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Calmly, From Portland, It's The Quiet Music Festival

Not all music festivals are carnivals of noise, propelled by thudding drums and screeching guitars. In fact, for the annual Quiet Music Festival of Portland, which begins today, the goal is to experience calming sounds.

The festival's organizers say their focus is on "soothecore, a new dimension of emotional, vibrant, and low volume music honoring of the quiet act of listening."

If that makes you think of a Portlandia skit titled "Battle Of The Gentle Bands," you're not alone. As Paper magazine recently tweeted, the "'Battle of the Gentle Bands' exists!" The Portlandia feed also re-tweeted the message.

The festival kicks off, or perhaps we should say, nudges itself to a start, Friday, with performers including cellist Lori Goldston, former Beastie Boys collaborator Money Mark, and White Magic, whose music comprises "fourth-dimensional vibrations and shamanic trance," according to the festival's website.

Like any festival, the event presents a wealth of logistical issues for artist Chris Johanson, who is the main organizer. But some of those challenges are unique to the Portland festival, which runs Friday and Saturday.

"Our mission is to find more rugs and pillows for the upcoming festival, so they'll be even more objects to fall asleep on," Johanson says. "Expect to have good dreams."

The Portlandia skit, which featured well-known guitarist J Mascis and the band Dirty Projectors, also included a line that's not often heard at large outdoor festivals.

"Could you turn down the guitar, please?" asked the show's Fred Armisen.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.

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