Have I ever told you the story of how I got here? No? Refresh your drink, settle in, and I'll tell you how I became acquainted with Redding and became the Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. And stick around, because I'm going to unleash the Cascade's 10th Anniversary Season on you. It's kind of a big deal.
You probably already know that I started out at Jefferson Public Radio as a teenage volunteer. Worked there through college, and then moved to Alaska where I continued working in public radio for years before opening a restaurant, driving a school bus, leading tours, acting as the town's only video producer and wedding DJ, and then I became a mom. But I missed radio. And on the very day I sold my bistro, on a lark I looked on the world wide web to see if there were any radio jobs out there I might be interested in, and it eventually led me back to JPR.
Long story short, there was an open position. I applied. Didn't think I had a chance. I got a phone interview. Then another interview in person. It took 8 months, but finally I was hired. But not for the job I applied for. And not in the city (or even the state) I thought I was headed to.
When I got the initial phone call letting me know that I'd landed a phone interview, the person who called me said he didn't work at the Ashland studios of JPR. He was stationed in Redding, where he was holding down the fort at JPR's Northern California studios. JPR has a studio in California? Whaaaat? He said he coordinated all of JPR's activities in the state. He rode herd over a few volunteers, was responsible for marketing and fundraising efforts, and hosted a daily radio program. And oh…by the way…he was helping JPR revitalize downtown Redding because the station had bought an old art deco movie theatre, and was restoring it, with the grand hopes of operating a great performance hall that would bring people and business downtown, hoping to create something beautiful and amazing in Redding.
"I want your job."
I actually said that out loud to him. I told him his job sounded fascinating. He was doing radio and so much more. He was doing something that I wanted to be a part of. And lucky me, they eventually decided to tap him for the position I'd originally applied for, so they gave him a big fat raise, moved him to Ashland and brought me to Redding to serve as the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio. A dozen years later, I'm so happy that things turned out the way they did.
I started twelve years ago this month. The first two years were full of some of the most amazing fundraising I have ever been involved with. Redding was so generous. Thousands of people gave to support our efforts, believing in what was possible. After raising more millions than you can count on one hand, the theatre was finally finished in 2004. It re-opened in the same week of August that the theatre had originally opened the first time around, back in 1935. Opening weekend was the first time I got up on the Cascade Theatre stage and addressed a crowd. I won't go into the politics of how I was able to finagle my way onto the stage, but I felt like I'd just staged a coupe. And all I wanted to do was to tell Redding to give itself a hand for bringing this beautiful building back to life.
Tell you what, though. I wasn't prepared for standing under a hot spotlight in front of 1000 people and addressing the crowd. I'd never gotten up on a stage before. All my speeches had been made all alone in a radio studio in front of one, lonely microphone. I was not ready for my first moment on the Cascade Theatre stage on opening day. I had rehearsed, I had notes written on my hand in sharpie, but then I walked out onto that stage in my pink dress, I was a deer in headlights for a moment. I pretended that I wasn't panicking, that I wasn't sweating balls, that my throat wasn't closing, that I couldn't catch my breath, but I was legitimately and honestly terrified.
Then the audience changed everything. People clapped. They were nice. They laughed when I tried to say something funny. Wish I could remember what that was. Maybe that was the time I pulled a ringing cellphone out of my bra. Well, whatever it was, I was still nervous, but finally calmed down, shook the nerves out of my voice and got down to business welcoming the crowd to a sold out showing of The Wizard of Oz. When I asked the audience to give themselves a round of applause, the theatre roared with the sound of clapping, and I knew I was in the right place, doing the right thing. And from that moment on, I've been completely at home as the Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre.
So here we are. 2014. Ten years down the road, and the Cascade is celebrating a decade of bringing amazing performances to Shasta County. I've been dropping a few hints around town and on stage here and there over the past few weeks, but finally, the moment we've all been waiting for is here. The unveiling of the 2014-15 Cascade Theatre Performance Series! Remember, Cascade members get first crack at tickets starting May 30th, and the general public can buy tickets on June 17th. Memberships start at $50 with all kinds of perks besides early ticket purchase. You can get a membership here or by calling 530-243-8877.
You'll see some great artists return to the theatre, like Los Lonely Boys, Ziggy Marley, Jake Shimabukuro, Brian Regan, Natalie MacMaster and Garrison Keillor, along with some artists we've never had the pleasure of experiencing at the Cascade before, like Jimmy Cliff, Matisyahu, Kansas, The Temptations and Ian Anderson with the Best of Jethro Tull. My short list of must-see shows this season includes Jimmy Cliff, Matisyahu, Ziggy Marley and Sarah Jarosz & The Milk Carton Kids.We'll have a great 10th Birthday Party the first week of August, culminating with a sing-a-long version of the first film I served as Mistress of Ceremonies for. I'll try not to panic this time.
Introducing the entire Cacade Theatre 2014-15 Season (and today's playlist):
- July 12 Los Lonely Boys - How Far Is Heaven
- July 18 Arrival: The Music of Abba - Take A Chance
- July 26 Kidz Bop - Party Rock Anthem
- Aug 01 Jimmy Cliff - Reggae Music
- Aug 03 Joe Diffie - Pickup Man
- Aug 05 Creedence Clearwater Revisited
- Aug 08 Wizard of Oz Sing-A-Long
- Aug 20 Amos Lee - Sweet Pea
- Aug 21 Brian Regan - Golf
- Aug 25 Matisyahu - One Day
- Aug 29 Dustin Lynch - Wild In Your Smile
- Sept 09 National Acrobats of China
- Sept 13 Chris Botti - Contigo En La Distancia
- Sept 15 Ian Anderson: Best of Jethro Tull - Aqualung
- Sept 19 Kansas - Carry On Wayward Son
- Sept 27 Manhattan Short Film Festival
- Oct 05 SF Opera: Rigoletto
- Oct 07 Dark Star Orchestra - Truckin'
- Oct 16 Celtic Tenors - Danny Boy
- Oct 23 Lee Ann Womack - I Hope You Dance
- Oct 24 The Temptations - Papa Was A Rolling Stone
- Oct 26 Jake Shimabukuro - Bohemian Rhapsody
- Nov 02 SF Opera: Attila
- Nov 07 Ziggy Marley - Justice
- Nov 12 Asleep At The Wheel - You're My Sugar
- Nov 14 Sarah Jarosz & The Milk Carton Kids - Build Me Up From Bones & Snake Eyes
- Nov 28-30 Cascade Christmas
- Dec 04 Garrison Keillor - Coffee Jingle
- Dec 05-07 Cascade Christmas
- Dec 19 Tomaseen Foley's A Celtic Christmas
- Jan 04 SF Opera: Mefistofele
- Jan 29 Eric Johnson & Mike Stern - Cliffs of Dover & Mood Swings
- Feb 06 Shaolin Warriors
- Feb 11 Tommy Emmanuel - Beatles Medley
- Mar 07 Duane Hampton Presents: Piano Artists In Concert
- Mar 18 Cirque Mechanics
- Mar 22 SF Opera: Capuleti
- Apr 04 Buddy Guy - I Go Crazy
- Apr 17-26 Peter Pan, The Musical
- Apr 29 Natalie MacMaster - In My Hands
Valerie Ing-Miller has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for nine years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She's the mother of a teenage daughter and a 7-year-old West Highland Terrier, and can't imagine life without them or music. Valerie wakes up with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.