Over the summer the drum tech for String Cheese, Judd, asked me if I was coming up to Horning’s Hideout for the big long weekend festival featuring 3 nights of the String Cheese Incident and a bunch of other bands. I had recently finished making the DrumBeat Cancer ashiko out of some Pacific Yew wood, and was hoping to get Cheese drmmer Travis to sign it, as well as enjoy the event in general. So I loaded up the van yet again and headed up there.
Horning’s Hideout is basically a private forested mountain valley with a creek and some meadows on the valley floor where people camp out for the festival. Its located west of Portland, Oregon and you have to go miles down some 2 lane country roads, past a bunch of farms, up and along a little ridge, and then drop down into the valley to get there. The concert venue itself is a hippy dream, with a large dirt dance floor in front of a wooden band shell type stage that sits on a lake. The floor gives way to a grassy and somewhat forested hillside which creates an amphitheater at the top of which are craft and food booths. So you can lose your shoes, dance in the dirt, rest in the shade ‘neath some tall doug firs, and grab a gluten-free-range-organic egg roll plate at your leisure.
We got the drum signing thing out of the way first off, so with that done it was time to hang out. There was a backstage tent between the stage and the lake so I wound up spending quite a bit of time there. At one point, Cuban trumpet legend Arturo Sandoval walked in and began to warm up for his performance. He sat down right next to me and I mean just went apeshit on that horn, playing all kinds of way out jazzy, chromatic Coltrane type stuff in every and no key all at the same time. The acoustic sound of the trumpet 2 feet from my ear was incredible. Then he switched gears, and went into the most lilting and beautifully organic jazz solo version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and I found myself looking around for someone to make out with, but it was just my friend Charlie and me, and he is not female, but then again my wife is, so I had to contain myself, but I swear it was the highest thing.
After that, I did not want to leave the tent for any reason, but I managed to make it on to the side of the stage for the jam that ensued when Arturo’s band had plane trouble and couldn’t make the gig, so he and his bass player jammed with String Cheese drummers Michael Travis and Jason Hann, and keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth. The crowd ate it up.
The next day the tent was good to me again as Travis came strolling up in the early afternoon and asked if he could borrow a drum in order to conduct the hand drumming clinic coming up later in the day. So I set him up with something nice and when the time came headed over to an auxiliary stage on the other side of the lake for the clinic. A lot of people had gathered, many with drums, and soon we were all engaging in some simple rhythms conducted by Travis and a few other guys, including Jason Hann. I’ve been to a lot of clinics, and frankly the missing element in many is simplicity. What Travis brings to the stage, aided by his down to earth personality, is an ability to keep people on the basic beat and not try to do too much, so that the sound can grow in a cohesive manner. It was cool to participate, even cooler to see him using a HandMade Rhythm ashiko for the purpose.