Posts Tagged ‘Bend OR’

Upcycling… getting crafty in Central Oregon

Monday, March 5th, 2012

The floors and couches of Sheri McGovern’s apartment are covered in a rainbow of sweaters: sweaters made of cotton stripes, purple cashmere, and argyle wool are piled in suitcases throughout the room. Instead of a bowl of fruit, her kitchen table is layered with a cutting mat, and a tower of multi-colored threads sit a few feet away from McGovern’s most valuable tool, a four-string serger.

Using these tools, McGovern transforms used sweaters into A-line skirts, complete with matching leg warmers and headbands. Along with dozens of other hobbyists and entrepreneurs, she is part of a growing trend in Central Oregon called upcycling: the art of taking something old and transforming it into something new.

“I went to fashion design school, so I love fashion and really wanted some new clothes but couldn’t afford them,” McGovern said. “I found a sweater in the closet I was never going to wear again and the idea was born for a sweater/skirt. Now I sell dozens of them a month.”

While McGovern had years of professional training, she believes that learning to upcycle clothing is open to everyone with the desire and patience to learn how to sew and some simple training in pattern making.

Allison Murphy of Utilitu Sew in downtown Bend suggests taking a beginning sewing class or two before diving in and investing in your own machine. Her sewing shop and classroom, which she opened up this fall on Hill Street, features four top-of-the-line Bernina sewing machines for students to hone their skills. When first learning to sew, students may experience a number of technical difficulties as they wade through the process. Working with an instructor on a high-quality machine will reduce frustration and lower the learning curve.

“We live in a time where it is so easy to get things instantly; to just go to the store and pick something up,” said Murphy. “People are not used to taking the time to do something, but sewing takes a lot of will power and determination.”

Murphy supplies students with full sewing kits, items that they can eventually acquire themselves at her shop or other sewing stores in town such as Morrow’s Sewing & Vacuum Center. These include tools like dress making shears, seam rippers and flexible measuring tape. And while buying the right equipment will help beginners be more successful, Murphy insists that sewers should not become overwhelmed by all of this at first

“You don’t need a machine with a million stitch options to make a cool dress,” Murphy said.

Once your basic tools and basic skills are acquired, the creativity begins. There are plenty of places to find clothes that are begging to be transformed into something more contemporary. While thrift stores and the Goodwill are a great first stop, also consider things like clothing swaps, your mother’s or grandmother’s closet, and yard sales.

Upcycling doesn’t stop at remaking clothing. Consider checking out antique stores, places like Pak It Liquidators in Bend, or even the dump for ideas on remaking furniture and other household items.

And sometimes inspiration might literally be in the trash. Tracy Curtis of Ballokai is the mother of the 20-year-old Sister’s singer/songwriter Laura Curtis. One afternoon, she spied her daughter’s used guitar strings in the garbage, plunked them out, and made them into earrings.

“I volunteer with the Sisters Folk Festival and get a lot of old strings from them,” Curtis said. “I just love that someone has played music with them, and now they have a new life.”

Curtis has also used her creative vision to remake burlap coffee bags into stylish totes that she sells online, in local boutiques and in the Pearl District in Portland. She gets the majority of her bags from the Sisters Coffee Company and because plantations are constantly changing their graphics and styles, no two totes are ever the same.

“I think the upcycling trend is a result of people acknowledging that the planet is not in good shape and we need to do something about it,” Curtis said. “It is about asking our selves how many different ways can we use the stuff that we just waste?”

Sara Wiener of Sara Bella Upcycled uses plastic bags, food wrappers and banners to create tote bags, dresses and hats. To date she has saved 35,800 bags from going in the landfill, and the tag line on her website is “Making beautiful products out of garbage!” Using only an iron and a sewing machine, she fuses together plastic bags and creates practical things her customers can use for years to come. It took her five years to perfect her process, but instead of patenting it, Wiener teaches the process to others through workshops at Central Oregon Community College and Bend Parks and Recreation District.

“My philosophy is, the more plastic bags I can use, and teach others to use, the less will end up in the landfill and our waterways, killing fish and birds,” Wiener said.

