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Your Ad Could Be Here

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I was approached at the library by a fellow promoting a weekend of music to raise money for the music program in Tillamook schools. He’s calling it “Mookstock.” It is a good idea. That’s what the “Moograss” bluegrass festival did, in its run from 2001 to around 2005 or 2006, and it was quite successful.

Would Deathgrass like to play? Yes, but… The fellow was talking about having the thing Labor Day weekend, which is less than two weeks away (he said it had taken the Fair Board a long, long time to get around to signing a contract for use of the county fairgrounds, which doesn’t surprise me), and I told him we couldn’t do it on that short notice—we’re currently working on getting ready for the Rocktoberfest, which is Sept. 17, two whole weeks later than he was talking about. I urged him to postpone the date further (I don’t think he has any commitments yet)—say, to Sept. 24-25, a week after the Rocktoberfest. We could do that, I think. We’ll see.

Sold a CD at the library, too, but I gave one to the promoter dude, telling him he needed it; that was how the Rocktoberfest folks auditioned bands—by getting CDs. That weeds out the groups that aren’t far enough along to have CDs out.

My first reaction, on hearing that the Fair Board was going to charge for use of the fairgrounds, was “They said what?” Just my opinion, but if it’s a benefit for the kids’ music program, nobody should be charging for anything. If ‘twere me—and it is not me, of course—I would tell the Fair Board that if we didn’t get the place for free, we’d go somewhere that was free, and we’d talk about their unwillingness to help the kids.

Tillamook High School, for instance, has much the same infrastructure as the fairgrounds (not as good, true, but one takes what one can get)—there’s a football field, with bleachers, and you could pull one of those mobile stages out into the arena just like you could at the fairgrounds. (If the weather’s bad, you can play inside, too.) Lodging and food for the musicians coming from out of town would be more problematic, but emphasize “free” and “benefit for the kids” and you might get a lot of help.

And Tillamook isn’t the only school district where the music program is hurting. When money gets tight, music, art and drama are always the first things to get scrapped—as if civilizing kids isn’t a big priority. Not only is everybody’s budget slim these days, it’s going to stay that way for a while—or get worse. It’d be nice to do something similar for the schools to the north (Neah-Kah-Nie) and south (Nestucca), too. And in both those cases, the school itself might be the best place to do it. Our schools haven’t been involved near enough in the community, and this might be an opportunity to force them to “interface” a little.

Saturday night, I got to hear a professional band at the Museum (I like seeing—and critiquing—the competition). Three guitars (and a percussionist)—but one guitarist was playing lead, and one “emulating” bass, and two of the guitarists occasionally switched to blues harp (at different times, of course). Those two were also the singers, and they were both writers, so they harmonized on each other’s stuff. Not a bad arrangement. Almost all the material was original or traditional. (I’d had hopes 45 Degrees North could turn into something like this.) Nice to see someone being successful insisting on not doing covers. That’s what I want to do. I am not an entertainer except by default; I’m a writer, and what I want is the best possible exposure for the material I’ve written.

And these guys’ material wasn’t bad, either. One can’t help wondering, though, to what extent having good singing voices makes writers pay less attention to lyrics, and more to presentation. I can’t afford that luxury. Like Bob Dylan, John Prine, Leonard Cohen, Buck Owens, and the other writers I try to emulate, I don’t have a voice, and I don’t have the guitar chops; words is all I’ve got, and I have to make them as perfect as possible in order to get any attention. When (or if) those lyrics get mated up with a decent voice (think Peter, Paul and Mary doing Bob Dylan), you can really have something good.



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