicky Stoltz, Paul Chamberlain, and John Clark made this a supergroup in every sense of that word.

OCEAN A Geno's band that showed you can be more popular outside of Portland than you are inside it. They are a supergroup in their own right — Candy, Eric Brackett, John Lennon, and Reuben Little — with long histories in local metal scene, but it is their attention to their singular craft that make them notable.

RUSTIC OVERTONES This seems like a no-brainer, but this really wasn't their decade. The best thing that happened to them in the last 10 years might have been their break-up, leading to bands like Rocktopus, As Fast As, Paranoid Social Club, Tony McNaboe's solo project, Seekonk, the Plains, Dulce de Leche, and more. Getting back together was just gravy.

SLY-CHI Recently, Model Airplane wrapped up a summer of Mondays at the Big Easy, but no one did a weekly gig at the Big Easy like Sly-Chi, full of danceable soul and funk covers and originals with a big band that almost anyone could love. Along with bands like Inside Straight, Sly-Chi help found a soul scene in Portland that is surprisingly diverse and active.

Sam Pfeifle can be reached at

Related: Portland Music News: June 19, 2009, Portland music news: April 17, 2009, Flying solo (and duo), More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Entertainment, Music, RUSTIC OVERTONES,  More more >
  • Share:
  • Share this entry with Facebook
  • Share this entry with Digg
  • Share this entry with Delicious
  • RSS feed
  • Email this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Share this entry with Delicious
  •   RIPPLE EFFECT  |  September 16, 2009
    The Portland Phoenix launched in 1999, just as the Portland music scene was turning.
  •   FALLING FAST  |  September 16, 2009
    As almost always seems to be the case, I have to start the "fall preview" by detailing this upcoming weekend, which promises to be one of the most active of the year.
  •   PAIN MAKES YOU BEAUTIFUL  |  September 09, 2009
    With all the success Dead Season have had, perhaps their greatest talent lies in their unflappable honesty, their unwavering self-confidence. At times, their songs, full of introspection and naked emotion, are like being forced to stare at the sun. The instinct to blink is strong.
  •   WHICH WAS FINE  |  September 02, 2009
    There are probably 10 or 15 reviews I could write of Jessica Anthony's The Convalescent . Leitmotifs populate the book's 240 pages like thick, black hairs on the back of an old man's wrinkled ass.
  •   WHAT OF THE BEATLES?  |  September 02, 2009
    Spouting off during downtime in an interview with jazz drummer/composer Steve Grover, I once put forward my ill-researched idea that the third song is almost universally the best song on a great album.

 See all articles by: SAM PFEIFLE

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2009 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group