Hitchin’ Revival – An Original North Coast Musical At the PAC

Hitchin Flats
Creator Ned Heavenrich (left) and the Brownsmead Flats, the band behind the musical.

February 7-9 and 15-17
Fri/Sat, 7:30 pm, except 2 pm on the 17th
Clatsop Community College Performing Arts Center
16th & Franklin, Astoria
$15 – adults
$10 – Student/Senior

Partners for the PAC presents Hitchin’, a musical play written by Ned Heavenrich, with music composed by Heavenrich, Robert Stevens and Dan Sutherland of the Brownsmead Flats, on February 7-9 and 15-17 at the Performing Arts Center (PAC) in Astoria. The play is the second in a series of fundraisers to keep the PAC open, accessible and affordable to the community. The first fundraiser, Bach and Rock Around the Clock, featured local musicians (including the Browsmead Flats) and an all-night film festival, which is slated to be reshown in the spring.

Performed to sellout crowds at the PAC in 1997 and again in 1999, Hitchin’ tells the story of a middle-aged man confronted with his rebellious teenage son and his past in what Heavenrich described as a “partially autobiographical tale about coming of age and letting go, a result of a mid-life crisis brought on by my dad’s death in ‘88.” In 2004, Hitchin’ was revived at the River Theater.

Walter Newman is a clothing store owner and workaholic whose 20-year-old son, Matt, is getting ready to leave the house to “find his own path.” Walter finds his journal from his days on the road, and the journal’s entries come to life on the stage. Walt (as he was known then) meets Lulu, a fellow hitchhiker who knocks his socks off and heads on down the road; Mary and James Erickson, a farm couple whose oldest son was killed in the Vietnam war, and whose other sons are now estranged, with the marriage suffering; Howie, a hippie gypsy and former Peace Corps volunteer who keeps a load of pot in his Deadhead VW van; Jack, a draftee at an air force base in North Dakota who’s not especially eager to go to Vietnam; Edna (named for Edna Packard, who played the original role as Ethel), an older widow who invites Walt to her house in the middle of nowhere to reminisce on her life; Marian, Georgia and Debbie, three lesbians on a camping trip; and Sylvester, a bat-swinging hitcher who’s headed “towards his destination.” The play ends with Matt leaving, Walter still leery and the cast singing Isn’t It Exciting!

“I would say that half the characters in the play I met on the road and half are composite characters from my life and other people’s experiences,” Heavenrich explained.

The orchestra for the musical is the Browsmead Flats, who will be joined by Janet Bowler, a flutist with the North Coast Symphonic Band and other musical groups in the area. Jayne Osborn, who stage managed the River Theater production, is directing. Osborn is a veteran director and stage manager who has worked with the Astor Street Opry Company (ASOC) and the River Theater. Musical direction is by Allison Wilski, a soprano with the North Coast Chorale. Amy Coughlin, another veteran of ASOC, is stage manager. Set design is by Craig Shepherd, manager of the Coaster Theatre in Cannon Beach, with set construction managed by John Fenton of the Brownsmead Flats. Josef Gault, former manager of the PAC, is in charge of sound and lighting. And Marco Davis, who played Jack in the original production of Hitchin’, is choreographer. The author is production manager, with able assistance from Heavenrich and Stevens (who played Howie in the 1999 production and was music director in the original production).

All proceeds from Hitchin’ will go to the Support the PAC fund, managed by the Clatsop Community College Foundation and the Partners for the PAC, and used for maintenance and operating costs of the PAC. Partners for the PAC is a coalition of performing arts groups that currently use the PAC for rehearsals and performances which was brought together in 2012 to help raise funds to keep the PAC open and work on ways to maintain and enhance the facility after the college suffered severe budget cuts and was unable to continue their operational support. For more information on the Partners for the PAC and how you can support the PAC, go to the Support the PAC website at

CAST: Bob Goldberg, Sandi Hilton, Jordan Okoniewski, Stephen Shannon, Sara Drage, Destiny Lish, Lenny Noller, ChrisLynn Taylor, Eddie Knick, Luke Hanflin, Lori Honl, Stephanie Rowe, Bree Heavenrich, Amy Coughlin, Jonathon Osborn, Daric Moore, Dave Bergquist and Emily Honl.

The Partners’ production of Hitchin’ is made possible by a generous grant from the Clatsop County Cultural Coalition and the Oregon Cultural Trust.


The PAC – Its Wonderful Past and Uncertain Future

The PAC today. Photo by Bob Goldberg.
Trinity Lutheran Church, circa 1925

Mention “historic theater”
in Astoria these days, and perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is the Liberty Theater, which opened in 1925, and is in the midst of major renovations today. Or perhaps Shanghaied in Astoria, or the more recent take, The Real Lewis & Clark Story, melodramas performed by the Astor Street Opry Company, which tell Astoria’s history with a tinge of Scandinavian humor. But if you were around these parts in the 1970s, the only historic theater in town was the Clatsop Community College Performance Arts Center (PAC), a converted Lutheran church, which showcased an enormous amount of work of both local playwrights and traditional theater, amongst many other activities.

The PAC Stage

Designed by Astoria architect John Wicks, Trinity Lutheran Church was constructed during the Depression on the site of the original Convent of the Holy Name, at 16th and Franklin. In 1974, Trinity Lutheran merged with the Zion congregation to become Peace Lutheran Church, and the congregation was moved to another Wicks-designed building at 12th & Exchange. The abandoned church was then acquired by Clatsop Community College and reopened in 1977 as a performing arts center. The PAC, as it’s affectionately known, housed the college’s theater, music and dance programs until the mid-1990s. Initially, CCC introduced a series of music elective courses such as music history, music theory, and piano practice rooms in the basement level. Then local pianist/music educators, the late Betty Phillips and jazz composer Chris Parker were at the helm of the small music department.

Juanita Price, 2011 George Award winner for community service, branch librarian of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) in Astoria, and active with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), remembers the early years of the PAC well. She told me that the Tuesday noon concerts, originally for students only, became very popular with the community quickly. “The public starting showing up at these concerts and talks, because people didn’t want to go up the hill [to the main college campus],” Price reminisced. She remembers the Brownsmead Flats performing, and an atmosphere similar to many free noon concerts you see in bigger cities. In addition to music, dance and theater, Price said that the PAC has been used for political forums, speeches, lectures and other AAUW events, even in the early years.

Susi Brown, a retired teacher from the Knappa School District and most recently owner of Pier Pressure Productions, told me, “The college’s theater program produced a minimum of three shows a year, including student-directed one acts. For a time during the 1970s, CCC had a strong and very well attended summer theatre curriculum. At one time, there was an outstanding music program which included concert band, orchestra, jazz chorale, and private and class lessons in the curriculum. Also, during the 1970s and 80s, CCC had a full-time dance instructor offering jazz, modern, tap, yoga, choreography, and performance classes.”

A late 70s English comedy was one of the first fully staged theater productions at the PAC. Locals look closely.

According to Brown, some of the notable plays performed at the PAC as part of the theater program were HMS Pinafore, A Doll’s House, Endgame, Stop the World, I Want to Get Off, Carousel, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (set on another planet, sometime in the distant future) under Reed Turner; Nude with Violin, Music Man, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Old Lady Shows Her Medals, and The Madwoman of Chaillot, under Del Corbett; Steel Magnolias, Nunsense, Rumors, and The Princess and the Pea, under Gay Preston (with Larry Bryant as tech director); Antigone under Karin Temple; and Talking With, Buried Child, and Lysistrata, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bridge To Tarabithia, under Karen Bain.

The PAC also housed community and high school theatre productions by the Clatsop County Aids Coalition, the North Coast Readers Theatre, the Mossy Rock Players, the aforementioned Astor Street Opry Company, Coaster Theatre Readers, Columbia River Repertory Company (later to start the River Theater), Knappa High School, and Clatsop County Community Action (Diary of Anne Frank), according to Brown.

Jennifer Goodenberger, a local artist, pianist and composer, attended CCC in the late 70s and early 80s as a music student, and later returned as an adjunct faculty member in the music department. During her tenure as a student and teacher, she helped put on the many musicals that were performed in the PAC. She wrote a kabuki-style score for Rashomon, a Japanese crime drama based on a story by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa and the famous 1950 Kurosawa movie. She also wrote the score for the other-worldly version of Midsummer Night’s Dream. The repertory dance show Mood Indigo was one of Goodenberger’s fond memories. Put on by Vicki Durst, CCC’s dance instructor, Goodenberger was music director. She remembers a bustling PAC, with rehearsals, classes, recitals, lessons, listening rooms, concerts, plays, and huge audiences.

Josh Hilbur and Mark Davis in the original Hitchin’, 1997.

Measure 5 decimated the performing arts curriculum at CCC in the early 90s. This left a hole that a showcase of local talent filled with the original play Hitchin’, written by Brownsmead Flats’ member Ned Heavenworth, directed by Mark Loring (who designed many of the sets at the PAC and is the brother of local flutist Shelley Loring,), choreographed by Vicki Durst (who also coordinated the PAC’s Arts on Stage program) and Carol Newman (currently host of KMUN’s Arts Live and Local and dance instructor, among so many other activities), starring, among others, Marko Davis, Mark Erickson, Jason Hussa and Mike Wangen (all big names in local theater to this day), and featuring original music written and performed by the Brownsmead Flats. Performed to sellout crowds at the PAC in 1997 and again in 1999, Hitchin’ tells the story of a middle-aged man confronted with his rebellious teenage son and his past in what Heavenrich described as a “partially autobiographical tale about coming of age and letting go, a result of a mid-life crisis brought on by my dad’s death in ‘88.”

