News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Central Oregon vocalists take the stage for Ladies of Summer

Ladies of Summer brought an array of vocalists from around Central Oregon to the outside patio of Sisters Saloon on Saturday. Presented by Silent Echo Theater Company, the evening's bill of casual entertainment was composed of summer-themed songs, mostly covers, classics, and standards.

The show's starting time was moved back to 8 p.m. as temperatures reached 99 degrees Fahrenheit. Janelle Musson and Clay Hult sang cover tunes to start things off, and provided accompaniment to performers throughout the night.

Musson brought out her ukulele, encouraging the crowd to sing along on her rendition of the Be Good Tanyas' cheery "Littlest Birds." For another tune, she braved singing a cappella for the most part, accompanied only by her hands clattering out a rhythm using a water cup balanced on a stool.

The patio cooled nicely, with gusts of wind, as the sun set. Audience members enjoyed drinks and dinner around tables in the shade. The scent of barbecued ribs wafted on the breeze.

Guitar slung over her shoulder, Sisters area resident Kate Cavanaugh took to the stage. She recalled the last time she'd played Sisters Saloon. There was no roof over the stage back then.

"It was Sisters Folk Festival, 2003!" she recalled. "And it rained."

This time she stayed dry, and opted for a hearty cover of the 1967 Bobbie Gentry hit, "Ode to Billy Joe." She also presented an original song, performed with her husband, Doug. "I'll see ya around," she sang to a presumed dumped lover, "if I see you at all."

With its small-town Sisters feel, the Ladies of Summer show allowed for chitchat with the audience, which included a bride's bachelorette night out and a family celebrating their loved one's 80th birthday. A rousing birthday chorus was sung.

The first act closed with a sumptuous rendition of "California Dreamin'" by Christie Capucci of Terrebonne. "Technically, it's supposed to be sung in winter, dreaming about sunny weather," she said by way of introduction. "But this is Central Oregon. Anything could happen."

Deena Kamm took to the mic and keyboard for a fascinating, dark interpretation of "You Are My Sunshine." Originally from the San Fernando Valley in Southern California, Kamm was a singer-songwriter in the 1990s.

"I had a touring band and I toured all over the country. It was everything from coffeehouses to stadiums," she told The Nugget. Her band, Unruly Helga, toured with acts like Pat Benatar.

When she and her family moved to Bend in 2010, the goal was to escape Los Angeles. "I was born and raised there, I'd been there my whole life," she elaborated. "I had a kid, my son was one year old. I was like, I cannot raise my child in this."

Kamm figured that her singing career was over. "I thought, 'L.A. is entertainment, and Bend, Oregon is... Logs? Beer? Beer and logs? And there's some bikes?'" Since she didn't do any of those things, Kamm didn't expect to make waves in Bend.

Instead she found a welcoming place for her experience with voice and performance. "Now I'm a singing coach, a voice coach, and an executive voice coach," she said. She works with vocalists, attorneys, corporate groups, and more.

Kamm also leads the Public (Rock) Choir, which she developed and debuted at Bend's Broken Top Bottle Shop in 2016. It's a place to sing "without having to come up here and do it by yourself," she said, gesturing at the Saloon stage.

"I'm a firm believer that it's good for your health to sing," Kamm said.

As for her performance at the cabaret, she explained: "I'm not a real sunshine person when I sing. It's not really my jam." Faced with the necessity of singing a summery song, "I wanted to change all the chords. I took it to minor in the middle...I just kind of winged it."

She called her bleak, howling version of the song "kind of psycho. That's what the lyrics are. To sing it to your baby is actually kind of disturbed." While many tap their toes or sing along like it's a cheerful lullaby, the song actually describes broken, possessive love. Of the song's narrator, Kamm said, "This guy is hurt."

Megan Flanagan, Karen Sipes, and Janelle DeCelles were on the evening's bill as well, with songs including show tunes from Les Misérables and Porgy and Bess.

Two little girls danced with their dad, holding hands and twirling to the evening's final act: Silent Echo founder Marla Manning singing "Feeling Good."

A nonprofit organization, Silent Echo will present more evenings of casual entertainment at Sisters Saloon this summer. Next up, Cage Free Comedy takes to the stage on Thursday, July 20. Tickets are available online at http://www.silentechotheatercompany.org.

 

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