Why Cascade Rye? The band's namesake is the beautiful Willamette Valley, located in western Oregon. Nothing feels like home to us more than the hovering Cascade Mountain Range backdropping endless rye grass fields.. no matter where we go, this is HOME, and we take a piece of it wherever we go.
More than a band, we like to think of Cascade Rye as a family. Over the years we've taken different shapes, bringing the valley and beyond the very best of our local musicians. Though we occasionally showcase different instrumentation, we remain the same at the core. Jake and Kalyn are the foundation. Different players are like tasty little treats... nom nom. (ouch!)
Currently we have a core group but don't be surprised to see a Cascade Rye alumn out at a show. Heartfelt thanks go to Chris Arellano, Xion Zoa, Josh Biggs, plus more, for their contributions to the sound.
Kalyn Payne: Electric guitar/mandolin/vox
Jake Payne: Bass guitar/acoustic guitar/harmonica/vox
Scott Eastburn: Banjo/bass/vox
Kevin Van Walk: Drums/percussion
George Virtue: Keys
Read our full bio here from 2015. Then playing as a drumless quartet, our current line-up has evolved but the heart and soul remain the same. See you out there, friends!
In an old mobile home serving as a rehearsal space, Oregon-based roots/americana music quartet Cascade Rye sit in a semi-circle in the living room, the space dimly lit by a couple of lamps. Scattered across the floor and laying upon couches and chairs are sheets of music with lyrics and chord charts scrawled in faded pencil. All manner of instruments including acoustic guitars, violins, mandolins, banjos, a dobro, and accompanying instrument cases punctuate the room like some kind of musical-themed décor. The band – husband and wife Jake and Kalyn Payne on vocals, guitar, bass and keyboards, guitarist/mandolin/dobro player Chris Arellano and mandolin/banjo/violinist Scott Eastburn - have joined together for a rehearsal. There is an obvious camaraderie inherent with this quartet that is reflected in the ease with which the band launches into an improvised tune, a sort of warm-up for the day’s work ahead. Jake Payne plays acoustic bass guitar, his sinewy bass lines simultaneously melodic and solid as Kalyn punctuates the piece with foundational chords providing the bedrock for Arellano to trade mandolin solos with Eastburn’s banjo. The melodic ideas conjure up a sort of soaring anthem with which the band seems simultaneously comfortable and amused and pleased. “Man that felt pretty good,” Arellano says at the conclusion of the warm-up. Everyone affirms the appraisal, but ultimately the extemporaneous flexibility of the band gives way to more efficient concerns. “Let’s play something we know,” suggests Kalyn. The band kicks into one of its own numbers. The song has a driving momentum, the kind of thing that makes you tap your foot or move your body even if the tune is a lower tempo ballad. The song is the achingly painful ‘John Wayne.’ Kalyn sings, . . ."He must’ve been born with the world on his shoulders, I don’t think he knows any other way, and he’s been running his whole life- in the wrong direction, just chasing those demons away. White lines and whiskey, guitars and pretty women, anything to ease the pain, on a one lane road that leads to nothin, he's chasing those demons away. . ."
This is for all intents and purposes heavy music; not depressing, but certainly addressing emotion of heartache, faith, the existential existence of life with all it’s ups and downs, digging beneath the banality and monotony of life’s daily grind. This is music firmly entrenched in the bardic tradition, as ancient as humanity’s penchant for telling tales, when minstrels and musicians would weave tales of love and honor and ribaldry around a pub’s fire. The musicianship of this band is well documented. These aren’t monotonous singer/songwriter numbers, strumming the same predictable chords in a day and age when every town or city in America has an open mic night, a Sunday afternoon “jam,” or in the current time where pop culture has reduced the art of music to a weekly televised contest spectacle. At coffee houses, vineyards and venues throughout the country, singer/songwriters of every age and background wear their heart and soul on sleeve, certainly an expressive and vulnerable place to be. However, the actual instrumental compositions of Cascade Rye stand alongside the lyrical content, and this is an excruciatingly important detail that is often overlooked by so many aspiring songwriters and bands; the instrumentation, key choice, placement of notes and instrumental execution or technique affect the mood and support the storyline of the song, much like lighting, camera angle and set- dressing affects the visual feel of a movie. Rhythmic urgency, mandolin and violin flourishes, guitar chord structures, and multi-harmony vocals executed at just the right moment provide an explicit artistic imagery that seems simply neglected in today’s saturated singer/songwriter market. The song ‘John Wayne’ concludes and the band begins discussing stage set-ups, potential set-lists and the pros and cons of various live environments in anticipation of the bands forthcoming tour of the southwest, a locale that is no stranger to 3 fourths of the band. Jake and Eastburn moved to Austin, Texas in 2007 to partake in that cities burgeoning music scene and the pair shared the stage or opened for some of the biggest names in country and roots music including Merle Haggard, Pat Green and Kevin Fowler, to name a few. Arellano was born in New Mexico, but eventually resided