Tom Rozum and Laurie Lewis, fixtures of the West Coast folk music scene, have been playing together for almost 30 years, and serenading river runners for more than 20.
“The combination of beautiful days on the water and nights under the stars mixed with acoustic music really grabbed me,” says Lewis of her inaugural rafting adventure, a run on the Rio Grand in Big Bend in 1992.
The trip led to a longstanding partnership with Northwest Rafting Company. Every year, the musical mates join for a trip down Oregon’s Rogue River or Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon.
Jam sessions echo through the canyon walls by day, Lewis and Rozum play a set after dinner and, as the sun sinks below the rim, the stage is set for a talent show.
“There are no stage lights out there, so the group just gathers up in a big circle and we’ll add a campfire of lanterns as the sun goes down,” says Nate Wilson, long time Northwest Rafting Company guide and outdoor photographer. “It might not have the acoustics of an indoor venue, but listening to the music in a wilderness river canyon is hard to beat.”
“Every time down the river is a new experience,” says Lewis, whose acoustic tunes are brimming with vivid natural imagery. “I love the play of light on the water, the wildlife, the constantly changing scenery, and the interesting array of people who are drawn to rivers and rafting. Acoustic songs played on fiddle, mandolin and guitar seem to really fit in the setting of a river valley.”
Wilson captured this photo in Flora Dell canyon on the last day of a Rogue River trip, the final set before the take-out. “The tighter river canyon encountered upstream gives way to lush, rolling coastal mountains,” says Wilson. “We spent a few minutes strapping the rafts together into a big flotilla, and then headed on.
“Drifting through, we passed a few nice waterfalls and other guests on the trip jumped in the water or floated on inflatable kayaks to get closer
to the music.” Emma Drudge
This image was the winner of the 2015 Guide Vibes photo contest by NRS, for perfectly illustrating the essence of the river lifestyle.
This article was originally published in Rapid, Volume 18 • Issue 2. Read this issue.