By J. Michael Kearsey
Back in 1969, a person known as a Millennial was just a twinkle in every young granny-glassed eye: an adjective that pertained to the thousand years mentioned in the Book of Revelation or a period of great happiness or human perfection.
Enter the Age of Aquarius, the musical Hair and freak flags flying all around Portland. New bands were emerging from every corner of town with new sounds. The era of the 45-rpm single was fading and fresh new music was wafting like sweet smoke from those big living room speakers topped by incense and candles.
The new FM radio format was emerging in Portland on KINK and KBOO, but stores where the new music could be bought were in dreary malls, drugstores and a few chain stores offering sides of varying degrees of antiquity.
Over the Ides of March, early Intel engineer, Don MacLeod, his wife Laureen and local music stalwarts Dan and Patty Lissy opened the alternative to all that. Music Millennium began to sell folk and alternative Rock music with a slant toward British and European imports, and opened its doors on March 15, 1969.
This month the store celebrates its 50th birthday and current owner and long time employee, Terry Currier, shares MacLeod’s vision of community and support of local music with a half century of consignments by un-signed bands, over 4500 in-store performances and an incredible vinyl room of both used and new LP releases.
The in-store shows have been legendary. Randy Newman played his first and only in-store there in 1989. Toots and the Maytals recorded a live show and the five-song release went to benefit Hurricane Katrina victims.
Music Millennium has won numerous awards, including NARM’s “Best Small-Sized Store,” “Best Medium-Sized Store,” and is a three-time winner of The Album Network’s “Indie Retailer Of The Year.”
The entire month of March will feature live performances by a variety of Portland musicians including Terry Robb, The Reverberations, Kingsley, Beltaine, Wallows, A Dozen Nothing, Kolars and Antonioni. In addition, on Wednesday March 6, alt-country hero Steve Earle will perform live at five, as he releases his new CD, titled Guy on that day.
The store’s actual 50th birthday is March 15 and will include a day of celebration at the store including a cake and refreshments – beer is now being sold on site everyday of the week. There will be a coloring book available, with the store’s murals and pictures of national artists performing. At 3 pm the Beatles’ song, “It’s All Too Much,” will be played as it was played at that hour in 1969 and an 18 minute film by George Hood will be shown called Holy Thursday. The film was shown on the 1969 opening day.
That evening, Music Millennium will keep the party going with a show at the Aladdin beginning at 6:30 with ‘never before seen’ slides and photos from Millennium archives followed by a triple header concert featuring The Crazy 8s, Jon Koonce & The Lost Cause and The Dandy Warhols.
Music Millennium is a Portland cultural icon where one can hear music at a listening post, track down extremely rare records, CDs, even cassette tapes of all possible genres, collect swag from these genres and find product from our local music scene, plus all that “Keep Portland Weird” stuff that originated at the store.
Currier notes, “My hope is that 50 years from now Music Millennium will still be infused with the same passion that Don MacLeod fostered in the beginning.” This is a day to enjoy the vision of Currier, the Lissys, and the MacLeods and hear more great music along the way.
Music Millennium is located at 3158 E. Burnside, 503.231.8926 and musicmillennium.com.