It’s just another of many stories of working-class attended venues in Portland that has said goodbye in the last 5 years. But this one had a special place in my heart, right around the corner from Berbati’s Pan. The Ash Street Saloon has closed it’s doors this past weekend forever. They had a 4-day weekend of shows by artists of different genres each night, that have played there in it’s long history.
I’m a big proponent of local hip hop and this was one of 4 downtown venues that I always went to get my fix. The others were the aforementioned Berbati’s, Crystal Ballroom and Roseland. The Crystal and Roseland will be around for a long time due to their volume of patrons and A-list of performers that pack the roster consistently. But when it comes to C-level venues, or more intimate, >500 capacity spaces, you have to compete with a fierceness in booking acts to stay relevant. Typically, these lower level venues are leasing, not owning their properties. When you’re in that position, the changing times can add pressure to your bottom line. Ash Street never sold their soul. They kept the lineups filled with up and coming local, regional and national acts of marginalized genres mostly. Mine was underground hip hop. I’ve enjoyed seeing acts the likes of Living Legends, OlDominion, Heiroglyphics Crew, Aceyalone, Cali Agents, People Under The Stairs, Hungry Mob…the list is long.
Well, December 31st will be a sad mark to the end of a very nice run and I could only encapsulate the moment with a poignant reality check to the December 29th audience, provided by Kiew Nikon of Kinetic, right before they began their set. The crowd seemed to be living in the moment, which is fine, but not really giving the artists that were up, enough energy and Kiew set em straight. Peace Ash Street Saloon. You belong in the Portland Hip Hop Hall of Fame.