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Jim Drake’s Entertainment Blog

Solo mandolin show Aug. 22 features Brian Oberlin

By JIM DRAKE Hood River News

Mandolinist Brian Oberlin returns to Hood River for a solo show at The Pines on Friday, Aug. 22.

“I produced a few music shows for The Pines when they had their larger space, and I really like working with the owners. Hood River is a great town to visit,” Oberlin said.

Oberlin, who lives in Portland and teaches a summer mandolin camp in Corbett, has developed a unique solo mandolin style that he admits is something you don’t see too often.

“Because I have played in so many bands over the years, I kind of developed the notion of going out and playing solo, and I started working really hard at it. It always felt easy for me to just play and sing, but I wanted to take it a step further and actually improvise solos and play chord tones, so the listener knows what key I’m in,” Oberlin said.

Oberlin released several solo albums in 2010 and has been working hard at it ever since. His newer projects include a solo Italian classical style of music, an interest that he developed from his frequent travels to Europe to teach mandolin.

“I was fortunate to hang out with these amazing players over there, where the instrument has a 300 year history. Their style of playing represents the roots of the mandolin. They’ve developed these different right-hand techniques for this classical style of music, and it’s been an amazing challenge to learn all of the strumming and single note techniques. It’s a whole new thing to learn,” Oberlin said.

“For the Hood River show, I’ll definitely be doing some of my Italian songs from my new CD, and I’ll be mixing up my original swing music, some bluegrass tunes, and my favorite kind of music, western swing,” Oberlin said.

Oberlin is the founder of the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra, and has played in NW bands Ida Viper and Caravan Gogh. He placed in the finals at the 2003 National Mandolin Championship in Winfield, Kansas and his songwriting has earned him an honorable mention at the Woody Guthrie Song Contest.

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