KMUN Troll Radio Revue, born of the River Theater and transferred to the PAC.

From almost the beginning, the PAC has been home to many local musical, choral and dance programs. The North Coast Symphonic Band has rehearsed and played at the PAC since 1979, participating in the college’s Arts & Ideas program for many years. The North Coast Chorale has put on many a memorable concert at the PAC, and some musicals to boot, including HMS Pinafore and Amahl and the Night Visitors. The North Oregon Coast Symphony has been performing at the PAC since their inception. Little Ballet Theatre students have participated in the Arts on Stage spring Young Choreographer’s Showcase at the PAC for many years. And since the closing of the River Theater, Coast Community Radio’s Troll Radio Revue has been staged at the PAC the last Saturday of each month. The Astoria Music Festival has used the PAC as the home of its apprentice program, as well as a venue for some great avant-garde performances (including J-Walt’s Spontaneous Fantasia this season).

Janet Bowler, former language teacher and flutist extraordinaire, remembers Foreign Language Day held at the PAC and the Masonic Temple across the street. “It was wildly popular with students who still remind me about it decades later,” Bowler told me. And Carol Newman remembers the Human Relations Task Force two-day conference in 1982, and many other speaking events about the Holocaust, war, environmental and local issues.

Recent years have seen some memorable shows at the PAC. Folk singers Jim Page, John Gorka and Tracy Grammer have graced the stage. Public radio personalities Jim Hightower, Amy Goodman and David Barsamian spoke to big crowds. Balkan dance group Balkan Cabaret gave workshops and concerts with crowd participation. The Tenor Guitar Gathering, in its 4th year, staged a 3-hour concert this past May that was truly inspiring. Spirit of the River, a fundraiser for Columbia Riverkeeper, has been held at the PAC for the past 5 years.

Marty Balin rocks the PAC

But the event that tops them all has to be the final afternoon of the Concert for Big Red, organized by the recently deceased Gordon “Gordo” Styler as a revival of the rock festivals of the 60s and 70s to benefit the recently half-demolished Big Red Building. When the musicians, stage, equipment, staff and audience at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds were soaked through and through by unusual, unrelenting rains in August 2008, Josef Gault, then the PAC coordinator for the college, found a way to get everything over to the PAC, and an overflow crowd witnessed an amazing show by Marty Balin and most of the original Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe McDonald, and Cold Blood.

With state funding falling every year, the college has recently indicated they cannot continue to fund the PAC at current levels, and has talked about selling the building. A coalition of local arts organizations, the Partners for the PAC, has formed to help maintain the PAC for affordable public arts and educational events.

If you’re interested in getting involved with this effort, please contact Constance Waisanen, 503-458-6853, or

Juanita Price summed up the sentiments of most of those community members I spoke with. As we finished our phone conversation, she said, “I can’t imagine the town without the PAC.”


Necessary poisons – Performer Mindy Dillard debuts her one-woman show in Astoria

mindyapplegreenhouseIt’s taken some doing, but Mindy Dillard has learned to get comfortable with diving deep.

These days, she often finds herself plumbing the depths of the human psyche as she searches for inspiration for her performance art.
It’s murky down there to be sure, and some strange and unexpected things are apt to bubble up, but for, Dillard, exploring those fathoms can also be a life-saving act.

Dillard’s latest theatrical venture, a one-woman show titled  “How to Survive a Poison Apple,” debuts in Astoria this July.

Part magic realist musical, part neo-feminist performance art and part fractured fairy tale, Poison Apple tells the tale of an abandoned princess struggling with anorexia. As her self image evolves, she cavorts with other princesses and wise dwarves, climbs aboard submarines, and faces down one very forbidden piece of fruit.

It’s a little bit funny, a little bit tragic, and it’s definitely the most personal thing Dillard has ever written or performed.

“I call it a storyscape because I’m telling stories in the form of narration and storytelling and also in the form of the song,” Dillard said. “I switch characters. I feel that I’m a form bender.”

Dillard started writing the songs and stories that would come to comprise “Poison Apple” three years ago. Bits would come to her in odd moments, often late at night, often in dreams.

She felt compelled to tease out the bits, to understand the messages that were bubbling up from her own depths.

Dillard was teaching children’s theater classes at the time, and she’d grown dismayed by her female students’ abiding obsession with pretty princesses. She was also making her way through her own failed fairy tale ending, having recently split with a boyfriend who turned out to be less than princely, and she found herself pondering the subconscious messages society was sending to girls and women.

She thought about Snow White, and the way a bite from an enchanted apple had sent her into a sleep befitting the dead.

She thought back to a time when, in the grips of her own struggle with anorexia, she could eat nothing but apples.

She also thought about alchemy, how seemingly incompatible elements can combine in unexpected ways, and how they can be transformed by that combining, even when the pressure seems too great to bear.

“I feel I’m kind of an alchemist because I try to expose things that are hard,” Dillard said. “They’re hard for me to say and sometimes I think they’re hard for people to hear, but before a diamond gets turned into a diamond, it’s a rock. It has to be compressed.”

Someday, Dillard would love to take “Poison Apple” on the road to high schools and colleges across the country.

In the meantime, her own self-conception is evolving along with her art. She’ll still blanch at insensitive comments people make about her appearance (a man at a recent show looked her up and down and said, “You don’t look like you have an eating disorder now.”) or cringe when she sees a young girl complimented solely for her looks, but she’s learning to speak up about how she’s feeling, to say the things that are difficult to say, to share her story, over and over. (Indeed, a happy ending for her own story looks rather promising: if you catch her show, don’t forget to look for her artistic and life-partner, Eric McEuen, accompanying her musically.)

In the end, it’s a longer journey of growth and discovery Dillard is committed to – and committed to sharing with others.

“Experience is really the only thing that can grow someone,” Dillard said. “Hard things are hard but sometimes they’re necessary for transformation … All the stuff I’ve experienced has been necessary poison … So I’m going to make it into the poison that turns into medicine.”

How To Survive a Poison Apple
an electric one-woman musical storyscape
Saturday, July 7 @ KALA
Doors open 8pm, show at 8:30pm
Tickets are $10 at the door. To retain a seat for the show, advised to arrive when doors open.
Refreshments available
• Audience Suggestion: This show is created for young and old to enjoy and experience. Suggested age 10 years and up please.
• Approx. 1 hour running time.
KALA is located at 1017 Marine Drive in Astoria
View a video clip of “Poison Apple”.



Miss Massive Snowflake: “Like a Book” But not by the book.

miss massive snowflake
At KALA, June 9, Post Art Walk. 1017 Marine Drive in Astoria. w/Dramady. $3. 9pm. No Host Bar.

The music made by Portland’s Miss Massive Snowflake – who will be gracing the Kala stage on Saturday, June 9 – is a lot like the name of the band itself: a juxtaposition of elements that, on close inspection, make little or no logical sense, but it hardly matters because it somehow sounds right. The songs on MMS’ latest album, Like a Book (available from their label’s website,, bear a passing resemblance to pop songs. Put it on as background music and it might seem unthreatening, even innocuous. You will tap your feet, nod your head, and expect it to leave nothing more behind than an errant swatch of melody or two lingering pleasantly in the memory. But pay close attention and your head may freeze in mid-bob. What kind of pop song ends with a declaration like “Takes a lot of talent/To talk a buncha shit/And not get in trouble for it”? And follow that up a couple minutes later with a reference to Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro having sex? As you struggle to get that image out of your head, you start picking up other aspects buried in the mix – odd time-signatures, abrupt shifts in tempo, a blast of dissonant brass worthy of Radiohead’s “The National Anthem” – which subtly disfigure the shiny, happy face pop music exists to put forward. At which point you realize that, underneath its passing complexion, this stuff is downright weird.

All of which suits the man behind the band to an eccentrically-crossed T. “I’ve always been kind of a clean-cut-looking person,” says Shane de Leon, the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who serves as Miss Massive Snowflake’s auteur. “I don’t have any tattoos; I’ve always kept my hair pretty short. But I do have some pretty weird ideas, and I like the idea of flying in under the radar, being a freak without feeling like I have to advertise it.” No surprise, then, that de Leon’s music contains trace elements of some of pop’s greatest eccentrics, from the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne to The Artist Formerly Known As Something Other Than Prince. Like them, de Leon distinguishes himself by an inability to stand in one place long enough to be identified; just when you think you’ve figured him out, he’s already morphing into something different.

