The artist, Walter Levings |

The artist, Walter Levings

The Union photo/John Hart Walter Levings
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

What is your career and your current job title? I am one of the vegetation program managers for Tahoe National Forest in the process of implementing fuel reduction projects adjacent to homes in the urban interface of the forest. I have worked for the Forest Service for 30 years.

Describe in a sentence or two your art. I play rhythm and bass guitar and sing in a six-member band called Special Blend. We play a mix of classic rock and blues and songs from a wide variety of artists. One of our strengths as a band is evident in our lead singer, Carrie Richards, who enjoys singing for parties, benefits and other events where our style gets folks smiling and dancing. She has been singing since she was very young and will make you glad you took the time to hear us.

How long have you been working in this discipline? I have been playing music in one form or another since the early ’70s – jamming at family gatherings, parties and camp-outs. The band has been together for seven years.

Why do you do it? There is a real pleasure in expressing yourself in music. It’s all about having fun and sharing with others. Everyone needs a hobby and music is as fun of a hobby as they come.

What do you hope to accomplish? I would like to play music for and with others as a contribution to a balance of hard work, good fun and family.

Do you create your art with an exact message you want the viewer to receive and if yes, what is that message? Enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

Where do you want to be with your art, in terms of part time versus full-time status, art positions and where your works are seen? I am hoping to develop my music so that when I retire from public service, I will be able to spend more of my time enjoying and playing music. Special Blend is hoping to play more for the public in the future.

What kind of special training did you take? Nothing formal, but I have learned from most of the people I have played music with. I come from a long line of musicians and music teachers and have many great memories of jamming with them during the holidays.

What’s your favorite part of your endeavors? My favorite part is sharing music with my family, friends and the public.

What’s your least favorite part of your endeavors? The moving and setup of all of our band equipment.

How many hours a day, or more appropriate, a week, do you spend on your work? I play as often as my life and work schedule allow and the band practices one or more nights each week.

Do you consider it hard work, and could anyone do it? Playing some of our songs is an aerobic experience, but the fun outweighs the workout. Many people have enough talent that they can develop their music and vocal skills with practice.

Any other comments you’d like to include? I hope to see a lot of people at the benefit auction “fun” raiser for the Yuba River Charter School at Miners Foundry from 3 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 19. Silent auction for great prizes including accommodations in Hawaii, Pacific Grove and Lake Tahoe and fine art from nationally recognized artists is at 3 p.m. A live auction begins at 4:30 p.m. Dinner, at only $5 in advance and $7 at the door, is from 5 to 7 p.m. Special Blend will play from 6 to 8 p.m. I hope to see a lot of people out on the dance floor and participating in this fun and worthwhile event.


To suggest a western Nevada County artist to be spotlighted in this feature, contact Carol Feineman at or 477-4232.

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