Before: A 2006 Wisconsin transplant entranced by the bright lights of Oregon’s capital.
Now: A musician that traveled to East Africa to record Amaloboozi, a CD of Uganda artists for a charity called Show Mercy International.
SW: Where did you go to high school?
MP: I did some high school in Bayfield, Wisconsin; some in Grand Marais, Minnesota; and then left early, got an age waiver from the state of Minnesota so that I could take a GED test, and started college at the age of 16.
SW: What do you do for a day job?
MP: Right now, I’m teaching drum lessons at Weathers Music. In addition to my 50-plus students there, I also teach a hand drum class at Riverfront Wellness and am often artist-in-residence in schools here and elsewhere in the country, facilitating group percussion workshops.
SW: What musical projects have you had?
MP: Wow … way too many to rattle off in a few sentences! I freelance, performing and recording with a number of different groups, in all sorts of various styles – from Jazz to Hip Hop to Country to Disco to 80s to World Music.
SW: What is the latest project you’ve been working on?
MP: One of the biggies currently is Amaloboozi, an album of material that I just recently recorded in Uganda, East Africa. On the December 15th release date, I’m handing the run of 1000 CDs over to Show Mercy International – based out of Albany, Oregon. Thanks to many generous donors, I was able to completely prepay for the discs so that 100 percent of the proceeds will be able to go toward helping the orphans that Show Mercy support with their many projects in Gganda Village, Uganda. Gganda was my first stop in the country and the Amaloboozi CD features several tracks by the very kids that it will be benefiting.
SW: How did you come up with the idea to make this CD?
MP: This is something I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time. I travel overseas fairly often and wanted to find a way to use what I know best, music, to give back to the many people that I meet and learn from around the world. My plan is for Amaloboozi to be the first of many projects like this. I’ve been documenting everything about the process so that I can create a protocol that can, in the future, be replicated to help support other organizations doing work in other parts of the planet.
SW: What was the coolest thing that happened to you while in Africa?
MP: Hmm … so many incredible experiences; it’s hard to say. The kids and musicians I met and recorded were definitely all pretty amazing. Racing around on precarious motorcycle taxis is always a favorite of mine (perhaps a guilty pleasure of sorts) when in many places overseas, so that was fun. Teaching an elementary music class, which led to essentially getting offered a job … both completely unexpected and very cool.
SW: What was the strangest thing that happened to you while in Africa?
MP: I bought two dress shirts, a tie and a pair of slacks. Though that might not sound super strange, for me it really was. I pack extremely lightly (we’re literally talking like 8 lbs. here) but never before in my travels have I felt underdressed. Based on my previous experiences in Africa, I did not expect that to be the case on this trip. Wrong I was … guided by the motto “always smartness” (in intelligence and appearance), Ugandans know how to dress!
SW: Where can people purchase the CD?
MP: The Amaloboozi CD will be available to order through Show Mercy’s website (ShowMercy.org). Complete liner notes, as well as links to videos of many of the recordings taking place, will be online at Amaloboozi.com, and I’m also working to make the tracks available on iTunes.
SW: When is the next chance people can check you out around Salem?
MP: Many of my gigs take me out of town, but when I am around I play every other Sunday at Mac’s Place in Silverton, helping host their awesome Funk/Blues jam. I also try to play the Jazz jam at Boon’s Treasury on the second Thursday of every month.