— Jackie Genis

Former public radio producer, Vancouver resident, and history buff Todd Bachmann is working to create a two-night intimate summer concert at Angst Gallery that highlights artist Bobby Gibson, one of Vancouver’s more famous country and western musicians. The purpose for the project is to revive a connection to Vancouver’s rich country and western cultural history.

“It will be a cabaret style performance with Gibson sharing stories of growing up here and his music career while also performing songs influenced by the stories,” said Bachmann. “It will be him, his guitar, a bassist, and a drummer.”

There is one small glich in Bachmann’s heart-filled project. The cost to produce this concert is $1,000. And while grants are an option, the valuable nature of the project and the desire to make it a summer event sparked the hope that the community might be willing to help bring this concert to fruition by serving as an art angel.

“A band of art angels could be so helpful in a situation like Todd’s or for so many other projects that just need a little extra cash to make it happen,” said Karen Madsen, chair of Arts of Clark County. “Arts of Clark County often would be asked to help with smaller projects like this – and we did – but then we agreed that a formal grants program would allow for project planning through a formal process; however, so many valuable projects often happen in a blink of an eye, and the timely need for a small boost of funding can’t always be planned in advance.”

Bobby Gibson, now 83 and living in Boise, Idaho, grew up in Vancouver during the 1940’s and 1950’s when Vancouver was the center of country and western swing music for the entire Portland area. Bachmann’s extensive research revealed that country and western swing music was imported here from the people who migrated from the east, and, most notably the south.

“During the 1940’s and 1950’s there were several places to go hear live music in Vancouver Granges and dance halls,” said Bachmann. “The residents didn’t have that much money so a television was hard to come by, and even going to several movie theaters in town was too expensive – music was something many people could enjoy for entertainment.”

Gibson’s love of music and early beginnings here launched a successful career for the highly skilled fingerstyle guitarist. He played his first job for money at age 11 for $3 and then went on to play in many local bands in and around Portland. Gibson also was on TV shows, including the Heck Harper Show. More casual gigs paired Gibson with music icons like Willie Nelson when he was a disc jockey at KVAN, a Vancouver radio station for 20 years that propelled many talented musicians of that time forward. Gibson’s career flourished and he went on to connect with many other famous musicians, among whom included Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline. Gibson is also behind building Ripcord Recording Studios, one of Vancouver’s premier studios that is still in operation today under a different name.

“Bobby Gibson grew up listening to KVAN — he lived through that era and is a successful product of that era, and he deserves to tell his story,” said Bachmann. “This project matters because it has intrinsic value, and it is more about the cultural significance that matters to the community. It’not about grandstanding. It is about connection to the past and understanding our place here,” he added. “It grounds us.”

To learn more or find out how to become an art angel to bring country western musician Bobby Gibson to Vancouver this summer call Todd Bachmann at (360) 433-9428. You can also e-mail tbachmann@gmail.com.