(Note: I just realized I never posted this. D’oh!)
So here’s how this works, in reverse: It took me a while to publish this blog post. Why? Because it took forever for me to edit and upload all this video. Why? Because there’s a lot of it. Why? Because I was compelled to just keep rolling Wednesday night as up-and-coming folkies Vandaveer and Cheyenne Marie Mize lit up a dark Father Luke’s Room at McMenamins Old St. Francis School.
It was a night full of gorgeous songs. Mize opened with an hour-long solo set that featured a handful of moments so arresting, you could hear a pin drop in a room that rarely lacks for chatter. The sine-wave keyboard line of “Have You,” the minimalist violin plucking of “Rest,” and the jaw-droppingly beautiful love song “All I Am” not only commanded the attention of the audience, they seemed to stop time. (Video of all three is below.) Mize is an enormous talent, and I wouldn’t be surprised if in a couple years, the folks who saw her play an intimate (not to mention free) show Wednesday in Bend will be thanking their lucky stars they did.
If Mize’s set was a thing of understated beauty, Vandaveer’s was more like the confident swagger that comes when you know you’re looking good. The band’s principle, Mark Charles Heidinger, has it all: catchy and clever songs, cinema-star good looks, and charm pouring from every pore. He’s got an affable, self-effacing manner and a million-watt smile, and he pairs those two things with a seemingly endless well of memorable melodies. I really believe the guy has all he needs to become a huge star in the post-Avett/Mumford age. I know if I were a record label exec, I’d be swooping in on him as we speak.
Anyway, about the set: Heidinger plays his acoustic guitar in a propulsive, percussive style, and his voice is strong and clear. His cohort — harmony queen Rose Guerin — is a show-stopping alto that adds a bit of needed grit to the mix. Heidinger bounced around his catalog, from the title track from his new album “Dig Down Deep” to the Simon & Garfunkel-ish shuffle of “How Many Takes it Takes” to the apocalyptic chop of “Spite.” He played an impromptu cover of The Beatles’ “Rocky Raccoon” to honor a little girl’s purchase at the merch table (“Our cutest customer ever,” Heidinger said), and he had Mize join the band on drums for a run through Vandaveer’s “hit single” (he said with a laugh) “The Nature of Our Kind.”
Overall, the two sets were nice counterpoints. Mize’s was soft and supple and vulnerable, Vandaveer’s was sharp and solid and airtight. Both were brilliant in their own way. And they added up to one of the best shows I’ve seen in Bend so far this year.
Here’s lots of video evidence. I would strongly encourage you to take a listen. First up, five songs from Mize, including, I believe, three new ones.