Leslie Pugmire Hole
In the opinion of Evan Hagan, folk singers in the early de
cades of the 20th century were the original punks; their musi c was anti-establishment and angry.
can relate. The high s chool senior has been drawn to punk musi c for years, playing guitar in a band, The Knu ckle Children, sin ce middle s chool.
“There were no posers ba
ck then,” says Hagan, who plays guitar in the Depression-era play “The Grapes of Wrath” at Redmond High S chool this week. “These people really were starving artists. I have enormous respe ct for them.”
Hagan, and fellow Knu
ckle Children band member Josh Agee, are part of an unusual musi cian-a ctor-Greek chorus group of teens who perform in “Wrath.” They call themselves The Grape Pi ckers.
Hagan plays Grandpa Joad, patriar
ch of a family of Dust Bowl refugees trying to find a better life in California, whi ch they’ve been assured is a land of plenty.
The rest of the musi
cians, Gatlin Cyrus on fiddle, Mandi Kuhlman on vo cals, Lili Wagner on vo cals and harmoni ca, Phil Aulie on mandolin, Una Wagner on vo cals and washboard, Dallas Husky on vo cals and Agee on guitar, have bit parts in the play in addition to the songs performed during set transitions and the play’s two a cts.
Two of the musi
cians are children of Wrath dire ctor Hilda Beltran and most of the rest were re cruited dire ctly by her. Beltran’s husband, Judd Wagner, is a Redmond S chool Distri ct tea cher who has headed a student roots-musi c program, The Ameri cana Proje ct, for many years.
All the students agreed: Beltran knows how to sniff out good musi
“I don’t know how she found out I play mandolin but she did,” Aulie shakes his head ruefully. The senior started out playing violin several years ago but dis
covered the mandolin and has not gone ba ck.
“I learned to play jigs when I was younger but I
can’t say I’m really a fan (of old-time folk musi c), but when Beltran asked me I thought 'Why not?’”
None of the four boys admits to being big bluegrass or folk fans but Ag ee and Hagan are fans of the Redmond group Larry & His Flask, whi
ch in re cent years has transitioned from old-s chool punk musi c to a more roots-Celti c blend – with a punkish twist.
Cyrus has the most training in the style of musi
c used in Wrath, having studied fiddle for years with tea cher Brandon Booher, and has played country and Irish musi c. He says he likes playing anything that gets your feet tapping.
“I wasn’t really a fan of this musi
c before but it’s everywhere in Central Oregon and I’ve come to appre ciate the freedom of it, how it has so mu ch more to say,” says Hagan.
If you go
Nov. 16-18, 7 p.m.
Nov. 19, 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.
(Nov. 16 is RSD Staff Appre
ckets $8, students $5
ckets online at www.rhstheatre.ti cketleap. com/grapes (pi ck up at Will Call) or at the door. Ti ckets can also be reserved and paid for at the door by calling 541-848-0189 or 541-977-3916.