Tigard High welcomes guest musicians

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - New West Guitar Group, a Los Angeles-based band, will perform a benefit concert at Tigard High School on Friday to raise money for the schools guitar program.Tigard High School’s guitar program is heating things up Friday with a special benefit concert featuring Los Angeles-based guitar trio New West Guitar Group.

The band is currently on tour promoting its fifth studio album, “Big City,” which was released this past September.

Proceeds from the concert will support the school's guitar program, said the program’s director Jerry King.

“Keeping our stock and equipment in good shape does take some funds,” King said. “We work hard to get the right equipment in the kids’ hands. Fundraising really allows us to have them working on top-notch equipment.”

For 18 years, the program has taught students how to play the guitar. This year, the school has about 100 students enrolled across four levels of study. The guitar program is taught in the same vein as other high school music programs, King said.

“They learn to read music, how to play in different styles and all the performance skills that it takes to take it to the next level,” King said. “We’re quite proud of it.”

Guitar students perform at basketball games and in annual concerts.

“With limited budgets in schools these days, anything we can do to help in that direction is really nice,” King said.

The district supplies the program with about $3,000 a year in funding, King said, which helps to pay for instrument repairs, upkeep and other equipment costs.

“For the last three years, our fundraising has meant we haven’t had to dip into district funds,” King said. “That is remarkable — with the kids performing to raise money. That means we haven’t had to use money from the district, so that small amount of money that we get can go to other music programs in the school.”

A few years ago, the program caught the attention of the New West’s members, who began coming to the school once a year.

“Our program at Tigard High has quite the reputation in the Metro area,” King said.

The group, made up of Perry Smith, Jeff Stein and John Storie, held workshops and clinics with guitar students for the past few years, but opted this year to do what they do best: Perform.

So what can concertgoers expect from Friday’s performance?

New West is known for its original works, as well as covering a wide variety of acts, including Tears for Fears, Simon & Garfunkel and The Police.

“They play anything from standard jazz to fusion,” King said. “They are extraordinary artists in their own rights. Having such fresh new music to listen to is really delightful.”

King said he would like to have the benefit concert become a regular event for the program.

“This is the first time we’ve done it, but I would like to broaden it out and bring in a variety of acts,” King said.

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