Join Pearl Jam Fans on a Visual Pilgrimage to the Gorge Amphitheatre

One-Night-Only Event in Theaters, July 21st

By Chrissie Ferguson

Do you remember where you were on September 5th, 1993? I was in 8th grade. And while I was wearing down the rewind button on my incredibly awesome boombox as I listened to Pearl Jam’s album, Ten, I was also anxiously awaiting the October release of Pearl Jam’s next album, Vs.

But if you were cooler than I was and you were one of the lucky ones, you just might have been at the epic show where Blind Melon and Pearl Jam opened for Neil Young and Booker T. & The M.G.’s at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington. If you made the pilgrimage to the Gorge, I’m sure you will never forget that evening — the music, the backdrop, the sunset, and – oh yeah – the human tsunami of Pearl Jam fans!

Whether you want to relive that unparalleled concert experience or witness it for the first time, the documentary — Enormous: The Gorge Story — will bring the history of the Gorge and its music scene to life for all viewers in a one-night-only Trafalgar Releasing screening in theaters, July 21st.

The historical geology of the Gorge dates back to 15,000 years ago when an ice dam, which held back the waters of Montana’s Lake Missoula, broke apart, and 550 cubic miles of glacial water moved at 60 mph toward the Pacific Ocean. 

While some scientists say that it was one massive flood that carved out the spectacular walls of the Columbia River Gorge – others argue that the rushing water broke free multiple times over the course of 2,500 years, creating the 90-mile-long canyon that cuts through the Cascade Mountains, forming the border between Washington and Oregon.

It was not until the late 1970s, though, that the history of the Gorge’s music scene began. 

“It all started with Carol and Vince Bryan,” explained Enormous director, Nic Davis. “Vince was a retired neurosurgeon, and they were looking for a place to grow wine and to start a vineyard.”

“They stumbled upon this patch of rural farmland that basically no one wanted – not even farmers wanted it because the primary agriculture was wheat,” Davis continued. “They were the first people to grow wine there, and people thought they were crazy.”

But as we all now know, the Bryans were far from crazy, because while the desolate land may have seemed infertile, the soil could – in fact – grow grapes. 

In 1980, vines went into the ground, and by 1984, the Bryans were ready for the Grand Opening of their winery – Champs de Brionne, which translates to “Bryan’s fields” (Cave B Estate Winery became the name in 2000).

“Because the Bryan’s winery was considered an estate winery (which means that the wine does not ever leave the property during fermentation, aging, or bottling), it forced them to get creative about how to sell it, and they had to get people to show up,” says Tim Jack, the film’s producer.

According to the Cave B Estate Winery website, Carol handwrote 1,000 invitations to the Grand Opening of the winery, and almost all of the locals who were invited to the event planned to be there. In order to provide the perfect setting for wine tasting and picnicking, the Bryan’s attempted to plant Kentucky Blue Grass, but the grass did not take hold and the dusty terrain remained.

The Bryans had to think of another way to lure people to their vineyard. Then, one day — during a family picnic — they discovered the acoustics of the Gorge. 

“I believe that the story goes that Vince and Carol were really far apart,” Tim Jack said. “Vince thought that Carol was talking right next to him, but it turns out that she was way down at the bottom of the hill, and that’s how they discovered the sound quality.”

And just like the quote, “If you build it, they will come,” from the 1989 movie, Field of Dreams, the Bryans built a space to enjoy wine and live music. The first stage at the Gorge was built of plywood by Vince and his son. The landscape was perfected by Carol and their daughters. And the very first act — the Dixieland Jazz Band — was hired for the event. 

While the music continued at the Gorge after the Grand Opening of the winery, it wasn’t until 1988 when Bob Dylan put the Gorge Amphitheatre on the map with his performance that drew 16,000 people to the venue. 

Other musical acts soon followed Dylan — Crosby, Stills & Nash, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Buffett, and The Steve Miller Band, to name a few.

“There’s no place like it in the world,” said Dave Matthews who has played the Gorge close to 60 times. “There’s just something so enormous and endless about this place.” 

Pearl Jam’s lead guitarist, Mike McCready, was also put under the spell of the Gorge. 

“Mike McCready’s interview was amazing,” Davis said. “There is so much passion that he has for the place, and you can tell that it’s a really special place for him.” 

“He talks about how he had basically given up music when he was younger,” continued Davis. “He came to the Stevie Ray Vaughan show at the Gorge and was in the front row, listening to ‘Voodoo Child.’ He drove back from that show and said, ‘I’m starting to play music again.’” 

“Shortly after that, he joined Pearl Jam,” Davis concluded. “So it’s sort of wild. Had he not been to that show, I wonder where Pearl Jam would be.” 

Visit enormousmovie.com to purchase your tickets today for the one-night-only screening of Enormous: the Gorge Story on July 21st. In addition to the full-length film, this special screening event will feature exclusive, never-before-seen interviews with Hozier, Phantogram, and Portugal. The Man. The night will also include a world premiere of The Enormisodes — five mini-documentaries about The Gorge — along with a blooper reel featuring Dave Matthews, Jason Mraz, and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, among others.

Watch the film’s two-minute trailer now and get excited about July 21st!

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