Farm boy journeys through the arts

Caleb Klein, a sophomore theatre major, initially entered Whitworth as a music education major.

Klein grew up on a farm, the fifth of seven children.  During his childhood Klein’s family was very involved in music, and he joined in on violin at the age of six.

Klein is very dedicated to his family and even wants to spend time as a stay-at-home dad when he has his own family.  Klein attributes his love of family and music to the fact that the farm he grew up on was 2100 acres. “Whenever you live on a farm like that it’s very family based,” Klein said.  “Until you can drive you don’t get to see a whole lot of other people unless you beg your older siblings to drive you into town.”

Klein played violin until high school.  After ninth grade Klein became more interested in vocal music which has shaped his musical involvement ever since.

In high school Klein served as a head Chaplin, helping to direct his school’s worship team.  Since coming to college Klein joined in Whitworth’s choir and the worship team for Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church.

During his first semester Klein took theatre and dance classes for fun and began to become more interested in a theatre major.

“I just didn’t have the passion for the technical part of music that I used to,” Klein said.  “I don’t know that it was any one thing that turned me away from it.  I just didn’t have the pull towards [music] that I started to have towards the theatre.”

Fall semester of his freshman year Klein was told by a friend that he should try out a position as house manager for the theatre department.  As a financial aid student, Klein was originally interested because being a house manager would help alleviate costs, he said.

After applying for and obtaining the position of house manager for Spring 2010, Klein fell in love with the job.  Klein continued as house manager in Fall 2010.  Klein doesn’t mind performing, but he doesn’t have the same passion for the stage as he does managing, he said.

“I still get to be the people person and work with others,” Klein said.

House manager oversees everything, such as the ushers and house productions.  Klein hopes to be able to use his skills and passions at eastern Washington.  Klein’s ideal job would be in a smaller, less formal community where he could incorporate both his music and theatre skills.

By Lauren Otheim

Noah Gundersen and sister, Abby, play new and old tunes to a packed house

Chairs were sparse on Thursday, Mar. 31, when Noah Gundersen and his sister, Abby played some of their folky tunes at Whitworth University, despite the fact that it was a weeknight. It was the second time playing here for the Centralia, WA natives, though it’s been a couple years since the last time, and judging by the standing room only Multi-Purpose Room, they’ve got some fans here.  After just a month since their band, The Courage, broke up, Noah Gundersen is starting again as a solo artist. He is accompanied by his sister, Abby, who sings harmony and plays the violin, both of which she does beautifully. The two have been playing together since he was 16 and she was 13, and they started out playing in coffee shops.

On Thursday, they played quite a few new songs, and it’s always cool to hear the direction they are taking. The new tunes were all pretty chill, which is reminiscent of his older songs, as opposed to the more recent songs from the album “Fearful Bones,” which was put out in September by The Courage.

Noah Gundersen says that he wasn’t 100 percent pleased with the way that album turned out.

“It was different than what I’ve done in the past, and there are things I didn’t really like about it personally,” Noah Gundersen said. “I think some people saw that. Some people liked it and some people didn’t.”

The break-up of The Courage wasn’t a bitter end though.

“It was for the best,” Noah Gundersen said. “It kind of became something that wasn’t sustainable, and it feels like we’re back on the right track doing what we’re doing now. I love all those guys and we had a lot of really good times together. It ended well.”

Noah Gundersen is the main song and lyric writer, and Abby Gundersen contributes instrumentally.

“I think that was part of the reason why The Courage ended up breaking up as a band, is because I was trying to write democratically as a band, while finding that that wasn’t really working. But I had to try it to learn it,” Noah Gundersen said.

Noah Gundersen and his sister are now back on the right track. Thursday’s show was a perfect example of this, as anyone in the audience could see how wonderfully the two compliment each other. Abby Gundersen’s harmonies are always on point, to the extent that it’s almost scary. Maybe they have some sort of sibling connection. The combination of the violin with the acoustic guitar creates a beautiful sound, and it creates a more unique listening experience than just your typical singer/songwriter. Noah Gundersen sings with a captivating passion, and it’s easy to see how much his songs mean to him. The audience was silent through each song, hanging on every note. Near the end of the set, he even commented on how attentive everyone had been.

