Church of Psychedelia trips are worth taking


The Church of Psychedelia holds the promise of musical challenge for local seekers of sonic adventure.

But don't be in a hurry to bust out the tie-dye: The man behind the event wants it to grow into a regular happening that attracts a diverse and appreciative audience.

'I hope for a really broad range of people to show up,' says musician and booking agent Josh Blanchard. 'I don't want this to be some flash-in-the-pan hipster night, but rather a place where all kinds of people can hang out and be comfortable. Old Deadheads, record geeks and bedroom burnouts Ñ you all are welcome!'

On the second Sunday of each month, Berbati's Pan will showcase mind-expanding bands, trippy troubadours and inscrutable improvisers under the Church of Psychedelia banner. Lest we fret over a surfeit of free-dancing dervishes and patchouli pilgrims twirling ecstatically to interminable wah-wah solos, Blanchard is quick to point out that the evening will not merely be Dead-icated to styles of yore.

'I think with all kinds of art, it's important to appreciate the significance of the past without getting all crotchety and overly sentimental,' he says. 'There are a lot of modern bands that carry the torch of the '60s psych vibe really well, like Devendra Banhart, Oneida, Dead Meadow and Ghost.

'I want everything from cosmic jazz, to space rock, to shoegazer electronica, to fantasy folk and whatever lies between,' he says about his booking inclinations. 'Right now I'm focusing on local bands and charging free admission to get folks excited about the night, but I would love to have touring acts in the future.'

The debut event will feature Blanchard's band, the Plants, the Evolutionary Jass Band and electronic trio Nudge.

'The Plants are an ambient folk duo comprised of myself and my girlfriend, Molly Griffith,' Blanchard says. 'We try to mix pastoral medieval songs, abstract acoustic compositions and sad, droning folk experiments. Someone told me recently that we sound like a mix between Tyrannosaurus Rex and BŽla Bart—k, which suits me fine.'

Nudge features the talents of former Tra La La guitarist and singer Honey Owens, as well as Brian Foote and Paul Dickow from Fontanelle.

'Nudge sounds like the eternal highway which runs through the veins in your heart Ñ soft and constantly reflecting,' Owens explains cryptically. 'Sometimes we sound like kitties.' Apparently when it comes to modern psychedelia, descriptions, like the music itself, can be rather nebulous.

Blanchard, a 10-year Portland music veteran who has played in bands such as the Mome Raths and (currently) Point Line Plane, notes that the very term 'psychedelia' should not be defined easily, so as to encourage a variety of interpretations.

'I think repetition and sonic density are generally the constants in good psychedelic music,' he says. 'If you can temporarily forget where you are and what you're doing and lose yourself in the sounds, then the music is achieving its purpose.'

And if he could book any three bands from musical history in order to achieve absolute psychedelic perfection?

'Sun Ra, Tangerine Dream and My Bloody Valentine,' he says without hesitation. One thing's for sure: This ain't your daddy's trippin' music.