You can trace that elusiveness as far back as 1997, when de Leon followed some friends from his home state of Montana to Portland, where he joined their band Rollerball as trumpeter, clarinetist and sometime vocalist. Founded as a straightforward power pop band, they were already in the process of escaping their three-chords-and-a-straitjacket origins when he joined. Within a year, they had become something else entirely: a relentlessly experimental combo whose music pushed out in all directions at once while mysteriously remaining centered. Yet it says something about de Leon that he could be an important component of a band of infinite possibilities and still be unsatisfied. By 2004, “I was really getting into songwriting, but realized that it was hard to play trumpet and sing at the same time. I had never really played guitar, but decided to start because it seemed like a good way to accompany myself.” Thus, Miss Massive Snowflake. Conceived as “a calm, acoustic side project,” its first three releases were a series of CD-Rs with handcrafted sleeves designed by his daughter and contributions from other members of his family (including his mother on backing vocals). Far more song-oriented than Rollerball, MMS represented a step towards accessibility – “I’ve been challenging people with experimental music for over ten years now, and I’m ready not to have the audience look at me so quizzically all the time” – and a conduit for another side of his musical personality. “I’ve always liked pop music – Michael Jackson, Madonna, even Miley Cyrus. So I’m trying to make something that’s catchy, but we’ll never be too poppy, because I like to mess around with weird time signatures and strange chord changes.”

True to form, even the conventional is unconventional in his hands. Once a solo project with an ever-changing cast of supporting characters, it is now a bona-fide band: its lineup has solidified into a unit featuring bassist Jeanne Kennedy Crosby and drummer Andy Brown. “I’m trying to write more for the band now – more of a rock sound, with distortion pedals and barre chords. I’d never played feedback before! I’ve only started to use distortion and feedback the last couple of years, and I’m in my forties now – I’m starting out at a place where most people would be when they’re eleven years old! I’m way behind the curve.”

Not that Shane de Leon intends to stop moving, literally or figuratively. He continues to run his label, North Pole Records (one of whose bands, Dramady, will open for MMS on the 9th). As we spoke, he had just completed a 29-date tour of Europe (his fourth); plans are afoot to return there in the fall after playing dates throughout the US. And, of course, he intends to keep coming back to Astoria, as he has done twice a year since his Rollerball days. “I’m from a small town in Montana, and Astoria has that same kind of feeling. Especially the people. I think some of the weirdest people in the world, the people with the most creative thoughts, are in towns like this and not the big cities, and Astoria definitely has that. There’s just this great vibe here that I can’t quite define. It’s a pretty magical little city.”


The Diva Returns: Angela Meade sings for us at AMF 2012

When Coloratura Soprano Angela Meade stepped on the stage of the Liberty Theater at last year’s AMF concert-staged opera, all in attendance were waiting with bated breath to hear what this Centralia, Washington native had to deliver. While safe to say that most in the audience were not so completely familiar with her, the buzz was on due to the festival marketing publicity touting her rising success. But then after all, one might think, if she’s really that good, would she be here?

Before the first aria was completed it was breathtakingly apparent that the artist on stage was undeniably gifted. To hear Ms. Meade was utter joy. A supple voice, yet with incredible power, as if she were drawing up the sweet dark roots of the earth and expelling the energy in fountains of delicious bel canto vocalization curling through the architecture of the Liberty Theater. You could feel the collective gasps throughout the audience and you could feel her music, sensual and liquid.

Since that time, Meade has been very busy debuting prestigious festivals, world class opera houses, and a recent “stupendous debut at the Deutsche Oper Berlin” according to AMF Director Keith Clark.

This one of many similar opera critic comments; When the Metropolitan Opera’s 2012 Beverly Sills Artist Angela Meade starred in the company’s recent production of Ernani, she gave “a true star-making Met performance” (WQXR) that “showed what this uncommonly gifted rising artist is capable of” (Anthony Tommasini, New York Times).

Meade is also the winner of the 2011 Richard Tucker Award, as is her counterpart in the upcoming AMF production of Bellini’s Norma, Soprana Ruth Ann Swenson. Swenson won it in 1993. In a solo AMF concert last year Swenson too, gave audiences a taste of world class vocal divinity.

Less than four years after her professional debut in 2008, Meade has quickly become recognized as one of the outstanding vocalists of her generation. The New York Times said of Ms. Meade, “Norma counsels peace in “Casta Diva” (the opening aria in this Bellini opera said to be one that makes or breaks a star), and Ms. Meade sang it beautifully, filling the long-spun lines with rich, unforced sound, shaping the phrases with bittersweet poignancy, gracing the melody with tasteful embellishments and lifting her voice to majestic highs.” According to bio info, Angela Meade joined an elite group of history’s singers when she made her professional operatic debut on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera as Verdi’s Elvira in Ernani substituting for an ill colleague in March 2008.

In 2011 Keith Clark was the winner of the prestigious American Prize for Opera Conducting, for the Astoria Music Festival production of Alban Berg’s modern opera Wozzeck. Sometimes you have to blink, and say “Really, in Astoria?” Really.

Angela Meade, Ruth Ann Swenson, Met Baritone and beloved AMF returning artist Richard Zeller, and Cuban-born Met Opera Tenor Raul Melo making his AMF debut; four of America’s finest operatic soloists take the Liberty stage on June 16. An excellent opportunity to test the waters of this ever-live art form.


monica hugget
Reknowned Baroque Violinist Monica Huggett

10th Annual Astoria Music Festival Highlights


AMF in its tenth year! Astoria may be on fire this June, yes very hot, music lovers. Newly elected Board of Directors President Diane Tiedeman states, “We are excited to present the biggest and most challenging festival in our short ten-year history. Our Artistic Director Keith Clark has assembled a remarkable roster of international artists and varied repertoire, and we invite music lovers to visit our historic town to experience our motto: Big City Music – Small Town Prices – Victorian Charm.”

This year the festival spans three weekends including mid-week performances; over ninety performers and students will gather in Astoria, Oregon for twenty-two performances of symphonic and chamber music, educational events, and two operas, June 15 – July 1. If you have not received a season brochure, pick one up at the AMF office on Commercial Street in Astoria.

Hold it your hands and visualize the joy of experiencing classical performance artistry and then get your tickets! While there have been some well-tempered price increases – the prices, repeat the motto, are small-town-prices.

AMF cornerstones return. The brilliant chamber pianist CARY LEWIS and Director of Chamber Music leads returning festival favorite, cellist SERGEY ANTONOV and debut AMF artist MARTIN CHALIFOUR, Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in an opening Saturday recital matinee, June 16, performing Czech composer, Smetana’s Trio in G minor. On Friday June 22, Lewis and Festival Chamber Players present a concert of Shubert, Poulenc and Mendelssohn. The following night Keith Clark conducts the AMF Orchestra in full Brahms.

Elizabeth Pitcairn

The elegant, passionate American violinist ELIZABETH PITCAIRN in her fourth AMF appearance, performs Bernstein’s Candide Overture, Beethoven, and Lalo’s Spanish Symphony on Sunday 17. Her only performance.

Don’t miss another opportunity to hear RUTH ANN SWENSON, uber-glorious Met star, in a Sunday Viennese matinee on June 24. Pianist Alexandre Dossin plays Mozart, and the North Coast Chorale joins the Festival Orchestra in music from Die Fledermaus.

Very New: MONICA HUGGETT and the Portland Baroque Orchestra (PBO). Hugget is one of the most significant Baroque artists today, a life-long dedication to the proliferation of Baroque-era music. Hugget and PBO perform J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations. The Goldberg Variations, originally written for harpsichord, will be performed at 2pm, Saturday June 30 by Portland-born, International artist Andrew Brownell on piano. That evening, the same work, in an arrangement for strings by renowned contemporary conductor-arranger Dmitir Sitkovesky will then be performed for strings by PBO.

This year’s multi-media artist is J Walt. Walt is an Academy Award-winning video artist who creates real-time animated 3-D film to live music. The computer is his palette. J Walt and the Los Angeles Virtuosi perform: SPONTANEOUS FANTASIA. One would say “a very modern version of Disney.” Wednesday June 20 at the PAC.

More enhancing Baroque. Grace Episcopal Church, a beautiful 1886 sanctuary by Candlelight. Lute player Hideki Yamaya, The Astoria Festival Baroque Band and Voices perform 17th century Italian music in an intimate totally candle-lit evening. Tuesday, June 19.

And so much more . . .



Liberty Theater
PAC: Clatsop Community College Performing Arts Center
GEC: Grace Episcopal Church
FPC: First Presbyterian Church
FBC: First Baptist Church

7:00 pm FESTIVAL PRELUDE: BELLINI, STRAIGHT UP – Private Home Music lovers will sip Bellinis, Italy’s favorite cocktail, as Portland Opera historian Robert Kingston discusses 19th Century Bel Canto style and its greatest masterpiece, Bellini’s Norma. Pianist Cary Lewis and Festival. Artists perform Bel Canto-influenced music of Chopin and Paganini.

4:00 pm CELEBRITY MATINEE RECITAL – Liberty Theater Los Angeles Philharmonic Principal Concertmaster Martin Chalifour and cellist Sergey Antonov, both prizewinners in Moscow’s prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition, join pianist Cary Lewis for a very special opening matinee.

