CENTER STAGE: Plenty of music on tap this month

Mother Nature has sure been playing tricks on Okanogan Valley.

It seems we go from beautiful sunshine and almost T-shirt weather to snow and frigid temperatures. I’ll sure be glad when spring arrives. Also, don’t forget daylight saving time begins on Sunday, so move you clocks ahead an hour.

This past weekend sure brought a lot of sights and sounds to the region. Friday morning I had to opportunity to attend the annual hot air balloon festival in Winthrop. Several brightly colored balloons took flight over the pristine Methow Valley.

If you’ve never attended the event, it is certainly something you will want to add to your bucket list.

The following day I made a trip down to Wenatchee to take in the 13th annual Washington State Nashville Country Star competition at Mission View Elementary School. It was neat to see so many aspiring country music singers competing head to head.

I posted a video of local competitors’ performances on my Facebook page, @okanogancenterstage.

Huge congratulations are due to the local students who advanced to the semifinals March 18 in Okanogan. For a story on Nashville Star, click here.

It seems these days it’s getting harder and harder to find decent music to listen to on the radio – at least locally. Music from 15 years ago is worn out, and today’s “country” just isn’t country without a pedal steel guitar or fiddle.

I’ve recently been listening to a bit of bluegrass music. I suppose some will argue it’s an acquired taste, but certainly a skillfully crafted musical genre.

I suppose what sparked my interest was I recently discovered Richard Eich’s new group “Unckle Richard and the Knot Bumpers.”

The group is comprised of Eich, of Republic, and several younger musicians playing guitar, banjo, fiddle, dobro and more. I found a video of the group on Facebook. Boy, they sure produce nice harmonies.

Apparently they have been busy working on an album. I will keep you posted as a release date approaches.

On a final note: If you’re planning to be in the northern part of Okanogan County tomorrow, March 9, the Oroville Scholarship Foundation will host its annual spring variety show and auction. The event will take place at 6:30 p.m. at Oroville High School, 1016 Ironwood St.

The annual event usually draws everyone from vocalists to musicians, poets and acrobatics. The event serves as a fundraiser for the foundation, which helps to fund scholarships for Oroville graduates.

“We hope you will join us and support this endeavor,” organizers said.

Brock Hires is a reporter for The Chronicle. He can be reached at 509-826-1110 or via

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