Arts & Entertainment

Band to play songs in key of life for benefit show

Chane Mattoon found his vocal chords and guitar strings when he was a boy in Kooskia, Idaho.

His dad, who named him after a character in a Zane Grey novel, recognized early on that Chane was a gifted musician.

Years later, though, Matton's life got way off-key.

"Most people need to have a train wreck in their life before they get to their knees. And when they do the good Lord is there," he said.

And then he changed his tune. As he sings it now, Mattoon's personal train wreck led him to Jesus and put new songs in his heart.

From his lyrically entertaining Heaven Bound to the hip, bluesy/swing number I Gotta Have Jesus, Mattoon and his friends have cut four CDs so far and converted old-time gospel into progressive Christian country music that is fun, poignant and loaded with right-on theology.

The Chane Mattoon Band will share many of those songs in a free concert at 6:30 p.m. June 11 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church on West 27th Avenue in Kennewick.

Mattoon, 53, lives with his wife, Kathleen, and a few animals somewhere on the other side of Finley. His closest neighbor is Hover Park, where the Columbia River undulates through the Wallua Gap and double rainbows sometimes frame his picture windows.

A cowboy hat, just enough of a beard and a chiseled look confirm that Mattoon is country through and through. But when he signals the band to strike up, his love for the Lord takes over.

"It's a wonderful day," he sings as his whole body moves to the melody and a tennis shoe taps out the beat.

Make no mistake, Mattoon sings for an audience of one -- his God.

Joining him at the concert are longtime friend John Rannow on acoustic guitar and vocal, Arnulfo Chavez on electric bass, his 18-year-old daughter Kathryn Chavez on the keyboard, Doug Halbert on drums, top national flattop picker Joe Smart and vocalist Becca Klimper. There also will be a cameo performances by well-known Tri-Citian Clark Hodge on the trumpet, and vocalist Alex Rannow.

While free, the concert is a fundraiser to help send Klimper on a two-week mission trip to the Fountain of Hope Orphanage in Uganda.

Mattoon and the band members have been together for only a few months but they've already melded into a sweet sound.

"I was invited to come (with my bass) and was told I would get hooked on it, and I did," said Arnulfo Chavez. He, Mattoon and Halbert all have day jobs with Apollo, assigned to the Lamb Weston plant in Pasco.

"The first time I heard him what I really enjoyed is every song is totally different. And it's pretty good harmony," Chavez said.

Mattoon says his songs come to him through his life experiences, sometimes at 5:30 a.m. while commuting to work.

"Dad had a guitar hanging on the wall at home in Kooskia, and Mom always said I got all my talent from him because he don't have any left," Mattoon joked.

He gave an "aw shucks" grin, eased back from the microphone at a recent rehearsal and glanced at the rest of the band.

"How much better can it be than to be with the people you love? We love the Lord, that's why we're all doing this," he said.

*John Trumbo: 582-1529;