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Shady Pines Radio, born from pandemic isolation, hosts festival for a growing community

The Shady Pines Festival was born from the two years musicians and poets spent sharing their work on the Shady Pines Radio, created in response to the pandemic.

OREGON CITY, Ore. — In a remote, creek-side ranch near Oregon City, dozens of people set up camping tents on Friday. They unfolded lawn chairs, put on sunscreen and sat back and listened to local bands do something they’d been waiting to do for two years: play together.

“We really couldn't have imagined it,” said Brian Bauer, co-founder of the very first Shady Pines Festival. “It really started off as a way to keep folks busy during the pandemic.”

Bauer was talking about Shady Pines Radio, which he co-founded with his wife. Before the pandemic, he and Callie Bauer hosted open mics around Portland and recorded bands in their studio. When that ended, they started the online community radio station to give artists an outlet. The Bauers said they'll play artists' original songs on their station and train people interested in learning now to be a DJ.

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“During the hard time of COVID I feel like it was a place where people could share their feelings and their experiences and it was just real,” said Callie Bauer.

Over the last two years, Shady Pines Radio has amassed more than 100 DJs and broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Musician Andrew Grumelot is a regular.

“It birthed a whole different world that at first glance would have seemed like a disconnect because at first you weren't able to be in-person,” said Grumelot. “But it actually just gave us a chance to refine other areas in other types of outlets.”

Poet Igor Brezhneb knows about that, too. He hosts a Shady Pines Radio show during which he reads spoken word poetry. He started after losing access to public open mics.

“It provided a sense of connection that was gone and gone so abruptly,” said Brezneb.

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The Bauers plan to keep Shady Pines Radio going and hope to bring back their festival every summer. This year’s festival runs through Sunday but tickets are sold out.

“We would not have this community if it wasn't for the lockdown,” said Callie Bauer. “We'd probably still be hosting open mics and doing the same thing.”

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