An email showed up a couple of weeks ago from local promoter Cassie Moore announcing upcoming shows by The White Buffalo (July 16) and Tornado Rider (July 22), both at something called The Horned Hand.
I found the name alone to be extremely intriguing, so I immediately wrote Cassie back and asked her for more details.
A week later, I was standing in a gray, rectangular building on the corner of Colorado Avenue and Lava Road that, up until last fall, housed the Repeat Performance Sports consignment shop. In case you can’t picture it, it’s located here and it looks something like this:
Giving me a tour was Wesley Ladd, a tall fellow wearing cowboy boots and an impressive beard. Ladd is from Ohio and spent some time in San Diego, but he moved to Bend last year after falling for Central Oregon during a firefighting assignment with the Prineville Hotshots.
He’s also a musician and huge music fan; we nerded out a little bit over our mutual love for the Portland-based metal band Red Fang.
Ladd is leading a small team of folks who are working diligently to get The Horned Hand up and running by the time The White Buffalo arrives. The group has cleared out the space, painted, installed a roll-up bay door, and begun decorating with cool recycled finds like retro lamps, old metal signs, vintage truck parts and mounted animal horns.
Ladd moved to town with hopes of someday operating a music venue along similar lines to The Casbah in San Diego and The Union in Athens, Ohio (a small town that’s home to “one of the best rock ‘n’ roll scenes in America,” he said). Right now, though, he’s starting slow and staying focused on the art/retail aspect of The Horned Hand rather than booking shows. He plans to feature local artists’ work on the venue’s walls, and will offer artwork, clothing and other interesting stuff for sale as part of a retail operation. He says the space will be “in evolution,” constantly adding new art and furniture (both for sale) to keep The Horned Hand’s look and feel fresh. And he envisions a day when the place hosts not only concerts, but comedians, theater, burlesque shows and more.
Ladd also has applied for a license to sell beer and wine, and he’s waiting to hear from fire department officials on the venue’s capacity. (Based on the size of other venues in town, it looks like it will be able to hold somewhere between 100 and 200 people, but that’s just my estimate.)
As for the music, Ladd has Moore booking shows at The Horned Hand and he’s open to other independent promoters using the space. He also hopes to start booking once the venue is up and running. He was mostly mum about what kind of music he’d like to bring in, but the CDs stacked on the stereo in the corner might provide a clue; they range from folk (Townes Van Zandt) to blues-rock (The Black Keys) to heavy stoner rock (Torche, Saviours).
At first, as Ladd and the team work to get the venue off the ground, The Horned Hand might be open on show nights and closed other days while more work is done. You have to crawl before you can walk, after all.
“I’m really pushing for quality not quantity on the shows,” Ladd said. “We really wanna take care of the bands and house ‘em and feed ‘em. If they spend the night, bring ‘em some biscuits and gravy or something. Then they go tell their friends, ‘Dude if you’re going even close to Bend, swing in there because those guys are sick.’”
(All photos taken from The Horned Hand’s Facebook page with permission.)