The Beet Goes On

The Sugar Beets celebrate their 25th anniversary with a benefit for the Eugene Education Foundation

The Sugar Beets
The Sugar Beets

Formed in the UO dorms in 1990, the Sugar Beets ought to hold the all-time record for Band Fortitude:

“A quarter-century of sustaining anything in this crazy world is a rarity,” says Marty Chilla, acoustic rhythm guitarist and Beets founding member. “It feels like destiny sometimes, and just plain persistence and work at other times. The Sugar Beets have just kept going step by step, song by song, show by show, and have grown up in front of each other and our audience.”

Eight years ago, the band introduced the “baby” of the group — jazz vocalist Halie Loren.

Says drummer Brian West of finding Loren: “We had been auditioning people for several months and just weren’t finding that certain ‘compatibility’ with Megan [Bassett]’s voice that we were looking for.”

“Halie is a consummate and professional musician and can hit all the right notes with elegance,” Chilla adds. “However, what really astonishes me about her is the way she can give her very heart and soul to you when she sings.”

For this show, audiences can expect stalwart Beets tunes from “Higher,” “Secret to Happiness” and “The Heat Don’t Go” to “Shooting Star,” “Sweet Ride Home” and “Pretend the Moon.”

“It’s gratifying to see people singing along to songs they’ve known for years,” violinist Dave Burham says.

The show opens with a tribute to original Sugar Beets songwriter and founding mandolin player John Shenon, presented by Scotty Perey, in collaboration with some of Perey’s students from South Eugene High School’s music and theater program, including Emily Sangder, Stella Drapkin, Phillip Etherington, Aaron O’Gara and recent graduate Keenan Hansen.

Guest performers at the McDonald also include Paul Biondi, Jarrod Kaplan and Brianna Bassett, who sang with the Beets for 12 years.

The all-ages show benefits the Eugene Education Foundation (EEF)’s arts programming.

“The EEF awards a number of grants for arts education each year,” EEF board president Kevin Boling says. “Frequently these grants fund an artist in residence for a period of three to four weeks in visual or performing arts. The results of this [Sugar Beets] performance could fund as many as five of these residencies, providing a high quality arts education experience to as many as 2,000 kids.”

Catch The Sugar Beets 25th Anniversary: The Silver Ball 8 pm Saturday, Oct. 24, at the McDonald Theatre; $15 adv., $18 door, $75 VIP.