Archive for October, 2005

Vortex I

I recently started reading Matt Love’s The Far Out Story of Vortex I. It’s a historical examination of a state sanctioned rock concert held during the summer of 1970 in McIver State Park near Estacada. Vortex I is one of the most interesting chapter in Oregon’s recent history. I wasn’t really aware of the counter culture movement in our state during the Flower Power era besides Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, but there was a lot going on here in Portland, mostly centered around the PSU campus. The catalyst behind the concert was a planned American Legion convention and the estimated 50,000 anti-war protesters who planned to confront the Legionnaires in the streets of downtown Portland. To defuse a potentially violent clash, then Republican governor Tom McCall approve a plan to work with hippies to organize a Woodstock style rock concert, dub “Vortex I: A Biodegradable Festival of Life.” It should have sunk McCall’s political career, but it worked, — the hippies left town and the Legionnaires held their convention unmolested.

I first heard about Vortex I in high school. Not from any history teachers, but from my friend Joel Dunn. It was the inspiration behind our strangest school dance ever: Vortex II. It was either the best or worst dance ever held at McMinnville High depending on who you talked to. I believe it was the former rather than the latter.

I’m not sure how I feel about Matt Love’s book so far. It’s not really a historical narrative in the conventional sense. It’s mostly bits of interviews and full text documents, like police memos and newspaper articles. On the other hand, I kind of like constructing my own narrative of the event using these primary sources. That’s more in tune with Vortex I free thinking idealism anyway. The photos in the book are great though. What really struck me was how different men looked back then. Every guy looked like a track star, all thin and muscular. Contemporary men must be at least 40 pounds heavier on average. I was talking to some friends tonight about this and they speculated that maybe all the fat guys just stayed home.

2 comments October 30th, 2005

Build Your Own Mellotron

The Mellotron was an early “sampler” keyboard popular in the late ’60s and early ’70s with rock bands like Yes and the Moody Blues. Those flutes on the Beetles’ song Strawberry Fields? They were made by a Mellotron. Mellotrons were basically a small keyboard attached to a tape bank (a single strand of magnetic tape for each key). And the tapes could be any sound — flutes, strings, drums, whatever. But finding a working Mellotron today is virtually impossible. So, for those handy with a soldering iron, there is another option…build your own!

Melloman (link courtesy of Thorin)

It looks like a little more work than I’m willing to undertake. Besides, both my Optigans need some TLC first.

October 24th, 2005

History of Electronic Music, Part I

Found this great link on one of my favorite electronic music blogs, Music Thing. It’s a digitized version of an old educational film strip from 1971. The guy who made it available online promises part II is on the way.

1 comment October 4th, 2005


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