When Sisters-native Slater Smith, 24, first started writing “Back O’er Oregon” in college, he dreamt of leaving his home state. Plans changed, as they do, and several years later he's still here making music with his band, The Weather Machine.
“The deal I made with myself was that if I stayed I wanted to see the whole state,” Smith says. “I hadn’t seen all of my state even though I’d grown up here my whole life.”
So Smith decided to take his music and do just that. With a GoPro, a tripod, a hand-me-down chair, a car full of camping gear, and the occasional Weather Machine band member, Smith recorded the song at every state park accessible to the common person. For four months—from June 2013 to September—he set up his camera, counted out seven steps to his chair, and sat down to play, 185 times.
Initially, the goal was simply to create a “cool piece of art.” There would be no losses—any kind of forward momentum was a gain. By the end of the project, Smith’s journey found sponsorship through Oregon Film, Oregon State Parks, Breedlove Guitars, and Tender Loving Empire (TLE). The video is accompanied by a new single titled “Slow Dance Slow” and re-release of “Back O’er Oregon” through TLE.
“I think the trick with using Oregon in a song is it’s kind of a gross word,” he says. “It’s very guttural and if you’re not even from here you’ll probably say it wrong.”
Though it took Smith years to bring his idea to fruition and a full summer trekking back and forth across the state, the result is purely Oregon—a true gift to the state we love no matter how “guttural” the name.
The Weather Machine plays at Secret Society this Friday, December 6 at 8:45pm. For more information, click here.