7:30 pm OPERA IN CONCERT BELLINI’S NORMA – Liberty Theater Angela Meade, Norma; Ruth Ann Swenson, Adalgisa; Raul Melo, Pollione; Richard Zeller, Oroveso; Festival Orchestra and Chorus, Keith Clark Conductor. Sung in Italian with English Super Text

Noon CANTATAS, COFFEE AND CROISSANTS #1 – FPC Young Artist Vocal and Instrumental Recital (Free Admission)

4:00 PM FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA with ELIZABETH PITCAIRN – Liberty Theater Elizabeth Pitcairn, Violin Keith Clark, Conductor

PROGRAM: Bernstein Candide Overture; Lalo Symphonie Espagnole, Op. 21; Beethoven Symphony No 5 in C minor, Op. 67

7:30 PM BAROQUE BONANZA by Candlelight GEC Seventeenth Century Italian music for voices and original; instruments in Astoria’s historic Grace Episcopal Church of 1886, featuring Portland’s Baroque lutenist Hideki Yamaya, San Francisco violinist Noah Strick and others.

7:30 pm J-WALT’S SPONTANEOUS FANTASIA PAC with THE LOS ANGELES VIRTUOSI – A Fantasia for our time: Live real-time 3-D video to chamber music by Saint-Saens and Satie, including The Four Seasons of Vivaldi and Piazzola. Perfect entertainment for all ages, especially grandparents who can still remember Pink Floyd laser light shows! THE LOS ANGELES VIRTUOSI: Olivia Tsui, Violin (Shanghai); Sebastian Toettcher, Cello (Berlin); Mark Robson, Piano (Los Angeles)

7:30 pm MUSIC IN THE MAKING: RUTH ANN SWENSON MASTER CLASS PAC An inside look at the making of an opera singer. Soprano Ruth Ann Swenson and opera coach David Burnakus lead a rare public master class with outstanding young Vocal Apprentice Artists. Watch them put finishing touches on Mozart’s The Magic Flute and other operas. One of the world’s finest Mozart singers, Miss Swenson will impart a lifetime of insight to a new generation on the brink of professional careers.

7:30 pm ASTORIA MUSIC FESTIVAL ALL-STARS – Liberty Theater Festival Chamber Players, Cary Lewis, Piano and Director.

PROGRAM: Schubert Fantasy in F minor for Piano, Four Hands, D. 490; Poulenc Sextet for Winds and Piano; Mendelssohn Octet in E-flat Major for Strings, Op. 20

11:00 am CLASSICS 4 KIDS #1 PAC Concert for Families and Children (Free Admission)

4:00 pm SERGEY’S HAPPY HOUR MATINEE – Liberty Theater Chamber Music and Chat with cellist Sergey Antonov, San Francisco Ballet Orchestra Concertmaster Roy Malan and pianist Cary Lewis.

7:30 pm FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA plays ALL-BRAHMS – Liberty Theater Anthea Kreston, Violin; Jason Duckles, Cello; Keith Clark, Conductor

PROGRAM: Brahms Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80; Brahms Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, Op. 102; Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

Noon CANTATAS, COFFEE AND CROISSANTS #2 FBC Young Artist Vocal and Instrumental Recital (Free Admission)

4:00 PM FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA in a VIENNESE MATINEE – Liberty Theater Ruth Ann Swenson, Soprano; Sergey Antonov, Cello; Alexandre Dossin, Piano; Astoria Music Festival Vocal Apprentice Artists; The North Coast Chorale, Denise Reed Hines, Director; Keith Clark, Conductor

PROGRAM: Strauss Jr. Die Fledermaus Overture; Haydn Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Hob. VIIb; Mozart Piano Concerto No 21 in C Major, K. 468; Mozart Concert Aria with Piano Obbligato, “Ch’io mi scordi di te?”; Strauss Jr, Die Fledermaus: Act II Finale

YOUNG ARTISTS WEEK: FREE CLASSICAL JAMS ALL AROUND TOWN! Venues Include Fort George Brewery, The Bistro, Clemente’s, and More

7:30 pm VOCAL APPRENTICE OPERA: MOZART’S DIE ZAUBERFLiTE PAC Young artists from around the country in a fully staged production of W.A. Mozart’s final opera The Magic Flute.. Sung in German with English Dialogue and Super Titles. With The Festival Instrumental Apprentice Chamber Orchestra Maddox Dance Studio Little Ballet Theater

11:00 am CLASSICS 4 KIDS #2 PAC Concert for Families and Children (Free Admission) KMUN Troll Radio Review Presents Mozart’s Magic Flute for Children


7:30 pm PORTLAND BAROQUE ORCHESTRA, MONICA HUGGETT, CONDUCTOR – Liberty Theater TWO WAYS OF HEARING BACH’S GOLDBERG VARIATIONS. Arranged for String Orchestra by Dmitry Sitkovetsky. Presented in cooperation with The Oregon Bach Festival

4:00 pm VOCAL APPRENTICE OPERA: MOZART’S DIE ZAUBERFLiTE PAC See June 29 for Performance Details


3rd Annual Tenor Guitar Gathering

A weekend to tune into a unique music passion
June 1 – 3

This Year’s Events
All events are open to the public and even if you don’t play a tenor guitar, or any instrument, you are encouraged to come and enjoy this unique, fun, quirky, informative musical experience. “An Evening of Tenor Guitars” is only $15 and the tenor guitar workshops, all four of them are only $60.

The four day tenor guitar weekend starts out THURSDAY, MAY 31 at 7pm at The Sand Trap in Gearhart where THE WANDERERS will perform from 7pm until 9m.

ON FRIDAY, JUNE 1, we will be meeting in front of the Bridgewater Bistro at 10:30 am to get on the 11am Trolley followed by a tenor guitar lunch buffet from 12:30 until 2:30. There is limited seating and a fixed menu so you need to make a reservation by calling 503-325-6777 or 877-357-6777. Not only will you get a great meal for only $20 (beverages not included) but you will hear Lowell “Banana” Levinger of The Youngbloods, play his five string tenor guitar and perform songs from his latest album, “Even Grandpas Get The Blues”.

Tune in to KMUN between 3 and 4, and listen to Carol Newman’s show “Arts Live and Local” to hear tenor guitarists talk about….tenor guitar.

That same day, Friday, there are two more events planned. Doors open at 6:30 pm at The Astor Street Opry Company Playhouse, who have been very gracious about providing their wonderful space for a sing a long – play a long fundraiser to support KMUN. A donation of $5 or more will get you in to play and sing all kinds of fun folk songs, or whatever songs we can figure to play. It’s going to be one big fun hootenanny. Bring your voices, instruments, and maybe some lyrics would help. The event ends at 9pm.

But Hazel’s Tavern has THE RENEGADE STRING BAND performing from 10pm until midnight with tenor guitar players sitting in. So we’re heading over there right after the sing and play along!

Saturday, June 2, at the Performing Art Center starting at 9am and ending at 4pm, will be four tenor guitar workshops for $60. That comes to only $10 an hour. The workshops are open to the public even if you don’t play an instrument, you will learn a lot, get to ask questions, and hear inside information from Lowell “Banana” Levinger, Spider Murphy and Mark Josephs.


The four day Tenor Guitar weekend culminates on Saturday evening with AN EVENING OF TENOR GUITARS featuring the greatest line up of tenor guitar players in the world. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, for $15, to hear Josh Reynolds and friends, Spider Murphy, Lowell “Banana” Levinger, Myshkin, The Renegade String Band, The Wanderers, Mark Josephs, and special guests for a wonderful evening of tenor guitar music from 7pm until 9:45pm.

Then we are all going over to The Voodoo Room to hear Spider Murphy and his band play from 10pm until midnight!

On Sunday, June 3rd, the fourth and final day, we will meet at The Coffee Girl to jam from 9am until noon. Myshkin, as part of her tenor guitar world tour, will be performing at The Ft George on the last night from 8pm until 11pm.

If you would like to support the Annual Tenor Guitar Gatherings in Astoria, Oregon you can visit: and buy your tickets to AN EVENING OF TENOR GUITARS, TENOR GUITAR WORKSHOPS, and buy this years T-Shirt!!!

A Brief History of The Tenor Guitar
In the 1900’s the most popular stringed rhythm instrument was the four string tenor banjo, tuned like a cello, CGDA. The tenor banjo added a percussive rhythm sound to large orchestras. As the guitar gradually replaced the tenor banjo in popularity, a simple solution was to put a tenor banjo neck on a guitar body to produce a “guitar like” tone. Part tenor banjo, part guitar, this hybrid instrument, the “tenor guitar” was born out of necessity.

Because the tenor guitar had four strings, people would sometimes tune it like a baritone ukulele, or the top four strings of a guitar DGBE. Nick Reynolds, of The Kingston Trio, did this. Nick was the first inductee to the Tenor Guitar Hall of Fame in a ceremony held here in Astoria in 2011. He is the most well known tenor guitar player of all time.

Tiny Grimes, a jazz player, also tuned his tenor like the top four strings of a guitar. He had small hands and liked the feel of a smaller neck. Some people tune it GDAE, an octave below a mandolin. The shapes of the chords are the same, but their names change.

The Annual Tenor Guitar Gatherings
The Annual Tenor Guitar Gatherings started in 2011, has brought new focus to the instrument. There are many groups and individuals who use the tenor guitar to achieve their musical “voice”. I became aware of Robin Hunte, from Barbados, for example, who started a group in 1962 called The Merrymen. Robin drives the group with his four string tenor guitar. He recently acquired a new Blueridge tenor guitar, made by Saga instruments, one of a small handful of companies that offer new tenor guitars.