An hour before show time, the two still didn’t have a set list. This turned out to be great for the audience, as they took some requests, and ended up playing four out of six songs on 2009’s “Saints & Liars.” The first few notes of Caroline resulted in some cheers and claps. It seems the audience wanted to hear the older stuff, though Noah Gundersen doesn’t always prefer it that way.

“I’ve been playing some older songs recently, and it’s been fun to revisit some of the older tunes,” Noah Gundersen said. “I kind of have a hard time playing older songs, so usually whatever’s the most current material, I enjoy the most.”

There is an advantage to hearing new songs at a concert though. It allows fans to hear the new tunes before a lot of other people will get to experience them. The Gundersens will be recording an EP at the end of April, and a full-length album later on in the year, and hope to have them both released to the public within the year.

The two will be playing a bunch of house shows this summer, as Noah Gundersen works to reestablish himself as a solo artist. They also plan to spend time writing for the two albums they plan to record.

“I definitely am someone with long term goals, but also I just try to be in a constant state of improvement,” Noah Gundersen said. “Ultimately, the end goal is to be able to do this full-time in a sustainable way.”

Links: Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Noah-Gundersen/204702220250 MySpace: www.myspace.com/noahgundersen Twitter: twitter.com/noahgundersen Website: thecourageband.com

Upcoming: Folk-rockers, Goldfinch, to headline the Blue Spark

Clear your calendars for March 17, Spokanites, because a great band is venturing over from Seattle to play for all who will hear. Seattle/Tacoma-based folk rock outfit, Goldfinch, will be stopping by the Blue Spark in downtown Spokane on a short four-date tour.  Goldfinch is composed of five musicians: Aaron Stevens, Grace Sullivan, Paul Hirschl, Jake Rohr and Steve Norman. What started as an unofficial duo with Stevens and Sullivan has now blossomed into a full band with a full sound.

It’s hard to describe the sound of a band like Goldfinch, since they don’t really fit into a specific category. Grace Sullivan sings and plays keyboards in the band, but is also one of the two songwriters. She believes one thing setting them apart in a sea of folk rock bands is their writing.

“The biggest feeling I have about our band is the storytelling that goes into the lyrics,” Sullivan said. “We often feel like we’re writing little books or movies.”

Previously, the band had written songs that were more plain and simple, but it’s branching out into different territory now.

“I think in the past, we’ve written [songs] where we say exactly what we mean, but now we’re learning how to write songs that are meaningful to each of us in our own separate lives,” Sullivan said. “It kind of pushes us to write a lot of coded language that’s true for both of us, and that isn’t necessarily revealing our deepest, darkest secrets to the whole outside world.”

Sullivan and Stevens, guitar player, singer and the other songwriter, have known each other for 13 years and did little bits of writing, singing and performing together in the years before Goldfinch formed. It wasn’t until about three years ago that they decided to go for it.

“Certain events happened in our lives that year where we were kind of reminded of the fragility of life,” Sullivan said. “That really pushed us toward deciding to go for it and go into the studio and record our first album.”

The closeness of these two band members allow them to write about things they are both familiar with, or situations they are both experiencing.

“Lots of times if we go through something difficult or challenging, we’ll end up processing through what’s happening by writing a song about it,” Sullivan said. “I think sometimes history and nostalgia influence what we’re writing about in really big ways. Lots of times, novels or movies will really get us.”

Another thing setting this band apart is the instrumentation they choose to implement in their music. They use guitar, vintage keyboards, trumpet, bass and drums. The trumpet and vintage keyboards add a unique sounds to their music.

“We’re really passionate about having good melodies in our songs and good beats,” Sullivan said.

Goldfinch is currently working on it’s second full-length album, and is aiming toward a July, 2011 release of the new music.

“We have a bunch of stuff recorded, and then we’re in the process of putting more instruments on and more vocals and stuff,” Sullivan said. “But we’re also doing a lot of writing, which I’m feeling really excited about.”

This is the first time Goldfinch will be recording as the band that it is now. The previous recordings were done when it was merely a duo with Sullivan and Stevens. Things typically take more time for a band like Goldfinch, since most of the members have day jobs, and two of the members, Sullivan and Stevens, both have children.

“We’re a band that tends to move slower, so far as being able to pull things off, just with our life commitments and stuff like that,” Sullivan said. “It’s important for us to pull back on live shows in order to give room for the creative process and recording and stuff like that.”

A good part about taking things slow, is that it allows the band time to think things through really well and get the songs exactly right before recording and releasing music.

Goldfinch hasn’t ventured too far from home for touring, but they do what they can.

“We try to stick close to home and do lots of writing and recording, and then play shows around when we can make time for it,” Sullivan said. “It’s hard to get away.”

This will be Goldfinch’s second time playing in Spokane, and the first with this particular linewup and with the new single in hand. Goldfinch released their single, “Vacant Lot / Elephant” in December. Prior to that, their last release was their self-titled full-length album that was released in April of 2009.

They will be playing at the Blue Spark located at 15 South Howard Street on Mar. 17, accompanied by local band, Hey Is For Horses.

Goldfinch's band page can be found at www.myspace.com/goldfinchstatebird

Story by Maddie Hayes

Whitworth's Symphony Orchestra performs annual concerto concert at St. Luke Lutheran Church

Whitworth's own Symphony Orchestra performed a concerto concert at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Spokane, Wash. on Saturday, Mar. 5.  Conducted by the director of string studies at Whitworth, Philip Baldwin, the symphony orchestra performed its third concert of this school year. The focus on especially talented individual performers makes this concert special.

“Other ones are focused on the development of the group,”  Baldwin said. “This one is focused on the development of the top soloists. It highlights the people who have achieved a great level of skill in their instruments.”

Students who performed solos in Saturday’s performance earned their positions through  competing with other music students for the spots. Audience members got to listen to some of Whitworth’s best instrumentalists and vocalists.

Those interested in the arts particularly enjoy performances by the Symphony Orchestra, which consists of 55 student performers.

“They get to see the astonishing level of our top singers and instrumentalists,” Baldwin said.

The individuals with solos got a change to work one-on-one with Baldwin to perfect their pieces and make recommendations before the concert took place.

“What’s been the most fun about this whole process is working with students in a professional capacity. I get to see a different side of them,” Baldwin said. “They’re taking ownership of their craft in a new way, and in an appropriate way.”

Some of the soloists included oboe player, Linnea Pearson and trumpet player, Kurt Marcum, who are both currently finishing up their senior years at Whitworth. Saturday was Pearson’s second time performing with the Whitworth Orchestra as a concerto competition winner, and she has won the silver medal at Musicfest Northwest Young Artists competition for the past three years. She has also been a semi-finalist for the last two years for the Coeur d’Alene Concerto Competition.

Pearson is a music performance major, and has been playing the oboe for about seven years. Her solo on Saturday evening was one of her favorite pieces.

“It’s a great opportunity to have a chance to play it with an orchestra because you don’t get that opportunity very often,” Pearson said.

Pearson will be performing numerous times throughout the rest of the school year in the three ensembles she is in, as well as playing with choirs, but a very important one is coming up quickly. Her senior recital is next weekend.

Post-graduation plans are currently up in the air.

“I’ll know in April. I’m looking at grad schools, so we’ll see. I would like to go off and study more oboe,” Pearson said.

Marcum, a double performance major in jazz and classical, has been playing the trumpet for 12 years. He won the Outstanding Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition at the 2010 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, where he competed against graduate students from some major state universities. He has been a featured soloist with the Whitworth University Jazz Ensemble I for the last three years. Marcum stays very busy with performing.

