Let there be music: Music Enrichment Program Launched by Local Musicians, Brings Top-Notch Talent to Neah-Kah-Nie for Student Band & Choir Workshops Dec. 2nd; Musical Performance Monday Dec. 2nd evening at WILD in Manzanita

By Laura Swanson

Dean Mueller and Julie Amici are well-known local musicians, dividing their time between Portland and Manzanita; they are the 2019 Cascade Blues Association recipients of the “Back What You Believe In” award. The award is given to a group or individual who has gone above and beyond to demonstrate a commitment to the blues community. The North Oregon Coast music community should also give them an award for their drive to bring national musicians to our little corner of the world. And now, to provide a music enrichment program for Neah-Kah-Nie School District.

“When Julie Amici approached the Mudd Nick Foundation Board about her idea for an innovative music program in the District 56 schools, Board members found the concept compelling,” said MNF President of Board of Directors Monica Isbell. She continued, “We are confident Julie’s musical talents and experience will be instrumental in implementing a program that will enrich the lives of every school aged child in the District.”
On December 2nd, a choir workshop with LaRhonda Steele, and a band workshop with John Nastos will be held at NKN. Both workshops are FREE and open to all students, thanks to generous donations by the Mudd-Nick Foundation. The choir workshop is hosted by award-winning vocalist LaRhonda Steele. LaRhonda is Portland’s first Lady of the Blues, is the Interfaith Gospel Choir Director, and performs blues, jazz, gospel, and soul. This particular workshop is sponsored by the Cascade Blues Association. The band “woodwind” workshop will be hosted by John Nastos. John has studied at the Manhattan School of Music, toured with grammy-award-winners Esperanza Spalding, and Diane Schurr, is a multi-instrumentalist, and has authored two books. All students and instruments are welcome, as there is plenty of information that will crossover!

AND… THE EVENING of DECEMBER 2nd … LaRhonda and John (with special guests) will put on a performance at Wild Manzanita, displaying techniques that they taught earlier that day in the workshops. Workshop attendees are encouraged to attend, all NKN students, parents, and faculty are welcome and free to attend.mThis will be a very special event brought to you in part by the Cascade Blues Association, the Oregon Community Foundation, the Mudd-Nick Foundation, Wild Manzanita, and the NKN School District.
Monday December 2nd at 6:30pm LaRhonda Steele, Mark Steele, & John Nastos. Jazz, Blues, & SOUL. Doors open at 5:30, Food & Beverage available. This event is FREE to NKN students, their parents/guardians, and faculty. All others $10 suggested donation, proceeds benefit the Mudd-Nick Foundation’s Musical Enrichment Program for NKN School District.

“Over the past several years the Mudd-Nick Foundation has contributed significantly to the Neah-Kah-Nie Music Department. This included instrument repair and purchase, new uniforms, and travel costs to band festivals. All of these helped put the Neah-Kah-Nie high school band on the path to compete at the OSAA 1A/2A band finals for the past two years. Workshops also provided by the MNF provide wonderful opportunities for students to enhance their musical skill,” said NKN Band Director Russell Zaugg.

“The Mudd-Nick Foundation and the Neah-Kah-Nie Music Department have a vibrant, growing, shared commitment to the development of the young musicians in this community. This new opportunity afforded by the foundation to work with local professionals in the field they so love is a much needed, inspiring. and exciting endeavor. We look forward to this upcoming school year when the students will take full advantage of these workshops,”said Music and Choir Director Michael Simpson.

Dean Mueller and Julie Amici – Giving Back, Sharing the Love of Music, Bringing it to the Coast
Mueller and Amici are deeply committed to bring high-quality music to underserve populations around the state. Through their work as artists and producers, they have developed a network of musicians to reach those who would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the joy of live music.
This dynamic duo have developed several programs or are collaborating on others, including the Fly Me to the Moon project, the Fire Mountain Musicfest, United by Music North America and Music Enrichment for Students.
Fly Me to the Moon: After experiencing firsthand the powerful impact live music has on seniors, Mueller and Amici founded Fly Me to the Moon, which provides opportunities for seniors to enjoy professional live music at retirement communities, assisted living and memory care facilities and adult community centers. In association with the Oregon Music Hall of Fame, the group raises funds to ensure the quality of the shows and provide fair wages for musicians. The growing list of artists who participate includes top musicians from the blues community.
Fire Mountain Musicfest: Held for the first time in October of 2019, Mueller and Amici organized the Fire Mountain Musicfest in cooperation with the Cannon Beach Arts Association (CBAA). With events at Cannon Beach, Nehalem and Manzanita, the musicfest featured more than 10 performances and several guitar workshops. The festival was created to help bridge the gap between the underserved coastal communities and some of Portland’s top musical talent including Curtis Salgado, Alan Hager, 3 Leg Torso, Dean Mueller and Julie Amici, LaRhonda Steele, Carlton Jackson, Brooks Robertson, Doug Smith and Mojo Holler. The 10-day festival served as a benefit to support arts and arts education on Oregon’s north coast, specifically for Fly Me to the Moon and CBAA.
United by Music North America (UBMNA): Amici and Mueller have been working with UBMNA since 2014. The group is a unified performance-based program and band for both neurodiverse and neuro-typical people with exceptional musical talent. As a mentor with the Portland group, led by Amanda Gresham and Dave Fleschner, Amici rehearses and performs regularly with the UBMNA band.
Music Enrichment for Students: This year Amici spearheaded a program with the Mudd-Nick Foundation to create a Music Enrichment Program to serve students in the Neah-Kah-Nie School District on the north Oregon coast. Building upon the existing music program in the district, Amici’s work with the foundation includes sourcing grants, offering workshops and music clinics, and providing supplemental live music experiences for the students.
As winners of the “Back What you Believe Award” from the Cascade Blues Association, Mueller said “There is no shortage of need and we are grateful to be part of this hard-working and generous family of musicians in the Pacific Northwest.” Amici added, “There are so many people deserving of this award in the musical community and we thank them all for their dedication to this wonderful musical family. We are honored to accept this award and dedicate it to last year’s winner Steve Pringle. Be good humans everybody, it matters.”


MORE TO COME …. Watch for the special “Sugar & Spice – A Holiday Treat” at NCRD in Nehalem December 21st … A Benefit for the Mudd-Nick Foundation’s Musical Enrichment Program for Neah-Kah-Nie School District!

Several of the Northwest’s most beloved musical artists will take the stage for the “Sugar & Spice” holiday showcase on Saturday, December 21st at NCRD Theater in Nehalem.
“Sugar & Spice, A Holiday Treat!” features the award-winning singers LaRhonda Steele and Julie Amici, along with an all-star band including Mark Steele, Carlton Jackson, and Dean Mueller. They will be showcasing various styles of Jazz, Blues, R&B, Soul, all in the spirit of the holidays!
The show is a benefit for the Mudd-Nick Foundation’s Musical Enrichment Program in Neah-Kah-Nie School District, bringing new experiences and opportunities to students K-12 through workshops and performance opportunities. There are a dozen different musical workshops scheduled throughout the 2019-2020 school year, and 6 performance opportunities that correlate to the workshops.
ALL AGES – Doors open at 6:30 pm – Show starts at 7 pm.
For tickets: https://www.tickettomato.com/event/6432/sugar-amp-spice-a-holiday-treat

Contact Julie Amici for more info regarding the Musical Enrichment Program and ways you can help: julieyanko@gmail.com.
For more of Dean Mueller and Julie Amici and their music, go to julieamici.com.

Watch the music video for Yellow Roses here: https://youtu.be/n-0tDB7H7PE