I can tell you that more and more people, once they hear and play and learn about a tenor guitar, fall in love with the small size of the instrument and the beautiful sound that comes from it. Accordions, Didgeridoos, Guitars, Harmonicas, Autoharps all have their own festivals. A “Tenor Guitar Gathering” had been long overdue. Astoria and tenor guitars have become a perfect fit.

Tenor Guitar Capital of The World
Astoria, Oregon has become the “unofficially recognized” tenor guitar capital of the world. This year will mark the 3rd Annual Tenor Guitar Gathering and will bring together more tenor guitar players, performers and workshops than ever before. There will be a tenor guitar lunch buffet at the Bridgewater Bistro, a sing a long fundraiser for KMUN at the Astor Street Opry Company Playhouse, workshops and An Evening of Tenor Guitars at The Performing Art Center, tenor guitar music at The Ft George, The Sand Trap, Hazel’s Tavern, The Coffee Girl and The Voodoo Room. We’ll be playing tenor guitars on The Trolley and may be jamming at Gordo’s Astoria Guitar Company.

What People Have To Say

“The 4-string tenor guitar has made a significant contribution to American music and culture. Historically, C. F. Martin & Co. is proud to have defined the tone of tenor guitars for the world and we are excited that there is a resurgence in popularity of these unique and fun instruments.”

Dick Boak
Museum, Archives and Special Projects
C. F. Martin & Co., Nazareth, PA

“My Dad, Nick Reynolds, used to say, “It’s all about the music.” I am proud to help support the Annual Tenor Guitar Gatherings in Astoria. The music of The Kingston Trio continues to touch people all over the world. My Dad was a wonderful performer who gave his very best every time he played his tenor guitar and sang with the Trio. It’s comforting to know that he is recognized for his achievement, albeit inadvertently, for his playing of the relatively unknown four string tenor guitar.”

Josh Reynolds

“When The Brothers Four started out at the University of Washington in Seattle we were totally “powered” by the Martin Tenor Guitar.  It was the sound of our first 2 or 3 albums recorded for Columbia Records., including our first single release, “Greenfields”.  As I think back on it now it seems likely that the trademark sort of open-stringed arpeggio introduction to that recording would have not been possible on anything else but those two Tenor Guitars. A lucky moment!”

Bob Flick
The Brothers Four

“I’ve been playing a 1954 Martin Tenor Guitar since 2006.  A bout with tendonitis in the left elbow caused me to quit playing the six string guitar for about a year.  I bought 1954 Martin to see if the smaller instrument would help with the elbow.  I always loved what Nick Reynolds played on his tenor guitar, so it was an easy decision for me to try one out.  The elbow healed, the 1954 Martin is fine, and singing partner for the past 53 years, Bill Murlin and I have worked the Tenor into our Wanderers act full time.  We look forward to bringing the Martin to Astoria in June!”

Carl Allen, The Wanderers

“I came to tenor guitar through mandolin, after playing guitar for 15 years I picked up a mando and started writing songs on it, then began to do solo shows again and wanted to play those songs, but not so tiny-sounding. My vintage Martin Tenor has a lovely deep tone for such a small instrument, and I swear it is haunted, in a good way, by whatever songs got played on it in it’s youth (the ‘30’s and ‘40’s.) I have written a few songs on it that feel like they were given to me by the instrument, most especially the song Ruby Warbler, that I named my band after. So glad to be coming back to the Gathering, a great chance to get together with other fans of this sweet instrument.”


“The more people are talking about tenors, the more people are playing them. I’m spreading the word everywhere I go. I’m at the Jazz Festival in New Orleans right now, and I can tell you that everyone here loves the tenor.”

Spider Murphy

“The two most common questions I’m asked about the tenor guitar are, “Why a tenor guitar?” and  “What’s the difference between a tenor guitar and a 6 string?”  The answer is an easy one. The tenor guitar has a clear, sweet voice of it’s own.  It works beautifully as a rhythm instrument, as part of a section or as a stand along solo instrument. I play a Martin size 5 or half size tenor from 1929, a new Martin Custom tenor, a National Reso-phonics tenor with a steel body and an archtop electric tenor made by Paul Lestock of Arrow Guitars and Mandolins.  Each guitar has it’s own personality and history.

I went to the Library of Congress and The Smithsonian to research tenor guitars and players when the tenor first grabbed my attention and heart.  About 75% of the players I found were black musicians from the early black string bands from the 1920s through about 1935.  They were centered in the Midwest around Chicago and St. Louis and also in Louisiana and Alabama.    

I’m  thankful for the players and builders who are breathing new life into the instrument today.  The tenor guitar is a voice from our American past that reaches beautifully into the future.  It’s a voice that could have been lost but thanks to the efforts of Mark Josephs, Paul Lestock, Josh Reynolds, Dick Boak and many others in the modern music community the tenor guitar will be with us for a long time to come.”

Marcy Marxer – Two Time Grammy Winner

Words from Mark Joseph
Tenor Guitar Gathering Organizer

I GREW UP IN ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey and started playing guitar in 1960 when I was ten years old. Playing chords came easy and I evolved into a sought after rhythm guitar player. I played rhythm guitar and sang in a four piece rock band called “the Super Jam Blues Band”, and later, “The Whazooz”. We played for High School dances and private “sweet sixteen” parties. When I graduated from High School I graduated to playing in bars. In 1974 I joined a swing trio and we were an opening act for Ry Cooder, Randy Newman, Horace Silver, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee and numerous others. I met Johnny Shines, Professor Longhair, Walter “Shakey” Horton, Bucky Pizzarelli during that time and learned a little bit from observation. It was a magical time in my life, “pre straight job”, so to speak.

My Mom bought me a harmonica when I was 18. I learned what I know today from meeting harp players much better than I, who took the time to share invaluable techniques that you can hear in my recordings and live playing. When I was 40, I started playing the ukulele, similar to guitar but very different in the musical approach….and bought my first tenor guitar when I was 50 years old. I just finished an album that’s all about the tenor guitar. It’s called “TENOR ELEVEN”, fifteen songs played on tenor guitar with vocal and harmonica accompaniment.

I never saw myself as a promoter, and still don’t, but I do feel the desire to bring tenor guitar players together at one time and one place, and that place is Astoria. Music continues to be special to me. It has opened doors to new friendships and improves the quality of my life. I have worked in Los Angeles as a clerk at an Outpatient Cancer Center and will bring my uke in and play for patients. It makes them sing and smile and forget where they are for a moment. It is uplifting to them and to me as well.

I spoke to a stranger on the phone recently who’s coming to this year’s gathering. He told me he plays baritone ukulele and is thinking about playing the tenor guitar. When he searched the web for information he came across the gathering. He booked himself into the Hotel Elliot and is very excited about attending. That’s the kind of thing that makes me hustle to make these gatherings happen, and the fact that they’re a lot of fun for me and everyone who attends. I think that everyone in Astoria has worked together to make this quirky event come to life, it’s not unlike a band that rehearses for hours and then gets on stage and puts that wall of emotion out there as if it was all so easy.


Heather Christie at KALA 3/24

heather christie 2011KALA proudly presents an evening with North Coast singer/songwriter Heather Christie, on SATURDAY, MARCH 24. Doors open at 7:30pm. The night includes a pre-show reception featuring Heather’s handcrafted heatherADORN jewelry, a no-host cocktail bar and light appetizers from the Blue Scorcher Bakery and Café. Cover is $10. Show at 8:15pm.

Heather Christie certainly must be called the daughter of the coastal rock music scene. And when, as teenager, she stepped into that scene in the mid to late 90s, she came willingly to represent the fusion of spirit and music for everyone. Guitar in hand, born to a colorful Astoria musical family, a penchant for songwriting and the power and beauty of the vast pacific ocean pushing her — a beautiful young woman with a clear and stirring folk voice, and eyes to match,  gifted stages; whether that stage be the sandy beach itself, a new music venue, KMUN radio — the upper left edge, as penned by the late Billy Hults, was given its folk rock priestess.

A decade and a half later, Christie has tested the waters of country, R&B/pop, recorded three of her own albums and has dedicated much performance and recording time to the wonderful award-winning FrogTown project, driven by her partner in life and creativity Philip Pelletier.  Throwing off the acoustic folk trappings, Christie has been on the road with the multi-media LIVE, kid book musical over the course of 5 years, donning a fancier pop lady and ballad singer of the sultry and soulful song ALONE, which by now must be a favorite emotional dream catcher for many a kid and adult that has shared the experience of Frog Town. For those not informed, Frog Town is a multi-media book about a little frog guy who comes up against barriers in a musical, cultural sea. From classical to country, sax-playing Thad the tadpole can’t seem to find anyone to play with, cause nobody in his big neighborhood likes jazz improvisers (ain’t it the truth). Frog Town hosts numerous Oregon musical artists, including R&B greats, Linda Hornbuckle and Curtis Salgado. But eventually music comes to bridge the gap.

