“Building the Salem scene one cookie at a time.”
Ok, Salem. I dislike writing these types of articles; the articles that mark the passing of yet another live music venue. A couple years ago, The Wisp House was shuttered; a couple months ago, The Fifty Pub N Grub was bulldozed; and now we must say goodbye to another – Possum House. What puts the sting in these closings is all these venues were home to musicians playing original music. Salem has plenty of places for cover, tribute, and circuit bands, but the doors are closing for artists who write their own music. And each of these venues provided an outlet for music that isn’t always given a home: metal, punk, noise, and other niche type music. A novel aspect of Possum House is their early evening, all-ages, alcohol and drug-free policy, (but always cookies). Not everyone enjoys the bar scene. What a gift to watch a capable singer/songwriter and actually hear the lyrics without struggling to hear over the competing conversations and noise that is usually prevalent in bars. And, being able to see great music and be rested for work the next day is a refreshing experience.
The generous proprietors of Possum House are Alex and Jen Carmichael, who also make up the Salem band, Kalaloch, (pronounced klay-lock). Kalaloch’s self-titled album is still in my top 10 favorite Salem albums, if not in my top five. Alex and Jen started hosting shows at their home in July of 2011, featuring local and touring artists alike. They host acoustic and electric shows. Their “Salem Songwriter Series,” takes place in their backyard complete with campfire and s’mores. Alternatively, they have plugged in shows in their living room.
To celebrate their seven-year run, the Possum House will be hosting two final shows back-to-back on Friday and Saturday, July 13th and 14th. Friday night will be their final campfire and s’mores filled Salem Songwriter Series #7. Music starts promptly at 8:30pm and features Possum House favorites Noah Hall (Whiskey Priest, Easterly); Andy Alvarez (Adieu Caribou, Sadgasm); Tied to a Grizzly; Intentional Misuse; Kalaloch; and Tim King (Axolotl Daydream, Porpoise Donuts). Saturday starts at 4pm with Mini-Mutations (Austin Rich); Hank Porche’s irreverent ragtime piano; Impulse Control from Ashland; Startle Easilies (Peter Degroot, Sam McBride, Julian Snow); Major Hex (with Josh Blanchard of Coronation); Kalaloch – plugged in; Vortex Remover – Salem’s awk rawkers; His Name Shall Breathe and RllrBll both from Portland; and Years for Months w/ Stan Keightley of The Space Concert Club and Mick Hickman of KMUZ’s Northwest Notes. Whew! (Study for the quiz). Both shows are free, but a $5 donation is strongly smiled upon for the musicians.
Possum House is closing because Alex found work in the Portland area. The move will also put them closer to family. It’s a win for the Carmichaels, but another bummer for Salem.
Salem needs more venues. Unfortunately, songwriters are usually cash poor. We’re at the mercy of entrepreneurs to find value in what original artists have to offer a diverse community and to open their doors and wallets for those pursuits. It doesn’t seem to happen that often anymore ‘round these parts. That’s where house venues come in. Where will the next one be? I’ll wait. For now, a heartfelt “Thank You” to the Carmichaels for opening their home to us for seven years. All the best to you. And cookies.
To get the address for Possum House, email firstname.lastname@example.org or search for Possum House on Facebook and send them a message.