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Performances display talents of leader to protect Clackamas County's beloved Johnson Creek

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Matt Clark, executive director of the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, plays his guitar with Johnson Creek behind him for backup music.Plenty of songs have been written about rivers and oceans, and now there is an entire CD devoted to a body of water near and dear to Clackamas County residents — Johnson Creek.

Matt Clark, the executive director of Johnson Creek Watershed Council, an environmental nonprofit, came up with the idea for the album, entitled “Songs for Johnson Creek.” All the songs are family-appropriate and kid-friendly, Clark said.

Many of the participating musicians will perform at an album-debut and children’s party from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 15, at the Bobwhite Theatre, 6423 S.E. Foster Road, Portland.

Clark, a musician himself, will appear at the event, along with Mo Phillips, Red Yarn, Mr. Hoo, Tallulah’s Daddy and Buttercup Bill Aubrecht.  

Ticket prices are $7 for adults and $5 for children; one album download is included with admission.

Clark said he chose the site, because it is in the Johnson Creek Watershed; he also noted that the Bobwhite Theatre donated the venue for the concert.   

“We’ve done an art show for Johnson Creek, so we could see the creek through different eyes. Then I thought about it and realized I have song-writing skills and know a lot of performers, so I thought we could honor the creek through music,” he said.

This past February, Clark contacted a group of local musicians, many of them specializing in children’s music, and the end result was 12 tracks of songs, all with an environmental theme. None of the artists received any compensation for their work, and any money received through PayPal for the downloading of the CD will support a JCWC project to install logs and boulders in-stream, and to excavate side channel habitat to benefit native Chinook and Coho salmon and steelhead trout in Johnson Creek. 

Once the salmon habitat restoration is fully funded, album proceeds will then go toward the construction of an interpretive boardwalk next to Johnson Creek, Clark noted, adding that the goal is to raise $15,000 for the salmon-restoration and interpretive projects.

Family-oriented music

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - 'Songs for Johnson Creek' will aid the creek's restoration.Clark, 40, has been playing piano since he was 7 and guitar since he was 12. He began writing children’s music when his wife was pregnant with Rowan, who is now 6. Clark has played in bands around town for years and forged friendships with many local musicians who play “kindie” music, specifically aimed at kids.

On the song he wrote for the album, “Kids Need Creeks,” his son sings on the track with him.

Oregon City resident Jeff Inlay, who performs as Mr. Hoo, will be at the event on Saturday to perform “Roe Together,” a song he sings on the CD with his performing partner Mr. E; together, the two men are known as The Alphabeticians.

They came up with that name because Inlay’s children re-wrote the traditional alphabet song to new music and the two men liked the word Alphabetician, as it is a play on words for the alphabet, with elements of musician and magician mixed together, Inlay said.

They wanted to be part of the Johnson Creek project, Inlay said, because they are friends with Clark, and they wanted to help the environment.

“It’s a great thing to help habitats, and it also gets our name out there and we get to be affiliated with the other musicians,” Inlay said.

Mr. E, wrote “Roe Together,” which plays off the Beatles song “Come Together,” Inlay noted, adding that the song would not have existed without the CD project.

“It is about salmon leaving and coming back, and it mentions Johnson Creek particularly. There are a lot of parts to it; it has more layers than any other song we’ve done,” Inlay said.

Honoring Johnson Creek

The Bobwhite Theatre event will give attendees a chance to “sample local children’s musicians, playing at an event geared toward children and families,” Inlay said.

It will also be a chance to hear some of the songs performed live and it is a “chance to support a great cause,” he added.

Clark is grateful to “all the amazing artists,” many of whom are professional musicians; he further noted that none of them will get any financial compensation, but worked on the CD because they believe in the salmon-restoration project.

Another way to support the Johnson Creek project is to donate money to the “donor recognition handrail,” Clark said.

People who give $100 or more to this project will have their names engraved on the curvilinear railing along the Tacoma Street Boardwalk, one of the Milwaukie MAX stops. The idea is similar to the bricks engraved with donor names that helped fund Portland’s Pioneer Square, he said.

Clark added that both the CD and the boardwalk project are “fun ways to generate some revenue and bring attention to Johnson Creek.”

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