Yaquina Bay
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Yaquina Bay

Salem, Oregon, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Salem, Oregon, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Folk Pop




"Review - The Eastern Desert"

“The record works well as a soundtrack to a romantic evening, a lazy-or-rainy day or a contemplative weekend, but some of the songs hold up strong as stand-alones that could and should grace many people's mp3 players this season... Look for Ward and Yaquina Bay to be one of the major players in the Salem and Oregon music scene for a while, and don’t be surprised to be blown out of the water when you first hear this record. Hopefully the recording is just the tip of the iceberg for what is to come from Ward.” - Salem Weekly

"Track Review - "Old Foes""

Orchestral folk is not generally known for its easygoing vibe, but Yaquina Bay creates just such a mood here. - Independent Clauses

"Review - The Eastern Desert"

"...One of Salem's best of 2012" - Willamette Live


Our Salem-based traditional eastern European influenced outfit has been the definition of a hard-working local band. When asked about the reason behind booking their next tour Chris Ward (The band’s founder) had this to say: “Touring is the natural next step in the life of a group- in the name of keeping the band in people’s mind and seen live.”

“This tour has more dates packed into a closer region- our next tour in the fall we plan to have fewer dates in a more spread out area to markets we’ve never been,” commented Aaron Schmidt, the band’s bass player/ vocalist.

The group’s music is always changing- initially, a very traditional sound of old world Europe, they’ve evolved through augmenting members and new inspirations as would be natural for an ensemble’s progression. The story arc of musical releases becomes a concept by nature that details growth and discovery in new chapters of the members’ experience. Through Yaquina Bay specifically this is a most interesting timbre. A six person group made up of instruments like accordion, bass, ukulele, Guitar, and with new member Michelle Reed adding a second violin to the mix.

The songs are becoming a bit more accessible to a larger crowd, “We’ve glued old world sounds to more progressive pop sensibility,” says Chris. "This is definitely reflected in our chemistry as
well,” added Shawn Thornhill, the group’s percussionist.

Through just talking to the members I can feel the balance between levity and dedication to their endeavor. To this I pay tribute to the roughly Gonzo nature in which I interview my subjects (in this case Yaquina Bay- yaquinabayband.com). I am convinced that it adds a more laid back and comfortable element to my journalism that provides more realistic and true discourse.

They are kicking off their West Coast tour of 11 dates with a show here at the Ike Box in Salem accompanied by popular well-polished pop group, Brette and Blake, psychedelic dream band- Psychic Echo, and well-motivated indie duo- Sleeperface. A modest cover charge for quality shows adds value to the work that musicians do, and this is no exception to that rule. In combination with Chris’s newly acquired van repair knowledge, the ambitious nature of Yaquina Bay (in song and cause), and their anchor to traditional origin there is no doubt these instruments will give them the advantage of having a long and fulfilling journey. Bon Voyage friends! - Salem Weekly


Still working on that hot first release.



Layering accordion, ukulele, guitar, and percussion Oregon native Chris Ward slowly sculpted a sound praised for its distinct old world flavor and pop sensibilities.  What began as a recording project evolved into a powerful live act complete with intoxicating melodies and harmonies that ebb and flow between antiquated and contemporary instrumentation.

Violins, piano, and acoustic guitar share the same unique sonic space as heavy bass, sampled organ, and a full drum kit. The music of Yaquina Bay draws inspiration from the colorful instrumentation of Beirut, the soaring melodies of Blind Pilot, and the blistering performances of A Hawk and a Hacksaw. It is a sound that is both nostalgic and fresh, familiar and new. 

Yaquina Bay’s most recent full length record “The Eastern Desert” explores a musical landscape that distills Ward’s elegant song writing using the dynamics of their robust live show. The record also deals with this unique blend of the old and the new through Ward’s lyrics. 

“I grew up in the deserts of Eastern Oregon”, says Ward. “A normal childhood really. Tree forts by the river, dogs, summer, winter, love and joy, heartbreak and sorrow. The Eastern Desert is an exploration of that childhood. The deep attachment and indifference I have toward the land in which I grew. The wonderful and terrible memories etched in to my core.”

In addition to exploring themes of transfiguration and childhood on their recordings, the band are not strangers to the intensive and deliberate process of live performance. Two full West Coast tours and countless performances in their home state of Oregon have secured Yaquina Bay as “the definition of a hard-working band” (Salem Weekly). 

It is a description the band has strived to be affiliated with year after year, night after night, show after show. A comprehensive illustration of the roads traveled and melodies composed through the years.  But it is also a determined allusion to the promising future of this band. A future containing multitudes of miles to be driven, fans to be captivated, stages to be conquered. 

Yaquina Bay’s most recent release is a digital single entitled “Old Foes”.

Band Members