The first time I really ever heard The Heartless Bastards, an incredible band formed in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2003, was at Pickathon 2010. And the first song I ever heard of theirs is one called, simply, The Mountain.
The band, particularly lead singer Erika Wennerstrom, hit me hard, sharing an energy I’d not felt about any band in quite some time. And the song came at just the right time. I’d been finishing up On Mount Hood and culling my notes and research for some quotes to head up each chapter. The opening lines from The Mountain seemed to convey just what I had in mind for the introduction of the book.
Oh you feel and you taste it
And you want to go higher, so what do you do
And so you peek into the mountain
Where your desire goes
I got to write about the Heartless Bastards and The Mountain a little earlier this spring, as part of Tim LaBarge’s Pickathonography book, which looks at five years of the music festival from 2006 through 2010. The piece went along with some fantastic photos of the band that really captured the musical highlights of the entire weekend for me.
Take a peek.
Every now and then, I’ll do a vain little search on the web to see where On Mount Hood pops up, just to see what people might be saying about it or where it’s ending up. So far, I’ve not found it in too many unexpected places. Some bookstore web sites, the Michigan State alumni magazine, the Portland Hikers web site.
But last night, as I was snooping around, I came across someone who’d shared a short passage of the book with his Facebook fans. His name is Brian Kidd, but I’ve never met him, nor did I even know his name until I perused his site a little bit. Instead, I knew him as one of the unique characters who add a little splash of color to Portland here and there.
My daughter and ran into him near Pioneer Courthouse Square during the holiday season back in 2008. He was hard not to notice, because he was wearing a Santa suit, playing Christmas carols on the bagpipes and riding a unicycle.
At the time, I thought, Only in Portland. I wrote a quick blog about it on my (now) old site, and the image stuck with me enough that I mentioned Brian Kidd, aka “The Unipiper,” in my book.
You’ll find him on page 60.
This weekend is Pickathon, the annual indie music festival that finds a few thousand music lovers out at a Happy Valley farm just outside of Portland for a three-day musical menagerie. Across five completely different stages, more than 35 bands and artists bring their divergent sounds and create some incredible moments. I wrote about one such moment at last year’s festival — a dark Saturday night when the Heartless Bastards took the main Mountain View Stage — for my friend, Tim Labarge’s, new book, Pickathonography, which he’s unveiling this weekend.
You never really know who’s going to create those moments and when, but among the folks I’ll be watching closely this weekend: Truckstop Darlin’, Black Mountain, The Buffalo Killers, Pine Leaf Boys, Corinne West & Kelly Joe Phelps, Sunday Valley, Jesse Sykes, Grupo Fantasma, Vetiver, The Sadies, and many, many others.
The music’s sounding great, the weather’s finally looking like beautiful summer, and the Pickathon vibe has been setting in all week. In anticipation of this year’s fest, a tiny little excerpt from On Mount Hood and a picture from last year’s Pickathon, both of which help to illustrate the mountain’s subtle yet undeniable connection to one of the best music festivals around.
From the Volcano chapter of the book, which talks all about the geology behind not only Mount Hood, but the entire region:
Farther from the mountain toward Portland, direct fallout from Hood’s past eruptions is less evident. But there is plenty around to keep the volcanism that built the mountain and the entire region close to people’s everyday thoughts. Portland landmarks like Powell Butte and Rocky Butte — a city dweller’s quick fix for climbing — all rose from vents in the Boring volcanic field less than a million years ago, when Hood was itself beginning to burble. Shooting a three-pointer on the court at Mount Tabor Park, a characteristic Portland gem, puts you squarely on top of the vent that built the 643-foot cinder cone of the same name. And if ever in early August you head to the Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley, just outside southeast Portland, for the fantastic three-day music festival known as Pickathon, you’ll be swaying to the tunes on the eastern flanks of Mount Scott, an extinct volcano named for Harvey Scott, editor of The Oregonian in 1889.
And from last year’s festival, a shot that shows just why it’s called the Mountain View stage: