The Chronicle -

By Ron Hartman
The Chronicle 



January 23, 2020

So, who’s up for a festival?

If you’re a local musician, or a musician-in-training, the 18th annual Florence Winter Music Festival might be worth the 90-minute trip just for the free workshops being offered.

Of course, seeing Livingston Taylor and the Kathy Kallick Band, who are headlining the bluegrass/folk three-day festival that begins Friday, Jan. 24, is pretty good motivation, as well.

All ticket-holders are welcome to attend any of the workshops. Learn how a round-robin circle jam works, even if you’re a beginner, by applying the common 1-4-5 chord progression in each key. Then there’s a separate learn-to-jam bluegrass workshop, where you will focus on finding melodies and singing harmonies.

Jim Hurst, some might say, is the “right-hand man” of bluegrass guitar playing. He’s hosting a workshop to share some of his classic flat-picking and finger-picking secrets. All skill levels are welcome to attend.

And finally, nationally acclaimed singer-songwriters Kristen Grainger and Dan Wetzel are putting on a songwriting clinic. Using their own award-winning tunes, they’ll demonstrate how their stories became songs and give you a whole new approach about song ideas.

Go to for all the details.

* * *

There’s another one-day festival next month that’s a lot closer – and it’s for a great cause.

The seventh annual Winter Music Festival, featuring Portland blues artist Ben Rice and five local acts, is slated for Saturday, Feb. 15, at Mac’s Restaurant & Nightclub. For every ticket that’s purchased ($30 in advance, $35 at the door), $5 will go to A Family For Every Child, a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to finding loving families for all foster children. Get your tickets early, as the event could sell out before the day of the show.

Three rooms – all under the same roof – will be used for the event. Rice and the Inner Limits will be playing at Mac’s Nightclub; DJ Chilla and Candy Apple Bleu will perform in the Ballroom, and Outlaw Shine will warm things up for Brian Chevalier & Heavy Chevy in the Colonial Inn Room.

* * *

Richie G & MA Beat are playing Saturday night at 7 at the Blue Valley Bistro in Coburg. After that, Blue Valley Bistro announced it is taking a short break from hosting music events, setting its sights on a summer music series between the Fourth of July and Labor Day.

* * *

A sad farewell to Rush drummer Neil Peart, who died Tuesday, Jan. 7, after a 3.5-year battle with brain cancer. Whether you were a fan of the hard-rock band or not – and I never was – Peart unquestionably was a giant among rock ’n’ roll drummers. No one could question that.

“His power, precision and composition was incomparable,” said Dave Grohl, not too shabby of a drummer himself. “He was called ‘The Professor’ for a reason: We all learned from him.”

Peart obviously was born to be a drummer. As an overly energetic teen, he once got in trouble for disrupting class by pounding out beats on his desk. His punishment: he had to bang on his desk nonstop for a full hour of detention – time he gladly spent imitating his idol Keith Moon’s parts from “Tommy.”

R.I.P. Neil.


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