JOSEPH — a standing-room only crowd of family, old acquaintances and new friends turned out to hear former Wallowa resident Derek Brown perform Spanish, classical and one flamenco piece on his classical guitars at the Stein Distillery in Joseph on Saturday, Oct. 12.
About 65 people crowded into the bar, with its concrete floor not ideal for recording, but fine for a live performance, Brown said.
Brown brought two guitars to play. He built one using spruce, rosewood and cedar. The other was built by a friend in Spain using ebony for the back and fretboard and a rare piece of pine that came from a hospital in Granada, Spain, that dated to 1492. He said that was significant because pine has so much resin it must be thoroughly aged for the resin to dry so the wood is good for use in a guitar.
Brown’s audience had glowing comments on his performance.
“I loved it,” said Richard Shirley, who was there with his wife, Trilbey. “I thought it was an amazing, generous, well-accomplished performance.”
Linda Chrisman, of Wallowa, had been a teacher at Wallowa High School when Brown was a student there. “I thought it was beautiful, gorgeous; the music is so intricate,” she said. “It was different from what I thought it might be, but I thought it was beautiful.”
Though she didn’t have him in class, she remembered him from the school.
“It was fun to see him,” Chrisman said.
Chris Severin, who now lives in Spokane, Wash., knew Brown growing up and still has a lot of family in Wallowa.
“I thought it was amazing. To have someone of that caliber up here in Joseph, Ore.,” he said. “I’ve known Derek for almost 45 years. To see D.J. play like that, it was really great.”
Brown’s wife, Carol, and daughter, Chayse also were in the audience.
Asked how she liked being married to a professional musician, Carol Brown said, “I love it. We actually met in music school. A bond developed over music.”
As for the guitarist himself, Brown was glad to be able to share the music he loves with a hometown crowd.
“Oh, it feels so good to come home,” he said. “The people here are so wonderful and the chance to see family and friends and the beautiful fall colors. It’s kind of a magical place.”