Portland Radio Project is proud to be a part of the artist residency program at McMenamins’ Al’s Den! Each week, McMenamins hosts a different visiting band for an entire week, starting on Sunday night and ending on the following Saturday. These intimate concerts in the very cozy Al’s Den offer a unique opportunity to spend a whole week getting to know and chat with these original artists! The musicians invite different “rock friends” to join them on stage every night – each night is a different experience, but bound together by the resident’s theme. This week, McMenamins hosts Chris Otepka with his band, The Heligoats.


Chris Otepka has been called “weird” before – when you create an entire album around the “Camping Trip From Hell” with details like a meddling park ranger and a prankster tentmate, you might expect a bit of name-calling. But, here in Portland, “weird” is just what we like in our musicians! The Heligoats’ seemingly random lyric arrangements are actually cleverly told stories – stories that take us right back in our memories to that awful camping trip we experienced, or to the awkward party we had to escape. My personal favorite song from the new and yet unreleased album is simply called “Hotel.” The phrase, “shoulda got a hotel…”, repeated countless times, had us all laughing uproariously.


You see, Chris is a storyteller. It’s hard sometimes to tell if he is serious – did he really escape an unbearable party by climbing through a heating vent? Did he really meet a wise man in the vent? Did he inhale a ghost? We may never know what actually happened at the party, but I’ll never forget the song!

Chris is also a thinker. I might see some shoes hanging over a telephone wire, and think, “I wonder what the story is behind that…” Well, Chris Otepka actually follows that train of thought until it becomes a story, a song, and an experience to share with his audience.


The Heligoats are a very active band, well-known for their intense touring schedules and their creative, lyrics-focused writing style. Chris has been promoting their most currently released album “Back to the Ache” for the past year. He says he’s about ready to take a break…oh! But then there are these songs about the camping trip…writing inspires him, so that break may be a while coming. I have no complaints – I could listen to these great stories over and over!

You can find the complete Al’s Den Resident Artist schedule online at the McMenamins website.

Check out all the pictures from the say at Teri Brigg’s Picasa page.