Mission Mill Museum Logo  Facing Statehood Logo    
  1313 Mill Street, Salem, OR 97301
(503) 585-7012 - www.missionmill.org


FOR RELEASE ON: Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Media Contacts:

     Dr. Peter MacMillan Booth, executive director, Mission Mill Museum / 503-585-7012 / peterb@missionmill.org
     Al LePage, performing artist, AKA "Robert 'Doc' Newell" / 503-335-3876
      Bob Hart, director, Lane County Historical Society and Museum, AKA "Joe Meek" / (541) 682-4242

"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

The Mission Mill Museum will host a special event performance,"Joe Meek & Doc Newell Alive!", during their 17th Annual Heritage Awards Ceremony on Thursday, April 16th, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM at the Redhawk Winery, 2995 Michigan City Rd NW in Salem.  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 and the program not only includes the heritage awards ceremony, but also hors d’oeuvres, wine and dessert.  The entire evening costs $25 per person, $200 for a table of eight, reservations are required, and seating is limited.  To make reservations or for more information about this event or sponsorship opportunities contact the museum at 503-585-7012 or visit www.missionmill.org. This event is made possible through the support of Crowell Ing LLP, Redhawk Winery, Café Today, Croissant & Company, Loustic Catering, Mill Creek Station and Mission Mill Café. 

"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."

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.

Al LePage ("Doc Newell")  up close and personal,

 will also take the long view of history from "Eternity"

Bob Hart as Joe Meek

"‘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.

"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."

"Come celebrate two of Oregon's finest," notes Peter Booth, executive director of Mission Mill Museum, "and that's Robert 'Doc' Newell and his old friend Joe Meek!  Come to an evening of good wine, good food, and good times, and all for a good cause -- preserving our community's heritage and highlighting those who have done so with our annual awards ceremony."

Bob Hart ("Joe Meek") takes on the challenge of becoming one of

Oregon history's most outrageous larger-than-life storytellers!

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.



Mission Mill Museum is a non-profit, five acre, historical museum that preserves and interprets two homes from the 1841 Methodist Mission Station in Salem, the 1847 home of the Oregon Trail traveling John D. Boon Family, the oldest Presbyterian Church in the Pacific Northwest, and the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill established in 1889.  The museum’s histories are shared with visitors through daily and group tours, speakers, living history, children’s programs, hands-on activities, special events, the museum store and rental facilities.  Mission Mill Museum has been designated an official Oregon 150 Partner by the State of Oregon and an American Treasure by the National Park Service.



The high-resolution print quality images above are provided to the print media
with the permission and courtesy of the Robert Newell House Museum.

Crop and color balance these photos as needed.

Please credit "David Krapes, Photographer"