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About The Dalles chronicle. (The Dalles, OR) 1998-2020 | View Entire Issue (March 7, 2020)
A2 Weekend of March 7-8, 2020
S P E C I A L
S E C T I O N
in the company of excellence
to set sail
The Dalles Civic Auditorium
After years of remodeling,
theater expands operations
The Dalles Chronicle
After decades of major renovation—now
largely complete—The Dalles Civic Auditorium
is getting back on its feet with a spring to its
step and will be offering visitors a unique
window into the history, culture and music
of the 99-year-old facility with a multimedia
project steeped in music, history and culture.
Visitors from tour boats anchored at
Union Street will be the primary audience
for the 15 or 20 minute video that will run
daily in the theater during the season.
“We are going to create a history piece,
produced at the civic,” said Skot Barker, executive
director at the Civic. In addition to the video,
a brochure and music CD will be offered for
sale, with proceeds going to the Civic.
The video has its roots in the “China Clipper
Band,” a musical brainchild of northwest
songwriter and veteran Dale Rollins, a long-time
The Dalles resident. The project explores the
past, and how the Columbia River and The Dalles
fit into that past, in music, lyrics and stories.
“It’s Americana, but it’s world music as well,”
Rollins said. “It’s a historical adventure.”
The name comes from one of the most popular
songs in the program. “The China Clipper song is a
rock ballad,” Rollins said. When the original program
was being performed in the region in the early
2000s, Rollins met a fan who said, ‘Oh, you’re with
the China Clipper Band,’ Rollins remembers. “That
is where the China Clipper Band got its name.”
The program was performed around the region
for several years, part of the work Rollins was
creating to help commemorate the Lewis and
Clark Bicentennial (2003-2006) through music and
stories about real people in the history of the Pacific
Northwest. “China Clipper Band” was described
at the time as a live radio theater program.
Then during a rehearsal collaborator John
Rockwell took a call. “We knew right away
something was wrong,” Rollins recalls. And it was:
Rockwell’s son, Ben, had died in a plane crash.
“It was devastating,” Rollins said. Ben Rockwell
was a teen who worked with the city and parks
district to create the first skate park in The
Dalles, located just south of the current skate
park. A plaque honors his work and legacy.
That tragedy was followed by another,
the death of project collaborator Juan
Canopii, also killed in a plane crash.
The impact of those losses was devastating,
both to Rollins personally and for the Clipper Ship
Band project itself. “A lot of the project stopped,
because key people passed away,” Rollins said.
The new Clipper Ship Band multimedia program
and brochure is dedicated to both Ben Rockwell
and Canopii, with the words, “They put wind
in our sails and smiles in our hearts.”
A new voyage
Almost two decades later, Rollins has dusted
off that long-ago project and given it new life
and direction. “We are going to revamp it, and
put it to use at the Civic,” Rollins explained.
In recent years, Rollins has worked with Outside
the Wire, a local group working to connect
veterans in the county with available services.
Mark Gunter, Owner
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