Along with cellist Amy Mitchell, I have a wedding band that plays at ceremonies and receptions throughout Oregon. We’re called The Ashlings, which means “dream” in Irish, and we play all the classical favorites like Pachelbel’s Canon and Faure’s Pavane, as well as really cool versions of Aeroplane Over the Sea (Neutral Milk Hotel), Just Like Heaven (The Cure), and Wonderwall (Oasis), to name a few.
Last week we played at Sunriver Resort in the Great Room. Amy is also in a wedding string quartet and has played this room many times and kept telling me how magical it is in the winter time. It’s decorated with white lights and candles, and white flower peddles and there is huge wood fire burning at the center of the room.
The bride Sarah, requested Pachelbel’s at the processional and then Ave Maria during the vows and candle lighting. While it was somewhat of a challenge for me to learn Ave on the guitar with short notice, Amy has played it a hundred times and pulled it off beautifully on her electric cello. For days, this epic song has been stuck in my head and it fit in perfectly at that moment of the ceremony. We ended the night with the theme song from Masterpiece Theatre, which is actually an oft requested recessional piece.
The photographer that evening was Kimberly Kay Photography and you can see some examples of her work throughout this article and more photos of the wedding of Sarah & Alex at the Great Hall in Sunriver OR on her blog.
This video was shot on the Deschutes River at Dillon Falls in Bend, Oregon in December of 2011.
As a child of the 80s, I’ve always wanted to make a music video. Of course my vision then was of big metallic hair, cheesy effects, and lots of hopping around throwing my leg in the air as a dance move.
How ever many years later, my dream came true, but its my 30-something self’s version of the dream where I am playing guitar and singing by my favorite river. The whitewater and mist erupting behind me is the most exciting action, and the only thing that might be considered an “effect” is the videographers skillful use of a 18 ft. Kessler Crane that he lugged through the woods for a ½ mile.
Oregon Filmaker Tim Cash has been specializing in creating music videos for close to a decade, and along the way he has produced works of art for many local Central Oregon musicians, exponentially increasing our professionalism overnight. The videos he made for Erin Cole-Baker and Leif James are some of my favorite.
So here is our little masterpiece. I think it is really different than anything else Tim has done, and I am so truly appreciative of his ability to create something that I feel is so authentic to me. To put things another way, this guy can basically do anything. He has the skill and most of the equipment to do what all the big budget guys are doing out there, but instead of adding all that stuff in, I feel the strength of this particular work is in the subtraction and simplicity. I think it takes a real sensitivity to an artist’s vision to help them find their own authenticity, and to be humble enough to do something understated. So thank you Tim for all of that, and for all of you musicians out there, if you are looking to make a music video, check out all of his other project on his website, and get in touch!
And if you’d like to see a little behind the scenes, check out Tim’s explanation of the Crane that he and his assistant Robert Slaney carried through the woods.
I played my first gig in Ashland last week. What an adorable and amazing little town. I’ve always wanted to go and spend some time there going to the Shakespeare Festival. Next summer for sure.
I played at this great little pub called the Caldera Tap House, which is right downtown on Water St. I love this company and their beer. They were one of the first to put their microbrews in cans, which is awesome if you are an outdoor fanatic who likes to bring good beers on trips. By day 20 on the Grand Canyon, PBRs and Tecate can get a bit… old. These beers are true currency out on the river.
For all you musicians out there thinking of playing a gig here I would definitely bring your own equipment. At the last minute I decided to go strait from Bend instead of going first to Portland to collect my stuff. While a quick call to the bar confirmed they had a sound system, all the chords were missing and I had to jerry-rig the stuff to get it to work. Well, actually Mysha Caruso, the lead singer and songwriter for the band Kites & Crows helped me with the sound. Came to the rescue really!
Meeting Mysha was definitely the highlight of my night. His band is truly an Oregon gem. The sounds blends Mysha’s gorgeous tenor with an indie-folk style guitar (think Iron & Wine.) Add cello, banjo, ethereal female harmonies and lyrics that reflect Mysha’s literate sensibilities, and you’ve got a band that should be on tour with the Decemberists. (They have opened for them!)
