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'Good Riddance 2016' a tribute to music icons

The Rogue Suspects and Modern Roots Foundation will send 2016 off in grand fashion at their "Good Riddance" dance party to be held at Hilltop Music Shop in Phoenix.

The sentiment is a mutual response to this year's loss of music icons David Bowie, Prince, Merle Haggard, Leon Russell, Paul Kantner, Glenn Frey, Leonard Cohen, Sharon Jones, Ralph Stanley, Maurice White and others.

Throughout their long, successful careers, these groundbreaking stars of stage — and screen — inspired more than one generation of artists and audiences worldwide.

Bowie gave us "Space Oddity," rock star Ziggy Stardust, "Diamond Dogs" and more along with his charismatic role as Thomas Jerome Newton in "The Man Who Fell to Earth," among others. His 25th and final studio album, "Blackstar," released two days before he died.

Prolific recording artist Prince gave us nearly 40 albums that flitted between funk, R&B, rock and pop.

Guitarist Kantner co-founded Jefferson Airplane with Marty Balin — and introduced Jorma Kaukonen to the band. Later, he fronted the more commercially successful Jefferson Starship, which featured guitarist Craig Chaquico of Ashland.

"Their music lives on, but, boy, it makes it hard for the rest of us," Chaquico says. "I wanna hear their new albums. Now we look to the musicians influenced by them for new music." 

Country star Merle Haggard and his band the Strangers, along with Buck Owens, helped create the Bakersfield sound, characterized by the twang of Fender Telecaster mixed with traditional country steel guitar and a rough edge.

Don "Juan" Maddox, 94, of Ashland was a fiddle player for hillbilly band The Maddox Brothers and Rose, a forerunner of the Bakersfield sound and a big fan of Haggard's music.

"In my mind, Merle was the greatest writer and singer that's ever been," Maddox says. "I was a little ahead of him on the Bakersfield scene. I don't think he got the recognition he deserved after he died. I still listen to the radio when I'm in the car. There's lots of new country artists that are making it big, but I've never heard of any of them."

Eagles bandleader Frey has countless hits to his credit, and Russell's collaborations with hundreds of Hall of Fame artists rank as successes in music history. Singer and songwriter Cohen also was a poet, novelist and painter; White was principal songwriter and record producer for R&B band Earth, Wind & Fire; Jones was a soul and funk singer for The Dap-Kings; and bluegrass artist Stanley was part of The Stanley Brothers and leader of The Clinch Mountain Boys.

The Suspects — vocalists Shae Celine and Holly Foster, guitarist Dirk Price, bassist Frederick, drummer Dave Bolen, keyboard player Don Harriss and percussionist and vocalist Mary Rydman — will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 29, at Hilltop Music Shop, Suite J, 205 N. Phoenix Road, Phoenix. Admission is $10, free for age 13 and younger.

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Bret Levick will join the band to perform songs from discographies of Bowie and Cohen, and guitarist and banjo player Jef Fretwell will perform songs by Haggard.

Hilltop Music Shop co-owners Lily McCabe and Wayne Cameron moved their collection of vintage and new instruments from a small storefront in Ashland into the larger retail space in The Shoppes at Exit 24. The benefit of additional space allows them to host occasional concerts.

“We built the stage with the intention of using it for master classes and in-store demonstrations,” Cameron says. “Because of that, we’re able to host a limited number of special events.”

The concert looks to music’s future as well as its past. Proceeds will benefit Modern Roots Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships for music lessons to Rogue Valley children.

Other artists who passed in 2016 include Mose Allison, Bobby Vee, Keith Emerson and Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Pete Fountain, Rob Wasserman, Elvis' guitar player Scotty Moore, Bernie Worrell of Parliament-Funkadelic, Dan Hicks, country and folk artist Guy Clark and Beatles producer Sir George Martin.

Jef Fretwell, left, Greg Frederick, Dirk Price, Shea Celine send-off 2016 on Thursday, Dec. 29, at Hilltop Music Shop in Phoenix. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch