CENTER STAGE: Looking back at the 2017 entertainment scene

The gifts have been cleared from under the Christmas tree and 2017 is quickly coming to a close.

This time of year, things seem to slow down, and folks seem have a bit more free time to reflect and enjoy the simple things in life. Recently, as I was going through my huge stack of Chronicle newspapers, I did some reflecting back on some of the many musical and entertainment treats that 2017 brought to the region.

And while it would be nearly impossible to highlight every top-notch entertainment event of this past year, I’ve decided to highlight some of my top picks.

January brought the opportunity of a lifetime to Pauline Wick, a 2000 Okanogan High School graduate.

She, along with her husband Jedidiah Wick, performed with Josh Weather’s band at the Salute to Armed Forces Inaugural Ball for President Donald J. Trump.

The performance was televised live from the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

The duo – along with other musicians – performed behind Weather for several songs, including “I Will Always Love You,” which the First Lady and President Trump danced.


© 2017 Adeena Hires/Special to The Chronicle

Springtime brought the Washington State Nashville Country Star finals back to Omak. Local competitors - Narya Naillon, Oroville; Taleigh Bockmann, formerly of Curlew, and Sarah Bradshaw of Almira/Coulee-Hartline – were named consolation finalists and each received $150. Riley Hardy, Walla Walla, was named the champion.


Flounder (Hayden Swartsel) meets Ariel (Emily Larsen)

Okanogan Valley Orchestra and Chorus went under the sea in May with its production of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” The production brought a two-weekend run to the Omak Performing Arts Center. Throughout the year, OVOC also brought a handful of concerts, which were well received.

In July the Wauconda Community Hall celebrated its 100th anniversary. The weekend was highlighted with a pair of dances, including the annual Sock Hop. The event included performances from Bernie Odegard, Theresa Edwards and KHQ-TV morning news anchor Sean Owsley.

July also brought “Giants in the Trees” to the Republic Brewing Co. The group’s bassist, Krist Novoselic, was a founding member of the grunge band Nirvana.

Some Tonasket-area residents were treated with a visit from Jack Black in early August.


Local businessman Edward Lawrence snaps a selfie with Hollywood celebrity Jack Black earlier this week.

Black is an actor and musician best known for his roles in “Shallow Hal,” “School of Rock,” “King Kong,” and his comedic rock duo, Tenacious D.

While in Tonasket, Black rafted down the Okanogan River, made a visit to Rob Burks’ Big Pink Ink tattoo shop, and had a meal at The Kuhler Bar and Grill.

If you are a country music fan, chances are you were in Waterville Aug. 25.


Neal McCoy wanders through the crowd shaking hands during his performance Aug. 25 in Waterville.

The North Central Washington Fair hosted an evening concert with two-time TNN Music City News Entertainer of the Year Neal McCoy. McCoy performed several of his hits from the early ‘90s.

Speaking of fair, the Okanogan County Fair in September featured a nearly full slate of local talent in September. Among several local bands, the Night Riders and Company Band headlined the Friday night dances.

Throughout the year there were also so many wonderful community events and festivals. It would take all day for me to list them all.

On a final note: If you’re looking for something to do on New Year’s Eve, pick up a copy of the Sunday, Dec. 31, edition of The Chronicle. I will have a full rundown of events and what bands are playing where.

Until next time, Happy New Year.

Brock Hires is the managing editor for The Chronicle. He can be reached at 509-826-1110 or via


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