Friday afternoon groove: The Decemberists "Rise to Me" at the Portland Music Festival (and how I knew Colin Meloy when)


Long before he was the uber-hip frontman for the Decemberists, Colin Meloy was a lanky kid in one of my summer classes at Grandstreet Theatre School in Helena, Montana. That particular summer, I was struggling. (I didn't know it yet, but lymphoma was already raging through my neck and chest.) I had two weeks to put together a full-on show with my K-2nd grade students, plus a 10 minute musical with kids from 3rd-11th grade. I think Colin was fifteen or so, and the first day of rehearsal for the ten-minute musical, he was kind of surly--probably because I'd drafted him into my cast of mostly 8-to-10-year-olds. I asked him what he thought we should do, and he said, "Something other than the usual stupid little kid scene." I ceremoniously dropped my script (admittedly the usual stupid little kid scene) into the trash, and sat back as he and the other kids brainstormed a script ultimately titled "Z". He probably doesn't remember me, but I remember him as a really terrific, creative kid. And I loved the Decemberists before I knew he was in the band. So that's kind of cool. Even if it makes me feel like I'm too old to listen to the Decemberists.

(Colin's sister is writer/critical darling/literatti hottie Maile Meloy, author of the gorgeous story collection Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It. Colin will make his literary debut later this year with Wildwood, which has already generated more buzz than a bucket of Bacardi. More on that later.)

So clearly the moral of this story is: Send your kid to Grandstreet Theatre School.

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