The String Cheese Incident Returns to Hornings Hideout |

The String Cheese Incident Returns to Hornings Hideout

August 9, 2010

Article and Photos by Carlton Ward

My 1st visit to Hornings Hideout in North Plains, Oregon was in the summer of 2000 which is the 1st time SCI played there. SCI/Madison House had teamed upwith Peak Experience Productions and anyone who was there will tell you that a special magic was manifested. It remains one of the most powerful transformations I experienced in my life. This was called the Full Moon Dream Dance and it was all that & more…

There were play-shops, themed camps (water, air, earth & fire), lots of incredible eye candy as well as political/environmental discussions, drum workshops, & morning yoga. Working with Peak for over 8 years – I have built 18′ tall jellyfish, 20′ tall pyramids, yellow submarines and many other fantastic props, as well as lead teams, camps and parades. The real beauty of what Peak brought to the table was that anyone who wanted to be a part of the show as a performer, craftsman or behind the scenes supporter had the option to join in the production.  It was all a lot of fun for me and others who participated which over an 8 year span includes most of the SCI attendees.  

Hornings Hideout is about 30 minutes west of Portland amongst rolling hills and forests. Bob Horning along with his mother and twin brothers Carl & Earl took over the care taking after their father had passed. It was his fathers dream to develop the land into a pristine camping venue and Bob has taken that dream and turned into a reality.

I feel such a strong sense of magic when I am there (I have even been on site many times when nobody else was present), so it is my guess that Bob gets a little help from the fairies & elves who live there.

Bob has worked the land and used his own wood from the property and his onsite sawmill to build Hornings, including the massive stage in the amphitheater.  There are sections of tables & swings for children to create & have fun together, an incredible 5 acre lake stocked with trout and paddle-boats along with the amphitheater itself.

They have lots of mini-festivals, weddings & other social gatherings and Bob recently added a (frisbee) disc golf course. Over 100 peacocks live along side the Hornings, hence the strong peacock theme that accompanies Hornings events. I have had them poke their head in my tent to to check me out in the early am and they give me a look, bob their head and move on.  

This year was the 7th time SCI has played Hornings and all of the magic is still prevalent and remains a vital ingredient of an incredible weekend. Many were concerned with the lack of Peaks involvement but the magic & eye candy Peak created throughout the past were manifested by Madison House. Many who were involved with Peak in the past were involved in different ways with this years production and the props, performances, play-shops & discussions are still a part of the magical weekend.

String Cheese last played at Hornings in 2007 and have only played a handful of shows since. It was perfect that they chose to play 3 of the few shows they are playing this year hear and it has become a hard ticket to get. They sold out their original allotment for in just a few minutes, but thankfully, they held some back and through some effort & networking, many people who wanted to be there, found a ticket and made it in. In fact, I was told but have not confirmed, that this event over-sold its projected allotment of tickets (usually 5000) and it definitely felt that way to me.

With such a huge turnout, many had to park at the top of the venue and be shuttled down.  Bob Horning is constantly working his land to create more camp spaces, expanding parking areas & RV land. Some changes, I noticed, were the back 40 area which was camping only and that meant no cars were allowed to park there, but it made for a much larger community camping space. They raged in the Back 40 all weekend and I enjoyed listening to them across the creek at Zeus camp.

Beer & drinks were sold on site at several locations with no designated “beer gardens,” so you could get your drink and go back to your blanket and enjoy the show instead of having to stay in a corral type area. This is definitely preferred and I am glad Bob/Madison House/OLCC was able to make this happen.

I also liked the fabric wristbands that were issued as they are much more attractive and softer than the usual plastic bands.  

The map was full of great information such as names for camping areas, which is how I managed to find the Bear family & my Santa Cruz friends to camp with. It included the schedule of each stage for the music, social/political discussions, children’s band (Banana Slug Stringband) & vaudevillian type acts such as Kazum & Fou Fou Ha, along with the food vending, porta-johns, 1st aid, ATM machines and water refill areas.

I was a bit turned off by the $8 showers at a timed 5 minutes. I consider showers to be a health concern and though I don’t mind paying a bit for a shower, I felt $8 was about twice the price it should have been. I wish I would have tried Dr. Bronners foam tub as it was only $5 – next time?


Headed down a hill I felt my right foot slip a bit and when that happens – its game over… I have run these hills enough over the years to know that when you lose traction on the soft dirt, its like talcum powder and gravity pulls you down quickly. I lost a couple of layers of skin off my left knee but kept my camera safe during the fall and there was a 1st aid tent very close, so I had them clean/antisept/dress my knee & I was off again.

I caught most of Kazum & Nershi-Law on the Sawmill stage and went to see a bit of the Preserving Essential Womanhood discussion at the Emerald stage, but got there too late for to hear that discussion. I liked Kazum a lot, great costumes, energy & performance. Nershi-Law is always great. Bill & Scott have a special magic when they play together. After some hydration & nutrition, I went back out to catch a bit of the “Future of Food & Health” discussion and then got sucked in to the Soul Rebels Brass Band. I had planned to see the Pimps of Joy Time at the Sawmill stage, but I had seen them 2 weeks before at High Sierra so I stayed at the main stage. SRBB is a New Orleans flavored brass band and they pumped out some great jams and energy. They even tossed out a few mardi-gras beads to the delight of the audience.

