Local groups to join Tim Gates at 2017 Freedom Fest
Local performers Grayson Girls and Magnetic Pull will be opening for Tim Gates at the San Juan Freedom Fest September 9, at 6 p.m. at the San Juan High School practice football field.
Both groups have strong San Juan County roots and will bring their own flair and flavor of music to Saturday’s concert.
Formerly performing as The Magpies, the Grayson Girls recently reorganized, adding two new members and changing their name. They are focusing on new arrangements and tight harmonies with a variety of music.
Backbone of the group is local musician/singer Beverly Brown Felsted, who has loved music from an early age. Her mother said Beverly was singing “E-I-E-I-O” even before she could talk.
She began piano lessons in third grade, clarinet in fifth, and played in the band in both high school and college (where she met her husband Dustin, the tuba player!). While in college she taught herself to play the guitar and now accompanies and does arrangements for the group.
For Gayle Shumway, music was at first just background for dance lessons, but by the time she became the dance teacher, music was in her soles and soul. It was an easy transition to add singing harmony to her skills, and she joined with Beverly, singing for ten years with Hometown Harmony.
Full of creative ideas, Gayle has written multiple musical scripts helping to tell the pioneer stories of the Bluff Pioneers, through a women’s eyes (Valiant Women), as well as from a child’s perspective. She can always be counted to add dynamics to the performances.
Terri Card loves music! “Music is like blood running through my veins. It can make every emotion intense, every day complete, and every wrong right.” Her first solo was at the Miss Kearns Pageant which she won. She never dropped her passion for music, even while raising a large family of eight.
For four years she sang with a trio who performed every week at assisted living homes, care centers, the prison, and Relief Society meetings. She was a member of the Timpanogas Chorale and UVU a cappella choir. She helped form the original Magpie group and is happy in the new double trio.
Kaleigh (Card) Gilson, validates again the influence of mothers, and credits Terri for her own love of music. From a very young age, Kaleigh performed in a song and dance company called Showcase USA, eventually being in the elite group of five singers.
She participated in choir through both junior high and high school and took private voice lessons. When she moved to Blanding over six years ago, she started singing again “with this great group of talented women!”
Cheryl Arthur Bowers also comes from a family who loved to sing. Many of her ten siblings are also excellent singers. She credits her oldest sister Lecia for giving her the inspiration to excel.
Cheryl played French Horn and piano in high school and then attended the College of Eastern Utah in Price on a drama and music scholarship.
“I sang in musicals, competitions, church activities and anywhere else I was asked,” she states. She is excited to be a member of Grayson Girls.
Emma Bayles Holliday is another home-grown musician who has excelled. At eight years old, she learned to pluck along to “Old Dan Tucker” on the guitar and has loved music ever since. She loves all flavors of music but is most inspired by Folk, Bluegrass, and Celtic sounds.
In the spirit of mothers passing the musical torch, she stated, “I sing ‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’ almost every night to my kids – just like my mom did for me. I love being able to share my love for music with them and carry out that tradition. I hope to look down on my great-great-grandkids singing the same song to their kids.”
Music has always had a “pull” on these magnetic performers
For the three talented local musicians in Magnetic Pull, music is more than playing songs, it is a way to share folklore and stories of the native culture along with a generous slice of rock n’ roll the likes of Tom Petty, Santana, and The Doors.
Dennis Kaniatobe Sr, the patriarch of the band, grew up in the 1960’s in Oklahoma and has always considered himself a Choctaw Comanche. He attended Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, KS, earning a degree in music.
He was also a performer and started the first Magnetic Pull combo in 1969. Later when he moved to Colorado in the 1980s, he discovered he was southern Cheyenne. He met his wife Evelyn, who is Navajo, and they moved to Montezuma Creek.
Music continued to be his driving force, and Dennis Sr. taught music of many kinds to the Montezuma Creek Elementary School students for more than 20 years.
He started the fall and spring music festivals and was also the Headstart coordinator and helped with JOM programs. Many will remember him as the football announcer for Whitehorse High football games! His wife, Evelyn, teaches third grade in Red Mesa.
His son, Dennis Johnson Kaniatobe II has also been involved in music most of his 29 years, earning his first performer’s check when he was 13 years old. He graduated from San Juan High in 2007 and made lots of friends in Blanding and San Juan County. His new circle of friends now includes Moab as well.
He spent the past ten years on hundreds of road trips taking music to high schools, festivals and helping with music productions around the Four Corners. Seldom staying overnight, the group rotates drivers, as they hustle from one job to the next.
In the early years, their group was called the War Eagles Society. They often performed at the Bluff Arts Festival, and as far north as Salt Lake City. They used their bi-lingual skills to share stories of the past through original songs. In the process, Dennis learned a lot about music, how to create and share it in meaningful ways.
One of the songs they wrote tells of the massacre of Sand Creek in Colorado, as told by Danny Tallver, a Cheyenne Elder from Towac.
“We used to visit and talk about old times in Oklahoma,” said Dennis. “But one time he got serious and said, ‘I want to tell you something you won’t find in any history books.’
“He began to tell me about his grandmother. He told me that she was a survivor of the ‘Massacre of Sand Creek’. And what she saw and witnessed with her own eyes. She was in her teens when this awful tragedy took place.
“As I listened, I envisioned the catastrophic happenings. All too real, and so close to my heart. I was there, as he told of his grandmother’s fears and heartaches, crying out to me from the many years before. And yet as though, it was yesterday. ‘Take these words and make a song or a story,’ he said, ‘so others will understand.’”
The third member of the group is professional percussionist Travis Mose, son of Martha and Don Mose. He also plays the native flute and paints on canvas. He is from Halchita and graduated from Monument Valley High. Travis and Dennis play weekly at the View in Monument Valley.
Dennis adds, “We really want to thank Freedom Fest 2017, and their sponsors for inviting us to play. We look forward to the September 9 Concert.”