News Column

Live music show or a night at the movies? Friday night, do both

August 28, 2014

By Kelli Scott, The Wenatchee World, Wash.

Aug. 28--After a decade of making films, Charley Voorhis is taking some time to reflect back, look ahead and celebrate. His latest project, "Voortex Live," is "kind of a celebration of the last 10 years of craziness," Voorhis said. "I'm calling it 10 years of survival."

The project pairs two historically disconnected art forms -- cinematography and live music -- in one event. During the one-hour show Friday night at the Numerica Performing Arts Center, a group of musicians will play live on stage and perfectly in synch with a film projected behind them on two massive screens.

"This experience will be like just falling into a visual dream or a visual journey," Voorhis said. "It's not necessarily a story, but the things you're hearing and the things you're seeing are synchronized and it's a visual and audio showcase that people can just get lost in. It's sort of mesmerizing."

Voorhis was just 19 years old when he started his production company, Voortex Productions, and began making freelance films under its name in 2004. He'd recently returned to the Wenatchee Valley, the place he grew up, after attending film school in California.

He said the 10-year retrospective film and music show is "all-encompassing of who we are."

"We're not just a company that makes promotional videos," Voorhis said. "We're artists that are capturing the world around us to share with people, and I would like to think that comes through in our work -- that we're not making commercials. We're telling intimate stories about people doing something they're passionate about."

The "Voortex Live" event will include clips from these commissioned projects, along with artfully shot footage of nature and people, all set to the ambient, ethereal music of Adam Butler, a talented 26-year-old graphic designer who lives in Arizona and with whom Voorhis has collaborated on several projects.

Voorhis discovered Butler's music a few years ago while digging around the Internet in search of a song to use in a project for Snowdrift Cider Company.

"He had this enigmatic sound that just connected in some aesthetic way that I can't really explain with words," Voorhis said of Butler's music. "It just worked."

But when it came time to talk about payment, Butler refused any compensation.

"He said, 'I don't want money for my art.' To this day he still won't take money," Voorhis said. "So I decided to throw him a show and I'm flying him up from Arizona for this."

Voorhis has used Butler's music in seven films now, including the last three years of annual Voortex highlight reels.

"I felt it was appropriate to do our entire concert revolving around his music because, really, he changed the face of who we were through his music," Voorhis said.

For the past nine months, Voorhis and a group of local musicians have been working to translate Butler's digitally-created compositions to play on real, live instruments, "and his music is very hard to reverse-engineer because there are a lot of layers and they all soar together," Voorhis said.

"This group of musicians has done an amazing job figuring out what instruments can make these sounds that he created digitally, and then we have to figure out how to perform them live."

Locals will be able to spot several familiar landmarks in the film, as well as some dramatic nature shots from around the Wenatchee Valley, the place Voorhis credits with much of his success.

"This is a perfect place for me because it gives me the freedom to explore not only the area but explore what I'm capable of artistically, and everyone is very approachable and supportive," Voorhis said. "And for lack of better terms, it's affordable to do production here -- both for us as a company but also for the client to create a strong story through video here, as opposed to Seattle. Your budgets are going to double or triple in Seattle. So I guess I think of this area as my core."

The entire show, Voorhis said, is a way of saying "thank you" to the community for a decade of support.

"To be honest, I've probably given away more tickets than my bookkeeper would like to know," he said. "I don't care about the ticket sales. I care about the audience. I just like having people there."

Voorhis said he plans to make an announcement at the show Friday night about a new endeavor that he and his team are planning for next year. The Voortex Productions Cinematic Music Project will bring local musicians and other artists together to showcase their talents, with proceeds from twice-a-year shows going to arts education scholarships.

"The whole point of bringing it back right here at the 2014 mark is to not just do it once and then say 'that was great, thanks for 10 years,' but to set a whole new standard for what we will be to the community," Voorhis said.

"We want to create an opportunity for artists to jump in."

Reach Kelli Scott at 509-661-5205 or


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Source: Wenatchee World, The (WA)

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