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The Backroads: New concert hall a win-win-win-win

By Sean Hart

Blue Mountain Eagle

Published on August 8, 2017 4:43PM


It was nice to see some live music in town this weekend.

As a musician and music lover from a small town in Eastern Oregon, I’ve grown accustomed over the years to traveling to larger areas to see concerts — and being forced to spend my money outside of my community.

With the new venue in John Day, I can get my fix while supporting local business, with far less time and expense for travel. It’s a win-win: for local patrons and the local economy.

While the Madden Brothers Performing Arts Center would never be able to host some of the larger shows I’ve attended — the Merle Haggards and Bob Dylans — the gym in the old junior high provides a suitable place for small-town entertainment.

The building that sat vacant for so many years now has new life. The Madden brothers fixed up the facade, and instead of a sign of decline, the performing arts center now stands as a community asset.

With the community benefit, I guess it’s a win-win-win.

A fair number of community members came out for the first show Friday, and most seemed to be enjoying themselves.

The sound was good. The food was good. The musicians — Micky & the Motorcars and Dustin Schaefer — were good.

It really was a high-quality little show — not just for a small town deprived of ample opportunities to experience the arts.

But in an area like ours with few concerts outside of special events, a venue that can host such shows year-round will make it much easier to provide a splash of culture to local youth. Watching a live show is a far more fulfilling experience than listening to an iPod.

Maybe the next Bob Dylan or Merle Haggard is growing up in Grant County, just waiting for the inspiration to start their journey to the stage. And maybe they’ll find it as the bass lines and guitar riffs permeate their bodies and the lyrics reverberate in their minds, their eyes fixed on the musicians making the magic that fills the room and echoes into the hallways.

I remember well the first shows I attended and would never have taken up music without the experience.

I guess that makes it a win-win-win-win when you add in the educational cultural enhancement.

This new venue has the possibility to bring a variety of benefits to Grant County, and I, for one, am grateful the Madden brothers are taking the risk to get it going.

Hopefully the community will support this endeavor to keep it going.

Sean Hart is the editor of the Blue Mountain Eagle.



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