“I’m in six ensembles and I’m playing in other groups around town,” Marcum said.

This concert allowed students like Marcum to show what they’re made of.

“It’s a really good experience to know what it’s like to be a soloist in a more professional situation,” Marcum said.

As far as post-graduation plans, Marcum has applied to graduate school in New York and was hired as a performer at a Christian music camp for the coming summer.

Numerous vocal performers were also highlighted, including Whitworth seniors, Rachel Morris and Jillian McLarnin.

For many of the senior performers, this will be one of their last performances with a Whitworth musical ensemble. This concert was a culmination of many years of hard work, and they were able to showcase their impressive talents.

The Symphony Orchestra performed six pieces on Saturday, including “Concerto for Oboe” by R. Strauss, which featured Pearson on the oboe, and “Concerto for Trumpet in E-flat minor” by A. Pakhmutova, which featured Marcum on the trumpet. Morris and McLarnin were both featured in “Domine Deus” from Mass in G, BWV 236 by J.S. Bach.

The orchestra performed at St. Luke Lutheran Church because of Baldwin’s ties there, as it is the church he attends, but also because Cowles Auditorium was unavailable for the evening. Only one of the four orchestra concerts this year has taken place on campus, and the final one of the semester will take place at the Bing Crosby Theater in downtown Spokane.

The Whitworth University Music Department is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. Many Whitworth music majors have gone on to prestigious graduate schools, fulfilling performance careers and successful teaching positions.

Story by Maddie Hayes

 

Whitworth's jazz ensemble performs at local coffee shop

The Open Door Church and the Zion Lutheran Church gathered for a night of fellowship as they listened to Rev. Glenn Kennedy speak on Friday, March 4 at The Service Station.  They ended the night with raffles and a performance by Whitworth University’s Jazz I band.

The jazz band’s set list consisted of seven songs from a wide variety of genres and featuring numerous soloists.

“They have a unique balance that highlights the individual talent but also shows their talent as a whole,” attendee Victoria Karschney said.  “I think the best thing about that group is just the visuals because they want everyone to know they love what they are doing.”

Love of music is the one thing that holds the jazz band together as they come from different backgrounds.  While the group does consist of a number of music majors there are also computer science majors, health science majors, physics majors and more.

The director Dan Keberle makes sure to highlight these differences because it shows that jazz can be for everyone, not just those who want to make a career out of it.

The dedication of the band members can be seen in performance.  Just about everybody in the jazz band is working on his or her jazz improvisation, Keberle said during the concert.

“I think they’re really locked in the pocket,” junior Jeff Bass said.

The individual talent of performers being showcased in each song makes the sound of the jazz band distinctive and allows for a different flair to every piece.

“I thought the sexy Ryan Marshall was pretty good,” Bass said. “And Lauren [Major] and Kurt [Marcum] trading trumpet solos was amazing.”

Smaller gatherings, like the one the jazz band played for on Friday, give the group more freedom to play how they want.  It helps the performers stay more at ease with the situation, senior Kurt Marcum said.

One of the unique things about jazz is that you never know what is going to happen next.

“It’s always changing, it’s always different,” Marcum said.  “It requires so much more communication among the ensemble than most other music.”

Whitworth’s Jazz I class has traveled around the world.  Over the last decade they have visited places like Rome, Australia, Brazil, Germany and Cuba.

The jazz program at Whitworth makes an effort to ground students in the fundamentals of jazz, according to the website.

Story by Lauren Otheim

French café offers relaxation amidst busy downtown

Located in the heart of bustling downtown, but with the atmosphere of a quaint country kitchen, Madeleine’s Café & Pâtisserie presents Spokane with a portal into European culture. Mother-daughter team Deb Green and Megan Vanstone opened the café in October 2008 with the hope of bringing a little bit of Parisian influence to their hometown. They were inspired by a trip they took to Paris during Vanstone’s junior year of high school.

