Trashcan Joe, perhaps the leaders in the NW recycled instrument business, provide the musical backdrop for “America the Beautiful-The Remix.” (Submitted photo)
By JIM DRAKE
Hood River News
The Gorge is getting ready for an arts-fusion event to celebrate America’s resilience and “our sacred right to have fun,” on Sunday, Aug. 13, with a program billed as “America the Beautiful — the Remix,” a music-poetry — dance extravaganza based on the theme of making America fun and beautiful again.
Bands Trashcan Joe and Duet, poet Charles Jennings and friends, singer/song-writer Stephen Rogers, dancer Pink Lady Diane, and performer Faith Jennings lead a parade of Northwest artists who create and perform a unique arts-fusion tribute to America, and her great democratic traditions.
Charles Jennings describes himself as a “public high-tech entrepreneur” with 25 years of experience, and, until recently, a closet poet. Two years ago, he started reading poetry publicly around Oregon and Washington — and last November he gave a reading at The Griffin House in Hood River.
“It went well. Several of my Gorge friends in attendance suggested I produce a bigger show in the Gorge this summer, a show with music, dance, and poetry. I agreed, and went to work with a group of talented artists from Portland and the Gorge to create a show about…daring to make American fun again, while honoring the American traditions of democracy, liberty, and justice for all,” Jennings said.
This unique show will premiere in an equally unique venue: The Nash Woods Amphitheater, 39 Nash Rd., White Salmon, on Aug. 13, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite.com. VIP packages also are available, and proceeds will benefit the Performing Arts Initiative.
“America the Beautiful” explores and celebrates the best of America, while not overlooking her faults. It remixes songs such as “Yankee Doodle” and “God Bless America,“ while also presenting spoken word poems and stories about contemporary American life, technology, and politics.
“The first song in the show is ‘Singing In the Rain.’ Part of the lyric goes: “I’m laughing at clouds so dark above/The sun’s in my heart and I’m ready for love.” A clear contradiction — and the one we embrace in this show,” Jennings said. “Yes, these are trying, dangerous times. It’s important to recognize the dark clouds for what they are. But when the sun’s in your heart, and if you can keep laughing and having fun, good things happen.”
Poetry from Jennings will include a piece he wrote cal-led “Coyote,” which stems from the regular coyote visits he gets at his home in rural Washington County.
“I encountered Coyote one day on my land, with developers building new houses all around us. We were both getting crowded, and I realized that a love of freedom was something Coyote and I had in common,” Jennings said.
The show organizers of “America the Beautiful — The Remix invite concert goers to be inspired.
“Come to laugh, dance, and sing. Come to honor the American tradition of liberty and justice for all.”