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If you don't know the Trail Band, perhaps you remember Seafood Mama ... or Quarterflash? The band of Marv and Rindy Ross will be playing its final holiday shows

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID F. ASHTON - Although they may be moving away from producing large shows with their bands Quarterflash and the Trail Band, Marv and Rindy Ross say they'll still play music.
Part of Portland's rich history of music, Marv and Rindy Ross rose to fame with local pop music band Seafood Mama, which led to a new incarnation as nationally famous Quarterflash and then the Trail Band.

But now, the Sellwood residents have announced they are about to retire — not from music, but from their popular bands — winding down late this year and next spring.

It started in the early 1970s at the Oregon College of Education (now called Western Oregon University), where they met and performed as a duo, then started their first band, Jones Road. In Portland, they organized a band called Beggars Opera, which became Seafood Mama, and then was re-formed as Quarterflash.

"In 1991, we began working with the state of Oregon people, who asked us to put together a touring band that could recreate music of the Oregon Trail for Oregon's sesquicentennial celebration," Marv recalls.

After 10 years of being rock and roll stars, the couple decided they'd really enjoy forming a band to play mid-19th century popular music, and the eight-piece acoustical Trail Band was formed.

"From 1991 through 1993, we toured the state extensively, and I wrote music for the band as well," Marv says. "After our three-year tour, we created and produced an old-fashioned Christmas show, like one might see in the 1800s. While the program has changed over the 25 years, we've been doing the holiday presentation every year."

In December, the Trail Band will play its final Christmas shows. "Twenty-five years just seemed like a good time because, although the band is healthy and we still enjoy playing this music, we've decided it's time to let it go, as we move on with our professional and personal lives," Rindy says.

In addition to presenting the band's annual Christmas show at the Aladdin Theater, the group has been touring the Pacific Northwest with the concert during the holidays.

"Because our company books, produces and tours the Christmas show, as much as we enjoy making the music, and being with the band members, it's really tiring doing all of the work it takes to produce big shows like these," Marv says

"Being neighbors with Duncan Campbell, who had just founded Friends of the Children, we decided the first year to partner up and make the Christmas show a benefit for that nonprofit organization," Marv adds. "Now, 100 shows later, and $1 million raised for the cause, it's phenomenal that this show has been popular for a quarter of a century."

"Our shows at the Aladdin Theater, Dec. 14-16 might be sold out, but many people travel to see us at our other venues in Canby, Silverton, Forest Grove and in Salem," Rindy says.

For all of the Christmas show's locations, dates and times, see www.trailband.com.

Their most well-known band, Quarterflash, has had a good run, they say, starting with its first hit release, "Harden My Heart," which in early 1982 hit No. 1 on the Billboard magazine "Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks" chart.

"We've been talking about letting go of Quarterflash as well; maybe in the spring of 2019 we'll do our last show," Rindy says.

Marv adds, "For me it's just 40 years of producing large shows" that have been tiring.

"It's interesting how Marv's music writing has transformed, and we see how music has changed for us over the years. That has us considering coming back to playing as a duo, or perhaps a trio," Rindy says.

Marv adds: "Thinking back to when we were 18 years old, doing our first duet as an acoustical set, has us coming back to performing with just us two — that's something that we haven't done in a long, long time, up until recently, and we've found that we're really enjoying it."

Having lived in seclusion west of the Willamette River for some time, the couple moved to Sellwood about five years ago, where they enjoy walking over to Westmoreland Park and down into the Oaks Bottom Natural Area, and dining in local restaurants.

"Now that we're older and we're not necessarily in the public eye so much, we enjoy the company of our neighbors. I even helped organize our block party this year," Marv says.

"We love everything about Sellwood," Rindy adds.

In addition to rehearsing every day for their Christmas shows, Marv says that he's written a collection of songs for Rindy, and another album of music — likely to be sung by Jon Koonce, of Portland band Johnny & The Distractions fame.

"While we have a lot of projects going on, we're looking forward to making everything a bit 'smaller' these days," Marv says, with Rindy adding, "I'm looking forward to our music together, continuing for a long time."

For more on Quarterflash, see www.quarterflash.net.

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