It would have been hard to leave Oregon Spirit Distillers in a bad mood after High Valley’s concert Saturday night.
Brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel and their four-piece backing band kicked off KSJJ-FM’s country-music concert series at Oregon Spirit Distillers with a bang, playing for an enthusiastic crowd for nearly 90 minutes. The Canadian-born, Nashville-based country duo was in full-on party mode — cajoling the crowd into dance-offs, leading rousing sing-alongs and at one point, taking an extended trip down ’90s-country memory lane — and the audience responded in kind, keeping the energy at a 10 until the last song.
A quick note on the venue: Bend Radio Group, and KSJJ specifically, hosted Russell Dickerson at Oregon Spirit Distillers last summer. After that test run, and with construction still ongoing at the Century Center (not to mention the ongoing noise ordinance/temporary occupancy permit debate surrounding that venue), the promoter decided to move all its shows announced so far this summer to the distillery. In this reviewer’s mind, this was a smart decision — albeit judging from just one visit, Oregon Spirit Distillers feels more welcoming and comfortable as a place to experience live music.
Or again, maybe that was just High Valley’s happy-go-lucky attitude, apparent from the ear-to-ear grins on the musicians’ faces as they took the stage at 8:30 p.m. and launched into “Every Week’s Got a Friday” — an appropriate theme for the evening if there ever was one. Recent hits “Come on Down” and “Dear Life” followed in quick succession, with dobro player Raymond Klassen getting his first chance to shine on the latter song.
A triple-dose of country music classics, starting with Joe Diffie’s “Pick Up Man” and continuing with “Be My Baby Tonight” (John Michael Montgomery) and “Chattahoochee” (Alan Jackson), set the tone for the rest of the evening. This wasn’t a show so much as a back-porch pickin’ session with friends — granted, if your back porch also housed a distillery and your pickin’ friends were signed to Atlantic. But the attitude was certainly there, helped along by the aforementioned dance competition led by the Rempel brothers.
Other highlights came during a mid-set bluegrass break with everyone lining up at the front of the stage with their instruments (a cover of Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance” done in this style was particularly fun).
This was followed by quietest and hands-down best moment of the evening. As the rest of the band left the stage, the Rempels serenaded the crowd with “A Father’s Love (The Only Way He Knew How),” a touching thank-you to their father. While the brothers are clearly no slouches in the rocking department, it was nice to hear a more sensitive side amidst the thunderous bashing.
Fellow former Northwesterners Cloverdayle opened the show with a generous set stripped down the basics: Chad Hamar handled all the music with an acoustic guitar and good old-fashioned stage stomping, while Bendite Rachel Hamar blew the crowd away with her powerful vocals. The husband-and-wife duo, formerly Portland-based, teased a number of songs off their upcoming, self-titled studio album, due out June 29.
— Reporter: 541-617-7814, firstname.lastname@example.org