“[French culture] sucks you in, and it’s hard not to want to bring it back,” Vanstone said. “It’s a simpler way of life.” Green and Vanstone’s trip to Paris did not begin to form into the vision of Madeleine’s, though, until Vanstone’s college days.

Attending University of Idaho, Vanstone struggled to decide on a course of study. Finally, she realized that she wanted to take advantage of what she calls “the chemistry in the kitchen” between herself and her mom.

“Growing up, I had helped my mom [with her catering business] ever since I could hold a knife,” Vanstone said.

Once they had developed their business vision, Vanstone decided to pursue pastry school, and attended the San Francisco Baking Institute. Upon her graduation, the mother-daughter team launched their business with versatility in mind.

“We really offer so many different options,” Vanstone said. “We cater to someone who wants just a cup of coffee in the morning and someone who wants a full meal,” Vanstone said.

Aside from serving many needs, family has always been important within Madeleine’s. Vanstone’s younger brother and sister, and two of her cousins work in the restaurant, she said. Additionally, her husband and father help out when it’s needed.

“Even my grandparents chip in during busy times like Hoopfest doing things like handing out Gatorade,” Vanstone said.

Many of the recipes featured in the café are heirloom recipes from Vanstone’s grandmothers and great grandmothers.

Those that are not family recipes are usually tested out during weekly family dinners, such as their popular roasted corn salad, which is Vanstone’s favorite savory item sold at Madeleine’s.

Her absolute favorite food item, though, are cinnamon rolls, which she describes as summing up her love of French culture.

“I think part of the idea of country French food is the comfort of it. Part of what drew us to this food is that it’s gooey and warm, and that’s a cinnamon roll.”

Story by Lindsie Wagner

Links

madeleines-spokane.com Madeleine’s website

www.uidaho.edu University of Idaho

www.sfbi.com San Francisco Baking Institute

 

WRITER’S REVIEW: Cold War Kids’ new album, Mine Is Yours, fails to impress

Cold War Kids, an indie rock four-piece band hailing from Long Beach, Cali., released “Mine Is Yours” Jan. 25, 2011. This album marks the band’s third full-length album release since its inception in 2004. A lot is expected of a third album since most bands have passed through the typical sophomore slump at this point in their musical careers. Fans have waited patiently in anticipation for this release for more than two years. Thinking back to their first full-length album, “Robbers & Cowards,” Cold War Kids presented listeners with infectious tunes like “We Used To Vacation,” and the well-received “Hang Me Up To Dry.” To this day, “Hang Me Up To Dry” is the band’s most popular song on iTunes. In general, most would expect Cold War Kids to outdo themselves and create an album at least on par with, or above the level of their previous albums. Unfortunately, “Mine Is Yours” fails to impress.

As a stand alone indie rock album, it’s not terrible. On the first listen through, it’s enjoyable, but not groundbreaking. Cold War Kids almost seems to be channeling the popular band, Kings of Leon with the overall sound. The first song on the album, “Mine Is Yours,” seems promising, as the intro of the song builds anticipation to what’s supposedly coming on the album. After the epic intro though, the song is just okay. It’s a bit too repetitive, and it seems too long.

The most disappointing thing about “Mine Is Yours” is the lack of memorable songs. None of the 11 songs are phenomenal stand-outs along the lines of “Hang Me Up To Dry,” and none of them are songs listeners would want to put on repeat for 75 listens.

Even though none of the songs are unforgettably epic anthems, there are a couple standouts not to be overlooked. The album’s fourth track, “Finally Begin,” is pretty catchy. It’s sort of mid-tempo, but the overall feel to the song lends itself to small magnitude head-bobbing. It’s a bit more chill than some of the other songs on the album, but the way the vocals are timed with the instruments adds a lot of interest.

The third song, “Royal Blue,” is another great track. It’s one that will likely induce singing along to after a few listens, and it’s not really clear why. Maybe it’s the bass line that’s so prominent, or maybe it’s how well lead singer, Nathan Willett’s unique vocals are showcased.