Whether you are just getting started upcycling your own creations, or are ready to start peddling your wears on, Murphy recommends taking the extra time to craft something well-made that may be loved for years to come.

“Upcycling isn’t just remaking clothing—it embraces rethinking all things that have been used to death in their current form, just begging to be reincarnated into something useful, witty and resourceful,” she said.

The Tools

While there are scores of high-end instruments that will eventually make your sewing life easier, here is a list of must-haves for beginners:

Scissors, a separate pair for cutting paper and fabric

Pins and weights for cutting patterns (weights can be as simple as a soup can)

Tape measure and a clear plastic ruler

Marking tools like a pencil, chalk and water soluble markers

Seam ripper

Hand sewing needles and machine needles

All-purpose polyester thread


Easy to use sewing machine

A simple pattern

Getting Ideas

There are scores of books on upcycling techniques in bookstores, the library or online. A quick Google search for upcycling ideas reveals a long list of blogs and project ideas ranging from making a wallet out of bike inner tube to turning jeans into tote bags.

Finding Materials

Goodwill, Restore, Pak It Liquidators, thrift stores, antique shops, relative’s closets, the garbage, the dump

Inspiration and Finding Your Style

It is important that you are making things that you are going to love and want to wear or have in your home. When considering what kind of clothes to upcycle, Murphy recommends being both confident and honest with yourself. Try new things, but think about what styles look best on you. Sheri McGovern, who crafts sweater/skirts is a great example. She is also affectionately known around Bend as “dancing lady” because whenever there is live music, she is always upfront, dancing to the music. The skirts she makes skirts compliment her free spirit, high-fashion sophistication, and slender figure, all at the same time.

Making a Music Video with Tim Cash

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

This video was shot on the Deschutes River at Dillon Falls in Bend, Oregon in December of 2011.

Laurel Brauns “Kaleidoscope Eyes” Music Video from FAR from EARTH Films on Vimeo.

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.


Oregon Filmmaker: Kessler Crane from Oregon Filmmaker on Vimeo.

Rush Sturges new film “Frontier” in Bend tomorrow night

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Many folks in Bend know Rush as one of the most renown pro-kayakers in the world, but he’s also an incredible musician of the hip-hop/world variety, and one of my favorites right now. He usually goes by Adrenaline Rush when he’s on the mic. Read my review of his most recent release “The Road is Gold” on the Tumalo Creek Blog.

He’s coming to Bend tomorrow night for the premier of his latest movie “Frontier,” and he’ll also be playing some music after the screening.

This kicks off at Silver Moon Brewery at 8 p.m. sharp, so make sure to get there in time to see the film. Door is $5. This event is sponsored by Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe, and we’re hosting Green Drinks at the shop this same night if you want to stop by from 5 – 7 p.m. to get warmed up for the show.

Mark Ransom – Music Mayor of Bend

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

I met Mark long before I moved to Bend: I was passing through town on a tour and my buddy Meghan brought me into his coffee shop on Galveston called the Magic Cup. She wanted to introduce me and it turns out Mark had come to one of my shows the last time I played in town at the Grove.

I met Mark again right away when I moved to town three years ago. He had organized this awesome local music festival called “Bend Roots Revival” just a few blocks from where I lived. Bands performed at both Parrilla Grill and the Victorian Café and 14th and Galveston was filled with musical energy for the weekend. Mark continues to organize this festival and last year it out grew its location at the “Flying Chicken” round-a-bout and moved to The Century Center, a new venue on Century Drive.

First and foremost, Mark is singer-songwriter and guitarist with self-proclaimed “jam-band tendencies,” and he performs in Bend and around the country as “The Mostest,” which includes Julie Southwell, Shireen Amini, Patrick Pearsall and a host of other heavy hitters in town. He has released six albums and runs his own record label and recording studio.

