There are now approximately sixty-five McMenamin establishments in the Northwest – an amazing growth story that began in 1983 with the Hillsdale Brewery and Public House by Mike and Brian McMenamin. Their venues are primarily hotels and/or restaurants, brew pubs, breweries or combinations thereof, and somewhat outside Thebeerchaser pub tour guidelines.
There are some exceptions, however, which would include the Fulton Pub and the White Eagle Saloon.
The White Eagle originally opened in 1905 and is now on the National Historic Register. Because of its remarkable history and musical tradition, our party visited in mid-September, which was also the weekend of the Jam-o-Rama 2012.
The 2012 event featured multiple bands of the Pacific Northwest from the ‘60’s through 80’s.
Amazingly, there is no cover charge for the day-long celebration. Seven different bands played that day and we focused on the “Rising Sons” featuring Dan Taylor on vocals, Forrest Green on keyboards, Tim Ellis on guitar, Jim Walker on bass, and Dan Rice on drums.
Forrest is the brother of Portland lawyer, Pat Green, and the two Green brothers and Thebeerchaser all attended Oregon City High School in the late ‘60’s. As long as we are reviewing history, their Dad – Bill – was the Oregon City Postmaster for many years before retiring.
The White Eagle was “born” in 1905 and the historic “Rock’n Roll” Hotel has eleven rooms. Nightly entertainment is featured in the bar which has a stage.
The bar is a very long classic oak structure although seating in booths is somewhat limited.
Fortunately, it is supplemented during good weather by the large adjacent beer garden.
The rich history is detailed in their website. Look at this excerpt:
“Did you know the White Eagle is called “one of the most haunted places” in Portland? ……. Set in North Portland’s industrial neighborhood, underneath the mighty span of the Fremont Bridge, the legendary White Eagle Cafe and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel echoes with tall tales of resident spirits, poker games and Shanghai tunnels……”
“Exposed brick walls and black-and-white photos of the old days lend a Wild West flair not just the bar, but all of Portland.” (2007 Willamette Week Drinkers’ Bible) – see photo below:
The website also relates tales such as a prostitute being murdered on the second floor, ghost-like apparitions, conflicts among the Polish immigrant industrial workers in the area and the rich jazz legends from which the currently nightly jams evolved:
“The Holy Modal Rounders and blues man Robert Cray helped launch the bar’s live music tradition. Others like the Isley Brothers, ZZ Top and Big Walter Horton were followed in the ’80s by Northwest music icons Paul deLay, Curtis Salgado, Norman Sylvester, Steve Bradley and more.”
The Food and Drink
As stated in the 2008 Willamette Week Drink Guide, “White Eagle’s menu and beer selection are standard McMenamin’s fare, but the historic hotel/bordello creaky floors, lofty ceilings and rumored ghosts lend a spooky charm.”
While the food was essentially as stated above, we were surprised at how quickly we got served (not usually the case at McMenamins) even with the Jam-o-Rama crowd. The Reuben sandwich and the Irish Stew were both very good and the McM’ns beer is pretty good whatever you choose.
Forrest Green – November Beerchaser-of-the-Month
Other than having a name which oozes sustainability, until the late ‘60’s Forrest Green was a typical high school student – a class officer in his junior year at Oregon City High School and a talented musician who started his own garage band and a group called The Rising Sons. In 1967, Forrest’s senior year at OCHS, he got a call from Don Grady (who also starred as Robbie in the hit sitcom “My Three Sons.” )
——————-Grady had become aware of Green’s talent on the keyboard and asked him if he wanted to tour with his group, Yellow Balloon. Forrest became the envy of his classmates and played with Yellow Balloon which released a song with a title identical to the group moniker. Although “Yellow Ballon” was their only hit, it climbed to # 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967. The group disbanded after their tour and release of one album. (Unfortunately, Grady passed away this year.)
Forrest eventually went back to school receiving his under-graduate degree and also became certified in Advanced Holistic Energy Healing. He then earned his Masters Degree in Humanistic Clinical Psychology and is a master improvisational musician.
His musical gifts and his keen interest in the environment, combined with his love of travel have taken him to Peru, Bolivia, Southwest England, Wales, France, the island of Bimini, the dolphin bays of Hawaii, the Southwest, Northwest and Northeast United States and Canada.
He formed his own consulting firm, Soul Source while in Northern California. After living in Vermont, he then moved to Asheville, North Carolina, where he now resides. His firm is “an avenue for healing energetics offering individual sessions, group facilitation and presentations to enhance the personal and spiritual well-being of children and adults. It also provides environmental, energy space clearing of homes, offices and land.” The link to his website is below and is definitely worth checking out:
It was a nice reunion with Forrest, especially since it was a the White Eagle and we had an opportunity to hear his first group. His musical skills continue to be outstanding and he has done an admirable job pursuing his passion in a very successful career.
And check out the White Eagle. If you are secure and not easily frightened, it’s even worth spending a night in the hotel after dinner and live music – perhaps during Jam-o-Rama 2013!