Notes from the Riverkeepers Performance

September 24, 2017 - 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Columbian Theater
1114 Marine Dr
Astoria, OR
Columbia Riverkeeper

Latourell Falls in the Columbia River Gorge.
Latourell Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. | Photo by Chanel Hason

A musical homily unveiling the epic, sordid history of crude-oil-by-rail transport in the Columbia River Gorge.

Doors at 6:30pm, show at 7pm
Audience talk-back after the performance at 8:15pm

Purchase tickets here. 

Notes from the Riverkeepers makes its world premiere in a regional tour including this Astoria appearance at the Columbian Theater on Sunday September 24. Written in response to Waller's three-month artist residency with the Columbia Riverkeeper watchdog organization, the performance is a musical homily heralding a broad, sordid overview of the history of crude-oil-by-rail ("CBR") transportation in the Columbia River Gorge culminating in the derailment, explosion and oil spill of Union Pacific train 5544 in June of 2016 in Mosier, Oregon. The residency was organized and supported by Signal Fire, a local non-profit dedicated to connecting artists with wild space and environmental activists, and the tour is supported by community partners including Columbia Riverkeeper and other members of the Stand Up To Oil alliance ( While the Columbia Riverkeeper's campaign in focused on oil trains in the Gorge, a major spill could affect the entire Columbia including its estuary at Astoria.

Notes features through-composed and extemporaneous storytelling, song, sermon and ceremony, incorporating Waller's original folk, blues and soul inspired music, focusing on the issues facing Columbia Riverkeeper as stewards of the Columbia River - particularly the risks of crude oil-by-rail transport along both sides of the river.  The lyrics incorporate the history of the federal railroad system, the nationwide corporate railroad duopoly represented by the northern and southern side Columbia River rail lines, the history of environmental protection law in the United States, the legal and fiscal structure of private equity driving all aspects of oil drilling, transport and refinement, and the phenomenon of train derailments/explosions/spill/emergency response, focusing particularly on the June 2016 derailment of a mile-long Union Pacific oil train in Mosier, Oregon.

Featuring Dana J on drums, Justin Miller on bass and Joshua Thomas on keyboards and guitars.

About Holcombe Waller (Writer, performer):  Holcombe Waller is a unique voice in music theater.  He is a 2012 United States Artists Berresford Fellow in Music, an award which noted his mournful, folk-inflected style as well as his approach to music as total theater. He is a Creative Capital artist, a three-time recipient of the MAP Fund, and a Joan Shipley Fellow of the Regional Arts and Culture Council of his hometown of Portland, Oregon.  Waller has been presented and commissioned by Under the Radar Festival at The New York Public Theater, On the Boards, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Centre Pompidou, the Fusebox Festival, PuSh International Performing Arts shFestival, and many others.  Wallers collaboration with choreography includes work with Joe Goode Performance Group (SF), Zoe|Juniper (Seattle), and Miguel Gutierrez, and his film score work includes music for the Sundance-premiered documentary, We Were Here. He has recently toured two interdisciplinary music theater works, Wayfinders and Surfacing, as well as premiered and toured the community-choir-based collaborative project, Requiem Mass: LGBT / Working Title, which will make it's San Francisco premiere at Grace Cathedral in 2018 as a part of the YBCA Transform Festival.

About Signal Fire: Signal Fire facilitates wildlands residencies and retreats for artists of all disciplines. Our projects instill self-reliance, catalyze creative energy, and invite interdisciplinary collaboration. We utilize public lands to advocate for access to and protection of our wild places. In the past seven years we have engaged over 250 artists, including our month-long, college-level experiential education program. We have hosted numerous regional exhibits and publish an annual literary journal, Leaf Litter.

About Columbia Riverkeeper: Columbia Riverkeeper's mission is to protect and restore the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean. Representing over 12,000 members and supporters, Columbia Riverkeeper works to restore a Columbia River where people can safely eat the fish they catch, and where children can swim without fear of toxic exposure. The organization is a member of Waterkeeper Alliance, the worlds fastest growing environmental movement, uniting more than 300 Waterkeeper organizations worldwide.

FUNDING AND SUPPORT:  Notes from the Riverkeepers is funded in part by your ticket purchases, but it has been made possible by project grants from The Map Fund and the Regional Arts and Culture Council.  Additional inspiration and support have been provided by Signal Fire, Columbia Riverkeeper, Headwaters Theater and the Falcon Art Community.