I call Mark the Mayor, because feel like his presence plays a big part in defining the Bend music scene. He is community minded and always helping people by booking shows and organizing other performing opportunities. His sound also feels very specific to this area, a mix of folk, acoustic jams and rock with layers of keys and ethereal violin and harmonies. A few weeks ago, I enjoyed one of Mark’s shows at Parrilla Grill. Mark sang a bunch of songs about skiing and enjoying the outdoors, and I’m surprised Mt. Bachelor hasn’t picked up one of his songs to use in ads. I definitely had an “in love with Bend” moment that night, listening to my friends play music just a few blocks from my house after a long day out on the trails.

Thanks Mark for all you do for Bend!

Mark and Julie Southwell at Parrilla Grill on Friday night in Bend.

That's Patrick Pearsall on the bass

Franchot Tone, came from the city, emerging from the mountains of Central Oregon

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Franch and a Breedlove... the right mix.

Franchot and I moved to Bend around the same time. This town was just entering financial hangover stages in 2008, and although the craziness has ended, it is still is a great place for artists to get away from the riff raff, but still access easy flight connections to L.A. and participate in the world of music production via the internet.

Until last year, Franchot has diligently worked behind the scenes: as a producer in his own L.A. studio for about a decade, and later, as the sound engineer at Rage here in Bend, creating commercial soundtracks, and churning out albums for such Bend exports as Reed Thomas Lawrence. He is also some of the primary energy and direction behind the Culver City Dub Collective, a tripped-out reggae instrumental project he took from studio jams to opening for Jack Johnson on multiple tours. Franchot still collaborates and tours with the CCDC whenever they can all get together: I guess it is easy to record an album in a weekend when you hang with a super group ; )

Franchot Tone - courtesy of Rage Studios Bend OR

Although we have been buds for a few years, I haven’t really seen Franchot in live action until last week when I experienced his Saturday night show headlining at McMenamins here in Bend. His guitar playing was dialed: the man has spent years studying the craft; it goes without saying. His voice was great too, something he’s been working on lately, although, I thought it was cool to begin with. (I like a rough around the edges deal… but that is just me.) The main thing that struck me from the performance was that Franchot and the band were emanating a feeling of happiness and good spirit.

Now, don’t get my wrong, I die my hair black and worship trees, so it is really hard for me to admit that I connect with this kind “feel good jam” of energy, but I DID, and I specifically think that is because Franchot has a star quality, and that he has done a lot of work to be a positive person and express this through his music.

As musicians, it is natural to be somewhat narcissistic during our performances… communicating the range of our emotions, thinking about ourselves, acting self-conscious. But SUBCONSIOUSLY, all of this mental banter gets communicated to our audience, no matter bow broad our smile or how bright our lipstick.

After seeing Franchot’s performance, I left feeling like there is one real gift you should always try to give your audience. I’ve been doing this long enough that I can always put on a good and enjoyable act: I can wear a pretty dress and bring ‘em in with connective jokes between songs, but communicating true JOY and making the audience feel happy and connected to one another at the show is a worthy goal, perhaps the primary goal. That is true tribalism and why we leave our homes to experience live music; that is what we might miss the most in our day-to-day, blue-screen lives.

40s Franchot

Did I mention that Franchot is the grandson of the more “googleable” Franchot Tone… 1940s actor who starred in the Twilight Zone and Mutiny on the Bounty? Maybe the star quality is genetic, but given that Franchot hesitates to name drop, I doubt he’s looking to ride any coat tails. I say, you are born with it, my friend, people love your energy and sound, and it is time to take it where it goes.

Check out the link to Franchot’s McMenamins performance below as well as his video of “the making of his custom Breedlove guitar.” Another great thing about Bend, the Breedlove factory is only a few miles from downtown, and a stone’s throw from my house!

The Breedlove video produced by Tim Cash:

And here is the McMens vid… on vimeo so can’t embed yet….

Portello Winecafe in Bend OR, a great place to take up residency

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Project #3 – Find a comfortable room and take up residency

One of the more interesting conundrums of living in smaller town is finding places to play that are not humiliating. Sure, we all have to start somewhere, but playing in the corner of some smoky bar in a strip mall, surrounded by flat-screen TV’s and blasé patrons is just not good for the soul.

