Bits 'n' Pieces: Classic Gospel Sonsback by popular demand

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For a musician, there’s nothing like knowing how it’s supposed to sound -- and making sure it sounds exactly that way.

That was Don Smith’s experience working with his singing group, the Classic Gospel Sons, in the recording studio.

Smith and the original group, which became famous in the 1960s and ’70s then took a breather that went on for years, reformed in 2010 on a bit of a lark. Someone recognized Smith, sporting his original Gospel Sons jacket, in a local Starbucks, and the group reunited to sing at a loyal fan’s 90th birthday party.

Playing together felt so good that no one wanted to stop, members said. It must have felt good to their fans, too, because a single planned reunion concert had to be expanded to two -- and both were standing-room only.

“We got an amazing response,” Smith said.

The Classic Gospel Sons were reborn. The group comprises Smith of Vancouver, tenor Terry VanderStoep of Woodland and baritone Stan Kirschenmann, who lives in the Five Corners area with his wife, Bobbi Kay, the group’s piano accompanist and an accomplished singer, too. Bass singer Jerry Watson lives in La Pine, Ore.

And now they’ve got a new album, “Once Again,” which will be released at 6 p.m. March 25 at the scene of their triumphant reunion concert two years ago: the Ridgefield Nazarene Church, 747 Pioneer St. Entry to the release party concert is free.

The album features a variety of sounds -- hymns, Hank Williams tunes, a cappella vocals, lush orchestrations -- that all fit together under the heading of “southern gospel quartet,” Smith said.

“This is the first project I’ve been involved in as the producer,” Smith said. “We got it exactly the way we wanted it. As good as our other albums were, they didn’t know our arrangements like we did.”-- Scott Hewitt

Hazel Dell brewer ready to join the big-time

Clark County’s newest brewer is gearing up for full-scale operations, and planning a launch and tasting next month in Portland.

Sunny Parsons, 36, owner of Heathen Brewing, has been quietly developing his Hazel Dell brewery for months, tweaking recipes and allowing friends and fellow brewers sample some of his creations.“It’s a labor of love. My whole company is me right now,” Parsons said. “I’ve been reinventing my soul somewhat with new recipes and using new types of hops.”So far, he’s produced several varieties of keg beer, but that will change in April, when his 10-barrel brewing system is finally installed and he can make larger batches. After that, he hopes to market his beer to local tap rooms and other businesses.

And on April 9, he plans to host his first public tasting at the Hoops and Hops Beer Tasting Series in Portland.

Hoops and Hops is a beer tasting event with several regional brewers held before some Portland Trail Blazers games at the Rose Garden arena. The April 9 event will begin at 5 p.m., before the game against Houston. It will also feature sample beers from Vancouver’s Mt. Tabor Brewing.

Hoops and Hops tickets are available at http://www.nba.com/blazers/tickets/packages.html. For more on Heathen Brewing, visit http://heathenbrewing.com.--Sue Vorenberg

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email bits@columbian.com.