“Mine Is Yours” is missing something key in Cold War Kids’ previous albums: sweet piano parts. The inclusion of a prominent piano added more depth to the songs, and that depth seems to be lacking on “Mine Is Yours.” The piano is not completely excluded, but it’s not nearly as noticeable or important.

Don’t write “Mine Is Yours” off completely. The album is definitely enjoyable if you’re into straight indie rock with interesting vocals. It doesn’t present a totally unique sound for the genre, but some of the songs are quite catchy and it still sounds like Cold War Kids.

Ultimately, “Mine Is Yours” is a just bit of a letdown, simply because I expected more out of this band. But who knows? It may turn out to be one of those albums that requires 20 complete listens before its brilliance is bestowed upon the listener.

Story by Maddie Hayes

Links: www.coldwarkids.com www.myspace.com/coldwarkids www.twitter.com/coldwarkids www.facebook.com/coldwarkids

Lady Danville uses originality to wow a crowd at Eastern Washington University

All of the seats were full last Tuesday night. In fact, more chairs were brought out to seat the stragglers wandering in. The audience sat in anticipation of what they knew was coming: an evening full of enchanting music. On Feb. 15, Los Angeles, California-based indie pop band Lady Danville, graced the Multi-Purpose Room stage in the Pence Union Building at Eastern Washington University. They played in support of the slightly more well-known bands He Is We and Barcelona. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, because sometimes the first course is just as sweet as the dessert.

My first emotion upon seeing the band members walk on stage was worry. I’ll admit, sometimes the three-piece thing doesn’t always work. These days, it seems a lot of bands with only three members have a hard time creating a full sound with only a few working bodies to play the instruments. Thankfully, Lady Danville breaks this mold.

The talented percussionist plas a big part in their success; he is unbelievable. Before the band commenced their 45 minute set, I thought to myself, “That’s not a complete drum set.” I was wrong. In the common usage of the phrase “drum set,” I would have been correct, but there wasn’t a single sound lacking.

Matthew Frankel, the drummer for Lady Danville, used an instrument called a “cajon,” in addition to other, more traditional drums. Commonly called a “box drum,” it is essentially a drum you sit on and play with your hands. Frankel even used his hands on the snare, tom drum, and cymbal at times, an uncommon technique creating a unique sound.

A highlight of the set was most definitely Lady Danville’s cover song. Audiences who aren’t familiar with a band always appreciate hearing a familiar song, even if it’s been manipulated. Lady Danville played the popular indie dance song, “Kids,” by MGMT. A few claps and screams after the first couple notes meant the crowd was digging it.

How often does a band successfully folk-ify a dance number? It’s extremely rare for me to say this: I actually got chills during this song. Their three-part harmonies were spot on, so much so, it was actually kind of scary. It was still the “Kids” we all know and love, but reinvented in such a way that something completely new was created.

Another thing to appreciate about Lady Danville: All of the members can actually sing, quite well, in fact. I mentioned their three-part harmonies on “Kids,” but they featured a combination of three lovely voices on each and every song. They switched up the lead vocals every once and a while, which kept things interesting and unexpected.

Keys player, Michael Garner, busted out a harmonica and ukulele for a special song where all three members stood around one microphone to serenade with a love song, which I’m pretty sure mentioned literally getting stabbed in the back. It made the show seem quite personal, despite the large room, which is not easy to accomplish.

For a band that formed in 2007, it’s hard to believe they’re not more well known, considering they’ve been at this for four years. Hearing the amount of cheering after their set means some new fans were made at EWU.

Rebecca Meyer, senior at Whitworth, is one of those new fans.

“Lady Danville was an unexpected surprise. I really liked how they sounded similar to bands that I love, like Steel Train,” Meyer said. “They’re definitely the kind of band that I will look up afterwards and track them down to listen to their music.”

Check out Lady Danville’s Facebook page for three free song downloads, or you can find their music on iTunes.

By Maddie Hayes