I have to keep in mind that the SCI community is so large and I have made so many friends over the years that when trying to go from one stage to another, I am usually met between 10 to 30 times by hugs and conversation so I am often late getting to where I am going. This is not a negative, its very much positive as I love my friends and sharing of our community. I would even state that the best part of the whole SCI-Hornings experience is that we all spend it together with hugs, conversations and smiles. We have so much love along with dancing our asses off to an incredible band.

Friday Night:

1st set: SCI opened with Smile which is appropriate, but no surprise. They had a wonderful song selection, but I felt the Barefoot Boys were laid back just a bit.  I especially liked African Skies & Mrs. Browns w/SRBB hitting the grooves with some nice brass highlights.

2nd set: SCI came out strong and stayed that way for the night. I could not get the song “Water” out of my head for the rest of the weekend and it’s still stuck in there. The whole “Water-Dirk-Jungle Boogie- Bumpin >Restless Wind” was incredible.  “Hey Pocky Way” was also a wonderful encore and long overdue for this Deadhead .

Set 1: Smile, Missin’ Me > Wheel Hoss, Sometimes a River, Born on the Wrong Planet, Under African Skies > Climb, Miss Brown’s Teahouse1

Set 2: Black and White, Bend Down Low > Sittin’ On Top of the World, Song In My Head, Water, Dirk > Jungle Boogie > Dirk, Bumpin’ Reel, Restless Wind

Encore: Hey Pocky Way1

1 with Soul Rebels Brass Band

Friday Late Night: I spent some time at the Caldara stage and the Dub-Temple sessions with fire-spinners and took photos of the lake reflecting the stage with the moon shining through the clouds.


After sleeping in a bit and stocking up on more nutrition & hydration, I headed for the the Emerald stage to see a bit of Scott Laws workshop who was showing off his new Santa Cruz guitar. Scott talked about practice habits and how important it is to work on the things that were hard or challenging.

I was then off to the Sawmill stage to see the Banana Slug String Band as Keith Moseley sat in for a couple of songs. They taught the kids the “Watershed” song and had many of the future performers came up on stage and perform with the band.

Everyone Orchestra was next with Matt Butler leading a fantastic ensemble that included Paul Benoit, Jamie Janover, Liza Oxnard, Jans Ingber, Chris Berry, Dave Watts, Jarod Kaplan, Chris Chandler and a few more as well. They played some great music and everyone on stage got a chance to shine a bit. The magic of EO is that is that it’s always different and finds its own way for every performance. I credit Matt for keeping it all together.

I then stopped by the main-stage to see Toubab Krewe. I really like these guys and Jason Hann was sitting in as they played some dynamically diverse & powerful songs.

Then off to Caldera again to catch Fou Fou Ha (another fun vaudevillian type act) and then Three for Madness with Asher Fulero, Carlton Jackson and Tye North. Fou Fou Ha was simply joyful & fun. They interplayed with the audience and their costumes were beautiful. 3 for Madness was a relaxing cool groove with a bit of funkiness thrown in. Asher is amazingly smooth on the keyboards and Carlton & Tye are rock solid.  

Saturday Night:  

1st set started off great with Black Clouds opening. Country Road Blues included Bill Frisell (who played on the main stage earlier that day) and Freedom Jazz Dance. Bill is amazing and has been a favorite for many years. I especially liked the Cedar, Ring of Fire back into Black Clouds to close the set.

2nd set / Shebang:  

Saturday Nights for String Cheese-Hornings is when the Big Shebang takes place. I helped a friend clear the main floor. As in years past, we would move everybody back off the main floor to create a performance area for the Shebang and I was able to secure a space with an unobstructed view for taking my photos of the entire performance. I had my 70-200mm lens and just stuck with that lens as I didn’t want to switch to my 24-70 to get wide angle shots. This was for 2 reasons – dust problems when swapping lenses & I wanted a lens with more reach.

2nd set started with String Cheese busting out “Rivertrance” and a group of dancers dressed as Samurai’s came out and performed. They had a choreographed performance and their costumes were very well done. They were followed by fire dancers who performed in front of a beautiful piece of art called the Flaming Phoenix that was built by Tyler Fuqua. Some of the fire-dancers donned antlers that had flames coming off of them. There were stilt-walkers along with the fire spinners that had hula-hoops, staffs, poi & fire-fingers. What an energetic & beautiful performance? This was followed by an incredible alien spaceship flying overhead. I have a photo that I will submit to the National Enquirer that we now have proof of alien life.

As the spaceship flew overhead there were dancers dressed in white and black spandex that created a very cool illusion, because the field was covered in powerful backlights & a group of performers created a screen with smaller pieces of white fabric for 2 different projectors that were displaying an assortment of images onto them.

