10Qs with Leif Sherman Curtis/48 Hour Music Festival

Leif Sherman Curtis has been a member of Portland’s AoK Suicide Forest, The Coalsack in Crux, Moneycastasia, Olas, and more.  Leif is also the creator and organizer of Portland’s 48 Hour Music Festival.  For the event, local musicians from different bands and genres gather, toss their names into a proverbial hat, and five or six new bands are created.  After the bands are formed, the musicians write and rehearse all of the material to be performed at the festival and select a name.  Oh, and all of this happens over a 48 hour period!  Many acts choose to record their songs, which are released later in the year on the 48HMF Bandcamp page.  This year’s event happens on Saturday 2/23 at SPACE Gallery and features members of Endless Jags, Mouth Washington, Contrpossto, Sunset Hearts, ex-Whip Hands, Rural Ghosts, Forget Forget, and more.

Leif Sherman Curtis
Leif Sherman Curtis


Where were you born?
Portland Maine!

What keeps you in Portland?
What can I say, I’m fond of purgatory.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I’m a bartender.

What was your most memorable gig?
Conifer live at Sacred and Profane, Peaks Island 2011. We played in a field next to one of the retired war forts: Battery Steele. The drums reflected perfectly off the outside cement walls creating the effect of another drummer playing with us. The sun was setting, and a giant bonfire was lit. A couple hundred people gathered around us to feel the wall of noise. The bushes behind us were swaying wildly in the wind. Sparrows would suddenly burst out of them and fill the twilight sky along with the floating cinders from the fire. It was like a spell was cast, and we were part of it… ask anyone that was there.

What was your worst gig?
Red Lion, Eureka California, AoK Suicide Forest tour 2010. I was egged by some redneck driving by in his pick up truck before the gig. I washed yolk out of my hair in the dirty bathroom sink and then jumped onstage to perform music to the bartender. Empty room.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
Three Mile Pilot: Chief Assassin to the Sinister

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
1976 Fender Pro Reverb.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Listen to everything. Write your own music.

What’s the origin behind your band name?
‘The Coalsack in Crux’ is a dark nebula visible inside the Crux constellation.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
Lee Hazlewood with Nancy Sinatra

48 Hour Music Festival 5 Poster by Kris Johnsen
48 Hour Music Festival 5 Poster by Kris Johnsen

Bonus Questions

How did you come up with this idea?
It started as a conversation with my friend Dave Camlin. It was one of those ‘what if’ hypothetical sort of conversations that I decided to actually bring to life. Dave, who is a professional filmmaker, ended up filming a full length documentary movie about the first festival.

What’s your favorite part of the festival?
Hearing that people continue to collaborate with one another after the festival is over.

What’s been the biggest surprise?
Tom Mahoney

How long do you anticipate this project continuing?
As long as people are interested in writing new songs and making new friends.

Any bands that are personal favorites from over the years?
Opera Jones (featuring Lady Zen, Sam James, and more), Sister Rita (Caleb Coulthard, Gary Meres, Casey McCurry), Ways of Man (Jesse Hautala, Chriss Sutherland, Zack Howard)… but there have really been so many amazing acts over the last four years. Listen for yourself: 48hourmusicfestival.bandcamp.com

Stephen Quirk
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