180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita,
Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City,
Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.
Oregon Coast Nightclub Swimming Against the
Tide, Calls for Bands
|Portland band Dahlia performs at The Watering Hole in July
(Nehalem, Oregon) – It’s certainly ambitious,
and it may just be an insane idea, but former Portlander Marcus Hansen
has a more than slightly sophisticated vision of nightlife on the Oregon
But there are growing pains.
Hansen is the most recent person to fill the shoes of manager
at The Watering Hole in Nehalem – a sleepy little hamlet just a
mile from the beach that hides a sleeping monster that may just be ready
to wake up. Hansen is trying hard to bring a little bit of Portland nightlife
to this tiny town, but with a coastal twist. His vision includes a variety
of acts to fill the nights with song at this burgeoning bar, including
DJ’s in the electronica vein, open mic nights, poetry slams, and
live music from Portland’s sizzling music scene as well as a hefty
helping of local bands from the north Oregon coast.
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It’s not without its sizable challenges, however.
Hansen has been putting out a call for some time for bands, DJ’s
and participants for his various nights of entertainment.
|Danceable fun at the bar
“I’d love to see a poetry night here, and the
open mic take off,” Hansen said. “I’m on a search to
get all these nights filled with acts.”
Snagging local bands has also been an uphill battle, in
spite of a need for these performers to get out and strut their stuff.
“I’ve tried to incorporate all the locals as
much as possible,” Hansen said. “But they’ve been real
shy about committing dates, and they’re worried about having to
play lengthy sets that fill up the whole night. But I’m not asking
for that. I’m not looking for bands to go from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
We can figure it out after their set. I’m trying as much as possible
to get the local acts here. But I’m going to have to go to Astoria
and Portland to support this vision.”
Hansen then outlines that daring vision in its most basic
|DJ Ali Cat also works behind the bar
“The vision is we want something more exciting, interesting
and visually stimulating – something better than just sitting around
smoking cigarettes, listening to a jukebox and playing pool.”
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A lot of his upcoming lineup includes DJ’s playing
many different styles, including electronica – so far unheard around
the Oregon coast. Nights with live bands won’t go straight from
9 to 2 with live music, but probably 9 to midnight, with DJ’s performing
the rest of the evening. This is often the format in Portland live music
venues – a town that is nationally recognized for its live band
Portlanders who are now getting into their 30’s and 40’s have
been accustomed to being around that nightlife scene since the 90’s,
maybe even the 80’s. That demographic is now purchasing second homes
on the coast, or certainly heading to the beach to get away from it all.
They’re looking for something to do at night sometimes – and
that doesn’t mean the blues music and cover bands of the baby boom
generation that has become de rigueur at coastal bars.
Hansen understands that feeling. He lived in California
for years, and would head to the coast there on many weekends to relax,
then enjoying the nightlife in some of those hip beach towns. “I’m
one of those people,” he said. “It was a treat to go and hear
a rock band that night, or maybe an 80’s cover band, which was kind
of alternative at the time.”
|Bartenders providing the cheer at The Watering
He says he sees a younger and younger clientele on the
coast, and a trend that backs up his vision. “There’s enough
people who are out here, taking a breather from the city, and they’re
looking for something at night. I think we can provide that culture to
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There’s been noticeable improvement at The Watering
Hole, and a few experiments that had mixed results.
was a seriously cutting edge and ambitious idea for the coast that never
quite took off: a family-oriented DJ festival that lasted two days, that
was supposed to be in an outdoor park next to The Watering Hole, and then
moved inside at night. It was to climax with a big show by Portland electronica
to not understanding the area very well, and issues with parking and ODOT,
Hansen said the big festival part – well, it fell apart. But Dahlia
still played a killer show at the club that night, marking a first for
the coast and the extremely popular Portland band.
“I didn’t know much about the area,”
he laughed. “But there were still enough Portlanders here to provide
some pretty good sales that night.”
|Intriguing drinks populate the bar's menu
The only other times Portland bands of the stature of Dahlia
played the coast was Duffy Bishop’s several gigs in Newport in the
90’s, a Cherry Poppin’ Daddies show there in 1993, and a couple
of large-scale performances by Pink Martini at the Newport Performing
Arts Center. Nothing big from Portland had ever really done anything anywhere
on the north coast in the last decade and a half (although there have
been numerous semi-national acts playing from Astoria down to Florence
almost every year).
has been part of the music industry for about 20 years, and a good number
of them have been in Portland, amping up whatever club he worked at there.
His last gig was changing the landscape at the famed Greek Cuisina, snagging
big name DJ’s to come and perform there.
the turn of the century, he was working at Saucebox, where he began falling
in love with the coast. It was then he discovered something was missing
out here, especially with his music industry sensibilities.
“I’d always poke around, but I’d find
everything shut down about the time we’d wake up,” he said.
“I found all these cool little towns grouped together up here on
the coast, and always felt I’d end up here. I started to see there
were all these cute towns, with little opportunities that were pretty
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One of his good friends began working at The Watering Hole
as a bartender and as an electronica DJ, and she called Hansen and told
him about the manager position, and how this place was in need of a firm
administrative hand and direction.
moved to the north coast, and now he’s starting to live a dream,
he says. He even takes a very hands on approach, stepping up to the turntables
himself as DJ Professor Stone at least once a week.
“I’m living here, with the laidback vibe, and
hopefully soon at night I’ll get to go see a reggae band, maybe
a rock band, some comedy,” he said. “It’s great just
to have a place with culture here, and you don’t have to drive to
Portland all the time.”
Hansen is still seeking bands, comedians, poets and
other performers from the Oregon coast or from the Portland area. You
can reach him at 503-368-4990. See www.djprofessorstone.com
for more info. The Watering Hole is on Highway
101 in Nehalem.
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