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The music man

by AVANI NADKARNI

Staff writer



Musician Kevin Magner awed the harshest critics around — his students at Sequim Middle School.

Magner, who recently debuted his first CD, “Melange,” said he had a few SMS teachers listen to it; one of them played it for students.

“They came into my classroom and said they heard it,” Magner laughed. “I got the thumbs up.”

The CD has been a long time coming for Magner, who had completed seven songs on a previous album when the master copy was burned in a 2000 house fire that destroyed the Magners’ home.

“It was some of the most inspired music I’ve ever written,” Magner said of the original tracks.

The musician didn’t spend time grieving over his loss: he designed a new home, complete with purple trim and castle-like turrets and began working on “Melange.”

Magner grew up in a musical family and said he began playing in bands at the age of 13. In high school, he and his sister Mary formed a blues band and began playing everywhere in their California town. When he left for college at California State University, Sacramento, he said he was exposed to a variety of music he’d never tried before.

“In college I got involved in a lot of different types of music,” Magner said, citing bluegrass, country and rock fusion as

examples.

Magner worked his way through the genres of music, playing in rock bands in the 1970s and 1980s in Port Angeles and getting interested in gospel-type music in the 1990s. Perhaps because of his host of influences, Magner said he cannot categorize his CD.

“I’m having a hard time coming up with a genre for my music,” he said. “It’s roots and folk rock, some people have described it as Americana.”

Magner said he’s found that his music resonates with baby boomers, people of his generation.

“It’s kind of the genre they like,” he said. “My songs are reminiscent and reflective.”

At least one of the 12 original songs on Magner’s CD is inspired by his wife, Susan. Magner wrote “China Doll” as a Valentine’s Day present for Susan and managed to record it without her knowledge.

“I thought it was so sweet and romantic,” Susan said of the surprise. “I didn’t know a thing about it.”

Magner began working on the CD in 2005 but said he came to a “dead end” creatively after about a year. In 2006, he began working with recording engineer and guitarist Scott Bradley and found a fresh start. Bradley also plays backup guitar on several songs and other peninsula musicians, such as saxophone player Craig Bueller, fiddler Wayne Shields and Magner’s sister, Mary Pender, provide backup as well.

“I’m really thankful for all the help I got,” Magner said. “I had basic ideas about what I wanted to do, but then I found all these people who wanted to help.”

Magner and Bradley will be playing at Damiana’s Best Cellars, which is owned by Magner’s daughter Damiana, on the evening of Friday, June 13. Magner also plays throughout Sequim on his summer break — he will play at Olympic Lavender Farm and Lost Mountain Lavender Farm during the Lavender Festival and also will perform during the Concerts in the Park series.

“Melange” is available at Strait Music, Budget CDs, Tapes & Records, both in Port Angeles, as well as Damiana’s Best Cellars in Sequim.

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