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Jim Drake’s Entertainment Blog: Lavender Daze features new music from MMB

Yesterday, after a 30-minute talk on the phone with rock guitarist Pat Travers, I think it finally hit me that the whole “Hood River summer music thing” is in fact, happening right now.

There’s really no denying it, because last week, I think I counted up 26 bands, just on one page of the News. I’ve yet to try and estimate a Music-to-Per-Capita-Ratio, but my guess is it probably rivals our Brewery-Per-Capita-Ratio, which I hear is up there with our Portland neighbors.

The beauty of music is that it can happen, say, on the back patio of a bottle shop, or at a farmers market, or in a dozen other nooks and crannies that exist around here. Since we don’t have a venue the size of the Rose Garden, yet, we’ll just have to make do with what we have. And that’s what makes our beautiful Gorge even better.

P.S.: MacMillan, McAlexander and Bell, a local trio with a new CD called “Celilo,” kick off the Lavender Daze Festival at Hood River Lavender Farms on July 20, at 10:30 a.m.

Interview with Jim MacMillan

Thanks so much for sending in a copy of “Celilo.” Are these songs recent creations for you or is this a compilation from over the years?

I try to write one song per month. Some come and some drift away. Until the last two years most drifted away because I was not too organized about keep track of them. One song on this CD, “Day at the Beach,” goes back 35 years. The rest are all from the last 3-4 years when I got a little more organized. I used to write chords, then leads, then lyrics. After going to the Sisters Song Camp last September, at least half of the time I now write at least a few lines of the the theme or story first and work outward from there.

How did the band come together and is the CD the sound you envisioned for this project? I’m知 not hearing a lot of overdubs — it sounds like you guys did pretty much a live take.

I have been playing with Randy Bell (on cajon) for about four years and with Ryan (on bass) about two. These guys have been so supportive. Both have such an amazing ear and sense of timing. They have consistently encouraged me to stick with original compositions and dump the covers.

The recording was done at Big River Studio with Rick Hulett and Rod Kreibel on the mixing board. We recorded 10 tracks in three hours. We did three takes on the first track, two takes on the next two tracks, then ran seven in a row in one take. Definitely live, with no overdubs.

I’m hearing a big influence of ‘70s singer-songwriter in your music, but it’s hard to pinpoint, because in the background there almost a jazz feel. What would you guys classify yourselves as?

I like the term evolving or eclectic folk. Major influences are Greg Brown, Jackson Brown and Van “the Man” Morrison.

Do you have a personal connection to the title track Celilo?

I have collected photos and information about Celilo Falls for 30 years. Craig Lesley’s depiction of the flooding of Celilo Falls in “Winter Kill” had a major impact on me. Over the years I have talked with a number of people who were there the day the Falls disappeared and it always brings tears to my eyes.

Its always fun to find out more about local musicians. You wrote your note to the newspaper on the back of a prescription pad. Can you talk about what you do for a living, and how, if possible, your job has played a role in the music you perform?

I have been a local shrink (psychiatrist) in the Gorge practicing primarily in The Dalles for 30 years and have had the privilege of an inside anthropological view of life in the Gorge over several generations. It is hard not to be able to write about all of those stories I have witnessed.

Your trio will be Lavender Daze festival this weekend, and it looks like a nice lineup. Is your set all original or do you bring other stuff into the mix?

In this kind of setting we do all originals. In a party setting we may get distracted and slip into something like “Respect” or the Talking Heads “PsychoKiller” for the wonderful Gorge dance crowd.

I hear a theme of social consciousness in your songs. Did any current events contribute to the ideas for these songs?

Personally, I believe that all music has a political perspective of some kind or another. Some of my songs involve personal politics, others historical or current politics. The fluff songs come from “avoidance politics.”

Music lineup:

Saturday, July 20

10:30-12:30 p.m. MacMillan, McAlexander & Bell Trio

1-3:30 p.m. Moe Dixon

4-7 p.m. Barlow Road

Sunday July 21

10:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Scott McDougall

1-2:30 p.m. Sara Jackson-Holman

3-5 p.m. Shed Shakers

Hood River Lavender Farms, 3801 Straight Hill Road, Hood River, www.lavenderfarms.net.

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