Cascade Crescendo Interview
The first Artist Interview of 2018 is conducted by Contributor Conrad Felten! Check out Con's piece on his sit-down with a member of the Portland based band Cascade Crescendo while they were on a tour stop in Duluth, MN. Thanks to Harrison Olk for meeting with Con, and thank you to Con for the write-up and the time put into this.
Recently, I had the distinct privilege in visiting with a member of Portland’s very own, Cascade Crescendo. I first heard about the band from someone in my department, learning that this event would benefit a non-profit organization, Healing Waters International. After attending their show at Red Herring Lounge in Duluth, MN, I had the opportunity to meet with Harrison Olk - Banjo/vocals, a St. Paul, MN native, and Master’s Graduate from one of the premier speech-language pathology programs in the Midwest - the University of Minnesota Duluth (okay, forgive me.. maybe i’m a little biased because I currently attend this wonderful school).
So, for those of you unfamiliar with Cascade Crescendo, Harrison described their genre of music as “jam inspired bluegrass jam americana,” or “jamgrass.” Their website also includes the title “Pacific Northwest Jamgrass,” as Harrison mentioned that it’s exasperating to try to fit this type of music into a single typical genre. Before Harrison moved out West and joined Cascade Crescendo, everyone in the band was playing bluegrass instruments. Contrary to traditional bluegrass, he noticed a heavy amount of jamming (and may I say, LOTS of jamming was seen at the concert).
Their first studio album, Caught in the Rain, was released in 2016. It includes 12 songs, with a drummer being featured on the last track, and a fiddle player also being included in the album. When I asked Harrison what his favorite song from the album was, he said that ‘Old Charlie Rhodes’ is a fan favorite. Guitarist Hunter White wrote this when he was 15, and it has a feel-good and sentimental vibe to it. Personally, I also really enjoy this track. Just wait until you hear those soothing vocals during the chorus: “I’ve been out on the road for so long, the path I’ve taken, never seemed so wrong / When I was young I got trapped in a maze, and I’ll be paying for it for the rest of my days.” On the other hand, Harrison remarked that he appreciates a little more funk, as he pointed to the last track on the album, ‘1040’.
As my delicious cup of coffee at Duluth Coffee Company ran low, I was able to hear about Harrison’s backstory. He explained that he was exposed to bluegrass at an early age, going to several bluegrass festivals around the country with his parents. At only 5-years-old, Harrison knew he wanted to play the banjo, and received his very first one (impressive to me considering that I probably received my first Lego set at this age). Fast forward...he took lessons for 15 years before he met these guys out West. Take my word for it, it’s evident of the practice he’s put in. I can’t say i’ve ever heard someone jam on a banjo like Harrison (to be honest, I was getting a little worried for the poor banjo).
SA exclusive bonus content: fun fact about Harrison - his favorite things to do in Portland: Simply, the unlimited access to the outdoors! Getting out to the mountains, the ocean, hiking through Forest Park, thrift shopping, and of course...the music scene.
So, what’s on the radar for Cascade Crescendo!? Well, you heard it here first - Harrison confirmed that they’re going into the studio soon and are going to record their sophomore album! Follow this link to find out where you can catch them live in January/February!
*** Cascade Crescendo has just announced a gig at Doug Fir Lounge in Portland on March 2! Tickets can be purchased here. ***
You can listen to Caught in the Rain on Apple Music and Spotify via the below links, or you can purchase the CD via this link.