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30 years of Music on the Half Shell

When daughter Emily texted last week asking whether I might like to make a run up to Roseburg and meet her for a free Pink Martini concert in the park, I quickly replied, why, sure!

Pink Martini, a popular 12-member international jazz/pop band, came south from Portland during a brief tour break to open the 30th anniversary season of Music on the Half Shell, a summer concert series in Stewart Park.

The event brings free concerts every Tuesday evening at 7 for the Douglas County community and beyond. Folks bring blankets and kids — and one guy brought a macaw named Princess. She was well behaved and even posed for my camera. Dogs aren’t allowed.

Good planners would arrive early to free concerts in parks, but Lane and I didn’t qualify. We joined a string of cars creeping around for an open smidgen of space to stow our vehicles. The joint was jumpin’.

The ubiquitous cow blanket made an appearance, and we found a wide spot on the lawn amid the throng, but with enough breathing space to avoid hyperventilating.

As it turned out, we were next to the merchandise tables for Pink Martini. We couldn’t really see singer China Forbes or the band, but we could see Emily, and that filled a mother’s prideful heart.

Emily Overstreet is the merchandise manager for Pink Martini and tours with them all over the country, Canada and Mexico, ordering and selling the plethora of items to their ardent fans. She loves it.

Emily is also the assistant talent buyer for the concert series and director of booking for The Old Church, a venue in Portland. Besides playing/singing in her own band, Bridal Veil, and heading up all merch sales for Pickathon, a Portland music festival, she doesn’t do much. I could go on, but I’m worn out thinking about it. The woman thrives on staying busy within the music industry. And, yes, she has an understanding and supportive boyfriend in Aaron.

I helped Emily before the show by inventorying items. I earned a cool Pink Martini T-shirt for my minor effort, and purchased a tie-dyed shirt from Bekah and Wendy at their merch table.

When Pink Martini took the stage, and their vibrant sound came out to greet us with a Latin number, I began moving involuntarily. The weather couldn’t have been nicer, with a beautiful and full rushing Umpqua River beside us and a pleasant breeze messing with the trees, life was good.

I met some fine people in charge — Claire Dennerlein, marketing director for Pink Martini, Steve Reischman, head talent buyer for the series, and Clint Newell, the president. It’s apparent that much hard work by an enthusiastic team goes into a weekly event like this, but the trick is making it look smooth and easy, and they accomplished that.

After the show, I watched the road crew disassemble the speakers, scaffolding and sound equipment, packing and stowing them safely as they have hundreds of times. Kudos to all the artists and venue workers involved.

Check out their summer lineup at www.halfshell.org and make plans to spread out on the grass while they do all the work. Roseburg is only an hour and 40 minutes drive from Medford.

I ended the sublime evening by latching onto a conga line and jigging through the crowd to “Brazil,” the finale and crowd favorite. An older woman in front of me looked startled when I joined her, but I told her she was doing great as we snaked through a smiling, bobbing crowd, up the hill and behind, then down the hill again without rolling to the bottom. I’d always wanted to do that. Not roll to the bottom — not enough room. I mean the conga line.

Happy sum sum summertime.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer/author with a heart for the arts. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.