These guys met at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where they work together. I’m assuming the band name came from the play Coriolanus, but I’d love to know more about why they chose this; as the line doesn’t feel that significant to me on first read. But as a band name it is intriguing and epic at the same time. It’s no surprise they are so big in Southern Oregon as their songs – and their woodsy, yet sophisticated sound – seems of reflection of their little region of the world.
On a side note, a few people came into the bar before I started playing saying they wanted to come, but were off to see a local jam band where all their friends were going to be (sounds like a night in Bend… why did I move to PDX again?). But… one guy told me there was “weird energy” in the town, because the week before a local grocer had been beheaded (head cut off with a sword!) while walking through a nearby park at night.
Only in Ashland?
“Why then the worlds mine oyster, Which I with sword shall open…”
“The pen is mightier than the sword”
Cow to Kettle: Farmstead raw-milk cheese makers embrace older cheese methods to produce a superior product.
Dairy farmer and Cada Dia cheese maker, Pat Sullivan runs his fingers through a combination of grass and clover on the ground few yards from where his 20 Jersey cows are grazing on his 80-acre dairy farm in Prineville.
“The clover is protein and the grass is starch for the animals,” Pat says with an endearing Virginia accent. “We are a ground-up operation here. The sun and the earth produce food, the cows make rich, creamy milk full of healthy vitamins like Beta Carotene and Omega 3 and 6, and then we turn that into raw-milk, farmstead cheese.”
At most large dairy farms, cows are fed dry hay and grains on large feedlots and milked up to three times a day. Pat’s Jersey cows are instead milked only once a day and are given five months off in the winter to restore their bodies.
“These guys have got it made,” Pat said with a laugh, scratching one of the cows behind their ear.
This farm operates on a micro-scale: on a typical day their cows produce 45 gallons of milk that are made into one or two wheels of cheese. Most dairy farms process 4,000 gallons of milk daily and most cheese makers have no involvement with the animals or the farm where they buy their milk.
Pat, his wife Cher, and their two teenage daughters, Afton and Hannah moved to Central Oregon from New Mexico a year and a half ago to live out a dream that has been ten years in the making. Together they built their straw bale home, milking parlor and cheese-making facilities from the ground up six months before their herd of cows and heifers arrived at their door in May, ready to be milked.
Pat worked as an engineer on the oil fields of New Mexico and Texas before taking an early retirement and buying an 18-acre farm in New Mexico in a town of only 100 people. For years, he raised cows, studied the cheese-making process and lived a back-to-the-land lifestyle without television and other distractions.
When the real estate market peaked in 2007, Pat put his property on the market as an experiment, and when it sold he had the capital to invest in a more serious farm in Central Oregon.
“Most people that have the kind of money it takes to get an operation like this up and running would not be interested in milking cows for a living,” Pat explained. Although his aspirations for marketing and selling his products are mostly on a local level, he described how the business will be quite lucrative once he develops a solid reputation as an artisan cheese maker.
The process Pat uses to make cheese is a New Zealand method called “cow to kettle.” Immediately after the cows are milked and each batch is filtered, it is poured into a 150-gallon vat filled with cultures to begin that turn the milk into curds and whey. The temperature of the milk goes from about 99 degrees in the cow to 105 degrees in the stainless steel vat. Most dairy farms pasteurize milk as soon as it leaves the cow, reducing the temperature to 37 degrees, killing off all the bacteria and then waiting 24 hours for other bacteria to multiply back in the milk.
“Milk never gets better; it just starts degrading once it leaves the cow,” Pat explained. “The best cheese in the world is made from raw milk, at least that is what the connoisseurs say – that it is richer, creamier and has more body. They can talk about cheese like fine wine.”
After stuffing the curds into a cheese mould, which squeezes out the last of the whey, a solid wheel is formed after 24 hours and then painted with wax imported from Holland to hold in the moisture before it is brought down to the cheese cellar and left to age. Nearing the end of their first year of production, the Sullivan’s have amassed 9,000 lbs. of cheese in their cellar and have begun to sell at local farmer’s markets.
