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Theater boasts bluegrass music at April concert

See Ida Viper, The Loafers, more at Little Theater
by: John Klicker, Ida Viper, a trio featuring Mark Petteys on banjo, Brian Oberlin on saxophone and Rusty Baker on bass, will close the April 19 bluegrass/roots concert at the Gresham Little Theater.

For a little more money than you spend on a gallon of gas these days, you can enjoy a fine lineup of roots music at the Gresham Little Theater on Saturday, April 19.

The $6 show features three compelling acts: Ida Viper, The Loafers and up-and-comers Molly Adkins, a guitarist-vocalist, and Martin Stevens, a fiddler, mandolin-player, guitarist and singer, who kick off the show at 7 p.m.

At the tender age of 15, Molly has already done more than many musicians twice her age. In 2005, when she was only 12, she released her self-titled CD to help raise funds for a friend's battle with leukemia.

Molly won the songwriting contest at the Wheeler County Bluegrass festival in 2006, and she has been a guest performer with Misty River and the Green Mountain Bluegrass Band.

Stevens, when he was 6 and again at 7, won the Washington State Small Fry Fiddle Championships. He also has won numerous other titles, most recently adding Washington's Young Adult Fiddle Championship to his list of triumphs. The bluegrass crowd will recognize him as the instrumental arranger and performer for Athena and the River City Boys.

Molly hails from Salem, and Martin lives in Vancouver, and the two young roots musicians say they love the improvisational nature of bluegrass as well as the family atmosphere that surrounds the bluegrass community. The duo is planning to release a CD this June.

'I would like to become a better songwriter and hopefully have fun with music my whole life,' Molly says.

'If an amazing opportunity came along that would make music my career, then I would jump at it,' Martin says, though he notes he has a practical side and is planning on teaching.

The Loafers, who take the stage at 8 p.m., is an acoustic quartet based in the Portland area, specializing in bluegrass, jazz and old time instrumentals, with a few good classic vocals thrown in for good measure.

Mike Stahlman plays banjo, and occasionally appears with the Midnight Serenaders and Lee Highway, and is a veteran Sawtooth Mountain Boy.

He's also played with the well-known Portland band, Sunny South.

Dave Elliott is a mandolinist and singer and has been a member of several well-known Portland bands including Surefire, Old Friends and Sunny South. Elliot hosts a popular bluegrass program on KBOO 90.7 FM. Aaron Stocek plays acoustic guitar and is known for his rhythmic touch and blues solos. Holly Johnson covers standup bass.

The trio Ida Viper closes the show. Mark Petteys has been playing banjo since he was 8 and won the Northwest Regional Banjo Championship in 1984. He's played festivals with Tex Williams, Grandpa Jones and Tiny Moore.

Brian Oberlin started on saxophone before moving to guitar and mandolin. His previous bands include Northern Accent and Grashoppah. He was a 2003 finalist at the national mandolin championships in Winfield, Kan.

Bassist Rusty Baker completes the trio and has played with The Dials, Groovy Tune Diggers, Clovis Point, Stone Circle, The Vagabondz, Scribble, Red Light District, and HighGrass Pickers. He's shared the stage with Ralph Stanley, Sam Bush Band, Railroad Earth, Dark Star Orchestra, Asleep at the Wheel, and Tony Furtado.

With his bandmates in Ida Viper, Baker plays old-time, bluegrass, western swing, jazz and Broadway chestnuts.

Producer Sharon Sandgren notes that the show is designed to be family friendly.

'There's no seedy opium dens,' she says, with a chuckle.

Roots revue

What: Bluegrass/American Traditional Music Concert

Who: Martin Stevens and Molly Adkins, The Loafers and Ida Viper.

When: 7 to 10 p.m., Saturday, April 19. Doors open at 5 p.m. for acoustic jam in the lobby. Patrons are welcome to bring their acoustic stringed instruments for the jam.

Where: Gresham Little Theater, 30639 S.E. Bluff Road.

How much: $6 admission 17 and older, no reservations required, all ages.

Directions: From Highway 26 (Gresham) take Orient Drive to Bluff Road (just east of West Orient Middle School), drive east about one quarter mile and look for Multnomah Grange No. 71 .

Info: www.greshamlittletheater.org/bluegrass or call 503-663-3029.

Band Web sites: Martin Stevens and Molly Adkins: www.myspace.com/mollyadkinsmartinstevens

The Loafers: www.myspace.com/theloafersbluegrass

Ida Viper: www.idaviper.com