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Performing worldwide for thousands of screaming fans has become routine for Parker Lundgren. But intimate concerts, like the one staged in Port Townsend on Dec. 20, still test his nerves.
"In a big venue, you can't look out at the crowd and discern faces, so it's easy to set your mind to the task and perform," said Lundgren, guitarist for Seattle-based multi-platinum progressive metal band Queensrÿche since 2009. "But I'll still get embarrassed if my grandma [Charlotte Lundgren, 85] asks me to play for her and her friends."
Plenty of familiar faces were in the crowd at the American Legion Marvin G. Shields Memorial Post 26, as more than a dozen musicians took to the stage for the "Wake Up and Start Dreaming" event. Organized by Brett Pemberton and Maja Hansen of Prophecy Productions and Meridian Models, the concert featured artists striving to transform their lives’ ambitions into lucrative, sustainable and fulfilling careers.
"Thank you to everyone who came out and showed support," Pemberton said. "We're looking forward to bringing more events like this to Port Townsend and cities around the state."
Lundgren's love of music began early. Born into a family of musicians, Lundgren recalled that "backyard jam sessions" were a regular part of holidays and get-togethers. His teen years included performances in punk and jazz bands with friends, spurred on by experiences at Centrum's summer music festivals, which introduced Lundgren and friends to some of the world's foremost musicians. Local guitarist and teacher Chuck Easton was also a great influence, he said.
"When Eddie [Jackson, Queensrÿche bassist] first heard my dad play, he punched me in the shoulder and joked that he's better at harmonica than I am on the guitar," Lundgren quipped.
Of his son, Scott Lundgren said that he couldn't be more ecstatic about his success and that he travels to see him perform in concert every chance he gets. "I never had a doubt that he would do something extraordinary with his life."
Lundgren said life on the road can be taxing. "Sometimes, you'll have a dozen shows in a row, flying from one city to the next, to the next. It starts to feel like ‘Groundhog Day.’”
But life as a musician also has its perks, one of them being able to play with some of the biggest names in rock music, Lundgren said.
"After a show in Italy in 2009, I was headed out the door when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and came face to face with [Ronnie James Dio of Black Sabbath and Heaven & Hell]," Lundgren said. "He gave me a big hug and pinched my cheeks like he was my grandma. I'll never forget that."
Love at first fret
When he's not touring, Lundgren resides in Seattle, where he teaches guitar and gives consultations. Recently, one of his students earned a $60,000 scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley, a dream he never had the opportunity to realize himself, he said. "That was a really proud moment for me."
Guitar maker Randy Parsons, whose client list includes Jack White, Jimmy Page and Peter Frampton, to name a few, recently informed Lundgren that he had develop a new "hollow body" guitar design with him in mind. That model and a dozen others will be available to the public next year.
"I remember growing up with a Guitar Center catalog in my back pocket, like it was the Bible," Lundgren said. "I love hollow guitars; they're beautiful, like Cadillacs."
In 2014, British company FretKing is set to release a new design inspired by Lundgren.
At the mike
Port Townsend High School graduates and longtime friends, Lundgren and Pemberton reunited on stage to perform a new Seattle Mariners team song, which local producer Peter Lack cowrote. Encouraged by David Lee Henderson, who wore Seattle's colors from 1981 to 1986, to come up with a new theme song, Lundgren and Pemberton set to work.
"It's an idea we'd been kicking around for a few years," Lundgren said, "Now, let's see where we can take it."
The evening also included performances by local talents Alanna Dailey, Kreea Baabahar, Rodney Just and Jazmin Van Lelyveld-Gifford.
Lelyveld-Gifford sang "Never Gonna Hurt Again," an original score written by Brett Pemberton for the 13-year-old artist. Proceeds from the show helped to fully fund Lelyveld-Gifford's Kickstarter campaign – in total, 86 backers pledged $3,076 dollars – to record her first EP in Hollywood, Calif., this spring.
Isaac "Ladro" Rubio, a Port Townsend native living in Seattle, added a selection of his original hip-hop to the set list.
Dirty Beat Duo's Lack and percussionist Jesse Watson wrapped up the night with their unique brand of trance, bringing everyone young and young at heart to the dance floor.