“The dairy business in America is about quantity,” Cher said, “but we are focusing on quality by caring for our animals, and going back to cheese making methods that are 100s of years old.”
Cada Dia Cheese
9609 NW Sharp Road
Prineville OR 97754
Wineries in Oregon are Growing Greener
“Has the country caught up to Oregon, or was Oregon always so far ahead of the curve in terms of sustainable wine making?” asked Chris Martin of Troon Vineyard,
a Southern Oregon boutique winery that lives by the motto “good times and fine wines.”
Troon Vineyard also practices organic and sustainable farming methods and is certified “Salmon-Safe” by LIVE (Low Input Viticulture & Enology, Inc.), an international certification agency based in Salem. The “Salmon-Safe” label means that the vineyard has undergone a rigorous assessment to assure that erosion is reduced, and that there are very few pesticides and other chemicals flowing into the same waterways that Salmon use to spawn.
Troon is just one of many vineyards in Oregon that has taken great strides to “green” its production processes, in fact, Oregon has become a global leader in sustainable wine-making, partially due to the favorable conditions of the marine climate.
“In the Willamette Valley, vintners don’t really need to use pesticides and fertilizers to an extreme like you would in a warmer region,” said Chris Serra, Program Manager for LIVE.
Unlike organic certification, which forbids the use of chemicals, LIVE allows synthetics at certain levels, and also tackles other farming issues like worker health and safety. Currently 25% of Oregon’s wine growing acreage is certified by LIVE.
One of the historic leaders of the green winery movement is Sokol Blosser in Dundee, Oregon, just south of Portland. From its humble beginnings as one of the first vineyards in the Willamette Valley in 1971, Sokol Blosser now has over 13,000 acres. They have become famous for such award-winning wines as Evolution and Meditrina.
Besides being the first winery in the country to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the United States Green Building Council, they are certified organic by Oregon Tilth, and run their tractors on 50% biodiesel. They also use solar energy to power the winery. Their innovative approach to environmentalism and wine making makes Sokol Blosser a must-see on your next Willamette Valley wine tour: check out of the living roof, which covers their underground barrel cellar.
While wine growers in Oregon have been practicing sustainability for decades, the numerous levels of “green” certifications, whether it is “Salmon-Safe,” LIVE or Certified Organic, have become major selling points for the earth-conscious wine drinkers.
Beyond that, many Oregonians support local wineries for their natural beauty, which is arguably one of the most joyful aspects of green living.
“Arable land is a lot more precious here then in other parts of the world,” said Martin. “There is always the looming threat of subdivision and development, but supporting local wineries embraces the need to preserve these agricultural expanses for vineyards.”
I went out to see an old music aquaintance of mine, Lewi Longmire, play at the Laurelthirst Public House this Tuesday after Jackstraw. This bar sits on the north end of Laurelhurst Park and is known for featuring a great mix of acoustic Americana and bluegrass. Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, played some of his first Portland gigs here, and Portland music luminaries like Laura Veirs and Casey Neill often pop in to play cameo shows.
I first met Lewi when he was working for Music Millenium, one of those rare gem’s of a music store that promotes local and upcoming musicians with in-store performances. Lewi has always had a name around town playing is own music, but has also built a great reputation as a multi-instrumentalist and has been featured on many albums by national acts like Minus 5 and Tara Jane O’Neil, as well as playing as a side man in the above mentioned Casey Neill’s band (The Norway Rats), as well as with James Low and Caleb Klauder.
Tuesday at Laurelthirst, Lewi was playing with his buddy Bingo, who was visiting from Joshua Tree. The way they meshed was magical, and both traded songs and leads like only old music friends can. Lewi’s voice is classic Americana and he can carry a slow and sad tune (see “San Ysidro”) just as well as his more prolific and upbeat numbers like “Disappear,” both of which you can get your hands on through CDBaby.com on his most recent album, “Fire ‘Neath the Still.”
And speaking of this album, I’m intrigued by the cover. It looks like a shot from the Crooked River in Central Oregon, or maybe the John Day? If his love for rivers and the outdoors says anything about the tribe that Lewi attracts, I know you guys would love him in Bend.
