Parkrose High again hosts ‘Jim Pepper Native Arts Fest’

Read, and you’ll discover why volunteers keep the spirit of the Parkrose-raised musician Jim Pepper alive, with this unique outer East Portland celebration …

Folks from all over the area come to the 11th annual Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival at Parkrose High School.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Sweltering Saturday afternoon temperatures may have reduced the attendance at the 11th annual Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival on Saturday, September 9, but those who came certainly enjoyed their time there..

Again this year, the free event celebrated Native American culture and Jim Pepper’s musical legacy. As in the past, the festival was open to the public, and took place on the western campus lawn of Parkrose High School, with Mount Hood providing the backdrop to the east.

Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival Stage Manager Amanda Stubits pauses for a photo with Sean Cruz, Executive Director of the “Jim Pepper Native Arts Council”.

“It takes a lot of work to put on this festival, but it’s a worthy cause, because Jim Pepper’s music* is so important,” Sean Cruz told East Portland News. He’s the Jim Pepper Native Arts Council’s Executive Director

“People here in Parkrose, in outer East Portland, and in our metropolitan area, need to understand that Jim Pepper’s music exists still,” Cruz commented. “Jim’s music is better known in many places around the world than in Portland – we’re trying to change that.

“At this year’s Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival, there are all kinds of really well-made merchandise, handmade jewelry, and other products – in addition to the music!” expressed Cruz.

Entertaining hare is Star Nayea, accompanied by Tony Carr.

Showing T-shirt designs, here’s Joshua Sosnoski of Nitêh Clothing.

“By the way, his family home for fifty years, here in Parkrose, was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places because of its historic significance,” Cruz went on.

“We hope people will come away with a feeling of camaraderie with our Native people, and with everyone else who is here celebrating the life of Jim Pepper today.”

Throughout the afternoon, the festival continues.

To learn more about Jim Pepper, as well as the Jim Pepper Native Arts Council, visit their official website: CLICK HERE.

* Beginning in the late 1960s, Pepper became a pioneer of fusion jazz music with his band, The Free Spirits – between 1965 and 1968 –  with guitarist Larry Coryell). Pepper  is credited as the first to combine elements of jazz and rock, playing primarily tenor saxophone was known by musicians for his unique musical sound and style. Pepper died in 1992 of lymphoma in Portland Oregon. Pepper was posthumously granted the Lifetime Musical Achievement Award by First Americans in the Arts in 1999, and in 2000 he was inducted into the Native American Music Awards Hall of Fame.

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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