This holiday season I escaped the snowy tundra of North Dakota and headed west on the Empire Builder locomotive line to the festive evergreens of Portland, Oregon. And after a 30 hourr train ride and a beautiful Christmas spent with family, I had some free time to enjoy during new years in which I had absolutely no plans for. Having faith that things would fall into place.
Luckily enough, Portland is a rampant city with a vital music scene and plenty of other nature filled activities to do throughout a stay. So, I improvised and looked into a “jam” packed New Years run that I knew would be one for the books. Especially after seeing that there would be the 3 night runs of Railroad Earth, Fruition, and a special two night show presented by BELOVED in which Beats Antique, Polish Ambassador, Thriftworks, and other electronic artists were gettin’ down.
To get my start and fuel up for a crazy string of days ahead of me, I got an iconic Voodoo Doughnut at the one and only Cartlandia.
Since it was the 29th and I had a couple options, I had to decide between Railroad Earth and Fruition. But first, I reached out to each of the artists in hopes that I would be able to score press coverage. And hours before the shows, I received a god sent message from the manager of Fruition confirming coverage for the show on the 30th. So it was decided. I would start my New Years run hot off the tracks with some Railroad Earth. A band that I still have yet to see.
The show was hosted at the Revolution Hall, an old public school beautifully renovated in downtown Portland with a bar and restaurant, second floor balcony, and a heavenly sound system. One of the coolest venues I have ever been to.
Set 1: Walk Beside Me – > El Cumbanchero, Dandelion Wine, Drag Him Down, Old Man and the Land, Came Up Smilin’, Crossing the Gap, Potter’s Field – > Lone Croft Farewell, Just So You Know
After set one, I moved up to the balcony to get a different perspective and gained a new found love for the band.
Set 2: Monkey, Head, When the Sun Gets in Your Blood, The Good Life, Bread and Water, The Cuckoo, Jerusalem Ridge, The Forecast – > Goat, Strawberry Letter 23, Long Way To Go, E: Catfish John
After a warm Uber ride home with ears still ringing fresh full of bliss from the show, I rested up for the next full day in the northwest that I would spend traveling up to the top of Mt. Hood. Enjoying the snow and view at 6,000 feet, I huddled into the warm Timberline Lodge for some Oregon hazelnut mushroom soup.
After a delicious meal, I headed back down the mountain for some Fruition at the Wonder Ballroom. A special double sidewalk soiree set “kicking it oldschool”. A particularly special treat for the Portland natives who got their humble start in the very streets just outside the venue. You could feel the love between the band and the audience as they told stories of their formation and gratitude for their fans. It was just the show I needed to experience for that weekend as they played each night with a particular theme.
And since I had a Press/Photo pass, I brought my camera along and got some snaps… But these weren’t any normal photos closing out the end of the year 2016, I brought my film camera to capture the excitement!!!
I plan on developing the film in a darkroom at home and will write a separate article concerning the process and experience of shooting live music on film compared to digital. 🙂
The next day, New Years Eve, I planned a special “vinyl hunt” with some old friends in Portland that share a kindred love for wax and needle. We hit 3 record stores and each came out with some golden finds. Including a classic that I hope all who are reading this should be familiar with. That would be, Grateful Dead’s Skeletons from the Closet. A record in such a shape and price that I could not pass up!!!
The last and final show of the weekend, or year for that matter, was the “Vote for Dancing” event hosted by BELOVED at the Roseland Theatre. This was dubbed by many as being the biggest NYE party in Portland and it certainly was one of the greatest shows I have ever experienced. The Roseland Theatre has 3 floors. The bottom and second floors have their own separate stages and music was always flowing from both. The bottom floor had a really fun tea lounge, coconut bliss cart, and snuggle area with super heady crystals. Incense was burning and the environment and intentions was clear and positive.
Energetic electronic artists rotated upstairs while the ball dropped and we welcomed in the new year. But that was where the party had just started. Troupe dancers of all sorts made the night extremely entertaining from all angles and they kept it up until 4am!!!
For new years day, the BELOVED crew hosted the “Community Renewal Day. ” Designed to supercharge and clarify the individual and collective vision for 2017.
A tea lounge, sauna, kid’s village, organic juice bar/restaurant, guest speaker, yoga, and music was all offered to usher in a new time. It was beautiful, and I wouldn’t have wanted to experience the 1st day of the year in any other way. I purchased a ticket to attend the Michael Mead lecture and ritual. We blessed, loved, sang, and discussed a mythological story of healing.
Towards the end of the ritual, we were given tea candles in which we gave birth to a new being of self by forgiving the past and setting prayer towards the future. It was intensely magical and I felt extremely lucky to have been in that particular situation. After a nice sauna session, I ate an organic waterbuffalo burger. Tis was a good start to many “good things coming” for 2017 and beyond. And after this weekend, I am particularly excited for this year’s Summer Camp!!! Happy New Year!!!