And speaking of, the Laurelthirst in general seems to be a gathering place for these type of folk. Though I moved here to take a break from the foot-stompin’, shaggy-haired music so prevalent on the other side of the mountains, I have to say my soul felt filled by being at the Laurelthirst this week. Sometimes you have to move away to remember who you are.
(A winter in Portland: This is the first of a series of articles and musings about being back in the city after many years living in the mountains. Right now, I feel kind of like a hick, but hopefully writing about all these little adventures and experiences will at least be funny, and will be good motivation to keep getting out there to try new things.)
If you’ve been wanting to check out Bingo Night at The Woods for a while, here’s a quick reference to get you started:
It starts at 8:30 p.m. and you should get there early if you want a seat, because the room is packed as a rule. If you don’t care about claiming a nook however, you can show up whenever you want. Michael Young (of Brother’s Young… one of my favorite PDX projects) usually works the door and will give you a playing card for whatever game they are on.
Bring cash. Although the playing cards at the door are only a buck each, they will not take a credit/debit card for them, and will not give you cash at the bar. (What the hell.) Somehow I ended up buying a little ink stamper (pre-game jitters, obviously), but you can just poke the numbers on the card to mark it.
Most people there appeared to be in groups, but the few people that were flying solo didn’t seem awkward, and I witnessed a few folks introducing themselves, outside especially. I went there alone and met some very friendly people sitting outside the other bar as I was leaving.
Bingo Night definitely is one. The guys in suits and girls in pre-Depression era fashions were just one element of the theatrics of the evening. The music was an upbeat mix of vintage tunes from the 20s – 50s, which complimented the house party/old funeral home atmosphere perfectly. Brian Perez, the host for the evening, chose Bingo balls from an old school spinning cage and gave away a strange assortment of prizes ranging from faux-antique to kitsch. So the “scene” is not for everyone, but perfect for those enjoy a fanciful element of stagecraft for their night out on the town.
How To Play Bingo:
Well, it is not that hard but requires somewhat of an attention span. Brian will announce the winning pattern (a cross, a four square in the right-hand corner etc.) and might even post a visual reference above the stage. There are a lot of really long breaks every couple of games to get drinks, grab a smoke; meet your neighbor, etc. So the game itself is, like… not serious.
I’m psyched to see a unique night like this (and an equally interesting venue) build so much momentum. It probably speaks to people’s desire to have something fun to do that is still a connection to a large group and event, but is more playful and interactive than watching music.
But speaking of music, this place is an amazing place for it! I’ll be playing my CD Release Party here November 30, 2011 with Anna Fritz (of the Portland Cello Project) and Sam Cooper (of Horse Feathers.) Hope you can make it!
1. House of Snow
4. Puppy Love
5. Named After You
6. Kaleidoscope Eyes
9. Westfall (Okkervil River cover)
11. A Place for You to Fall
Douglas Jenkins (Portland Cello Project) – producer and arranger
Sam Cooper (Horse Feathers) – banjo, drums, piano
Jenny Conlee (Decemberists) – piano, organs
Skip VonKuske (Vagabond Opera) – Cello
John Whaley (Run On Sentence) – trumpet
Franchot Tone (Culver City Dub Collective) – guitars
Shared the stage with
Portland Cello Project
Matt Pond PA
Tara Jane O’Neil
CD Party Press Release:
Laurel Brauns to release the album House of Snow
September 16, 2011 at the PoetHouse in Bend, OR
Bend, OR – On September 16, 2011 from 8 p.m. – 10 p.m. Laurel Brauns will celebrate the release of her fourth full-length album, House of Snow. The album was produced and arranged by Douglas Jenkins, creative director of the Portland Cello Project and features many of Portland’s finest musicians including Sam Cooper (Horse Feathers), Skip vonKuske (Vagabond Opera), and Jenny Conlee (The Decemberists.)
After listening to the album Chris Dahlen of Pitchfork and Paste Magazine wrote, “Laurel Brauns writes some of my favorite songs, and the way she sings them makes me shiver. Her new disc is lovely, strong, and haunted, and likely her best yet.”
