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For the Sugar Beets, time does fly when you're having fun.

Byline: Carolyn Lamberson The Register-Guard

In 1990, a bunch of college kids from the University of Oregon dorms got together and started making music.

And now, 15 years later, the beat goes on for the Sugar Beets.

The Sugar Beets, one of Eugene's enduring and popular bands, will mark its 15th anniversary with a concert Saturday at the WOW Hall. Admission will be free with a canned food donation for FOOD for Lane County.

Marty Chilla, the band's vocalist and acoustic guitarist, says he couldn't have exactly predicted such longevity for this eight-piece band. But he can't say he's surprised, either.

"I'd say that back in 1990, when we were playing open mikes and friends' parties, I think we knew we had a good thing. We've always been excited about what's next."

During those 15 years, the Sugar Beets have been a consistent draw. The band has performed with the String Cheese Incident, Ani DiFranco, the Clumsy Lovers, Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and a host of others.

The Beets have taken the stage at the Oregon Country Fair, the Willamette Valley Folk Festival, the Northwest Folklife Festival, the Bite of Portland and Wintergrass.

At one point, Chilla said, the band was playing 80 gigs a year.

Soon, Chilla said, playing gigs became something the band did to get somewhere else, to other, bigger gigs. The band scaled back, he said, and has come full circle. Now, it's just about getting together with friends, writings songs and getting excited for the next show.

"We're back to making the music we want and playing the shows we want to play," he said. "All of us just have a desire to do something that's really true and beautiful."

The Sugar Beets is a band that has been successful in channeling the Eugene vibe. For three years running, the Beets were named best band in the Eugene Weekly readers' poll; they won the WOW Hall's best performance balloting in 2000.

"When we were freshmen in college, where we all met, we were blown away by the country fair and the folk festival," Chilla said. "That was our model of what music could be."

In its 15-year career, the band released two tapes in the early '90s (`Remember tapes?' Chilla asked) and three CDs. The band plans to begin work on a fourth CD soon, he said.

In the meantime, there's this anniversary show. It'll be a night to look back and look ahead.

The Beets will be joined by some guests - old friends who have played with them in the past.

The members will allow themselves to feel nostalgic.

"Then we're going to unleash some brand new things on people," Chilla said.

So, will the year 2020 bring another Sugar Beets anniversary show?

"I would say that none of us would be surprised if there was another 15 years," he said.

"Really, it comes down to the excitement we have for the next show we play and the next song we're working on."


The Sugar Beets 15th Anniversary Celebration

When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: WOW Hall, 291 W. Eighth Ave.

How much: Free with a canned food donation to FOOD for Lane County


The Sugar Beets plan to offer some surprises at the band's 15th anniversary celebration Saturday at the WOW Hall.
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Title Annotation:Entertainment; The popular Eugene band marks 15 years, and with no end in sight
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Mar 11, 2005
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