Chris Parreira pays his dues

"I'm happily paying my dues," said Ashland musician Chris Parreira. "I've always been kind of a go-getter.

"I try and be as active as possible. I know that no one is going to do anything for me, so I try hard to promote myself as well as the work of others."

Parreira was raised in Yosemite, and then spent his teenaged and adult years in Humboldt County, Calif., first in Orick, then Arcata. It was there that he first started attending open mics.

"That's when I started taking off," said Parreira. Even before I was old enough to go to many of the shows I went to, it was fun."

Parreira is blessed with a beautiful voice and a kind disposition, and his MySpace site probably paints the best picture of his acoustic offerings: "If Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie had a love child..."

"I only have about nine original songs," said Parreira. "And only about six of those will ever be heard in public." Parreira works primary in covering and interpreting songs.

"Something really has to hit me," he said. "People have their requests, but"&

166; Most of my original work I wrote in 10 to 15 minutes, and they are few and far between. Except (his opus) 'Look Away,' which I spent nine months writing."

Another passion of Parreira's is hosting open mics. He started going religiously to his first open mic at Sacred Grounds in Arcata.

"It was epic, it was a great open mic," he said. "But the caf&

233; which hosted it closed a few months later, and it moved to a pizza place down the street." Parreira was so enamored with this venue that he took a job with the parent venue solely so that he could host the mic. When he moved to Ashland in August, the Jefferson State Pub's all-ages open mic had began to decline, and it was something Parreira really felt the city of Ashland needed, so he started lobbying Northwest Pizza and Pasta Co. for a Tuesday night slot.

"I had lots of conversation with locals about prospects," said Parreira. "And yet I walked by the Pizza place everyday. One day a light bulb went off. I did take some convincing though."

Parreira smiles, somewhat painfully, recalling the first night. "There were two people. The second week, maybe 10. But it's really taken off, and now I think that it's the best thing going on Tuesday nights."

And, of the growing masses of all range of talents, Parreira is thrilled. "I love seeing live performances because I learn something from every person I watch. Sometimes I learn things to do, sometimes things not to do, but either way it becomes a part of who I am."And he plays to standing room only, most nights now.

Parreira also gives a lot of credit to SOSA (Southern Oregon Songwriters Association). "When I first moved here, I had a rough time, and they really welcomed me," he said. "Before that, I was kind of wandering the Valley anonymously. They are very welcoming and a great resource for musicians."

And Parreira's been landing his own gigs of growing significance as well. This Friday he will be playing with guests at the Beanery. Next month he endeavors a two-week tour through Reno, Bend, San Francisco and back to his home town of Arcata.

"I remember, living there, I couldn't pay people to come to my shows," laments Parreira. "Now I'm treated like a rock-star. I head-lined my first gig in my hometown a week ago. I'd always been pretty much an opener. I like that, I want to be a part of it. I've gotten to open for some great bands, even some people who were my biggest inspiration."

For Parreira, always paying his dues, the former opener is now a closer.

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