Spotlight on Kent Drangsholt
by Anni Piper
You might notice the CBA member meetings have a new home! We know that a venue in Lake Oswego might have been a controversial choice for some, but one of the things that is so important to the survival of blues as an art form is getting youths involved. At The Garages is a venue that welcomes all ages and the board felt this was the way to go for the future. If you haven’t been, it’s an amazing space, and Kent was kind enough to take a few minutes to talk about it.
AP: Anyone who goes into The Garages will notice the stage and dance floor are both very prominent! It’s obviously a venue centered on music. What’s your history with music and where did you find your passion for it?
KD: When I was about 10 years old I got my first trap drum set. I banged on those skins through my high school years in a band called The Flock. We were the “go-to band” for all school-related dances. We fanned out to other schools and some private parties. My house was the band’s “hangout,” so we had lots of parties in the basement. We even played in some battles of the bands and gained some Chicagoland notoriety.
My first album purchase was the first Santana album, which was full of great percussion and drum solos. I knew at that point that music would be an important part of my life. In college I graduated with a speech and broadcast communications degree. I served my internship at KPTV, which was an independent TV station back then. I also ran the Oregon State University radio station, KBVR-FM.
At that time I organized a live show which featured local bands. After college, KPTV hired me, where I worked for six years. Then I got a wild idea to move to Los Angeles, where I went to work for CBS Television/Radio. I spun records as a disc jockey on radio as a side gig, then full-time until returning to Oregon in 1986. My love of music has remained even though I got into other forms of employment.
In 2016 we started The Garages as an underground place to play live music. It became too popular and the city of Beaverton, where music venues are illegal, shut us down. We reopened a few months later in what was known as The Satellite Pub Bar/Restaurant. We built a temporary stage to avoid city regulations, and we grew into an “unofficial” music venue. With our recent move to Lake Oswego we can now be an official music venue. We have live music seven days a week with a great variety of music genres. We are lovin’ it!
AP: I’ve always wanted to own a bar. Tell me why I shouldn’t. What’s been most difficult for you running this place, especially in the context of COVID?
KD: Owning a bar/restaurant is not for the weak at heart. The reason is it takes a serious commitment of time and investment. COVID intensified both commitment and investment. We did everything we could to continue the live music path we have built. If anyone asked me how we have weaved our way through the past two years, it’s simple: The support for live music is very strong in the Portland metro area. When other venues closed or shut down, we never did. But to answer your question directly: Owning a bar is a huge risk. If you don’t like to take chances, don’t do it!
AP: Most memorable gig at The Garages?
KD: It was a tribute to Pink Floyd. The guests were mesmerized. It was amazing.
AP: Portland is a town where we like to keep it weird. What’s the strangest thing you have seen while running Garages – anything paranormal or extraterrestrial going on behind the scenes?
KD: We have a ghost we call “Henry.” He was at our original location and he died falling off the roof in 1955 when the building was being built. We love this guy. He has shown his presence throughout the years by moving items, turning on lights and following us in the hallways. We have talked with him and invited him to come with us. We just had evidence that he has come to the new location because we have him on camera late at night after everyone has left. Cool dude with nothing to fear.