Once upon a time — when owners Ilko Major and Cimarron Brodie wanted a new lifestyle that could express their passions for art, music, events and community — a 1940s Baptist Church in downtown Redmond landed on their radar. After two additions in the 1960s and 1980s, the now 19,000 square-foot "beautiful big red beast" sits prominently at 818 SW Forest Ave.
"It seemed that all of our experience, ideas and goals were being met by one location and place," said Brodie. "In this search and in our love for Central Oregon, Redmond sort of found us." The couple now owns and manages the entire half city block, which houses over 10 other locally owned businesses.
It's very safe to say this exciting new music venue is in very good hands. Both Major and Brodie come from a background in the music and events industry, while maintaining a strong passion for creating a sustainable business. Before transforming the old church into the High Desert Music Hall which opened in April 2021, they toyed with the idea of starting yoga retreats, surf retreats— they even looked for land to till. Today, their cosmic love for music, art and food has come full circle. Together, this talented duo equates to a creative eco-friendly empire that is leading the way for hospitality in Central Oregon's music scene.
Major brings a background as a drummer, guitarist and electronic music producer. Brodie brings a plant-based and fine-art background (her background is in painting and sculpture and she even sings and produces music) while leading a vegan kitchen in the venue's Backline Lounge. Located on the corner of SW 8th and Forest Avenue, the Backline Lounge isn't just a gourmet vegan restaurant (I highly recommend you try their "Chicken" Nuggets and Mushroom Quesadillas), it's also a taproom and home for their housemade kombucha. Oh, and a new food cart pod outside offers even more culinary treasures. Like, can you ask for more?! They also like to keep their beer close to home – keeping their hops native to the Pacific Northwest.
"We feel as though it is very important to not only support other local businesses, it is also extremely important to minimize transportation and other harmful impacts on our world," Brodie said. "There is no need to truck beer from across the country when we have plenty of amazing choices right here in our own backyard. How lucky are we?!"
The Backline Restaurant, Bar and Lounge has a capacity of 100, giving musicians yet another space to set up a gig. However, the 400-capacity Main Hall is where the bulk of the action happens. After spending months researching and comparing sound systems, the couple landed on a state-of-the-art flown line array style sound system that does acoustic wonders under the 40+ foot-high vaulted wooden ceilings.
"Our room is acoustically treated and we have plans to keep improving our sound. Many guests have already said that we are their favorite place to see live music in Central Oregon," Brodie said. Not only is sound a huge priority, but so are ambiance and visuals. When playing a show at the High Desert Music Hall, artists get access to a projector, projection screen, spotlight lighting, a fog machine and smaller portable style PAs that can cater to different styles and sizes of events. The venue even has a gem of an old 1929 baby grand piano that plays ampico rolls on its main stage. The piano has been tuned every year since 1929!
HDMH also prides itself on not being genre-specific.
"Our vibe is creative, open, supportive and welcoming. ... We are not focusing on any one genre of music. We have already featured jazz, rock, blues, folk, Americana, electronic / DJs, bluegrass and punk. The list is growing and we're open to just about everything," Brodie said. The duo of Brodie and Major also do all of the booking themselves. "As artists ourselves we intimately understand the relationship that exists between the artist, the venue, the guest and how important these relationships are when it comes to presenting a memorable moment. Our goal has always been to give the artists and performers the same amount of attention to detail that we give our guests. Our mission focuses on providing an empowering space that is welcoming to all styles of people, art, music and positive community building events. Our goal is to ensure our guests feel safe, supported, sexy and invigorated."
As Redmond continues to grow, the pair says, "We're just getting started."
For those who want to go check it out, the next show the pair is excited about is the David Starfire show Dec. 9.
As they shared, "If you like to dance to positive intention bass music this is your night! It will be sexy, uplifting and super sonically in tune!"
High Desert Music Hall
818 SW Forest Ave., Redmond
Open Thu-Sat 6-10pm