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Boosters benefit rocks Roseland

TY HITZEMANN
SPECIAL TO THE MID-COUNTY MEMO

Guitar players, from left, Geoff Metts, Jennifer Batten and Terry Robb, get ready to “shred” at the inaugural PG3, in benefit for Parkrose Music Boosters held at the Roseland last month.
COURTESY TY HITZEMANN, BUKOMAGAZINE.NET
Roseland Theater was the site for PG3, the inaugural guitar player's showcase, in benefit for the Parkrose Music Boosters. It began with a selection of the absolute best electric guitar playing around these parts from Terry Robb, Jennifer Batten, and Geoff Metts, who played fairly seamlessly for having only one rehearsal. More so, their hearts and minds were in the right place to help make a contribution to a needed cause, proving all three PG3 stars are consummate professionals.

Produced by Buko Magazine, and showcasing the best electric guitar players Portland has to offer, PG3 seeks to help cash-strapped K-12 music education programs. Guitar Center donated a brand-new Fender guitar to the cause, raising $600 by raffling it off to a lucky audience member who watched the trio of players take turns breaking it in during a stinging encore after the finale. What Terry Robb did to the brand-new instrument was the equivalent of watching an entire “Star Trek” movie.

Raised in Parkrose, Robb is a Parkrose High School alum (See “Terry Robb Inducted into Oregon Music Hall of Fame,” October 2009.) and one of the most skilled and revered guitar players anywhere. Jennifer Batten played 10 years and did three world tours with Michael Jackson along with two global tours playing with British guitar legend Jeff Beck. Geoff Metts is from the popular Portland-based band Western Aerial. The backing band was handpicked, consisting of some of the best musicians in town.

PG3 performers, from left, Geoff Metts, Terry Robb, Jay Haser and Jennifer Batten and perform together during the finale. PG3 was a fundraiser for the Parkrose Music Boosters. Robb, a Parkrose graduate helped arrange the donation to the Boosters.
COURTESY TY HITZEMANN, BUKOMAGAZINE.NET
Metts began the show playing all completely original songs. His style involves laying down rock-solid riffs, a combination of Billy Gibbons/Angus Young (ZZ Top and AC/DC, respectively) through which he creates a sound all his own. He's also an accomplished crowd-pleaser, chock full of pithy commentary and jokes. His playing is heavy; he knows the space between notes that emphasize his phrasing, yet can also spew out intense flurries of reticent sound patterns.

Robb is both a sight and sound to behold. He is at once a fury of notes that boggle the mind while standing idly by with the collective calm and stoicism of a statue. Neither given to label or versed in terms, Robb's take on the word “shred” is downright comical in that he doesn't seem to quite grasp - like it or not - it is precisely what he does on a regular basis. Wikipedia defines shredding as: “lead electric guitar playing that relies heavily on fast passages.” Several guitar writers argue that rather than being a musical definition, it is a fairly subjective cultural term used by guitarists and guitar music enthusiasts alike. It is usually used with reference to hard rock and heavy metal guitar playing, where it is associated with rapid tapping solos and special effects such as whammy bar “dive bombs.”

Robb's performance of Jimi Hendrix's song “Hey Joe” literally brought audience members to their knees in amazement. People in seats were compelled like magnets to witness new heights achieved from the local living legend. An audience member came forward and said, “I was warned about this guy. I just had no idea … he's beyond words. You think you've seen it all, then this.”

Performing original songs solo using pre-recorded loops and instruments, Jennifer Batten has been touring the world with her highly original multimedia show. She plays astounding and gregarious guitar riffs to her self-produced video collages. The audience seemed befuddled hearing her say she was playing solo, but quickly warmed to her as she stupefied them with her ambidextrous fret board prowess.

For the finale of the first PG3, the three players converged with the house band to perform an incredible selection of shred-worthy songs, including compositions from Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck and ZZ Top. The audience was treated to back-to-back, over-the-top guitar solos as the three virtuosos sparred intensely; the audience was going nowhere without an encore.

Massive budget cuts to Oregon schools have landed music education and arts programs in the tank. In places like Parkrose, students play old and sometimes dilapidated instruments. Rumor has it that there is only one instrument repairman for the entire Portland School District. In some cases, band uniforms are 20 years old, with few volunteer seamstresses to patch and repair them.

Perhaps most alarming are the dwindling music education courses that cannot seem to support a full-time paid teacher. This is a sad testament to education standards; on the surface, arts and music might seem trite and expendable. However, studies show arts and music contribute significantly to students' interest level and cognitive skill development while helping kids to discover otherwise latent talent, honing independence and individualism over a groupthink mentality. Music and arts education programs are also proven to help keep students out of trouble.

For more information about how you can help music and arts education programs, please visit: www.omhof.org, or call the Parkrose Music Boosters' Norma Johnson at 503-257-6650.

The event was embossed by good sponsorship including Showcase Music, Music Millennium and Clackamas Guitar Center. To learn more about PG3 and what its aims are - including exclusive video and photos from the show - visit www.buko.net.
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