Bits 'n' Pieces: Star pupil to do big favor for B.G. teacher

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Greg McKelvey is thrilled to see his prodigal student return to the Pacific Northwest.

The band director at Battle Ground High School, McKelvey was once Esperanza Spalding’s music teacher, back when she was part of the Cultural Recreation Band Youth Program in Portland.

This year Spalding, a bass player, won a Grammy Award for best new artist. She is rapidly gaining popularity as a jazz musician.

“She’s just an amazing talent,” McKelvey said. “We could tell then that she was going to do well. She was very driven to succeed.”

The two have kept in touch over the dozen or so years since Spalding left the program, but McKelvey said he was still surprised and honored when she agreed to play a benefit concert for the Battle Ground High School Jazz Band.

“I’d asked her before she won the Grammy if she’d come do a benefit and she said she would,” McKelvey said. “But I wasn’t sure she’d be able to, with time constraints, after she won. Then she came back and told me she’d love to come out. So it was just a matter of working it out with her and her manager.”

Spalding has donated her time and will play with the Advanced Jazz Band and with a group of Portland jazz musicians at Battle Ground High School from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Aug. 25.

Tickets cost $25 in advance or $30 at the door. There will also be a VIP reception for $50 before the show from 6-7 p.m. at Galeotti’s Restaurant, 801 E. Main St., Battle Ground.

To purchase tickets, visit http://www.bghs.bgsd.k12.wa.us/ or call 360-885-6500.

Couple’s wedding draws on family history

Jenny and Jacob Farmer’s recent wedding was filled with historical touches.

For her something old, Jenny Farmer, whose maiden name is Mockford, wore a necklace her grandfather, Roger Mockford, purchased in England during World War II. Her grandfather, who lives in Portland, also gave her an old English sixpence coin from 1889 to wear in her shoe.

As another nod to history and family, one of the two officiants at the wedding was the Rev. Marion Kline, Jenny’s great-great aunt and a 100-year-old ordained Methodist minister.

Jenny and Jacob both grew up in Brush Prairie. They met on the school bus while attending Glenwood Heights Primary School. Both are 23 and graduated from Washington State University Vancouver. Jacob Farmer is currently in dental school at the University of Washington, so the couple will move to Seattle next month.

Jenny said she enjoyed incorporating the necklace and coin into her wedding, and hopes to see the tradition continue.

“I think it was really special,” she said. “I hope someday my children would be able to have the same stuff in their wedding. I think that would be pretty cool.”

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Mondays and Fridays. If you have a story you’d like to share, call Courtney Sherwood 360-735-4561, or e-mail features@columbian.com.