What is it about Portland that has made it such an incubator of great music? The scene is thriving, not just on a national stage (The Shins, Pink Martini) but on a local one, with a live scene that makes Santa Barbara’s look like an elementary school talent show and jumble sale. One reason, suggests Eric Stern, leader of the Vagabond Opera: money and time.
“Things are cheap,” he says. “Unlike California, the people have a lot of time to sit around and play music and play together. Portland is a great crossroads for that, it’s a musical laboratory.” Stern adds that the community is small — he attends school functions for his kid and runs into members of The Decemberists.