The album is best classified as indie-folk with elements of neo-classical, organic gothic and earth pop. Water emerges as the most prevalent theme weaving the songs together. The title track House of Snow is a dreamy tale about a float down the Rogue River in Oregon. Doldrums is a depiction of the Great North Pacific Gyre, a swirling patch of plastic suspended in the Pacific Ocean.
Local musicians Erin Cole-Baker, Mark Ransom, Patrick Pearsall and Laurel’s sister Katie Brauns lend their voices to the song Doldrums which ends in a chorus crescendo, and guitarist and singer/songwriter Franchot Tone adds his jangly pop style to the last two tracks on the album.
The biggest local contributor was silent however. Kaycee Anseth is the visual artist who was commissioned to do the front cover, and was so inspired by Laurel’s demo of songs, that she created the back cover as well.
Laurel has opened for Loch Lomond, Horse Feathers, and Weinland and collaborated with the Portland Cello Project. She recently had her song North 93 placed in the Fox TV series Traffic Light.
Admission to the CD release party at the PoetHouse in Bend is $5 or free with the purchase of the album ($15.)
Follow this link http://www.laurelbrauns.com/blog/?p=580 to listen and download the first three songs of the album. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for a password to download the whole album or to request a hard copy. Attached photos are for web use only. High-res versions available upon request.
The Give and Take of Raising Chickens in Your Backyard:
A quick-start guide to creating and maintaining your own flock in Bend
“Before starting my flock, I’d never a met a chicken with feathers,” said Liz Lotochinski , organizer of this year’s 2nd Annual Chicken Coup Tour. “My only exposure to the animal was seeing them wrapped in plastic at the grocery store,” she said with a laugh.
Now Liz is not only a highly successful chicken farmer, but a passionate advocate and educator for those interested in raising backyard chickens. If you are interested in raising chickens this spring, Lotochinski noted that the Chicken Coop Tour is an efficient and enjoyable way to learn more about starting your own flock. The tour will help novices gain the confidence to raise chickens, and attendees will glean many different perspectives and approaches to this enjoyable and economical hobby.
Due to changes in city ordinances over the past few years, more and more people in Central Oregon have taken to raising chickens, both for the food they provide every day, and the pure enjoyment of caring for these charismatic animals. But what does it really take to start you own coop? How much does it cost, and what are the challenges and rewards associated with maintaining a micro-farm in one’s backyard?
A good place to start your research is the popular website www.backyardchickens.com. Thousands of people log in every week to participate in the website’s forum where virtually any and all questions about raising hens can be answered.
Most backyard farmers agreed that caring for chickens is no more time consuming than taking care of the family dog. Daily chores include giving the animals clean water and food, maintaining their roost, and deep cleaning their coop once a month.
Beginners should evaluate if they have the time available for daily maintenance and then factor in the space constraints of their property. Hens need about two sq. ft. each inside their coop (the inside enclosure where they sleep at night), and eight sq. ft. each for their outside run where they will spend all but the coldest days. While coop space cannot be compromised due to cleanliness issues, many urban chicken farmers have much smaller runs, which are still acceptable.
Building the chicken coop itself is the backyard farmer’s next major consideration. Constructing your chicken’s home can cost virtually nothing if you have access to scrap wood and other building materials. Two separate lamp systems then need to be purchased: The first is a 250-watt lamp with a red bulb that is required to create a brooder (nursery for chicks.) The second is at least one 60-watt bulb to create the illusion of longer days in the winter, which is necessary for egg production.
Once your coop and brooder are in place – now comes the fun part – buying and raising your chicks! There are many differing opinions in the chicken community about breeds and resources, and the selection runs the gamut. Buying chicks can be as easy as purchasing everyday varieties available at local feed stores, to attending “Poultry Swaps” with more exclusive breeds, like the one that takes place in Salem every spring.
“Finding the right breed of chickens is sort of like finding the right kind of dog,” said Laurel Zepp who has 30 chickens on her farm out in Alfalfa, and will be featured on this year’s Chicken Coop Tour. “They all have different characteristics and personalities.”
