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Fire In The Canyon: An Insider Diary

Jon Ragel from one-man band Boy Eats Drum Machine explores the bucolic Horning's Hideout and beat-heavy new music fest Fire In The Canyon.

August 8, 2011

Horning’s Hideout: Luscious woods. Serene pond. Roaming peacocks.

But last Saturday was no bible camp, dudes; it was Fire In The Canyon, a hiphop-heavy, family-friendly music festival. For the smallish crowd that assembled, the scenic setting brought an air of discovery, which was quickly filled with the boom of underground hip hop. Eddie Vallant brought the beat via a live band, while several solo MC’s used a combo of recorded mix/live vox. Sapient and Half Man Half worked their lyrical wiles over laptop beats and DJ scratches, Busdriver spazzed the stage, wowed the crowd, and outrageously twisted the knobs on his music console, and Connecticut’s Ceschi got down in the dirt in front of the main stage and worked the circle of onlookers into a folked-up frenzy:

Have you heard the one about the one-man band?
The one-man band?
The one-man band?
Have you heard the one about the one-man band?
I heard he cried like a baby when he hung.

The current incarnation of Portland’s School Of Rock played what I like to think of as their ‘pump up the jam’ set, energetically recreating funky pop classics like “Groove Is In The Heart” and “Bust A Move”, all the while changing instruments and making yours truly feel that his childhood between the ages of eight and eighteen was not nearly rad enough.

Meanwhile, an update from the local metal front: Witch Mountain’s drummer doesn’t take his shirt off—he doesn’t even bother putting one on in the first place. His band’s glorious riff attack doesn’t even need a minute to get from 0-60. I can respect that. Delta Brave filled the grounds surrounding the main stage with chunks of fun, singable pop, and I barely caught a glimpse of Cooked & the Raw’s jangly, drinkable-sounding tunes, and Sexbot’s the-name-pretty-much-says-it-all music lingerie show. Dang, they both seemed really nice—but there’s always next year.

The event also featured some great masters of ceremony between acts. Fogatron’s world-class beat-boxing warmed my heart, while the hilarious Vera Mysteria staggered and slinked around stage in a heavily permed wig, little white socks, big cat-print slippers, and a pink fifth-trimester mumu. Meanwhile, the second stage’s FM-morning-guy-style MC promoted Mercy Corps raffle tickets thusly: “you can show your beautiful girlfriend you care about starving children in Africa, and sh*t.” Nice.

I also ate a good sandwich, played a set on the main stage, drank several excellent pale ales courtesy of Portland’s new Two Kilts Brewery, posed with my homie Cars & Trains for a ‘Myface’ profile pic (above), then co-piloted a golf cart filled to the brim with my music gear over the hills, between the peacocks, and far away.

Rock on, Mr. Ragel.

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