Showcasing local talent

By Scott Graves, Pilot staff writer July 10, 2010 05:00 am

From 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, four local and two out-of-town bands will take the stage at Azalea Park to play for music lovers.

For many of the local musicians this is the biggest gig they’ve ever played (usually the American Music Festival’s summer concerts in the park are reserved for bigger name, touring bands), but don’t come expecting mediocre performances.

Sunday’s event, billed as the Stagelights Community Music Showcase, was designed to offer some of the best talent our community has to offer. The first showcase, in April, attracted a standing room crowd of more than 100 people to the Harbor Performing Arts Center. The three-plus hour performance featured 23 musicians in 11 bands playing a variety of music styles. The only complaint from audience members then was that some of the bands didn’t get enough stage time.

That complaint has been addressed: Sunday’s event will give each of the six bands 30 minutes to dazzle the crowd. 

And I’m sure they will.

As a member of the local music community (I’m a percussionist and creator of the Pilot’s music blog: www.coastalgrooves), I’ve enjoyed watching the talented artists in our community come together and ultimately form some of the bands you will be seeing at Sunday’s concert.

One of those bands, Crabgrass, caught me by surprise.

The band consists of folk and bluegrass musicians Ted Erdahl (vocals/guitar/harmonica), Bob Petzold (vocals/banjo), Carl Rovainen (vocals/viola), John Marshall (vocals/guitar), Rick Weaver (vocals/bass), Sharon Downs (vocals/percussion), and  Rudy Spence (vocals/jaw harp).

You may have seen and heard some of these musicians playing in various configurations at community festivals and events, the monthly hootenanny and at local assisted care facilities.

I guess it was only a matter of time before some of them formed an official  band. 

“This all started this past winter when Bob Petzold and I were attending a bluegrass festival in Lake Havasu,” Erdahl said.  “We were all excited about bluegrass and wanted to get something going here. We gathered some of the people we’ve been playing with for several years in other genres. We came up with the name ‘Crabgrass’ to represent that.”

The band isn’t 100 percent traditional bluegrass, Erdahl said.

“We’re not trying to be hard core about bluegrass. We’ve got some songs that sound good and we’re having fun. We tested the waters last Saturday at the open mike and it went well,” he said. 

Crabgrass songs include  “Rocky Top,” “Ole f” and “Rollin in my Sweet Baby’s Arms.” The band opens with  “Under the Double Eagle.”

“We’re really looking forward to playing in the park,” Erdahl said.

An added bonus to Sunday’s concert is the inclusion  of two visiting bands selected specifically to appeal to the youth crowd. Zoo on Fire and Slave to the Mushroom Cloud are North Dakota-based rock bands that lean toward a melodic punk sound. The two groups are currently touring the West Coast.

“We want to offer something for all ages and music genres,” concert organizer Gordon Later explained.

Finally, Sunday’s concert is a fundraiser for Stagelights Musical Arts Community. Any donations will go toward the non-profit’s efforts to establish a free/low-cost music lesson program for all ages, a summer youth music workshop, and a community choir.