By Marcy Stamper
Leafing through the calendar listings in the Methow Valley News — a weekly ritual — got Lauralee Northcott musing about the value of newspapers, particularly in an increasingly digital world.
For the local musician and veteran producer of Western vaudeville shows, it was a natural progression to think about the value of celebrating, so Northcott — completely on her own, at no urging from this newspaper — decided to stage a variety show to honor the News’ 113th year. It will be staged at the Methow Valley Community Center on Saturday (Jan. 31).
Coming from the creator of the Foggy Dew Western Review and the Dollar Watch Cowboy Jamboree, the event promises to leaven any sentimentality with good-natured banter and characteristic horsing around.
“You build community by being conscious of that in numerous ways, so I want to contribute in my way — through comedy and music,” said Northcott, a founding member of the award-winning Horse Crazy Cowgirl Band.
“This is really poking fun at the paper, and spoofing it and our own community as we bumble along,” said Northcott.
Northcott has rounded up a true variety of headliners for the variety show. There will be five-minute stand-up vignettes interspersed with musical numbers, all featuring former and current members of the newspaper staff and local musicians and actors.
Northcott promises creativity and frivolity but even she doesn’t have the full scoop on what all the performers will deliver.
Jane and Aristides Pappidas have created a riff on letters to the editor, Patrick McGann will ruminate on the role of opinion in newspapers, and Donald MacLane will give people an insight into the best of the blotter.
Current Methow Valley News columnists Ashley Lodato, Sally Gracie and Joanna Bastian will provide a glimpse into writing about Winthrop (Lodato), moving to Twisp and getting her feet wet (Gracie) and the best of Carlton (Bastian). Bob Spiwak (Mazama) has contributed a “hilarious” piece, said Northcott.
Editor and publisher Don Nelson “will do something — a newsroom sketch — God only knows what,” said Northcott.
Local musicians will provide period music, with the Hottell Ragtime Jazz Band playing top hits from 1903, the year the first issue of the newspaper rolled off the presses.
Ben Gilmore will perform “Jimmy Brown the Newsboy,” a bluegrass number from 1951 popularized by Flatt and Scruggs. Brad Pinkerton will also be on hand to deliver some festive fiddling.
Northcott will serve as emcee and offer up her own musical parody of the Methow Valley News.
“The newspaper keeps people who are not Internet people on the same page,” said Northcott. “Print matters, and our print really matters, because we use it.”
“There aren’t many small-town independent papers left — it’s a vital part of our community,” said Northcott. “Sometimes, you have to bring things to the conscious level so you don’t lose them.”
Saturday’s show begins at 7 p.m. in the Methow Valley Community Center gym. Admission is by donation.