By MICHAEL-SHAWN DUGAR INLAND360.COM
LEWISTON - The six-week summer concert series at Lewis-Clark State College comes to a close Wednesday with a performance from one of the area's longtime entertainers.
Country music artist Dan Faller and his recently formed band, the Working Poor, will close out the annual music series, which began when college officials determined their campus was being underutilized.
"Three years ago the state said, 'Look, we have all these great facilities that we're helping fund, but three months out of the year no one uses them,' " said Jack Peasley, LCSC director of summer school and special programs."They weren't talking about just getting students on campus, they were talking about the community using the campus."
And just like that, the concerts were created.
"It's designed to get people to campus and see the facilities we have because we may not be very big but it's a very attractive campus - lots of really nice buildings and it's been received very well," Peasley said.
Peasley said his goal has been to bring in local talent , which is exactly what he has in Faller and the Working Poor. The five-member band has only been together for a year, but Faller is no stranger to the stage. The 61-year-old has been performing in the Pacific Northwest for 40 years, rocking nearly 4,000 shows, both as a solo artist and with various bands.
Faller spent the previous 18 years of his music career in a classic rock band called the Big Newtons, before the group disbanded last year. Now, he's back to his country music roots with the help of his band members who add drums, bass, fiddle, mandolin and pedal steel guitars.
As Faller has matured, the jam-packed nightclub scene is no longer his cup of tea. Instead, he's more of a picnic-in-the-park type of guy.
"I'm too old for that," said Faller, who is also the workforce training coordinator at LCSC. "I can't stay up until 1 in the morning anymore, so we're after community events, and boy did we nail 'em. Our schedule, it's crazy. We don't stop - we started really heavy in June and we don't stop until October."
As Faller grows older and the landscape of the industry changes, he's faced with new musical challenges, beginning with maintaining the crowd's attention despite their unfamiliarity with his music.
He likes to be different and playing the same songs as every other band isn't the way to do that. Instead, he strives to provide quality lyrical content. And no matter how people classify his music, whether it's red dirt country, Americana or alternative country, there's one type of country music he's sure his band isn't anywhere close to: "the stuff you hear on the radio."
"That's not country," he said, "That's pop music with fiddles."
His second challenge is reviving the art of selling hard copies of CDs. While people his age still enjoy owning music through physical transactions, such exchanges with the download- and streaming-obsessed youth are a rarity.
"Most of my customers are older folks," he said. "Younger folks still come up to me and say, 'You're great,' but they don't buy anything."
Fortunately for Faller, he's developed what he sees as a solution as to how he can convince people to look up from their iPhones and enjoy live music that just may entice them to purchase a copy.
"You can't just sit up there and play and not talk to them," he said. "You have to talk to them, connect with them, and if you do, your chances of making a sale really goes up. You ask them where they're from, you tell them where you're from, you talk about kids, and you talk about life in between the songs rather than just going from song to song that's become really fun for me in the last 10 years."
Dugar can be contacted at (208) 883-4628 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on twitter @mikedelaphante
If you go
WHAT: Dan Faller and the Working Poor performing at LCSC Summer Concert Series
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday
WHERE: Centennial Mall, LCSC
COST: Free to attend, with food vendors selling lunch as well