In the earlier 2000s, Christie lead her self-titled band featuring some of the coast’s soulful native musicians; guitarist Joe Patenaude, drummer Tom Peak and violinist Jeffrey Reynolds, recording LOVE Road, an analog studio album of rock originals and special nod to her rock pre-origins, Laura Nero’s Ely’s Comin’. Since the days of her more guitar driven material, you can find tracks available on myspace, like “Lady” and “Runnin,” with a pop/R&B bent, but nonetheless an extension of the early, expressive Heather Christie.

Currently Heather is working on new material in the studio, which she says “is a great way to spend the winter months!” She’ll be playing some of these new songs at KALA, including “5 O’Clock”, which is a reflection on an artist’s life challenges.

She is also collaborating with Philip Pelletier on an ambient music series inspired by the beauty of nature,  something she has been looking forward to exploring more deeply, and of which you can sample an exclusive clip, (The Stream). They are also working on a video production of the LIVE Frog Town show in HD Video, including several songs from the upcoming “Bedtime for Tadpoles” release, featuring ambient music for kids.

In addition to an upcoming gig at Mississippi Pizza in Portland, it has been several years since Heather Christie has performed as Heather Christie on an Astoria stage. Recently, an informal appearance at KALA during the holidays, she gave an inspiring performance, a strong inclination its time to get back to the singer/songwriter/performer aspect of her artistry.

And of that artistry she says, “My personal music involves allowing myself to walk deeply into the darkest parts of myself, to channel emotions that I tend to avoid in my day to day life, and to ride the wave of what I find there. Hopefully within that experience something otherworldly and beautiful is born. Not just for me, but for the listener… Music is my release, my ground and my sanity. I have to make it to stay alive, and if others enjoy it too, then lucky me.”

The KALA stage features lighting and a great acoustic/amplified sound mix, an intimate musical setting in a beautiful restored Astoria storefront. Located at 1017 Marine Drive. 503.338.4878.

Inspired by tribal elements in a modern world, heather ADORN adds sleek, delicate touches to bold, colorful designs, creating innovative, handcrafted pieces for your adornment. In these cosmic jewels, you will see gem stones combined with glass, metal, rocks, feathers, and miscellaneous findings from years of collecting. It is not unusual to discover hand gathered shells from the east or west shores, along with a sparkling piece of cut glass, from a vintage chandelier, in your favorite pair of earrings. heather ADORN was born from a desire to honor the center, ritual and sacred space of the creative spirit.  Every purchase supports the arts…


FisherPoets Gather for Poems, Stories and Songs

MORE at:  Includes FPG “At A Glance.”

FisherPoets Gathering 2012 the 15th annual Gathering in Astoria OR, is expecting about 80 commercial fishing and maritime industry people from several states and British Columbia to bring their original poems, stories, songs and insights to Astoria.  Along with several local musicians who also have strong fishing-industry ties, they will present their readings and music at the weekend program, February 24 to 26.

The FisherPoets Gathering has been an annual event in Astoria in the last weekend of February since 1998.

“Fisher Poetry” comes from experiences living and working in the industry, and ranges in writing style from fast-moving rhyming couplets to crafted free verse or literary prose, and includes poems, songs, short stories, personal memoirs and essays, and art.  The mood can be funny, emotive, matter-of-fact or any combination.   The weekend also includes films and talks on fishing issues and culture.

Six downtown Astoria venues donate space for the Friday and Saturday evening programs of readings and music, along with a seventh hosting a later-evening open mike, so a good number of fans can comfortably join the lively ambiance of the event as audience, said Florence Sage of Astoria, a long-term FPG producer.   Audience comes from the local area, the northwest region, and points around the country to hear these original writings and oral accounts based on the hard-working vocation of commercial fishing and making a living at sea. Also, KMUN-FM broadcasts locally from Astoria Event Center at 91.9-FM, 6 to 10 p.m. both evenings, and streams live on the web at

“Every venue will have a really program going on,” Sage said, “so you can move from place to place, or just take your pick and stay for the evening.  “We’re expecting more than 1,000 over the weekend, as usual, but we have lots of room.  People can get a weekend button ($15) from 3:30 p.m. Friday at the Gear Shack and at all doors to enjoy all events and all venues, or a $5 single-entry cover at doors to stay at any one event.

Reading and music venues Friday and Saturday evenings are: the Baked Alaska restaurant (foot of 12th Street), Astoria Event Center (9th & Commercial), Clemente’s (12th and Commercial), the VooDoo Room at the Columbian Theater (11th & Marine Dr.), the Wet Dog Cafe (foot of 11th St.) and the Fort George Brewery & Public House showroom 14th & Duane).

Clemente’s has a special program about Bristol Bay on Saturday evening, and hosts an early-arrivers’ Readers Mike Thursday Feb. 23 from 8 p.m., no button required.  A seventh venue hosts the popular Fishermen’s Open Mike for poems, stories and songs, with priority to commercial fishing people and to related topics.  This special mike is at KALA, the intimate performance room of fishing-friendly HIPFiSHmonthly at 1017 Marine Drive.  The VooDoo Room at Columbian Theater hosts late-night music.

Evening venues all have food and drink service.  Minors are permitted in Baked Alaska and KALA all evening, not in VooDoo Room, and other venues until 9 or 10 p.m., as noted on the FPG website.
Event headquarters is the FPG store, “the Gear Shack,” at the 14th Street Pilot station, foot of 14th St. The Gear Shack stocks FPG buttons, performers’ books, CDs, DVDs, and FPG gear for sale, acts as an information center, and also houses the Silent Auction.  Gear Shack hours are 4 to 10 p.m. on Friday, and noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday.  Auction viewing is from 1 p.m. Saturday, bidding hours Saturday 4 to 8 p.m.

Documentary films “Coming Home Was Easy” and “Red Gold” run both afternoons at the Columbian Theater, 4 to 5:30 p.m.  Four Saturday morning workshops on commercial fishing issues and history are at the Columbia River Maritime Museum, foot of 17th Street.  Two creative workshops are at Baked Alaska restaurant.  Workshops run 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. They include a first-hand report on effects of Japan’s 2011 tidal wave on the Japanese fishing industry, photos and recollections from the sailboat days of the Bristol Bay fishery, a workshop on polishing stage performance, and three others.

The Gathering has been given substantial and sustaining support every year by Clatsop Community College, along with contributions of services, goods and panel members from local and regional organizations and businesses, as noted in the annual program and on the website.  Astoria-Warrenton Chamber of Commerce assists with national and regional media contact.  Fisherpoets come to the Gathering as volunteers.

More information is at:, or by calling Marti Wajc at 503-738-8256.

Please direct inquiries to: Florence Sage, 503-325-4972,

Clatsop Community College is an affirmative action, equal opportunity institution.


In The Spirit: Word and Song

KALA proudly presents two independent Northwest women artists on Friday, January 27. Author Tricia Gates Brown and Singer-Songwriter Deb Montgomery.

Both women have recently produced new works, respectively, “Jesus Loves Women: A Memoir of Body and Spirit and a CD release “The Little Hymn Project.” Both women were raised in traditional fundamentalist Christian families, and both women have experienced and welcomed into their lives, the challenge of coming to grips with a spiritual identity, identity as woman, and personal transcendence through artistic medium, amidst the constricts of all that traditional western patriarchal Christianity has dictated to American women.   Neither artists have met (as of yet) but the North Coast has had the opportunity to know both of these women in recent times. Gates Brown a columnist for the coastal weeklies and  Hipfish, several illustrated children’s’ books, as a landscape gardener and doing recent rounds with her new book. Seattle-based Montgomery, has performed on the coast on several occasion, predominantly at LUSH Wine Bar in Cannon Beach.

It is a pleasure to bring a “woman focus” show together at KALA. (Men welcome, of course.) When I first returned to the region in the mid-nineties, I had the opportunity to host a “Women’s Nite” at the former Café Uniontown. What inspired me to do so was the awareness of such a strong woman presence on the coast; whether married, single, lesbian, bi, trans, straight, native or transplant. The coast of Oregon and Washington beckons fearless, creative women to its shore. The nights included a myriad of women musicians, poets, comedians and a drink menu with such titles as “Feminist Twist,” “Union Town Bitch,” and the like. And lets face it – whether you were/are a feminist, the Feminist Movement of late 60’s laid the groundwork, for what we now as women find in our everyday lives,  the means to face the challenges, the inalienable right to our intelligence, our natural trait to balance, and to choose who we want to be. A task neither easy, nor simple, but the path of self-empowerment lies ever stronger under our feet.  When women testify through art, the stories are strong and inspirational, such as Deb Montgomery and Tricia Gates Brown  . . . and I sing “Hallelujah Sisters!”

“Jesus Loves Women,” is a compelling title. TRICIA GATES BROWN, holds a PHD in Theology and in her 20’s found such a fascination with the bible, that it led her to investigate the nature of the scriptures and to eventually get to the source of “what” religion had bestowed upon her culturally as a woman. In her preface she states, “What I am drawn to . . . is the complex interplay of body and spirit, of the sensual and the spiritual, the sexual and the spiritual . . . . I choose to tell my story not only because I believe it is the truest accounting I can offer of my life, but because I believe it’s important we hear such stories. In my experience, they are hard to come by.”

