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by Inlander Staff & r & Museum Plays Small Ball & r & Blockbuster exhibits get all the attention at the MAC, but we get to see some great stuff there even when the headlines are small. Case in point: This weekend, we checked out the David Thompson exhibition and "Drawn to Yellowstone," a collection of paintings from the country's first national park. Thompson's original journals from 1810 and earlier are remarkable simply for having survived, and the Yellowstone paintings show that the grandeur of the Western landscape has inspired artists and their patrons for generations. But the best surprise was the work of artist Joe Fedderson of Okanogan and Colville, on display until Jan. 6. He borrows the geometric patterns from cornhusk baskets woven by tribal artists of the Columbia Plateau to create both abstract paintings and one amazing mural that fills an entire gallery wall.

Bringin' the Word & r & The musicians of Bethel AME Church bring their glorious sounds to the Met this Sunday at 6:30 pm with A Gospel-Jazz Christmas -- Traditional Favorites Re-Wrapped, featuring vocalist and music director Elisha Mitchell. The spirit will be rockin' at this benefit for the new Emmanuel Family Life Center, to be constructed in the Liberty Park area of Spokane. Tickets are $20, but kids 5 and younger get in free. Come hear those carols done up with a little soul.

Being Grumpy & r & The Bin traveled to Disneyland over the holiday week, and found it isn't perpetually the happiest place on earth. The first two times we tried to go on Splash Mountain, there was a two-hour standby wait and a six-hour wait for a "FastPass." At least the Soarin' Over California ride (an imitation hang-glider experience) was really cool.

R.I.P. Dax & r & Dax Johnson started tinkling the ivories when he was 3; now, at just 30, he's gone. It's Spokane's loss. But not just ours, because even when he was hauling his Wurlitzer upright around town and playing his jazzy, neoclassical, just-plain-rockin' compositions in unlikely places -- out on Rutter Parkway, up on High Drive, across from the Bon -- he was making music that transcended our little corner of the map. He told us his style of piano-playing was "very intricate, very bizarre, very ass-kicking."

As for where his music came from, he said, "I just heard those melodies in my head on a walk by the river. Do you ever get sounds in your head? When you were a kid, did you ever think about God or eternity or the stars or just some insane concept that the human mind can barely handle until you just reach that spot where you just freak on it? It's hard to explain, but those things happen to me every once in awhile."

That happened to us whenever we heard him play. We'll miss you, Dax.

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