Here in Bend, I’ve found one place that takes great care of me and that I regularly play every month: Portello Winecafe. Although it is situated in the somewhat generic Pleasantville of Northwest Crossing, once inside, Portello feels more like you have been transported to Portland’s Pearl District. The raised bar tables were crafted from salvaged cherry barrels in the Willamette Valley. The reclaimed brick that lines the walls were taken from a turn of the century Portland building. All signage and wine racks were crafted by a local artist, Andrew Wachs.

Although most customers come to enjoy wine and conversation and maybe a meal, I regularly get tips, sell cds, and meet people who are genuinely into the music. So 80% of the time I provide atmosphere, 20% of the time, it’s entertainment… and that is just fine because it is low pressure and a lot of fun. I indentify with the image of the business and feel lucky to be a part of that energy for the evening. It is a very symbiotic relationship.

Many people in the music industry would argue that residencies are a bad idea as they split your audience and blah, blah, blah, but I think they can be a great way to always have an answer to the question, “Where are you playing next?” Residencies work particularly well at an establishment that already has a steady patronage. And the more consistent you can make your gig the better (a.k.a. the second Saturday of every month, every Tuesday from 6 – 8 p.m. etc.) The number one rule is find a place where you would hang out anyway and fit in. And hey, if that is the smoky bar the corner with the football game on closed caption, I’m sure they’d love to have you strum a few tunes with one eye on score, one eye on your guitar solo.

Some other examples of places I would (or did) make my home if I lived there:

The Red Door, Portsmouth, NH

The Radio Bend, Burlington, VT

The Burren, Sommerville, MA

Powderhound 2010, Backcountry Bend

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Last night Pine Mountain Sports hosted the 10th Annual Powderhound at the Tower Theatre which is basically a night of films and photography slide shows of backcountry skiing in Central Oregon with a few random parodies and surf films thrown in to mix things up. The event raises money for the Central Oregon Trail Alliance and Deschutes Country Search and Rescue, but it also seems more like a great excuse for a bunch of ski fanatics to get together, slug back microbrews and show their buddies their adventures from the season before.

Backcountry skiing is illusive, magical and alluring specifically because so few people can get out there. Even if you have a snowmobile, you’ll probably have to do quite a bit of hiking at some point, and slogging through powder carrying a bunch gear is a serious workout, even for those in amazing shape. If you get out there first thing, you’ll get to see the sun rise and reflect off the snow in pinks, oranges and blues. You’ll be the first to cut tracks through fresh powder.

I love nights like Powderhound because they always renew my awe and excitement for the mountains; for having all of this right out the back door. It also makes me appreciate being surrounded but such motivated and passionate people. Some of my best friends Megan Clark and Jason Kramer are out there every weekend like a religion, sometimes leaving the house as early at 5:30 a.m. Jason was featured in Kevin & Molly Grove’s film.

A cozy place to hang your hat: Three Sisters Backcountry has two 20' yurts.

My nextdoor neighbors also “starred” in one of the movies that you can watch below. They run a backcountry skiing guide service out of Sisters called Three Sisters Backcountry. Their guests learn everything from the basics of skinning to avalanche safety. They even have two large yurts below Tam McArthur Rim for skiers to stay in during their adventures.

Here is the video that was made featuring my neighbors Shane and Liz for Powderhound 2010. Nice work guys!

P.S. I’ve always had a dream to have my song “Outside” in one of these mountain films. So if anyone would like to use it, let me know and you can download it free here.

Built to Spill cover – The Weather – performed at McMenamins OSF

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Built to Spill played in Bend at the Domino Wednesday, November 10, 2010. This is one of my favorite bands and Doug Martsch has inspired me as a songwriter and a musician. You can read my review of the Built to Spill show in Bend OR here.

I covered the song “The Weather” at McMenamins Old St. Francis School the night after the BTS show and tried to get the audience to guess the band… but I suppose this song is a little more obscure than I thought : ) “The Weather” was the direct inspiration for my song “Outside” which is the first track on Closed for the Season.

Built to Spill play Bend @ the Domino – November 2010

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Photo of Doug by Ben Salmon of the Bulletin... taken on his iPhone.

