It’s all about perspective. Examined under a new lens, even the most familiar topics can become sources of reinvention and revolution. On this week’s show, we talk with artists who are updating their mediums with radical ideas and approaches.


"Between Two Knees," the first play by the indigenous comedy troupe the 1491s, is part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2018-2019 season.

“Between Two Knees,” the first play by the indigenous comedy troupe the 1491s, is part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2018-2019 season.

Alexis Munoa Dyer/Courtesy Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The 1491s Trade The Small Screen For The Stage

What started as a collection of YouTube videos by five Native American comedians is rapidly becoming something much larger. The 1491s — comprised of Sterlin Harjo, Dallas Goldtooth, Bobby Wilson, Ryan RedCorn and Migizi Pensoneau — use humor to offer their take on contemporary indigenous experiences. From Standing Rock to New Age Shamanism, no topic is safe from their satire. Now, the 1491s are exploring new comedic platforms. The group’s first theatrical production, “Between Two Knees,” just premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, receiving praise for both its biting wit and its study of intergenerational trauma. KLCC’s Brian Bull spoke with them about the project, which runs through Oct. 27.


Dan Vidmar of Shy Girls performs at the Doug Fir Lounge in 2017. 

Dan Vidmar of Shy Girls performs at the Doug Fir Lounge in 2017. 

Braden Spotts

Shy Girls Brings Meditative Funk To Soul’d Out Festival

Under the name Shy Girls, Dan Vidmar creates brooding, silky, alternative R&B. It’s hazy and introspective without being “flannel-y” — the kind of stuff that makes you want to pull the blinds, crawl into bed and contemplate. Vidmar’s new album, “Bird on the Wing,” was released last month, with his signature groove still present, if not a bit evolved. We spoke with Vidmar in 2017 at his opbmusic Live Session. You can catch Shy Girls at the Wonder Ballroom this Saturday night, as part of the Soul’d Out Festival’s closing weekend. Not sure which Soul’d Out acts to see? Check out KMHD’s recommendations here.


This winter, the Oregon East Symphony commissioned a new piece, "Horse Notations," from avant-garde chamber composer Raven Chacon. 

This winter, the Oregon East Symphony commissioned a new piece, “Horse Notations,” from avant-garde chamber composer Raven Chacon. 

April Baer/OPB

Reimagining Chamber Music With Raven Chacon

Growing up in the Navajo Nation, Raven Chacon loved to rip apart cassette tapes, piece them back together and revel in the discordant sounds they produced. These days, he still experiments with noise music, but Chacon’s also a major innovator in chamber composition. For instance, one of his scores uses firearms as percussion. His pieces require musicians to use different approaches in playing and listening, and he often trades traditional musical notation for symbols or storytelling.

This year, the Oregon East Symphony commissioned a new piece from Chacon, “Horse Notations,” meant to represent the region’s identity. While staying at Crow’s Shadow Institute for the Arts, Chacon also adapted the composition into a series of prints. We spoke with Chacon about the experience and about broadening the definitions of music and artistry.


Author Jacqueline Woodson (center) poses with students from Ockley Green Middle School at Literary Arts in downtown Portland. 

Author Jacqueline Woodson (center) poses with students from Ockley Green Middle School at Literary Arts in downtown Portland. 

Courtesy Literary Arts

Jacqueline Woodson On Migration, Representation And Family History

Jacqueline Woodson is making up for lost time. In her celebrated books — especially those for young audiences — she creates the characters that were noticeably absent from her own childhood reading material. Many of these characters are people of color, who she hopes her readers will see as reflections of themselves, or windows to different experiences. Woodson’s books have won the National Book Award and the Newbery Medal, and, last year, the Library of Congress named her the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Woodson spoke with OPB’s Dave Miller about her own family’s migration from South Carolina to Brooklyn in search of a better life. Her full interview is available here.


Music Heard On 'State Of Wonder'

A Spotify playlist to share all the music we feature on our show and anything else that inspires us while we’re making it.