Attics of Our Lives

by Cleo Hehn, Eona Skelton, Myrna Yoder, 2023

Marching across the rooftops of McMenamins locations is a parade of beloved artists who shine in the McMenamins musical universe and have become part of Edgefield history.  

Lyrics from “Attics of My Life’ by the Grateful Dead are woven into this mural, which features members of this legendary band. Also included are figures from the original McMenamins Marching Band and other Portland bands, including the Decemberists and Freak Mountain Ramblers.  

On the first wall, Robert Hunter leads the procession, with a flaming baton in hand (a reference to McMenamins “eternal flame” torches.) He and Jerry Garcia stride across the roof of the Octagonal Barn at Cornelius Pass Roadhouse. Bobby Torres, once part of the McMenamins Marching Band, plays the conga on the roof of the Olympic Club beside musician Jack Johnson, who carries his daughter on his shoulders. Johnson and his family were guests of the Power Station wing of the hotel. Two more figures from the McMenamins Marching Band play horns in the background above the Wilsonville Old Church. The sax player is Leon Cotter, son of late McMenamins artist Joe Cotter and former McMenamins artist Kolieha Bush. 

Further down the line to the left, Marcia Griffiths, a singer who performed at Edgefield’s first show, Reggae Sunsplash, dances alongside guitarist David Nelson. Nelson was a friend of Garcia’s who performed in the Attic. With his guitar, he teeters atop the Grand Lodge’s central pediment. Magenta magnolia petals float through the air, referencing the blooming trees that can be found on Edgefield’s grounds.  

Around the corner, a pink-infused sunset glows below the knowing faces of the sun and moon. The iconic water tower rises from other Edgefield architectural elements, with Grateful Dead biographer Dennis McNally sitting on top with his book. Below, Carmen VanDemarr dances alongside her late husband Turtle, of the Freak Mountain Ramblers. As the sky turns dark on the left-hand side of the wall, Jenny Conlee of the Decemberists plays her accordion beside Freak Mountain Rambler Jimmy Boyer.  

Rounding another corner brings the viewer to the night wall, filled with dark skies, wispy clouds, stars, and star magnolias. Portland jazz DJ and percussionist Carlton Jackson, who played with the McMenamins Marching Band, taps the snare as he strides across the Chapel Pub. On the Anderson School roof, pianist Keith and singer Donna Godchaux, of the Grateful Dead, join the procession. Behind them, two more McMenamins Marching Band members appear, one crouches with his sousaphone in the background clouds, while percussionist Catón Lyles plays the djembe.  

Reggae artist Beres Hammond, who performed at Reggae Sunsplash, straddles the dome of the St. Johns Pub and the roof of Imbrie Hall at Cornelius Pass Roadhouse. To his right, Dave Grohl of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters plays bass drum while singer Theresa Hannam of the Nightcaps dances with the tambourine. They stand in the clouds above the Bagdad, its neon marquee glowing in evening.  

The final wall art is set in the wee hours of the night. Three McMenamins chimneys rise from the clouds with two magnolia trees, their flowers scattered in the wind. Above, the wall’s original border has been transformed into a balcony railing. Musicians play, Hammerhead and friends raise a glass, and Ruby drinks wine with Satin the Cat, all silhouetted against golden light. Rounding the final corner, they return to where they began, and the circle of music and revelry begins again.