in Nashville, Tennessee for 8 years where he became involved with the Nashville studio scene recording and touring as guitarist and mandolin player with various artists. Eastburn started his musical adventures playing cello, eventually switching to bass guitar as he got older. His accomplished basswork gained him many gig opportunities with various bands. But his passion was always roots music and bluegrass and so his focus became absorbed with instruments of those genres: mandolin, banjo, and violin. While Kalyn’s tour mileage is not as extensive as her three bandmates, her musical skills far exceed any number of touring musicians who might pride themselves on their road-tested musicianship or album sales; in addition to her proficiency on guitar, vocals, keyboards and drums, she is also a primary songwriter in the band and has written and recorded two solo albums. The songwriting though is a team effort: though Jake and Kalyn write a majority of the material Arellano and Eastburn contribute instrumental and lyrical ideas as well. “Why don’t we try your tune Chris?” Jake suggests. This band is a democratic group, and band members trading vocal leads or singing entire songs on their own is common practice. Arellano’s song, ‘Old Bad Habit,’ tells the story of a long-term relationship that has failed. "Talk about your big surprises Just when expectation rises you wake one day, wishing you hadn't Guess I should've seen it coming Like a freight train off and running But I guess I only wanted to believe in you Girl it only goes to show me You never did really know me I'm dropped like an old bad habit by you. . ." And if those lyrics seem prototypical of pop music themes, Chris’s vocal delivery is so sincere and the story so genuine, that any idea of cliché is immediately destroyed by the authenticity of the song’s content. “I think people can tell if you’re full of crap when it comes to the story you’re telling,” Chris explains. “This music and the story is all very real, and that’s one of the biggest attractions to the way Cascade Rye works.” Though the band’s proficiency at writing their own material could fill many concert hours, an occasional cover makes its way into the group’s repertoire. “They have to be tasty covers,” Kalyn says of assuming the performance of other’s songs. The act of copying songs and acting as live jukebox for an audience is the scourge of any serious band attempting to make their own mark. But the true criteria of a bands individuality and quality, it could be argued, is in the band’s ability to take an existing song and respectfully mold it into their own. In this pursuit, Cascade Rye is profoundly successful. Eastburn experiments with violin and mandolin on the Allison Krauss tune ‘If I Didn’t Know Any Better.’ Kalyn stops the band mid-song to suggest a structural tweak to the music. The band resumes the tune until its completion. This cover has all the marks of a new song while still maintaining the initial structure of the original; Krauss would be proud. The band runs through ‘Love and A .45.’ Jake plays guitar on the tune. Unfamiliar with the song, Arellano follows Payne’s chording and effortlessly contributes a mid-song solo. Clearly this is a tune still in the process of creative re-construction. But with it’s varied instrumentation and male/female lyrical trade-offs, it only slightly resembles Kentucky-based singer/songwriter Chris Knight’s original version. Soon, however, the bands commitment to perfecting their own music overrides these respectfully rendered covers. “Instead of spending time on those songs, we should be revisiting our older material,” Eastburn suggests. No one disputes his urgency and the band launches into a Jake-composed original, ‘Give Her Everything’ The song flows along until the chorus, where it suddenly jolts to a halt, Jake shaking his head. “You always seem to hit the wrong chord,” he informs Chris with absolutely no indignation or ill-will intended towards the guitarist. “Remember, it’s A minor.” The missed chord in question is fairly unnoticeable to uninitiated ears. But there is such honesty and mutual respect among these musicians that when such a constructive commentary is expressed, it elicits humble acknowledgement with no offense taken or intended. Arellano strikes 2 or three different chords in succession. Finding the correct progression, the tune is up and running again. At one point in the song, Eastburn sets his mandolin aside and picks up his violin, inspired by some melodic revelation germinating in his head. Jake follows suit, and in mid-song, exchanges his acoustic bass guitar for an acoustic lead guitar, effortlessly resuming his vocal and guitar lines. These mid-song adaptations are not a normal part of the performance but simply reveal the band’s creative telepathy, flexibility and instrumental prowess; this is an adaptable band. Their unplanned spontaneity aids in keeping the music vibrant and fresh in a genre that can easily slide into predictable routine.
Cascade Rye’s authenticity is achieved by the depth and conviction of their storytelling and by the quality of the accompanying music. They explore the pantheon of human emotional predicaments, lessons to be learned, love lost and found, the angst and joy of life, all addressed with compelling reality. The music is roots, not genuine country, not specifically pop/rock. It is its own music, the instrumentation and arrangements conjuring the image of dusty and desolate back roads, driving a convertible in the country with the wind rustling your hair and thoughts of lost love haunting your memories.