Prelude to a Thrash

Photo of Influence Music Hall open mic guitarist by Paul Ottaviano

“Open mic night is not just daisies and Bob Dylan.” This guy thrashed.

I went to Influence Music Hall in Hillsboro, Oregon for Open Mic Night not long ago. This place is cool for any town, let alone a small town not exactly known for its creative scene. Although, believe it or not PDXers, maybe that ought to start changing a bit for Hillsboro. At least on Main Street, anyway.

Located at 3rd and Main St., Influence Music Hall is a hole-in-the-wall room with good acoustics. Previously it was a small tire storage facility. Tire marks are still visible on the wall and ceiling. But really, the place seems like it was born for local music.

There are occasional concerts there, but every Friday night is open mic. Organized by the non-profit Tualatin Valley Artists, people from around the area (one guy was a rock singer from Norway!) come to play music, usually guitar, and also sing folk, rock, or anything they’ve composed. I’ve heard screaming punk rock there and heartfelt poetry, on the same night. There are various levels of ability, but that is not the point. It’s just a local place to hang out and play live music with friends, or the occasional stranger.

Not long ago I was there with my Nikon FE2 film camera. Without getting too technical the light is, to put it mildly, low-key. In other words, there is barely any light at all. And my old film camera does not have a strobe. I shot there with the aperture open all the way to f/1.8 on a 50mm prime lens. Exposures usually around 1/10 or 1/20 on ISO 400 TriX film, hand-held.

The photo you see is one of my favorites of the bunch. You can see more here along with some other film shots I’ve done for fun lately.


  1. We had a pretty good scene going here with small bars but it has been temporarily put to rest. Some of the smaller venues were bought out to create big dance clubs that play the normal radio fare.

    Things in life go in cycles so it should revive itself one day.


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