The Oregon Express is one of the staples when you are venturing in Dayton, and more specifically the Oregon District. The bar/restaurant, like most of the businesses you walk into, presents a vintage feel. Each building possesses a blend of updated fixtures with the charm and original.
Oregon Express has two sections on the ground, the bar area and the live music area. Throughout the bar, you walk on wooden floors that seem to be the original flooring. The only difference is that the floor has been finished with a darker color. The live music is the larger part of the tavern. Tables are scattered all over, taking most of the space. There is a booth section that is sprawling all the way down from the front of the stage to the door that is in the back of the building. The walls around the stage have painted portraits of legendary musicians, from the king of pop Michael Jackson to the band that brought us the British invasion The Beatles to electrifying guitar player Jimi Hendrix. The stage is tucked into the other side of the room. It almost feels like you, the spectator, are watching someone playing in someone’s barn. There’s peacefulness to it, the stage. Perfect for the three acts that performed this past Saturday.
The first act that started the night’s lineup is Cincinnati’s My Brother the Bear. The singer’s name is Daniel Bayer, and his story is truly amazing. Bayer enlisted in the US Army at the age of 25 and served for 6 years. Just this past February, he decided to quit his job and follow his dream of being a full-time musician. He talked about some of his adventures and experiences of being in the Army, and how those stories are a huge part of his songwriting. With only a kick drum, acoustic guitar, and harmonica-Bayer captivated the crowd’s attention with his rich folk singing. ‘The Soggy Side of Life’ talked about his time of trying to quit drinking whiskey. ‘Helious’ is a dreamy slow song describing Bayer’s witnessing is last sunset in North Carolina before moving to Alabama. Bayer played to the crowd perfectly. For those who enjoy the Mumford and Sons, Iron and Wine vibe-My Brother the Bear is an act that you need to check out.
The next act was The Repeating Arms. The Repeating Arms are slowly starting to make a name for them in the local music scene. What lures me in with them is their vintage
Southern twang in each of their songs. Harold Hensley’s vocals are pure and larger than life. Max Nunery plays the banjo with such ease and freedom, while Chip Pritchard playing the upright bass is a pleasure to watch. The Repeating Arms played some of their new songs that will be part of their LP, Blackberry Winter. The band even gave an encore after their initial set was done. It was indeed a nice touch to end their set.
The last act was Mandy Jewell. Jewell came onto the stage with her trusted blue acoustic guitar. She performed a lot of her deeply emotional songs from her first album, The Road to Tennessee. Jewell mentioned a couple of times that she dealing with some illness, which made it even more amazing that she gutted through her set. I could only imagine how difficult it could be for someone to be under the weather and still go up onstage and perform at their highest level. It’s what the love and passion for music does to these folks. Jewell hasn’t been playing live much. Hopefully she will continue to push to find some time on stage.
This past Saturday was a perfect night of three acts that continue to show how remarkable local music is. And for these three acts to be able to perform in a place like Oregon Express-it was the perfect mixture for a fantastic evening…