Cabin Fever thaws winter blues

John Wambeke and Eric Jepsen perform during a past Cabin Fever show. This year's concerts are Jan. 14 and 21 at the Hermiston Conference Center.

After a bone-chilling cold holiday season, John Wambeke & Friends provide a welcome reprieve — ushering in 2017 with a pair of Cabin Fever shows.

The annual event heats up with music, laughter and lots of familiar faces. Instead of whistling while he works, Wambeke dreams up acts and sketches for the yearly concert.

“You can tell I have way too much time to think,” he said with an exuberant laugh. “My job is too easy.”

Washing windows, the Hermiston man said, doesn’t require the use of many brain cells. The result — his creative juices have lots of time to simmer while climbing ladders and wielding a squeegee.

Wambeke likens Cabin Fever to “The Carol Burnett Show” meets “Hee Haw.” And, there will be lots of pickin’ and grinnin’ as the inner workings of Wambeke’s mind unfolds on stage.

Among the cast of characters Wambeke has assembled over the years is Joe Lindsay. Wambeke is convinced the Lexington farmer is cut from the same cloth.

Lindsay, Wambeke said, is known for his crazy songs. Participating in a handful of the Cabin Fever shows, he said Lindsay has carved out a niche.

“He’s the king of commercials,” Wambeke said.

Lindsay highlights the event sponsors during short vignettes — which, Wambeke said provides a fun and memorable way to say thanks to those that support the show.

Among the show’s returnees are Corey Cooley, Jimmy Creason, Eric Jepsen, Luke Basile and the Frazer Wambeke Trio, which includes Frazer Wambeke (piano/guitar/vocals), Juan Hernandez (bass) and Derek Munson (drums).

Of course, Cabin Fever wouldn’t be compete without Thelma and Eunice. Wambeke and Pat Ward don wigs for their recurring sketch as the quirky spinsters. The 2017 show catches up with the duo as they stage a cooking show. Let’s just say they have a blast when Eunice uses too much rum in the rum cake

A newcomer to the Cabin Fever stage, Dylan Ditchen is one of Wambeke’s music students. Playing by ear, Wambeke said the 11-year-old is “a heck of a piano player.”

In its ninth year, Cabin Fever options include a pair of Dutch oven dinner shows or guests can choose to attend the show only. Tickets for the dinner, which are $38 each, are limited. Wambeke encourages people to buy tickets early to ensure a spot at the dinner table for a delicious meal cooked up by Sharon’s Sweet Treats. For those whose pocketbooks are lacking after holiday spending, show only tickets are $15.

Tickets are available for Saturday, Jan. 14, and Saturday, Jan. 21. Both shows are at the Hermiston Conference Center, 415 S. Highway 395. For the dinner event, the doors open at 5:30 p.m. Show only guests are invited to arrive at 6:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. show.

Tickets are available at Cottage Flowers, 1725 N. First St., Hermiston. For more information, call 541-567-4305 or search Facebook for “Cabin Fever.”

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