Bits 'n' Pieces: B.G. teacher gets nod on Grammys

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Greg McKelvey, who teaches band at Battle Ground High School and Chief Umtuch Middle School, turned on the television on Feb. 13 to watch the Grammy Awards, but he dozed off, so he missed seeing his former student, Esperanza Spalding, accept the award for best new artist.

McKelvey, a 56-year-old Portland resident, taught Spalding about 15 years ago when she joined his band for inner-city and minority youth in Portland. At the time, she played oboe and keyboard, he said.

Spalding listed McKelvey among the music teachers she wanted to thank in a press conference after the Grammy Award ceremony.

“A lot of the time, music teachers go their whole lives without one of their students winning a Grammy,” McKelvey said, adding that if he had known she was up for the award, he would have stayed awake for the show.

“We knew she was going to go places. She had a desire to learn, and she was a perfectionist. There are other kids like her, but sometimes you have to be in the right place at the right time. In a way, a lot of people make their own success, and she was one of them,” McKelvey said. “The last time I talked to her, she said she would come up to Battle Ground. I’ll try to hold her to it.”

Camas teen builds acting résumé with TV, film roles

Camas actor Colton Lasater might only be 18, but he already has an impressive résumé. He appeared in an episode of TNT’s “Leverage” that aired in August and acts opposite “Alice in Wonderland” star Mia Wasikowska in the upcoming Gus Van Sant film “Restless.”

Now, the Camas High School senior is about to begin filming for “Blake’s Country,” an independent film written, directed and produced by family friend Ron Morris, owner of Tailwind Pictures. Morris, 54, is a former Camas resident now living in San Diego.

“Blake’s Country” tells the story of a touring group of up-and-coming teen country music stars. Lasater, who has been acting since he was 6 and got his start in stage productions, plays Dylan, a young singer who gets caught up in a love triangle with Blake, the film’s main character, and another girl.

Lasater heads to Oklahoma next month to film and to record music for the soundtrack. Most of the filming will take place this summer in Bend, Ore.

“I’m extremely excited,” Lasater said.

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.