LCHS Logo   FOR RELEASE ON: Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

   Media Contacts:

     Bob Hart, director, Lane County Historical Society and Museum, AKA "Joe Meek" / (541) 682-4242
Al LePage, performing artist, Great Stories Alive!, AKA "Robert 'Doc' Newell" / 503-335-3876

740 W. 13th Ave.
Eugene, Oregon 97402

"Joe Meek" & "Doc Newell"

Rendezvous with two of Oregon's finest 150 years after statehood in a
harmonica-blowing, myth-busting, fun-loving but serious living history special event

Meek and Newell ArgueThe Lane County Historical Museum will host a special event performance,"Joe Meek & Doc Newell Alive!", on Sunday, November 15th at 2 PM, at 740 W. 13th Avenue in Eugene.  Al LePage, appearing as "Doc Newell" and Bob Hart as "Joe Meek" have teamed up to create and offer this unique program about these men's lives and through their life-long relationship the roles they played both in early Western and later Oregon history.  The performance commemorate's Oregon's 150th birthday, the general public is welcome and admission is free.  The museum is located within the county fairgrounds complex with free parking in the lot east of the Museum at the corner of 13th and Jefferson.  For more information about this event or the museum and its opportunities call 541-682-4242 or visit 

"The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," states Al LePage, who co-created the performance and portrays Newell.  "You see, when it comes right down to it history is someone's story, someone's interpretation of what happened.  But, since people are human, since people are different, well their stories can be, too.  And those who tell their stories first, or if some stories sound really good, or have really good storytellers, too, well, maybe they become the stories that stick, more than the actual reality.  So the great thing about this presentation is that both Meek and Newell are dead, so they're finally free to tell it like it is, or rather was.  So get ready for some myth-busting among other things."

"Robert Newell" (Al LePage, left) and "Joe Meek" (Bob Hart, right) argue
the pros and cons of establishing the first provisional government for Oregon

Meek and Newell had a life long relationship, both personal and professional, first as fellow trappers eventually becoming brother-in-laws through marriage to Nez Perce Indian sisters.  When Newell decided to head west to the Oregon Country with his wife and children, Meek joined him, and settled on the Tualatin Plains to farm.  They soon became involved in other endeavors, the formation of the provisional government among them, both serving in government in various capacities during both the 1840's and 1850's.  The presentation strives to tell about their lives, but also the often untold early story of Oregon, from before it was a territory and up to statehood, and in a way that only Meek and Newell can, based on the close friendship they shared for over 30 years.

Newell Upclose and Personal

"‘Ol Bob’ Newell’s ghost is still chagrined over so much being made of his storied friend,” begins Bob Hart, who portrays Joe Meek.  "Joe's been immortalized.  His stories live on in the pages of several books, beginning with "River of the West," which Joe himself was actually interviewed for by one of Oregon's first women’s historians.  His moment of glory calling for a vote is captured in a bigger than life painting staring legislators in the face every time they vote in the house chambers of Oregon's State Capitol.  Yes, that painting fits him, he would have loved it!"

Newell and Meek knew how to tell a good story, and have a good time, and the presentation will constantly go back and forth, from the dramatic to the comedic, from what could be called the "dead serious" to the "alive and well," and from the provocative to the playful.  In fact, be ready to play along, as this is not just a performance given by the two characters, it's interactive, too.  The presentation is meant to bring history alive in more ways than one, and audience members could become involved in everything from dancing to dialogue.  So, be prepared not just to learn about history, but to live it too.

Al LePage ("Doc Newell") sometimes gets up close and personal with the audience

"The 150th anniversary of statehood is a good time for looking back, taking stock, and moving forward," adds Hart.  "The study of the past can help us better know who we are as Oregonians.  Meek and Newell represent early Oregonian attitudes towards Native Americans, African Americans, government and statehood, among other things.  Yes, they were products of their time, and certainly not perfect, but their lives and their trials and tribulations can be instructive for us today."

LePage was involved in living history programs as characters from the past for over 8 years, first with the National Park Service and other historic sites and museums from Oregon to British Columbia.  He's developed and given presentations, and written and performed one-man shows, all in character, specializing in early Pacific Northwest history from Lewis & Clark to the beginning of Oregon statehood.  He's also appeared on the PBS History Detectives series, addressed the Oregon House of Representatives as "Robert Newell," most recently appearing on OPB's Oregon Experience's "Road to Statehood" episode as a bearded French Canadian.  He continues to live in the past each year during December with dramatic readings of "A Christmas Carol" to benefit charity in the guise of a Victorian Englishman, giving them in the same manner as Dickens actually did, historic script and all.

Hart, director of the Lane County Historical Society and Museum, was a former living history interpreter with the National Park Service and began doing Joe Meek at the Newell House Museum in 2006, recently appearing as Meek himself on OPB's Oregon Experience's "Road to Statehood" episode.  Since agreeing to collaborate and offer the current program, he's been both deepening his knowledge of Meek through more extensive research of his life and further enhancing his ability to become Meek in performance.  He looks forward to the upcoming year in 2010, Joe Meek's 200th birthday with its potential to develop and offer another new living history program focusing on Meek's life.



The Lane County Historical Society is a non-profit organization encouraging the preservation of Lane County history by operating the Lane County Historical Museum to collect, preserve and interpret Lane County's rich heritage. The Society also publishes the Lane County Historian, a quarterly newsletter and other publications and houses an archives section as a regional repository relating to Lane County's settlement and growth since the early 1800's.  Collections include photographs, manuscripts, original records, books, maps, studies, reports, and newspaper clippings.  Throughout the year the Society hosts special events, new exhibits, general meetings featuring presentations, and participates in projects such as historic preservation and the collection of oral histories and offers books and other items for sale at their gift shop. For further information, contact the Lane County Historical Society by phone at (541) 682-4242 or visit their website



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