THE OFFICE OF HIPFISH was still smoldering from the Astoria waterfront’s December fire. Before I could edit my thoughts or weigh the consequences, I heard myself say, “We, the artists that Hipfish supported all these years, need to step up and show the love by having a benefit!” Or was that local artist Darren Orange that said that? Or Rebecca Rubens from AVA, Jeannine Grafton from RiverSea Gallery, or Dulcye Taylor from Old Town Framing? Everyone wanted to help and HipAid was born, taking on a life of its own.
JEANINE FAIRCHILD, of the Columbian Theater and VooDoo Room, along with her illustrious cast and crew, volunteered to donate performance and celebration space. Galleries offered art show locations. Musicians and artists were coming at us from all directions, wanting to donate their talents and participate in helping Dinah Urell recuperate at least some of what was swept away by fire and water. There were times during the organizational process when I thought my hair would catch on fire, much like #10 Sixth Street.
It was determined there would be a huge art sale, followed by a Sunday party-like performance event, which was to be my baby. The absence of Hipfish became painfully obvious and getting the word out was challenging. COAST COMMUNITY RADIO immediately changed Hipfish’s underwriting spots to provide information on the benefit. FELLENE GAYLORD OF SIRIUS MEDIA in Portland, put up a website, securing HelpHipFish.com as a domain address. Social media Facebook was sparking up interest. I designed a logo and KATHY PATENAUDE added flame graphics, and quickly printed and distributed eye-catching posters. Finally, one long month after the blaze, the night of the HipAid Concert arrived. An army dispersed to perform various chores; we were ready to rock & roll. Event T-shirts were for sale, echoing the poster design, labor and proceeds donated by JILLY MERRILL OF RAINY DAY ARTISTRY. Wristbands were donated by PATRICK LINES on Facebook. PIERCE CHRISTIE AND HIS PALS FROM THE MALLTERNATIVE, along with JOEY PATENAUDE AND LIAM DUNNE, worked their butts off setting up and manipulating the sound from one 20 minute act to the next.
Everyone wanted to help and the endearing, energetic NELS OLSEN, graciously accepted “Astoria’s Most Glamorous Job,” selling admission wristbands from the Columbian’s glass fortune-telling booth. Over six hours he persevered, never wavering, always smiling. Former gallery owner and “one organized mamma”, PATRICIA SHANNON served as floor cashier, netted the generous donations swimming around the rooms, and delivered the catch to a Hipfish Benefit account at local US Bank.
DAVE BROWN, a friend from Facebook, rose to the surface as my assistant stage manager. Invaluable and quite dapper in a white shirt, bow-tie, and derby, Dave directed the arriving hoard of performers to the respective stages. He hydrated everyone, reminded me 100 times to make a name tag for “Judilicious– BOUNCER,”, and helped keep the organized kayos flowing smoothly. “HEIDIE JOHNSON; WRANGLER,” escorted Dinah along the Red Carpet between the two stages to make her acceptance speeches on time. DOT GRAEBER AND RICHARD RIDGEWAY, Hipfish employees, were recruited as ID enforcers and ushers. JUDI LAMPI, born for the job of VooDoo Room bouncer, was adorable, authoritative, and just plain Judilicious! Cannon Beach’s MAGGIE KITSON and Astoria Coffeehouse’s JIM DEFEO, supplied counseling and head-patting while I juggled the schedule and remembered all the details for the HipAid circus.
FISHERPOET DAVE DENSMORE and SINGER/SONGWRITER, ALEXA WILEY emceed the Columbian Stage after a short film, “Crossroads on the Columbia” by Donna Quinn and Spence Palermo, about the successful fight to stop LNG on the Columbia River, thanks in part to Hipfish. Nacho Biznezz, dressed in an eye-catching vintage suit, manned the open mic in the VooDoo Room. Dallas Williams, Denise Drake, and Scott Tracewell kick-started the lounge acts, followed by David Crabtree’s special 15-minute composition just for HipAid. Denise helped Nacho keep the balls in the air, as a litany of characters signed in to sing for Hipfish’s supper.
Meanwhile in the main tent, Michael Hurley, Astorian and international folk legend, captivated the thirsty audience with his unique crooning and guitar work, always a delight. Ringleader Dave Densmore, recalling the pain of total loss, growled a poem about a boat fire. Alexa Wiley performed her LNG protest song, used in the film. The love was spreading around the room like wildfire!
Ned Heavenrich and Larry Moore performed as the LAZY BOYS, proudly representing Brownsmead. Ned recalled the support given by Hipfish, several years ago, in covering and encouraging production of his original stage play. Larry sang his heart out, high-lonesome style, on a great version of one of my favorite folk songs, “Dirty Old Town.” THE CROUTONS, Joey Patenaude and returning Astorian, John Crowley, delighted us all with a few catchy John Crowley originals and Joey’s fabulous guitar styling.
Christopher Corbell, Frank Peper, and Jeff Carden took the stage as THE SWAGGERS, a recently reunited local favorite. The melodic rockabilly energy got everyone up and dancing. JACKSON ANDREWS, possessed by the spirit of Mick Jagger or possibly Bruce Springsteen, rocked the Casbah, dancing all about, backed by his great band, Dave Quinton on bass and Jeff Carden on drums. Jeff didn’t even have to move from his drum-set after his set with the Swaggers.
Paranormal author, DINA JAMES, read a captivating short story written just for Dinah and the HipAid event. Clatsop College writing instructor NANCY COOK performed spoken word. Part way through the show, blissfully enjoying the lighting, I remembered that the Columbian does not have specialty live theater lighting capabilities. I turned to see LIAM DUNNE, who had been running around all day setting up cords and tweaking sound equipment with Pierce, holding a giant mag-flashlight. Liam’s follow-spot stayed trained on the beautiful KIM ANGELIS as she played her phenomenal electric gypsy violin, floating and clogging in her flowing gypsy skirts. “Steady as she goes” JOSEF GAULT provided grounding guitar stylings.
RADIO COWBOY, with Frogtown’s Heather Christie, and Philip Pelletier, along with David Miottel, appeared in a flurry of purple and feathers. The trio has cultivated an unusual sound, and Heather Christie is an Astoria treasure, having grown up in the fins of Hipfish. Ray Raihala on keyboards, his beautiful wife Denise on ukulele, sang hilarious naughty songs from, what I dubbed, their “Spending-Too-Much-Time-Alone-in-Brownsmead Collection.” The love was burning up the room.
And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, for the grand finale! Everyone’s favorite reggae band, MA BARLEY, closed the show. Mark Erickson, Terry Erickson, Tom Peake, Joey Patenaude, Kevin Violette, Chandler Johnson, and Jeremy Hersch burned down the house in true reggae fashion. Dinah, Denise, and I joined Ma Barley for a rousting audience sing-along of Bob Marley’s “Stir it Up.”
Stirring up the ashes was humbling as we all fell witness to locals helping locals; artists helping artists. Everyone brought their A-Game to the deck, creating such a wonderful and successful FUN-draiser. I thank everyone who participated in any way in our dog and pony show!
It burns, burns, burn, that ring of fire, and COMMUNITY keeps the circle unbroken.