Doug Martsch has been a hero of mine ever since college when I mistook BTS for Modest Mouse in a thrift store, promptly went out and bought all their albums only to find out they were the influencers for MM, not the other way around. A few summers later I worked in Alaska and we listened to “Ancient Melodies of the Future” every single night at the bar, so it still stands out as my favorite album, even through their three releases previous to that are perfect little 90s gems.

BTS played in Bend on November 10, 2010 at the Domino Room, which is always kind of an interesting place to see a show. While on one hand they have put a lot of work into renovating the space, on the other hand it seems like a pretty half-assed operation (not accepting debit cards for tickets for instance.) Still, the sound was fantastic and I was happy to have a little elbowroom to dance near the stage. This was definitely the closest I’ve been able to get to the band in all the times I’ve seen them live.

Martsch is oft praised for his guitar playing which is exceptional, but what really resonates with me is his song writing. Each song is filled with numerous micro-hooks and lyrical themes and imagery. One song could have five memorable melody lines that he either sings or plays on the guitar and these are further cemented into memory by using concrete and relatable lyrics like “wanna see the movies of my dreams” (in “Car”) and “You were wrong when you said everything’s gonna be alright,” (in “You were Right”.) He played both of these songs that night as many more old favorites like “In the Morning” and “Distopian Dream Girl.”

I’m a sucker for the acoustic guitar so the highlight of the night for me was Martsch’s second encore when he came out with acoustic in hand and played three flawless tunes using a slide.  Without the distraction of other instruments I could drink in the unique timbre and delivery of Martsch’s (Neil Youngish) voice, whose phrasing patterns paved the way for singers like James Mercer.

If you too are a fan of this acoustic/indie hybrid sound check out Martsch’s solo album “Now you Know.”

For other perspectives on the show, check out Ben Salmon’s Frequency Blog and Mike Bookie’s Bookie Blender.

I watched the crowd filter out the door after the final jam came to a close at midnight, and most everyone still had their shit-eating-grins plastered across their face. Thank you Random Presents for bringing one of my favorite bands ever to Bend, and to BTS for coming over the pass to play our little mountain town.

Alastair Jaques – a true character

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

There are not enough individualist freaks in Bend. There are plenty of conformist freaks who travel in tribes — there is the Burning Man contingent (very weird once a year), the ingenuitive homeless (collecting recycling, and riding around on mountain bikes with their cats in cages), and the anarchists from Eugene (taking a field trip over the pass to mingle with other’s of their species on Mirror Pond plaza) — and while members of these sects might be good at making a spectacle, nothing they are doing is really all that original.

Photo by Bob Woodward - published in The Source Weekly

There are a few people around town that are doing things that are unconventional enough to be remarkably refreshing, and one of them is Alastair Jaques. While the rest of Bend is whizzing around in their Subaru’s talking about the snow forecast, Jaques can often be seen stalking down the road with a brooding gait, smoking a pipe and wearing a suit that looks like something between a Sherlock Holmes costume and the crumpled garments of an absent-minded professor. (He does work at the college as a librarian, incidentally.)

Every Halloween, Jaques puts on a performance where he acts out Edgar Allan Poe’s poems and short stories. His posture is already so verily rooted in the Victorian Era that he transforms himself into Poe with unnerving veracity, a part he studied up on – lugging around “Edgar Allan Poe: A Cultural Biography” for months and reading through it at least six times. Jaques says about preparing for the performance in an article in The Source Weekly:

I have tried to rescue his reputation from the pop-culture quagmire that would seek to portray him as some sort of post-Emo, arm-cutting type who just wanted to write about how dark his soul was.

The highlight of the show is always a Tell-Tale Heart, which he ends by beating the floorboards with a chair and collapsing to the ground. He then hops up a minute later with a cocky affectation murmuring, “You got to give the people what they want,” and saunters back to his podium. The depth of Jaques’ knowledge of Poe and his life was revealed during the question and answer period where he stayed in character and spoke with unwavering historical accuracy.

For all his meditations on darkness, Jaques has a pretty damn good sense of humor. Check out the YouTube video about parking tickets in downtown Bend OR. Keep it comin’ Alastair – Bend needs more folks like you.