The Music That Makes Us

The Music That Makes Us was a neighborhood music festival and local history archive project of the Kenton neighborhood produced by the PSU Art & Social Practice Program and presented at Disjecta in Portland, OR in 2016.

The Music That Makes Us is an exhibition, music festival and local history archive project that investigates a neighborhood through its music and emphasizes the value of diverse musical expression within a community. 15 different musicians and music groups from Kenton collaborated with us to create a living history archive of the neighborhood through shared personal artifacts, ephemera, and stories from their musical practice. The project seeks to highlight the broad range of musical experiences in the neighborhood and investigates how those practices intersect. Throughout the duration of the show there were spontaneous band practices in the gallery, group singalongs, dance parties, and a guided audio walk that explored Kenton through field recordings and stories from the participants. The project culminated in a live music festival with dueling stage performances by the musicians featured in the exhibition.

Musicians: Zahra Ahmed, De La Salle North Catholic High School Choir, Dorian Neira and Daniel “D.J. Max” Lasuncet, Austin Green, Robin Gordon and the Celebration Tabernacle Ministry of Music, Kenton Brass, Kenton Church Choir, Shirley Meador, The Obo Addy Legacy Project, Peninsula School in collaboration with Caldera, Heather Perkins, André Roberson, Lisa Schonberg, Norman Sylvester, and The World Famous Kenton Club.

Events during the exhibition included:

  • Opening Night, with piano music by Robin Gordon, Dorian Neira, Daniel Lasuncet and Shirley A. Meador
  • The Kenton Audio Walk, a collective group outing streaming a guided audio tour of the Kenton, produced by Renee Sills and narrated by Paula Sylvester, a longtime Kenton resident. The audio tour is a collection of interviews and field recordings that were taken in the neighborhood during February and March of 2016, and acts as an audio archive of Kenton during a transitional period marked by rapid growth and change. Listeners are invited to experience the landscape of the neighborhood through the individual and collective memories of those who have created it. Listen to it here.
  • Family Music Workshops at Peninsula School in collaboration with Caldera, Julie Keefe and Afro Kidworks Dance.
  • Kenton Brass: Open Practice Sessions
  • Kenton Music Festival and exhibition closing reception featuring dueling songs on two round stages with live music from each musician and music group represented in the exhibition.

Special thanks to Chiara Giovando, 2015-2016 Curator in Residence at Disjecta who invited us to produce this project.