Double the State Lines, Double the Fun! — Part 2
PHC staffer Kate Swee is on the Radio Romance Tour with Garrison, Fred Newman, Aoife O'Donovan, Sara Watkins, and The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band and will update us periodically from the road.
Pulling out of our Portland hotel, the scenery was breathtaking; we could just make out the snowy peaks of Mt. Hood 60 miles to the South, and flat-topped Mount St. Helens toward the Washington border. We arrived in the nearby city of Troutdale — the gateway to the Columbia River Gorge — and began unloading our gear at the venue-du-jour: McMenamins Edgefield. (Only in 1985 did Oregon legalize brewpubs, so that same year, the McMenamin brothers — Mike and Brian — created the first post-Prohibition brewpub in Oregon.) We were greeted by our Portlandian stage hands for the day — a tattooed, pierced, mohawked crew with appetites for work (and for a few local Voodoo Donuts).
On a tour of the grounds, I passed rows of Pinot Gris grapes — specifically for the Poor Farm Pinot Gris grown, fermented, bottled and sold all right there on the property. Some of the vineyards also contained Syrah grapes used to make McMenamins Long Shot Brandy. Cherry trees, palm trees, pear trees and herb gardens lined the gravel pathways of the property, all used for Estate brandies, rums, whiskeys, gins and wines, with names like "Hog's Breath," "Monkey Puzzle," and "Ruby Ale."
The sold-out lawn below the stage generated one of the most dynamic, vivacious, and captivating audiences I've seen in my years here at Prairie Home Companion! A few times, the performers and I paused to marvel at the energy we were receiving from these people of Oregon and the ability of our gracious Host to continue this amazing production day after day. Though the night grew a bit chilly (perhaps a welcome change from the heat of Boise), Aoife's soothing melodies, Fred's off-the-cuff improvisations, and the Shoe Band's flawless transitions made it a warm night through and through. Leaving grateful and regenerated, (and with a few bottles of Pinot Gris), we happily tucked ourselves away in our buses, floating on another above-average night we won't soon forget.