July 2, 2015
By Jim Drake Hood River News
My timing was perfect the other evening. Not only did I catch the Columbiaires at band practice for the upcoming “Independence Eve” show at the Bingen Theater, but I managed to show up exactly during the fairly lengthy power failure that White Salmon and Bingen were experiencing at the time.
Luckily, the emergency lighting was on, so I was able to sort my way up toward the stage upon arrival. “Are you familiar with the building?” someone called out from the blackness that enveloped me. “We think we may have tripped some breakers and I may have to call the owner...”
The person calling out was Bill Weiler, a pianist who will be accompanying for the July 3 show, and he was quite relieved when I told him that the whole town seemed to be in the same situation.
And with that introduction out of the way, these musicians went right back to what they were doing, rehearsing songs like “Blue Moon,” and “Imagine,” for what’s going to be a unique, cultural music gathering at the theater.
With support from community radio station Radio Tierra, several acts including the Columbiaires, Mariachi Los Temerosos De Juan Antonio, the Harmony of the Gorge singers, and singer-songwriter Alonzo Garbanzo (who was off to the side of the stage, I saw when my eyes finally adjusted) will be getting concert goers into a patriotic mood, celebrating diversity and providing an opportunity for fundraising for the WGAP Food Bank, Nepal Relief, and Oregon Trail Transitional Living.
“We think this is going to be fun, because how often do you get to be in an audience for a show that’s going to be broadcast on the radio?” said Columbiare singer Maza Brady, refering to Radio Tierra’s (KZAS-FM, 95.1) mobile broadcast equipment set up nearby.
Also on the bill is poetry reading of William Stafford works, and Tongue Twisters with Kirby Neumann-Rea and friends (hey, isn’t that my editor?) and more, like a chance to say hi to the local mayors, who will be on hand.
“The show is going to be in three basic sections, with different themes — Freedom, Liberty and Fireworks of the Heart,” Maza said.
“We’ll be singing songs for all three parts of the show and you can expect everything from the Jackson 5, to songs that focus on the culture of our area like ‘Roll On Columbia’ and new arrangements of ‘This Land is Your Land,’” Maza said.
The Columbiaires will also be singing some songs in Spanish, and the Radio Tierra live broadcast is going to have translation services avaliable for the radio listening audience.
“When we were performing last year in the CAST production of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ Radio Tierra recorded us and we had to be careful with our dance steps around the microphones. This show will be fun because we’ve learned how work for live recordings better,” Maza said.
Hopefully, the electricity will stay on during the show. But from what I heard at practice, all the power the show needs are in the voices of the Columbiaires. And with all the other performers on the bill, I’m sure the music will be strong enough to carry up to the seats in the balcony.