Gates Brown commits a good portion of her memoir to the tribulations of puberty, to young womanhood, revealing those parts of self, the tender heart, the coming into sexuality, memories we are glad to leave behind but yet are so much a part of our whole. A back cover blurb from Susan Mark Landis, Minister of Peace and Justice says it well; “Like a late night talk with my best friend, Tricia’s book gave me intimate insights into her life, my life . . . by openly sharing secrets we typically hide.”

From the constricts of fundamentalism, to losing her self in a first marriage, an awakening to the grace of nature, a mystical friendship with a Trappist monk, a failed second marriage, a new communion with Mexican culture, and coming to a yearned place of wholeness, Gates Brown beautifully articulates in intimate detail her story; as an accomplished writer, story teller and human theorist. Her ultimate message, that the shame-bound morality on sexuality be set free, for humanity to progress to a more humane state. Whether raised in a Christian milieu or not, this book is for every woman and man, as the basic core of our culture resides within the bounds this morality.

DEB MONTGOMERY refers to herself as a vagabond, in the poetic sense of the word, not settling in any one thing or place comfortably. This she stated in email correspondence when inquiring on the “Little Hymn Project” and any personal religious background.  She then furthered, in very songwriterly response,  to grappling with a fundamental upbringing,  “At the same time, I’ve been captivated by my understanding of Jesus’ message to love one another, to love another as ourselves… the idea that love is costly, that it will perhaps ask you to go places you never imagined, that it will both break you and heal you at the same time.”

The basis for the Little Hymn Project was created in a time when Montgomery was dealing with a period of deep grief. In that process she had turned to several hymns that she had in her repertoire, “The only thing I did for a few weeks besides weep, call a friend or two, was visit some of these hymns, letting their mysteries penetrate and attempting to sing them back to the universe to sooth myself,” says Montgomery. In this space of grieving, a natural progression led to several original tunes, a series of hymns, (Psalm23, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, It is well with my Soul, Amazing Grace . . .) and cover tunes by Bruce Coburn and Coldplay. Originally recorded in her living room in Seattle, she eventually recorded the 11-track collection in Chicago, with Producer John Abbey at Kingsize Studio. But her desire was to keep the intimacy and a sense of presence that were so much a part of the process of coming to make the Little Hymn Project. The final product is Montgomery on piano and guitar, with added bass and drums. Her recording succeeds in a triumphant presence of voice, a powerful, and moving intimacy.

Montgomrey is a Canadian who lived in New York City many years, and now lives in Seattle, where she is completing a graduate degree.  Solo is not her main thing as she has mostly been a bandleader, playing with drummer Andy Stochansky (who was Ani Defranco’s tour drummer for 8 years), and drummer Sim Cain, shared band mate with Henry Rollins (the Rollins Band). Them’s good rock bones. She also played with a New York cellist and fellow Canadian artist Julia Kent for 8 years. As Montgomery’s credits reference comparison to PJ Harvey, Jeff Buckley, the core connection she has in her voice resembles to this writer, the spirit of Patti Smith. An era before emo, somewhere between punk rock and Janis! There’s a strong conviction to rock music in Montgomery. While she isn’t well known in these parts, she is certainly a cool find.

Friday, Jan 27, doors open 7pm. $10, includes complimentary wine and snacks. KALA, 1017 Marine Drive in Astoria.


Concert for a Winter’s Night: Music for Chanukkah, Solstice and Christmas – December 22

Shelley and Jennifer
Shelley Loring & Jennifer Goodenberger

Flutist Shelley Loring and pianist Jennifer Goodenberger perform on Thursday, December 22 at 7pm at Grace Episcopal Church.  The concert will include Jewish, Celtic, Carols, holiday music, and original compositions to celebrate the Season. These long-term friends, who have until now been pursing separate musical careers, are thrilled to create music together for this concert.

Loring’s early years were spent performing with her father, a Jewish cantor. She has toured the Western States with the Community Concerts Association in addition to playing with many regional and local music organizations. Most recently she returned to performing her life-time passion – jazz and improvisation.

Goodenberger, was the producer for the legendary “Winter Solstice Concerts” of the late 1990’s. She is currently active as a recording artist and solo pianist, performing her original compositions and arrangements of folk and Celtic music. Her recordings are often used in the healing arts, and as film soundtracks. Go to for a complete audio and art listing of her works.

Thursday, December 22, 7pm, at Grace Episcopal Church.  1545 Franklin Avenue, Astoria. There is a $10 suggested donation at the door. For more information, call 503-325-5310.


Holiday Friends – New Year’s Eve at Fort George in Astoria

Holiday FriendsIt only makes sense to spend the last and first holiday of the year with Idaho supplants and indie pop players Holiday Friends. Opened for Blind Pilot: The Free Show (BTY a beautiful experience) and as Astoria is their new home ground and keeping a musical profile, will continue to perform in Astoria.  And how ‘bout that – New Year’s Eve falls on a Saturday – there’s something really wrong with that. But, with raw pop guile cum 60s’ . . . Holiday Friends are well – equipped to tele-music-port you to a higher ground.

Saturday, Dec 31, 9pm, Fort George in Astoria, NO Cover.


Kathryn Clair & Hanz Araki

One of a Kind Celtic Concert Series Comes to Pacific Northwest
Acclaimed Irish Musicians Join Together for a Unique and Memorable Show
Kathryn Clair & Hanz Araki with a host of Celtic friends comes to the Coaster Theater and an Intimate Solstice eve at KALA.

Kathryn Clair & Hanz Araki
Hanz Araki and Kathryn Claire, The Seven Joys of Mary, from their new release A WINTER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION

Musicians Hanz Araki and Kathryn Claire are proud to present a series of unprecedented concerts. These two diverse musicians lend their individual expertise and lyrical knowledge to four theme- based concerts that present some of the strongest and most beautiful elements of the Celtic tradition. This December, they are celebrating the release of the second of four accompanying albums, A Winter Solstice Celebration.
Ancient carols and foot-stomping jigs and reels share the spotlight with poetry, dance, and even a short Mummer’s play from songwriter Matthew Hayward-Macdonald.

This year’s concert features — in addition to Claire and Araki — Cary Novotny on guitar, All-Ireland harp champion Anna Lee Foster, Welsh-born bodhran (Irish frame-drum) player Matty Einion Sears, and vocalist Jody Katopothis.

“Each of us bring to the table a varied collection of songs and stories that reflect the same themes of longing, love, loss, beauty, and celebration. These concerts give us the freedom to explore some of these experiences thoroughly through the music that has arisen from the last several hundred years of human existence.”

Sunday, December 18th at the Coaster Theatre in Cannon Beach, OR. Show starts at 7:30pm. Tickets are $14 for adults and $8 for students.

Tuesday, December 20 at KALA in Astoria. Claire and Araki perform an intimate candlelit eve performance. Doors Open at 7pm. Performance at 7:30pm. Come early, for a seat and enjoy a beverage. Tickets are $8 at the door. The new cd release WINTER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION will be available. For a preview track go to

In the late winter, “As I Roved Out” welcomes better weather and represents the traditional Maying celebrations of the British Isles and beyond, while the plight of the emigrant and laborer is presented in a collection of songs and tunes in the late summer entitled “The Emigrant Song.” Some of the darker and more macabre themes found in Celtic love songs are explored in “Songs of Love and Murder,” and completing the series is the Winter Solstice Celebration; celebrate the darkest night of the year with the light of music, storytelling and wonder.

Billed as “The next generation of trad’ music,” Irish flute player and singer Hanz Araki is the quintessential world music musician. He has toured internationally with Juno award-winning The Paperboys and The Casey Neill Trio; also The Bridies, Portland’s all-star Pogues cover band KMRIA among others, and is featured on over a dozen recordings and soundtracks, along with his own acclaimed CD’s.

Kathryn Claire has asserted herself in a new generation of traditionally-inspired musicians. Her violin-playing exhibits a technical grace which is matched only by her truly captivating voice and she possesses the rare ability to move seamlessly across genres. Her deep love and respect for traditional music has long been a driving influence and those roots can be heard in her own original music.


Long Beach Acoustic Series features Casey Neill – Saturday, November 19

Casey NeillOn Saturday, November 19th you’ll have an opportunity to hear CASEY NEILL in a rare solo appearance.

Casey Neill, a songwriter and bandleader from Portland, Oregon, has a sound that combines narrative storytelling, haunting ballads, and whiskey-fueled rave ups. His sound explores haunting Americana, indie folk, and Scots/Irish melody. For over a decade he has performed throughout the US, Europe, and Japan. His eighth record, ‘Goodbye to the Rank and File’ has garnered rave reviews from radio, online blogs, and press. It is the first to feature his band, the Norway Rats, which includes an all star cast of Portland musicians. Casey is touring throughout 2011 with the Norway Rats as well as in solo performance.

