Post-Tour Reflections, part 1

Posted on Aug 02, 2017

An overview of the 2017 Oregon Tour

Hi folks,

I'm back home in Seattle and settling into post-Chautauqua life. There are some perks (real bed, curtains that block out 6am sunshine, dishwashers, dog), but I'm also missing the feeling of constant community that Chautauqua brings. Since I wasn't too consistent with updates over the past week of the tour, I thought I'd take a look at the schedule and retroactively try to describe some of what went down town-by-town. Photos are all by me unless otherwise indicated.


First memory of Madras was baking approximately 40 pizzas at Sophie's house. She had pre-made the dough, but it still took an intense assembly line between me, Phina, and Nate. Chautauquans arrived, and we had a band rehearsal with a brief break to enjoy one of the finest sunsets I've ever seen.


Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and people playing musical instruments

(Photo by Michelle Bates)

Headed over to camp, which was at the county fairgrounds. Not a lot of shade to be had, and it got pretty hot. Most folks went to bed on the early side.

Tuesday we did shows and workshops for the Madras Kids' Club. Then we headed over to the Desert Inn for a just-for-us band jam. "Just-for-us" means that it's not a public performance per se, but as it turns out, a woman was celebrating her 30th birthday in the bar we had chosen to jam in. She seemed skeptical at first, but by the end of the night she was dancing, shouting out requests, and thanking us for an unexpectedly musical birthday celebration. James Andrews, a new Chautauquan and fabulous saxophonist, brought down the house with a couple soul tunes and funky solos.


Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, outdoor and nature(Marimba/violin jam at the campsite)


Wednesday we got up early for a 3-show day: Parade and show at Culver City Park (a celebration of their summer reading program), shows and workshops at the Warm Springs Reservation, and finally a performance for the Oregon Child Development Coalition. 

Here's me being slightly overwhelmed during one of the workshop sessions:

Image may contain: 2 people, basketball court and shoes


Next day had a community show (Crooked River Ranch, great audience of kids), then a "Big Show" at the Madras Performing Arts Center. I remember this feeling like one of the most successful stops on the tour - we had been to so many places around the community that by the time we did a formal theater show, everyone in town was there. Nothing makes me happier than seeing familiar faces in a crowd during a Chautauqua show - people had come from various social circles and communities to be a part of the craziness that we bring.

While in Madras, we hosted a pot luck, in which I got to meet several local members of the community. There's a lot of excitement in town about the upcoming total solar eclipse - NASA is in town and they're expecting a huge influxes of tourists coming to experience the eclipse. A couple girls I talked to were sharing stories about their plans for the temporary population spike. Lorene, the amazing librarian who served as our organizer for the Madras portion of the tour, is super on it - the library is full of books about astronomy and there's a big beautiful wall display. After workshops, a few of us hung out in the library ("hung out" = talked for a while, then fell asleep - it was very cozy and we were very tired). One kid who took the ukulele workshop was excited to check out a loaner uke from the library - so cool that that's an option! 

Side post that I'm going to steal directly from something I wrote on Facebook at the time:

No automatic alt text available.

"Chautauqua has been in residency in Madras, OR for the past few days, and it's been truly moving. We've done shows at the nearby Warm Springs Reservation, at a retirement community, and for family of migrant workers. Madras is a desert town with fewer than 7,000 people, and I came in with some preconceived notions about what that means in terms of where folks would lie on the political spectrum. But the library, you guys, the library. Our primary local organizer was the local librarian, and she is an amazing human. There's a gay-straight alliance and I met several openly queer teenagers, which I was not remotely expecting in this kind of community. There are awesome displays about the upcoming solar eclipse, there are story times in English and Spanish, there is a ukulele you can check out for a week at a time. This is a killer library. 

I was given this button and an explanation of its meaning. The monarch butterfly represents Mexican-American migration (Madras has a substantial immigrant population), and the rainbow coloration symbolizes LGBTQ inclusion (nice try, Ken Ham). And of course, the library is the perfect place to expose yourself to new ideas and learn more about our fellow humans. Tonight I had the honor of meeting the two young creators of the button, Dusty and Rossy, when they attended our show. What an inspiring visit this has been. <3 "
La Grande
On the way to La Grande, we stopped at Deer Ridge Correctional Institute, a men's prison. Our heroic truck-loaders Fiona, Poki, and Nate, went through security and had every last item inspected, while the rest of us waited in lunch room. The show was in a big cafeteria, and it was a hit. We had success with audience volunteers - Joey got two brothers to do a magic trick, Karamazovs passed clubs around an inmate celebrating his birthday (the band gave an impromptu "happy birthday" serenade), and we got to chat with a number of the inmates after the show. There were a group of them watching through the small vertical window into the next-door kitchen, so after the show we opened the door and gave them a brief mini-performance. 
The bus arrived late at night to La Grande (we stopped to help Anne with her broken van), so a few of us opted to sleep on the bus rather than try to set up tents in the dark. The next morning we got up, did a parade through a farmer's market, then went into tech at the local high school. The local choir teacher Kevin was our sound-tech, and I had some good conversations with him about music education and careers. He also works as a military band administrator, which was an interesting perspective to get. 
Okay, that's about as far as I'm gonna get for now. More updates to come. Thanks for reading and thanks for supporting Chautauqua!