As this part of the performance came to a close, the field was inundated with LED hula hoopers while about a dozen very large balloons lifted a performer into the air while she executed her acrobatics. This was simply jaw dropping. I was in complete amazement of her as she hovered at 30 feet, and went up as high as 80 feet, twisting & spinning her acrobatic performance. I am still trying to get her name – nobody I spoke with knew her.

The field opened back up for the crowd as SCI finished out the 2nd set and the Spaceship & the Acrobat on Balloons remained overhead.

They closed the set with “I Know You Rider” and then a “Sirens” encore (love that song) followed by “Texas” while the entire place was beaming & glowing from the incredible performance both musically & visually.

The Shebang is often the centerpiece to the weekend and this one was very well done. It is so inspiring and overwhelming, that you experience sensory overload from the combination of incredible music, unbelievable lighting and incredible performances.  

Set 1: Black Clouds > Rhum ‘N Zouc, One Step Closer, County Road Blues1, Freedom Jazz Dance1, Way That It Goes, Cedar Laurels, Ring of Fire > Black Clouds….

Set 2: Rivertrance, Joyful Sound > It Is What It Is > Orion’s Belt > Piece of Mine, Search > I Know You Rider

Encore: Sirens, Texas

1 with Bill Frissell on guitar

Sat Night Latenight:

I missed Lynx/Janover on the Sawmill stage as it started shortly after SCI finished, so after getting myself refreshed at camp, I went out and caught some of the late night fire performers at the Caldera Stage.


I spent most of the day at the Emerald Stage where Michael Kang and others were talking about activism in the music industry. They had a Q&A toward the end for others to ask or share their thoughts. This was followed by an open mic with Matt Butler which allowed various fans to come up and play on stage. Bacchus (an old friend) read some poetry as well. I made sure to take photos of everyone as many will want to have a photo of themselves performing on stage at Hornings. This was followed by another discussion panel with Dr. Bronner & Michael Sammet concerning “After legalization and Ethics of Post Prohibition”.

I then went to catch the family parade and meet a few friends there, but apparently this had not been pre-arranged as in years past, and after only a few showed up, the parade was cancelled.

I spent some time down by the creek where a prayer wheel & some quiet meditation space had been set up. It was beautiful & peaceful there, and I met Jessica Park who I shot a few photos of in her beautiful dress surrounded by a lush green background.  I was with some very special friends as we experienced & explored this area and it is just one of the beautiful gems that are scattered throughout the hills of Hornings. One of my highlights for the day was when I caught about 1/3 of the Travellin McCoury’s before refueling with food/water back at my camp.

Sunday evening:  

1st set – Sunday started out like many other SCI/Horning Sunday shows; acoustic in nature. The McCoury’s sat in for some of the early songs with Col. Bruce joining in on “Fixin to Die”. I especially liked “Lost>Circles>Looking Glass>San Jose”.

There is always a calm & loving groove in the air for an SCI-Hornings Sunday show. Maybe we are still a bit frazzled from the incredible Saturday night shows, but I believe it is an overwhelming feeling of LOVE that just grabs us all and covers us with its goodness. We all feel it, and it has happened at every SCI/HH Sunday show.

2nd set started with “Shantytown”, which is appropriate since it is about Hornings. I really liked the “Emmas>DontSay>Is What it is”. Then they brought out Scott Law to play “Eyes” & “Outside and Inside” with them. Scott & Mike traded solos and they both sounded incredible.  

Sundays are always filled with hugs & smiles and even a few tears, but the feeling of family & community is prevalent.

2 encores with “Best Feeling” and “Good Times” were appropriate and wonderful. We had the kids around us singing “Best Feeling” to help us out & the roller coaster gotta roll to the bottom if you wanna climb to the top again.

Set 1: Lester Had a Coconut1, Rollin’ In My Sweet Baby’s Arms, Walls of Time, Think Of What You’ve Done, Daybreak In Dixie, Orange Blossom Special, Fixin’ To Die2, Betray The Dark, Yo Se, Lost, Will It Go ‘Round In Circles, Looking Glass, San Jose

Set 2: Shantytown > Gypsy Queen, Howard, Emma’s Dream > Don’t Say > It Is What It Is3 > Eyes of the World4, Outside and Inside4

Encore: Best Feeling

Encore 2: Good Times Around The Bend

1 with The Travelin’ McCourys

2 with The Travelin’ McCourys and Col. Bruce Hampton

3 Ending only

4 with Scott Law on guitar

Overall I felt like Madison House was able to continue the SCI-Hornings Experience as it has been for the past years with Peak Experience Productions and the magic that is Hornings Hideout is as prevalent as it has always been which is a great & wondrous thing.

There was more emphasis on music as there were more stages and acts, but everything ran smoothly and many 1st timers were blown away with the magnitude of it all.

The Roller Coaster took us all up & down but ended on the top and left us all inspired, excited & buzzing.

We don’t ever really leave Hornings, we carry it with us everywhere we go!





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