Lotochinski recommends finding a breed that is cold-weather hearty so they will not get frost bitten. Lotochinski has Ameraucana chickens, also known as the “Easter Egg Chicken” for their unique gene, which produces greenish-blue eggs.
Once your hens mature to adults, you can start to reap the benefits of collecting eggs almost every day, depending on how many animals you care for. On average, hens will lay one egg a day, but without extra lamps, their production will slow down in the winter, because winter is a bad time to raise chicks.
The amount of chickens you have on property is dictated by city codes. For instance,
The City of Bend Development Code allows for no more than four chickens on lots greater than 6,000 sq. ft., which is about an eighth of an acre. In all instances, chickens are required to be fenced in so they do not leave the owner’s property.
Even if you don’t live within city limits, fencing is a major concern when constructing your chicken habitat. You must keep the chickens in, but perhaps more importantly, you have to protect these vulnerable creatures from a multitude of predators in Central Oregon, including coyotes and raccoons.
Besides the practical reasons for raising chickens, like having fresh eggs every day, and “closing the loop” by feeding them your food scraps, many chicken owners expressed that they receive a lot of joy and satisfaction through caring for their animals.
“My chickens give me affection without distraction,” Lotochinski said. “One reason I do this is for the adoration of my flock; they love me.”
Chicken Coop Tour Details
Date: May 7, 2011
Time: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Includes: 35 coops and hundreds of chickens throughout Central Oregon
Fundraiser for: Together for Children
Tour Booklets Available for $10 or 6 items of non-perishable food at:
High Desert Ranch and Home
Earth’s Art Tumalo Garden Market
Newport Avenue Market
Riverwoods Country Store/Pizza Subway
Tickets to the event: One tour booklet per carload of people
Details: Coops are located around Bend including 12 in town, 11 on the east side, nine in Tumalo and three in Deschutes River Woods. The tour booklet provides details about location, coop description and chicken breed variety for each coop. Highlights of the tour include The Cathedral Coop, a Bend coop constructed of all recycled materials, and the Chicken RV Coop, fashioned out of an old fifth wheel camper.
When I first listened to Mimicking Birds it was as if I was hearing a band I had always known and loved: Maybe it was the familiar lilt of lead singer Nate Lacy’s voice that sounded vaguely like Isaac Brock’s, maybe it was the universal themes of his lyrics that grounded the literate in me, or maybe it was just the fact that everytime I’ve listened to Mimicking Birds 2010 self-titled debut, I felt like I was bathing in the pure acoustic gladness of lying in dewy grass on a summer morning.
Here is my vision for this maybe-morning: Mimicking Birds is floating out my backyard window in Bend as I lay on the grass and fallen leaves. My eyes are wide open, ready for a beautiful blue-sky future, but my heart, and these songs, are heavy from the ghosts of life’s sad departures. Like the earth that is growing and dying beneath me, these songs have a way of paralyzing me into staying put, of really being present with this music and my surroundings, if only for exactly 40 minutes.
Mimicking Bird’s debut is much like entering into a relationship with a river you’ve never been down, but always wanted to explore. Nate Lacy’s voice and lyrics have now been permanently burned into my mind. With this album, he offers both the shock and redemption of the chill of new waters, coupled with the warmth and comfort of those burning logs on the fire after a particularly difficult pursuit. Producer Isaac Brock’s otherworldly touch takes these post indie-folk melodies (can we say that now?) into a starry realm, with meaty electric overtones, playful distortion and effects, and delicate guitar and piano licks that could easily turn this album into any outdoor addict’s favorite road trip sound track.
While this is just the beginning for this Portland, Oregon band, I know know know I will be hearing these songs on many movies and commercials in the future. I’m so proud that Visit Bend, for whom I wrote music and web content in the past, has picked up these guys to use in their most recent commercial about the wonder of the outdoors through the perspective of a child’s eyes. Check it below:
Congratulations to all that have been involved in these projects. Thank you so much to Glacial Pace and Mimicking Birds for letting Bend use your music for this commercial. Can’t wait to hear you all play here!
(((PS – I covered a MM song many years back, and Isaac Brock gave me free reign on it, for which I’m still eternally grateful. Thank you! Here she/he is Bankrupt on Selling.)))