The first concert of 1999 at the Florence Events Center proved to be
phenomenal. We would never have believed a couple of guitar pickers
singing logging songs could have packed the FEC. Yet on January 16 it
happened. The concert was sold out earlier in the week, and word has it
about 50 people were turned away the night of the event.
And what a crowd--people of all ages, families with children, casually
attired, full of lively chatter and happy anticipation, familiar with
the entertainers. People we hadn't seen before, and we've seet a lot of
FEC productions. We don't know where Florence was, but Mapleton,
Deadwood, Eugene, Springfield, and even Medford were having a wonderful
time in a festival atmosphere. In fact, we were reminded of bluegrass
festivals and the instantaneous friendship the music engenders among
strangers. We have felt this camaraderie before at the FEC at Jazz Kings
concerts, where the audience cherishes the music and memories of a
So who is responsible for the momentous response? A couple of local
boys, Mapleton men--Craig & Terry, loggers and musicians. Craig Jenkins
and Terry McKinnis played acoustic guitars, accompanied by Eric Asplund
on electric bass, Rick Barrows on keyboard, and Johnny Kallas on drums.
Jenkins did the talking and singing, although McKinnis and the others
sang harmony. If the legendary Jimmie Rodgers was the "Singing
Brakeman," Jenkins is easily the "Singing Logger." A strapping,
good-looking gentleman, Jenkins has a smooth, radio voice, instantly
pleasing to the ear when he speaks and crystal clear and warm when he
This concert was recorded live for Craig & Terry's forthcoming CD, and
the timing was exact--two hours of music with a brief intermission and
two very short pauses to change the recording tape. Since most of the
audience knew the songs, they anxiously signed up for the new CD
in the lobby during intermission and after the show.
The theater darkened precisely at 7:30 p.m., and the loud roar of
chain saws filled the room. Then the curtain opened on the band,
amidst artfully arranged pine trees, ferns, moss, bright flowers,
and chain saws at rest. A huge brown bear, carved of wood,
watched the audience from the trees. Across the deep blue
back of the stage, the lighting technician painting a lush, green forest.
All in all, a stunning visual effect.
The music can be classified as folk, in the tradition of Woody Guthrie
and Peter Seeger, as well as Jimmie Rodgers--music in which the lyrics
are paramount, songs of the life of the working man, in this case the
logger, once king of the Northwest's economy, including that of Mapleton
and Florence. The songs are originals, written by Jenkins or his friend,
Don Beck, fellow logger, musician, and Mapletonian, who introduced the
show. The songs tell stories, funny, rollicking, plaintive, and
satirical, and their choruses are catchy, so that the audience members
could almost sing along, and some did.
The program included a photo of the two loggers in hard hats in a tree
holding guitars, instead of chain saws. In addition to listing the song
titles and musicians, the program contained a glossary of logging terms,
which helped to clarify some of the lyrics, although Jenkins did a good
job of introducing the songs and explaining some of the jargon. Some
terms were obvious, such as "dough" (money), "greenhorn" (inexperienced
logger or log cutter), and "horn" (radio or telephone), but others were
new or different, such as "crock" (large container used for making
homebrew), "haywire" (usually 3/8 inch steel line or cable). "hung up"
(when a chain saw becomes pinched between logs), "snag" (standing dead
tree), and "snoose" (chewing tobacco). Jenkins and Beck wove the everday
words of the trade into songs everyone could identify with and enjoy and
applaud. And applaud they did. Loudly and vocally.
There was the rollicking "Snag Fallers Ball," a logger's dinner party of
great revelry where much "block n tackle" is consumed. It is also the
title of their first album, made in 1988, when their fans persuaded them
to record. A second album, "Endangered Species," was recorded in 1989,
followed by a third, a gospel album, "You Hold Me Still."
Jenkins told stories of learning the trade and logging with his
dad and sang "Two Moonlight Rides," describing how the
experience was not as romantic as he expected, and "One
More Mick," because there was always one more tree to fall.
"Sweat and Snoose" recounts the trials and tribulations of the
small-time logger, whose greatest expenditure is chewing tobacco
for the crew.
"An intellectual is someone who is educated beyond his intelligence,"
Jenkins said and launched into "Know It All Attitude." "King of His Day"
is a tribute to the old loggers who were, in fact, rulers of the
region's economy. The song was accompanied by slide projections of
loggers and logging operations. Jenkins called "The Dance" his country
song, and it is a plaintive love ballad.
There were several songs about logging in Alaska, including the very
funny "Mr. Bailey," in which a logger stuck in a remote bunkhouse
communicates with the world only through Bailey's mail-order catalog
from California. Realizing something is missing, the logger writes to
Bailey, suggesting that he should include mail-order brides. Other
amusing, satirical songs included "Windull Wood," a hybrid tree, part
pine and part willow "that weeps and moans," like a certain
representative from the Oregon Natural Resources Council.
Preservationists got ribbed again in "The Renegade," as told from the
point of view of the infamous spotted owl. Yes, folks, "It Don't Get Any
Better Than This," and "it don't get a whole lot worse," Jenkins sang.
The band was uniformly attired in blue jeans, blue workshirts, and
suspenders, and Jenkins emphasized his preference for this dress in
"Spenders & Jeans," as opposed to suits and ties, in a dandy, domestic
ditty, boogie-woogie style, with a hot keyboard break by Barrows.
The show ended with a wistful "Changing Roads," about tramp loggers
moving from camp to camp, with the hope that someday loggers would
regain their stature in the world of commerce.
A rocking encore closed the curtain on a remarkable evening of logging
songs by Craig & Terry and band. Stay tuned for the release of the CD.
We have a feeling they'll be back.