‘A Simple Offering’ brings The Carpenters tribute band and Hospitality House together for a show and benefit in Grass Valley | TheUnion.com

‘A Simple Offering’ brings The Carpenters tribute band and Hospitality House together for a show and benefit in Grass Valley

Submitted to Prospector

It was November 15, 1969. The number one album on the Billboard charts was "Abbey Road" (having recently displaced Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Green River", and before that, Blind Faith's one and only self-titled album). Hair was long and getting longer, the music growing louder and more experimental.

On that day, a brother and sister duo from Downey, CA, released their debut album on A&M records, entitled "Offering."

Featuring a radically revamped, ballad version of the Beatles "Ticket to Ride," it sold 18,000 copies … a net loss for the record label. Normally, those kinds of numbers would mean the end of the contract, and the end a career.

As luck would have it, A&M gave them another chance. And this time, the piano-playing brother reworked an old Burt Bacharach-Hal David song entitled "Close to You" that featured the crystal-clear alto voice of his drum-playing sister.

The result: Richard and Karen Carpenter became of one of the most successful pop recording and performing acts of all time, selling over 100 million records in their career.

Now, 48 years after that initial release, a large and talented group of local singers and musicians brings "A Simple Offering; a Tribute to the Carpenters" to the Nevada Theater at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2.

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A tribute with a cause

The show, featuring nearly 30 songs from the Carpenters catalog, is a benefit for Hospitality House, Nevada County's only emergency homeless shelter and the centerpiece for multiple services and support for the county's homeless population.

"The music of the Carpenters really is timeless," said Debbie McDonald of Hospitality House. "When you hear these songs again, you're immediately taken back in time to when you first heard them. It's like a life soundtrack. You can't help but sing along. It's amazing."

The show's genesis comes from local singer Jane Sinclair (Pre-Existing Conditions), who shares Southern California roots with the Carpenters and who has always sung Carpenters songs casually.

"One day I found an old Carpenters video and just posted it on Facebook not expecting anything significant to happen," Sinclair said. "Within a couple of hours, it had more likes and comments than I ever get on a post. I posted a second one, same result.

"Even more amazing, the range of ages that left comments like, 'they were and still are my favorite duo.' I thought — wait a minute: if there's that much interest in the Carpenters music, why not do a tribute to the Carpenters? And why not do it as a benefit for Hospitality House?"

When Sinclair reached out to Hospitality House, she got an immediate and enthusiastic response.

"We have many different fund-raising events for Hospitality House," said McDonald. "This just seemed like a natural fit between music and cause."

The Hospitality House involvement goes beyond merely the fund-raising element. As part of the organization's culinary training program, trainees will be creating a series of tasty intermission desserts for the evening.

"It's a nice way to showcase some of the programs that Hospitality House offers," said McDonald.

These treats will pair nicely with the Sierra Knolls wines also being offered that evening.

Pulling it all together

Of course, the story of the Carpenters ended prematurely and tragically with the death of Karen Carpenter in 1983 due to complications from anorexia.

"It's a very sad ending," said Sinclair, "but we'll focus on the joy of the music itself. The Carpenters had an amazing number of hits — they didn't just do ballads. They covered old rock 'n roll, country, contemporary rock stuff from Leon Russell, Delany & Bonnie and more. And they popularized some great songwriters like Paul Williams and Roger Nichols."

To pull off the very rich, textured sound of the Carpenters, an 11-piece band has been assembled, featuring musicians and singers with multiple roots in Nevada County.

Joining Sinclair on vocals are Caryn Wilder (last year's Simple Dreams: Linda Ronstadt Tribute); local musician and singer/vocal arranger Peter Johnson (Crashing Boars), and his daughter Penny.

Handling the charts, arranging, and keyboard duties — the focal point to the Carpenters music — is musical director Craig E. Palmer (Cousin Cricket).

"When Craig agreed to be the musical director and pianist, he whipped up 30 charts in about two weeks," said Sinclair. "He is amazing."

Filling out the core band are guitarist Phil Missimore (West Coast Juice, Springfield Again, Three o'clock Reverb, The '60s, Sour Mash Symphony); bassist Larry Ortiz (Pre-Existing Conditions); and on drums, long-time Nevada County musician and producer Paul Kraushaar (Cousin Cricket, Shay Dillon and more).

Adding the instrumental color to the sound will be three current members of the Nevada County Concert Band (and many other musical entities): Jane Boettger (oboe, clarinet); Mark Potampa (saxophone, flute, harmonica); and Ralph Remick (trumpet, flugelhorn).

"It's been totally amazing to see this show come together," said Sinclair. "Everyone has so generously given of their time and talents. And everyone gets along! Rehearsals are fun, and the fact that it's for a very worthy cause just makes it even that more rewarding.

"I will not miss the stress when this is over, but I will miss all my new pen pals"

Tickets for the show are $20 general admission and $30 reserved, and are available at brownpapertickets.com and the Bookseller in Grass Valley.

KNOW & GO

WHAT: A Simple Offering: A Tribute to the Carpenters, a benefit for Hospitality House

WHEN: Doors open at 6 p.m., with the show starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2.

WHERE: Nevada Theater, Nevada City

TICKETS: $20 general admission, $30 reserved. Available at brownpapertickets.com and The Bookseller, 107 Mill Street, Grass Valley, and at the door the day of show.