Gus Thomson's Media Life appears Fridays in the Auburn Journal

Media Life: Obama song penned by Placer grad debuts in D.C.

Auburn dog makes splash on Rebecca Corry Comedy Central special; Skeet Reese Web site shows how fishing stars pare expenditures
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer High grad Christian Kiefer and fellow songwriters couldn’t pass up the chance to inaugurate a live version of their epic song cycle to coincide with the Barack Obama presidential inauguration. Kiefer, in partnership with musicians Jefferson Pitcher and Matthew Gerken, drew some major national buzz last fall with the release of “Of Great and Mortal Men: 43 Songs for 43 U.S. Presidencies” their 43-song set on three CDs – one for each U.S. president. Last Saturday, the three Sacramento Valley residents were at a downtown Washington, D.C. venue called the 6th & I Historic Synagogue to join an eclectic roster of artists to debut a major portion “Of Great and Mortal Men” in the nation’s capital. It was also an opportunity to trot out a new song about No. 44 – “Someone to Wake” – to go with odes about past presidential song fodder like William McKinley and Martin Van Buren. Kiefer wrote “Someone to Wake” and enlisted Texas singer Will Johnson of Centro-Matic to sing it. The original CD package came out in the fall with Kiefer – a Rocklin resident who grew up in Auburn and now teaches for Stanford University online in the English Department – joined by 100 artists and musicians. With a presidential campaign filling the nation’s consciousness, the project gained widespread exposure on NPR’s All Things Considered” in early October. NPR played a role in getting the word out about the Obama song this past week, when it was made available over the network’s Web site. Saturday’s show featured about half the songs in the set performed by Kiefer and Pitcher, with guests including D.C.’s Laura Burhenn, New York’s Nellie McKay and the capital city’s Middle Distance Runner. A fife-and-drum corps even dropped in. The CD, including a 106-page book, is available at, or iTunes for $30. ANGLING FOR SAVINGS Skeet Reese, Auburn’s own Bassmaster Angler of the Year, is now making his opinions known on his own Web site. And like a lot of Americans, he’s cognizant of his spending during a down economy – as he points out in a recent post at Reese, who has earned more than $1.5 million on the Elite Series tour, admits that he’s willing to eschew expensive restaurant steak or sushi on the road to save a buck or two. He’ll also shop at grocery stores and then prepare meals at his hotel “base camp.” On the water, Reese chows down on good old-fashioned PB&J sandwiches. Sponsors have been hit by the downturn, so Reese said he’ll go the extra mile to help with marketing and promotions. With much of the fishing tourney action on the other side of the continent, Reese said he is saving money by planning ahead and booking flights in as early as possible. And, at those locations far from home, he’ll be sharing a room with another Elite Series pro. JUMPING TO STARDOM An Auburn dog with a penchant for long-jumping is set for a splash on cable TV’s Comedy Central. Comedian Rebecca Corry – a finalist on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing 4” – was in Sacramento for last weekend’s International Sportsmen’s Show. So was MickeyD, a 4-year-old yellow lab owned by Auburn’s Jim Powell and Sandra Stewart. With Corry looking for material to air on her first special on the comedy network Feb. 13, what could be better than a jumping contest billed as Human vs. Animal? MickeyD, a feared competitor on the local “Splashdogs” jumping circuit, won out. And viewers can see all the mirth during the half-hour show due to air at 10:30 p.m. the day before Valentine’s Day. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at