“Casey Neill’s latest record, Goodbye to the Rank and File teems with rich lyrics that paint the glory and gutter of a wanderer’s
struggle. It just may be Portland’s strongest brand of unfettered, contemporary roots rock.” – Mark Stock, WILLAMETTE WEEK

Saturday, November 19, 7pm, $5, reservations recommended. At the Old Long Beach Tran Depot, 102 3rd St. NE, Long Beach Washington. 360 901 0962. Or send an email to either or


Capella Romana, Mt. Sinai: Frontier of Byzantium, Thursday November 17, 7pm

Capella RomanaAfter the enormously successful 2010 tour of the Oregon Coast, performing to full houses in Newport, Pacific City and Manzanita, José Solano again brings Cappella Romana to the coast in a new program of ancient chants from St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mt. Sinai. This is the genre in which Cappella Romana is the recognized as “The world’s preeminent early-music vocal group,” (Portland Monthly Magazine).

At the Tillamook United Methodist Church, 3808 12th St.
$15 Advance, $18 Door Reservations, 503.965.2244.


The Cedar Shakes • Nov 12 @KALA

Give the Dance Floor What it Needs

Cedar ShakesAfter the tourists depart and the leaves fall from the trees, the music of The Cedar Shakes is the perfect soundtrack for the people who have remained behind, those who call the Oregon coast their home.   It is country music from the woods of Nehalem, the wise and sardonic lyrics delivered by Travis Champ’s rich baritone and driven home by the rhythm and pulse of drummer Jamie Owen Greenan and new member bassist Jon Feder.  They arrive at KALA this month to play a selection of their songs guaranteed to get you moving.

Lately, Travis has consciously been writing songs to do just that. “When we started the band a few years ago, we were playing slower paced songs.  Now we’d like to do some songs that get people moving, not just sitting there and staring at you. I actually like an inattentive audience. They may have come out to check out the music but its more of a social thing, with all these conversations.  The “hey, how’s it going?” when anyone walks through the door. “There is only so much you can do with chords E, G, and D,” Travis laughs.

But the songs of The Cedar Shakes are not your standard country fare. While broken bones, empty cans and an early grave awaits the “foolish boy” in the song Rodeo, out “between the cypress trees and the darkened lemon grove, the sons of men unsheathe their hearts like rusty swords while we listen all night to a neighbor’s radio rising through our bedroom floor.”  In the song Sandy Koufax, drummer Jamie propels the song forward like a Southbound train away from the childhood regrets, Landry McMean’s lap steel the lonesome whistle letting bygones be bygones. “Into the void, my friend, over time may we forget the taste of dollar bets, one eyed jacks and candy cigarettes.”

Travis first started writing songs when he got a guitar at 16 and, while influenced by the music he latched onto while in junior high, bands such as The Germs, Rancid, Black Flag and Green Day, he was always digging deeper to discover other music.  Country music, like punk, was a good fit.  “It was approachable; take 3 chords and write a song. You don’t have to be that great a musician. Even now I am not all that comfortable up there with a guitar but I can play what the song needs.”

His earliest musical influences, however, where the sole 3 tapes his Dad played in the family VW bus: a Dwight Yoakum album, a tape by Kathy Mattea which had some good songs especially 18 Wheels And A Dozen Roses and an album by Joe Ely called Love And Danger.  “My parents had a booth at Portland Saturday Market called Baby Snookums, selling baby clothes, bunny hats and duck ponchos.  For 18 years, we did a lot of traveling and those were the 3 tapes we had in the van.  We played them over and over and over again!”  But when we were living in a rural area of Nehalem, we didn’t have any music for years. It was just our own little world.”

A turning point came 6 years ago when Travis bought a 30 day Amtrak ticket to see the country.  At the tail end, he arrived in Austin, Texas, somewhere he always thought he should check out.  It was there he met Rich Russell and Landry McMeans of the band Lonesome Heroes. On his last night, they took him to the infamous venue A Hole In The Wall, (renowned as the place where Townes Van Zandt crashed his car into the side of the building, only to get out and order himself another drink!). That night, he saw some really great local bands and became hooked on the Austin scene. As drummer Jamie had previously lived in Austin, it became a good anecdote to Manzanita’s rainy winters for The Cedar Shakes to go there often and play and eventually record their 4 song, 10 inch record there last Spring.

The release will be available at their performance at KALA.  Take yourself down and get ready to be moved.

Saturday, November 12, Doors Open 7:30pm (post Second Saturday Art Walk). Poet Sarah Archer opens the show at 8pm. $5 cover. Beer and wine available. KALA is located at 1017 Marine Drive in Astoria.


WAHID At the Astoria Arts and Movement Center

WahidWAHID is the duo consisting of Dimitris Mahlis (oud) and Chris Wabich (frame drums). The word “wahid” means “one” and in this case, represents the joining of instruments and music from the East and West. Wahid is bound to a rich cultural history of ancient civilizations and melodies, incorporating instruments that were first documented on clay tablets and papyrus scrolls. Chris and Dimitri have collaborated for over 15 years in world music and jazz contexts. Their musical kinship has evolved into a rendering of melodic and soundscape-driven events that inspires the lives and imaginations of its listeners.

Dimitris Mahlis is a multi-instrumentalist and composer based in the Los Angeles area. He has the distinction of having significant selections of his work taught as a regular part of the curriculum at the LA Music Academy. Since coming to LA, Dimitris’ skills on oud, guitar and other stringed instruments have led him into a rich variety of performing and recording experiences.

Chris Wabich is known around LA as a versatile and original voice on percussion and drumset. Recently Chris played Frank Zappa’s “Joe’s Garage”, a stage production of the album, produced by Gail Zappa. Chris has recorded with: Ludacris, Sting, Stanley Jordan, Lalo Shfrin, Sheila E., Alex Acuna, Turkish superstar Omar Faruk, Mamak Khadem, and the famous poet, Leonard Cohen, among many others, in addition to many TV show credits.

Friday, October 14, 7:30pm, Admission $10. AAMC is located at the corner of 11th and Franklin in Astoria, and is part of the First Presbyterian Church building complex.


Ilwaco’s Blues and Seafood – August 12-13

Norman Sylvester
Norman Sylvester. The Original Northwest Boogie Cat has shared the stage with BB King, Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Junior Wells, Otis Clay, Tower of Power,Five Blind Boys of Alabama, Peter Frampton and many more National Touring Stars. Norman is one of the most engaging showmen around the Northwest and is totally dedicated to the soul healing force of Music.

2011 PROMISES to be bigger and badder than ever as the merchants of the Port of Ilwaco gear up for two days and nights of great local and regional blues and seafood.

Friday Night All Star Jam brings back Robbie Laws and the newly configured North Coast Blues Band. Saturday is an all day event beginning at 2pm: It’s Boogie Bone, the Coyote Kings and the Norman Sylvester Band. Headlining is The Harp Breakers, a great lineup featuring Vyasa Dodson and Dave Melyan of the Insomniacs, Peter Dammann of the Paul deLay Band, harmonica great Bill Rhoades, Cliff Ashmon of the Hudson Rocket Band, Franco Paletta of Franco Paletta and the Stingers, Kim Field of Kim Field and the Mighty Titans of Tone, bass great Albert Reeda and Jim Rafferty.

The Food Court is expanding as well, with lots more delights from Peninsula Seafood providers. And, of course, there will be Micro Brews, Regional Wines and BBQed Oysters from Willapa Bay.


Jazz and Oysters – August 14

Zona Calda
Zona Calda (Italian for “Hot Spot”) is known for entertaining audiences of all ages with swinging grooves and fresh takes on classic songs. Performing “Boho Jazz”, a term coined by the group to describe their eclectic repertoire, they cover tunes from jazz’s golden age, classic bossa novas, Motown and Soul hits and current favorites from artists like Norah Jones and Diana Krall.

JAZZ AND OYSTERS celebrates its 26th year. Each August, the Festival site is transformed into a jazz club, complete with oysters, desserts, beverages, sausages and an array of other tasty tidbits.  And then come the jazz fans and the music.  Over the years, Water Music Festival has hosted some of the best musicians in the Pacific Northwest, and the music lasts all day.

Jazz and Oysters is a major fundraiser for Water Music Festival in October, the peninsula’s classical music festival, and has historically been one of the most popular events of the year on the Long Beach Peninsula.

This year J&O features ZONA CALDA 10:30 – 1pm, and Tall Jazz 2pm – 5pm.


Jazz at St. Catherines – August 28

Bobbe NorrisCRITICALLY ACCLAIMED S.F. jazz greats, vocalist Bobbe Norris and pianist Larry Dunlap perform as part of the Barthelemy Concert Series, established to honor  Fr. Paul and Mary Barthelemy for years of dedicated service to St. Catherine’s and the larger community.

Long a favorite of music critic Rex Reed, Bobbe blends her lush contralto — reminiscent of Rosemary Clooney and Peggy Lee — with Larry’s sophisticated original songs and swinging arrangements. $20

Sunday, August 28, 3pm. $20. St. Catherine of Alexandria Episcopal Church is located at 36335 Highway 101, Nehalem.


Professor Gall – A Tincture of Junkyard Folk and Steampunk Jazz

Professor Gall
Professor Gall seeks to uncover the contradictions of an ambiguous and native-less society, ‘dreaming the existentialists’ dream’, while at the same time pleading for individualism, peace, and more fun at funerals. Horns!!!!!!!!

Sunday, Aug. 14, Fort George in Astoria, 8pm, No Cover.