Cabin Fever offers cure for winter blues

<p>John Wambeke and Pat Ward perform during a past Cabin Fever Concert. Tickets are on sale for the Jan. 17-19 shows at the Hermiston Conference Center.</p>

Throughout the year, while wielding a window squeegee as part of his day job, John Wambeke is continously thinking about potential acts and skits for the annual Cabin Fever Concert.

While growing up in Canada, Wambeke’s parents put on a variety show using all local talent. As a youngster, John used to play floor hockey with a door stop while they practiced in a gymnasium. However, the seed was planted and Wambeke now carries on the tradition in Hermiston.

Wambeke said others have contributed in the development of the music and comedy variety show.

“It’s a collaboration — a lot of the ideas come from Pat Ward,” Wambeke said with a laugh.

In its sixth year, the John Wambeke & Friends 2014 Cabin Fever Concert offers a pair of Dutch oven dinner shows Friday, Jan. 17 and Saturday, Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. at the Hermiston Conference Center, 415 S. Highway 395. In addition, there’s a regular matinee show Sunday, Jan. 19 at 3 p.m.

The dinner and show tickets are $35 per person, which includes a Dutch oven meal prepared by Sharon’s Sweet Treats and Catering. The doors open at 5 p.m. for a no-host bar and social time. Tickets for the afternoon matinee show, which only features the entertainment, are $10 per person or $25 for a family of four. The Saturday show is nearly sold out. Tickets for all three shows can be purchased in advance at the conference center or by calling 541-701-7014 or 541-314-3751.

A mainstay is the continued installments about the life of a couple of spinster church ladies of Dibbley Parish. This year’s show will find Thelma (Wambeke) and Eunice (Ward) on an episode of “The Dating Game.”

“Eunice is always looking for a man,” Wambeke said. “Thelma doesn’t really want to go on the show, she’s happy being single.”

In addition, some unsuspecting audience member will be plucked from the crowd to complete the trio of contestants as they vie for the bachelor’s desires. Kelly Zielke will serve as the master of ceremonies during the sketch, which is reminiscent of the TV game show that got its start in 1965.

Another regular during the Cabin Fever shows is Eric Jepsen, an Ione High School graduate and state champion fiddler. Now working on a master’s degree in education at Eastern Oregon University, Jepsen will head to Guatemala after the concerts. Also, the Frazer Wambeke Trio continues as the show’s house band.

Absolutely Nobody, an a cappella quartet with past ties to Blue Mountain Community College, also will perform.

In addition, Wambeke & Friends will take the show on the road for a benefit performance in behalf of Jeremy Miller, who is fighting pancreatic cancer. Miller, who performed with Absolutely Nobody, is the son of Dave Miller, a former music director at BMCC.

That show is Saturday, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. at BMCC in Pioneer Hall’s Bob Clapp Theatre, 2411 N.W. Carden Ave., Pendleton. Tickets are $30 per person and can be purchased at the door or in advance at the Pendleton Chamber of Commerce, 501 S. Main St.

For more information about the Cabin Fever shows or the Pendleton performance, call Wambeke at 541-701-7014.

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Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539.

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