- Join Joel Chadd and Dustin Byers as they perform their last gig as Trailer 31 at Dudley's Bookshop Cafe on 6/8.
Dustin Byers and Joel Chadd were first introduced over the phone. Chadd's twin sister, Rebecca, went to college with Byers and the two have been longtime friends. Rebecca thought the two would hit it off, and that led to what would one day become the Bend-based band, Trailer 31.
Byers says the real crux of their collaborative chemistry came when Chadd moved into the trailer for which their band takes its name.
"We spent one summer where neither of us worked," Byers recalls. "We fly fished and wrote music."
Over the course of their musical partnership, Trailer 31 coined their own genre—Oregon folk, taking inspiration from the state, the great outdoors and their travels. Byers has a background in string music—not to be confused with bluegrass, and is in love with the old-time fiddle and the string music that inspired the folk style. Chadd grew up playing drums, but found himself drawn to the claw hammer banjo.
"It really clicked for me as a drummer," Chadd says.
In May, Trailer 31 released its second full-length album, "Walk a Mile." On Friday, the band celebrates the release of the album as well as the departure of Byers, a teacher who plans to move to Europe. This marks the final performance of Trailer 31.
"Lyrically, a lot of the lyrics, for me, are speaking of kind of transferring out of your 20s into your 30s," Chadd says. "You start seeing life a lot differently. Seeing your parents in a different light, the roles start shifting. Thinking about those relationships in your life and see them shift."
"I know when I was thinking of these songs, I was thinking about harmonies," Byers says. "A lot of people don't hear that all the time. Let's figure out a cool harmony. If you listen to them, we're singing both together. Lyrically, the first album was writing about life before Bend and the chaos of being in your 20s. This album is more about looking back and reminiscing. This one feels a lot more adult."
Since forming Trailer 31 in 2014, Chadd and Byers developed an honest collaboration process. They give each other straightforward feedback and feel comfortable trying new things.
"I'm going to miss getting in the music zone," Byers says of his departure from Trailer 31. "I never experienced it until I played music for crowds. Letting go and trusting. Towards the end of our performing, we did that a lot and just lost ourselves in the songs. You're not even thinking about it anymore. It's like being in the zone in sports; that doesn't happen all the time."
After this final show, Chadd says he'll continue selling the album and will play in his other band, High on the Hog, which has several gigs lined up for the summer.
"My plan is to, because I progressed so much musically with Dustin, I don't plan on moving backwards," Chadd says. "I want to take everything I've learned and I'm going to woodshed a bunch of music and get back to writing again. Not feeling the pressure of gigging or playing with anyone, in hopes of, once I get all my thoughts out, getting back to performing again."
Chadd and Byers have enjoyed being a part of the vibrant Bend music scene, saying they could play at the M&J Tavern or on the street corner for First Friday and be surrounded by people who love music.
"I think we came into Bend at a really good time," Byers says. "A couple big bands, Larry and His Flask, and Wilderness, had just stopped performing as much. I felt like when we started, there was a bit of a void. Bend is such a small town in terms of music still. You really make a lot of connections. You go to your friends' gigs and they go to yours. It's a good feeling of family when it comes to music in Bend."