USFS personnel moonlight as Smoke Drifters


Last updated 8/2/2022 at Noon


The Smoke Drifters played at Eurosports last weekend

Steve Orange plays bass guitar. He’s also Timber Sales Administrator for the Deschutes National Forest, Sisters District. Co-worker Mike Boero, an archeologist for USFS, plays drums. Together with Macon Lohning and John Van Heel, guitarists and lead guitar and singer, Jonas Tarlen, they make up the Smoke Drifters band.

They took the stage last Friday night from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Eurosports Food Cart Garden who sponsor live music every Friday night in June, July and August. The 100-degree temperature did not deter the audience.

Canvas awnings and water misters fought back the sun’s intensity on the audience side while the band performed from the covered porch, everybody managing to stay adequately cool. The cold beer might have aided in lowering temperatures.

When asked to describe their music’s genre, the band members could not come to agreement at first and then settled on Roots Rock. It seemed a good fit for the songs they played, all their own compositions with titles like: “Where The Headwaters Flow,” “Animal Cannon,” “Hoax of California,” and “Dusty Pawns.”

In typical Sisters fashion, the outdoor venue, was an eclectic mix of locals and visitors of all ages together with a large smattering of kids who in this case found more enjoyment playing under the misters than swaying with their parents to the band’s rhythm.

Tarlen met his Forest Service buddies in connection with his day job, co-owner of Three Sisters Backcountry, who operate under a special use permit of Deschutes National Forest. The outfit run two 20-foot yurts for serious backcountry skiers beneath Tam McArthur Rim.

The tables were virtually full, aided this night by some 20 Forest Service personnel who came to support their pals. Also in attendance was regular John Pierce who lives two blocks from the setting and can hear the music.

“May as well be here, up close where it’s happening,” said the Irishman who hails from Galway, County Kerry. Pierce commutes daily to Prineville, a 45-minute drive he describes as pleasant, to the mega Facebook Data Center where he works.

Pierce finds the music to his satisfaction, as he routinely does with the offerings that have featured the Paul Eddy Band, Toothpick Shaker, NTT with Chris Brown and Lilli Warona. He’s been a regular for two years grateful for the no-cover charge music.

Being from Ireland, he knows something about beer, yet does not miss his Guinness. He is grateful for the number of craft beers in Central Oregon prominently promoted around Sisters.

He makes friends easily as do the many others sharing tables as the music drifts over the crowd.


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