I'm Doug Rogers, and for nearly the past two years I've been the owner and operator of Slabtown, a mid-sized independent music venue and dive bar in Portland OR. Under various owners and under a variety of names, we've been here since 1922, and we're one of the few spaces left in the city capable of doing either all ages or 21+ shows.
We're devoted to the local DIY and independent music scene here, and in addition to bringing in larger bands, we also focus on giving new, untested bands a venue where they can cut their eye teeth. Garage, punk, queercore, metal, shoegaze--they all have room on our stage; our only requirements are that bands be independent in spirit and not promote hatred or violence towards women, sexual minorities, people of color, or other traditionally marginalized groups. Because, yeah, we're also a club with a conscience. We played host to the four-day Grrrl Front women's music fest last April, provided a venue for dozens of benefit shows for everything from putting bottled water in the hands of the homeless on the hottest day of the year to helping out musicians who lost their home to a fire, brought in the Falafel House and their vegan menu, and founded the Church of RocknRoll DIY Youth Collective.
Even though we've chosen a road that isn't the most commercially viable one out there, we're getting by and continuing to grow. The problem is that in the first year that I owned Slabby, we picked up a lot of debt, and that debt is both a constant sword over the venue's neck and an insurmountable barrier to any growth for the club. Although Slabby is profitable and growing (at her own sweet pace), we aren't bringing in enough to pay off our back debt; yes, we can pay our utility bills, but since we're a month behind on almost all of them, we still receive shut-off notices every month. So, at the same time that we're becoming more profitable, we're still always a couple of canceled shows away from having to shut our doors.
In order to keep moving forward, we not only need to shave off as much of that debt as possible, we also need to make some key improvements to the space itself. Not only do we need to make plumbing and electrical repairs, but there's also exterior painting that needs to be done, booth seating that needs to be mended, and more booths in storage that need to be refurbished so they can be brought back upstairs. If possible, we'd like to improve handicapped-accessibility, and in a perfect world (HA!), we'd like to be able to set aside a small emergency fund.
I did a good amount of soul searching before deciding to reach out to the community for help in this. In the end, I decided to create an Indiegogo campaign because I believe that if the community can support Slabtown in this, Slabtown will be able to continue giving back to the community. We are one of only a handful of clubs left in Portland who still adhere to a DIY ethic, one of an even smaller number who are committed to supporting bands and artists from traditionally marginalized groups and who actively turn away bands who spew misogyny, homophobia, racism or other forms of hate speech, and the only venue of our size in Portland that combines those policies with the ability to put on all ages shows.
When you give to Slabtown's Clean Slate Campaign, you aren't just helping us maintain the club, you're helping maintain a piece of Portland's music and literary arts community. You're helping provide a home for the Portland Poetry Slam and the Church of RocknRoll's Sunday afternoon all ages workshops, movies, and shows. You're helping maintain a home for the Falafel House and their vegan menu, and you're helping provide a place for DIY, punk, garage, metal, shoegaze, and experimental bands to test themselves on stage. And, you're giving us a hand as we continue creating a space where people who have felt like outsiders can call home.
I know that there are many people out there who love Slabtown and what we're becoming but who can't afford to give as much as they'd like. You can still help. The biggest thing you can do is help spread the word. Indiegogo has some handy-dandy tools for that. Facebook works, too. Or, if you live in Portland, stop by and have a drink or two or check out a show when you might otherwise stay at home. Even just swinging by to say hello and give us a pat on the rump and a "buck up, li'l guy" to keep us moving in the right direction...
Thanks, and much love.
Doug at Slabby