The Northwest is not wanting for weirdoes. But Portland fairly teems with them, and I'm talking the musical variety here. Recently in these pages I praised former Pond singer/drummer Charlie Campbell's delightful CD Goldcard, which features lots of music written both with Pond and alone before his creative spirit succumbed to, as he describes it, the death of the industry and his artistry. Former Sprinkler singer Chris Slusarenko (the force behind the industrious 2001 Colonel Jeffrey Pumpernickel concept album that featured original contributions from Guided By Voices, Stephen Malkmus, Mary Timony, Lou Barlow, Macha, Grandaddy, and other indie rock luminaries) insisted Campbell finish the songs, which he did with the aid of Quasi's Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss, Grandaddy, and his former bandmate Chris Brady (now of Audio Learning Center). Slusarenko compiled Goldcard and released it on his own label, Off Records, and he's informed me that Campbell will come to Seattle and do his version of an in-store appearance: On May 31 at Sonic Boom, Campbell will sit in a beautifully built wooden box with no more amenities than a slit at eye level and a bucket of water. He'll spend a few hours at each Sonic Boom location--just sittin'--and when it's time to relocate, Slusarenko and Co. will load Campbell into a trailer where he will remain en croôte, en route. (Haw.)

On May 20, Off Records (www.offrecords.com) will release Beard of Lightning, a new Bob Pollard project. A devoted fan of defunct '80s band Phantom Tollbooth, Pollard asked them for the music tracks to their 1988 release Power Toy so he could record new vocals over the old and realize a dream. And now Slusarenko is hard at work on a benefit album for the Harvey Milk School in New York City. The CD will feature acts such as the Breeders, Yoko Ono, Cyndi Lauper, and--holy shit--Sleater-Kinney paired with Fred Schneider. A duet with Schneider has got to be the stuff of massive bragging rights for any indie rock band and as Slusarenko says, "Hey, you gotta get there first, and Sleater-Kinney have the bragging rights forever." Quite the output from Portland.

Back home we're all gearing up for the Capitol Hill Block Party 2003 (brought to you by The Stranger, KEXP, and the Pacific Northwest chapter of the Recording Academy), July 12-13, a two-day rock and roll blowout boasting FOUR BEER GARDENS and 44 bands, including Death Cab for Cutie, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Pedro the Lion, Visqueen, the Presidents of the United States of America, D.O.A., Erase Errata, the Thermals, the Catheters, Mea Culpa, the Gloryholes, Kinski, Broadcast Oblivion, New Luck Toy, Akimbo, the Ruby Doe, Hint Hint, Cobra High, Asahi, the Girls, the Cripples, Schoolyard Heroes, and the Spits. AND: putt-putt golf!

I can't sign off without slobbering a bit about the astounding set put on by the Helio Sequence last Friday at Graceland. Openers Magic Magicians were a hoot and I got the giggles so bad whenever Joe Plummer pounded his drums; the room felt like it was pumped full of laughing gas and I was wearing Earth shoes. Then the two-man Helio Sequence dropped everyone's jaw with their blend of tape loops, prog, and sweet Three O'Clock-esque pop. I can't wait to hear drummer Benjamin Weikel's contribution to the forthcoming Modest Mouse album.