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Veteran guitarist interviews local musicians who interest him. Then they play a set.

COLLECTION OF THAD BECKMAN - Thad Beckman with American folk music legend Rambling Jack Elliott.Those hundreds of aspiring Southwest Portland musicians taught to play the guitar by Thad Beckman over the years can check out their instructor's skills as an interviewer on Thursday, Sept. 19, at the Gastro Mania Vault in Multnomah Village.

Beckman, who's made a living and a life as a professional musician with more than a dozen albums released, has begun a monthly performance/conversation called Spotlight Thursday at The Vault.

"I like that once a month I'm in a completely different role than anything I've done before," he said. "For the first 20 minutes I play, then I bring in a guest artist who plays and I interview him for 20 minutes so the audience can sit and listen to him talk about whatever we decide to talk about; their roots in music, their beginnings, what got them going and some of the famous people they've played with."

His guest on Sept. 19 will be Denny Bixby, a Portland-based guitarist who worked with many big names in Nashville for 18 years. He plays occasional gigs at Gastro Mania Vault with a band called the Ex-Nashville Cats.

Though Beckman's is a good, local story, he says he sticks to his guest's background.

So here's Beckman's Multnomah story: He was born in 1951 and raised on Hume Street across Multnomah Boulevard from what was then still an active Army training center. He went to kindergarten at Multnomah School, now the Multnomah Arts Center, then finished his elementary school education at Saint Clare on Southwest 19th Avenue near Barbur Boulevard. It was there that he formed his first band.

"We were Catholic boys playing 'Paint It Black' (Rolling Stones) and 'Searching' (The Coasters) at the church bazar at Saint Clare," he said.

At Jackson High School, he fell in with a band that called itself The Hedonists. "But no one knew what that meant, so we changed the name to The Pleasure Seekers," Beckman said.

His band would play high school dances every weekend. Were they making any money? "No, kind of the same as now," he said.

After that there was time spent in the military and life as an itinerant musician with stints in California and Colorado. In 2004 he came back to Multnomah where he still lives, less than a mile from his boyhood home.

"Hume Street is the same but Multnomah Village is unrecognizable from what it once was. I remember when John's Market was an actual market with a butcher shop. I remember when Gastro Mania was the Multnomah Tavern. Ron Tonkin Chevrolet was a tiny little car dealership right there on Barbur around 22nd. It was a small place but he always had the coolest commercials. He'd be driving a Sting Ray in them," Beckman recalled.

Besides his Spotlight Thursday series at Gastro Mania Vault and other local gigs, Beckman says he teaches about 20 students per week. "A lot of them are retired and ask me to teach them folk and blues and country songs. I teach kids how to read (music) and they'll ask me to teach them to play Queen and Aerosmith songs," he said.

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More information at www.gastromaniapdx.com


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