Indie Backgrounds music program would be shot in and around Canby area

Indie Backroads videographers Keith Shuman and Jordan Mitzel discuss options for shooting a scene from the programs pilot episode.Bringing a trio of local musical artists together to practice and perform each other’s songs isn’t a particularly new concept, just one that a Canby native hopes to perfect in his hometown.

Kevin Hayes has created a concept he hopes to not only sell to television, but hopes to use as a very real stepping stone for northwest artists.

“Indie Backroads: Stories Behind the Music” is an hour-long musical artist-in-the-round concept that Hayes, who brings considerable television and entertainment experience to the project, hopes to turn into a full season of music and compelling stories on the genesis of how that music comes to be.

The pilot episode has been completed and a screening of the program presented last week at The Place to Be Café in Canby. The actual filming of the episode, and those to come, will take place at the Canby café.

It is not only the culmination of years of hard work, but the beginning of what Hayes hopes is a fun and educational musical journey.

“It went well,” Hayes said of the pilot episode. “We asked for and received a lot of input about the show from the audience.”

The artist-in-the-round concept got its roots back at the Bluebird Café in Nashville, Tenn. The musicians who write their own music sit together in a circle and perform the songs. The Bluebird Café is one of the world’s preeminent listening rooms and the venue has gained worldwide recognition as a songwriter’s performance venue. Not bad for a 100-seat café.

Hayes sees the same potential out west — in Canby.

Through his company, 371 Digital Filmes, Hayes’ pilot brought together three regional artists who had written their own songs — Amber Sweeney from Washington, Oregonian Blaine Oswald and Canby residents and music pastor Mike Rathke. The trio got together, created arrangements for each other’s songs — nine total — and performed them for the pilot. It was, said Hayes, an interesting process that eventually worked itself out.

“The day before we filmed, I was thinking ‘Oh my gosh, is this going to work?’ but they really did a great job,” Hayes said. “The artists used Skype to practice and sent parts to each other via the Internet.”

In the end, the pilot offered a look at how three different artists can merge into an effective musical group and it highlighted their ability to write music.

“I thought the pilot was outstanding,” Hayes said.

Hayes got his start in television at OCTS Channel 5 as a videographer. He’s worked in Nashville, serving as director of photography for the original TV pilot for “Nashville” – now produced by ABC. He did contract work for Brooks and Dunn, Montgomery Gentry, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and American Idol season three runner-up Diana Degarmo.

He’s back now, ready to shine the Nashville spotlight on the West Coast.

“We shot the footage in August and I’ve been editing it since,” Hayes said.

With a pilot done, the normal course would be to look to sell it to someone, but Hayes has a more long-terms plan in mind. He wants to produce a full first season of 13 episodes before pitching it to the many networks that might be interested.

“So what we need to do is be able to fund a full season,” Hayes said. “And the way we are doing it, we can fund an entire season for almost what it costs a network to film one episode. Once we’ve got the full season, we’ll go to the networks. I am looking at taking this international. So right now, we’re looking for investors – big and small. The goal is to be fully funded by March.

To get a look at the premiere episode, and feel for where the program is headed, check out the website at Each show will not only feature the music, but brief bios of the artists themselves. Hayes said he’d like to incorporate behind-the-scenes material, too.

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