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Local Music - Pend Oreille 

by Cara Gardner


Here's a group that describes itself as "Spokane's only hurtin' and cheatin' grown-up country dance band." Pend Oreille (the band) is made up of Texas music roots and Spokane family roots, bringing music learned in the Mecca of country-dance sounds - Pasadena, Texas - to the heart of the Northwest.


"If a Texas native walked into our performance, they'd think they were in the heart of Texas," says Mike Shoemaker, lead vocalist.


Pend Oreille is a swingin' six-piece traditional country dance band, complete with twin fiddles, pedal steel and full quill ostrich boots. Sittin' ain't allowed when Pend Oreille is on stage.


The band's three-part harmony includes "the purest female country voice in the Spokane area, and the ultimate role model for George Straight's 'Amarillo By Morning.' "


The band members' ages range from 30s to 70s; it's easy to see that there is plenty of experience among the six of them.


Dave Cannon, the bass player, is a native of Austin, Texas. Cannon has played along with the likes of Willie Nelson. A former bronc rider, Cannon plays with energy.


Attorney Mike Shoemaker is a fourth-generation native of Spokane. His great-grandfather homesteaded in Pend Oreille County, hence the band's name. Shoemaker lived in Texas for about 25 years, where he played county music in joints with chicken wire and sawdust before returning home to the Northwest.


Dean Simmons is well known as the "Dean of pedal steel." After experience playing with local greats like the Kelly Hughes Band and showing off his talent everywhere from the television studio to moody saloons, Simmons now teaches guitar lessons for major music stores in the Spokane area.


Suzanne Cannon's diverse talent is apparent as she alternates among keyboard, fiddle and her sweet southern voice, singing along with husband Dave. Suzanne Cannon, like her husband, is a native of Austin, Texas. She is a resident doctor at Sacred Heart Medical Center.


The band's other fiddle player, Marge McFaul-Struble, has won numerous competitions across the western United States and continues to be a top finisher at the National Old-Time Fiddle Contest in Weiser, Idaho.


Kevin Raver plays drums in Pend Oreille when he's not busy studying to be a respiratory therapist. His solid talent grounds the band, leading dancers through song after song of traditional country-dance music.


So git out your hats and polish off your boots. When Pend Oreille plays, you'll feel like you're in Texas.





Publication date: 02/06/03
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