On the EDge: Music community rallies around Groovefest icon

OPINION – Even when it’s groovy, even when you’re surrounded by the splendor of music and performance, as is Southern Utah’s Tim Cretsinger, life is not fair, a fact that I am ashamed to admit I have been naîve about for far too long.

And, just when you think you have had enough of the bullies, greed, anger and arrogance that seem to prevail in this world of ours, there’s yet another knock on the door.

But, I guess what buoys us through these times, what helps us cling to some sense of humanity is the fact that, well, sometimes, people rally during tough times.

Some friends I know and friends I have never met are rallying right now to lend support for Southern Utah music and arts icon, Tim Cretsinger. Tim Cretsinger was recently diagnosed with throat cancer. Doctors removed most of a hazelnut-sized cancerous growth from one of his tonsils. Because cancerous cells were also found in three to four nearby lymph nodes in his neck, doctors are preparing an aggressive plan for radiation and, possibly, chemo treatments.

Tim and his wife Lisa Cretsinger are the proprietors of Groovacious, this cool little throwback record store located in Cedar City, and the founders of Groovefest, a very cool music festival that started life in the record store parking lot in 2001, but has grown to such proportions that it is now presented annually, free to the public, in Cedar City’s Main Street Park, with more than 30,000 music aficionados attending the multi-stage celebration of music and art that includes live performances, exhibits, and workshops.

I got to know Tim and Lisa Cretsinger when they opened their store in 2000.

As a reporter, it was interesting because it was a new business in town, a unique new business. As a music person, it was a throwback to those delicious days of a misbegotten youth when music was something we all listened to aggressively.

Back then, music wasn’t something we kept in the background, it was something we dissected. We would fiddle with the dials on our stereo systems, filtering pieces of songs in and out to try to understand not only how our favorite musicians did something, but why. The release of a new album was an event and there were many days when I would see a line of people outside my favorite music store in Huntington Beach waiting for it to open its doors so they could get the new LP by The Beatles, Stones, Pink Floyd or any of a number of bands and artists who captivated our hearts and challenged our minds.

Tim Cretsinger, Cedar City, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Groovacious, St. George News
Tim Cretsinger, Cedar City, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Groovacious, St. George News

The record store was where we could not only purchase new music, but discuss it with the person behind the counter, who seemed to know everything about every band, every album, every single ever recorded.

The record store was where the Tribe gathered to not only check out the new music, but buy T-shirts, posters, buttons, the latest edition of “Rolling Stone” – which was still in newsprint back then – and the other accoutrements of our age.

The record store in Cedar City is where I met Tim and Lisa Cretsinger.

The minute I walked through the doors of Groovacious I felt at home amid the big, bulky bins that were filled with vinyl. There was an album playing on the store’s sound system, incense burning on the counter, photos of Tim and some of the musicians he had met over the years as a record store owner in Oregon, T-shirts, posters, buttons, and some music/alternative publications that were refreshing in the earliest days of the media’s conversion from serving the public to existing solely as corporate entities.

Tim Cretsinger was wearing jeans, a red plaid shirt, sleeves rolled up and open with a white T-shirt underneath. Lisa Cretsinger was in jeans and an olive-colored sweater (some first impressions are long-lasting).

After five minutes of conversation, I realized that the records, CDs, and other stuff in the store were not what Groovacious was about. Tim and Lisa Cretsinger were not selling product, they were selling Tim and Lisa.

They were genuine, honest, real that day and every other time I would stop in, which, ashamedly, has not been enough.

But, they were there and sometimes, when I needed a break from the craziness of work or life, I would drop in and say hello, searching for a friendly face and voice. We’d talk about the old music, new music, the business of music, about living in Cedar City, or the local music scene. I bought some mostly obscure things there, stuff not usually on the shelves. I was turned on to some good new sounds and revisited some favorite old ones.

Make no mistake, Tim and Lisa Cretsinger were not only fans of the big names, whose music they sold in their store, but also the young local musicians.

They would host showcase nights in the store for local bands and sell their homegrown CDs right next to the latest releases by internationally acclaimed artists.

In fact, I daresay, there have been no others who have demonstrated as much support for the Southern Utah music and arts scene as the Cretsingers, even when they had to deal with a city council that snubbed them and their Groovefest event, and businesses were reluctant to offer sponsorships because, well, it was about rock ‘n’ roll and didn’t fit exactly into the “correct” cultural box.

In fact, I can remember pinning down a former Cedar City mayor and asking him why the city council could find it within its heart to donate money and use of the Heritage Theatre to a group of local, elderly men who called themselves The Master Singers, but wouldn’t assist Groovefest, which was in its fledgling days and really needed a hand. His response was repulsive.

It forced Tim and Lisa Cretsinger to reach deeper into their own pockets to pay for the festival.

That’s why as word of their current situation spread, those attached to the Southern Utah arts and music scene rallied to support their longtime friend.

Upcoming fundraisers

Chuck Triplett, who plays bass in the local band Bottled Monkey, was the first to step forward, organizing a benefit effort in Cedar City.

On Jan. 24 there will be two fundraising events in Cedar City: Bottled Monkey, Juniper City, The Pigeons, Bila Gaana, and Swift and Sons, will perform at Mike’s Tavern, located at 90 West Hoover Avenue; and at the same time, The Pablo Sextet and Western Bone Cleavers will perform at Toadz, located at 432 North 100 West. The door proceeds from both shows on Jan. 24 will go directly to help defray the cost of Tim’s medical expenses. There will also be drawings, T-shirts and other surprises. (Donations for the drawings are still needed, and are being accepted by Monica Hufnal at Mike’s Tavern. She can be reached at telephone 435-531-6791.)

On Jan. 25, Main Street Books will donate a percentage of its total sales to the fund; and on Jan. 26, The Grind Coffee House and Café will donate its proceeds from the entire day. (Organizers are still looking for the perfect match for entertainment at The Grind’s event. Interested parties are asked to contact Peggy Green at telephone 435-327-1693.)

Gordon Strang, representing the St. George branch of this musical community, has organized a Feb. 7 event at Jazzy’s Rock N Roll Grill, located at 285 North Bluff Street. The Shakers, a pretty tight, hot band based in Los Angeles, will come in to headline a gig that will also include local artists Sala Tumanuvao, Beans and Wheels, and Lyonhead. All door proceeds will go to the fund and there will be drawings at that event as well.

More than 15 local bands have offered songs for a compilation CD to also help, and, for those who may not be able to attend, monetary donations can be made to an account in Tim’s name at Mountain America Credit Union. Online credit card donations can also be made at the Hope and Repair page through Fundrazr.com.

For updates, please “like” the Facebook pages “Hope and Repair – A Benefit for Tim Cretsinger” and “Hope and Repair – A Benefit for Tim Cretsinger from Your Friends Down South.”

And, while you’re at it, send up a prayer for Tim and Lisa Cretsinger.

It might help justify those not-so-naîve feelings of hope and fairness that remain buried beneath the harsh realities of life.

No bad days!


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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.


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  • amy patterson January 14, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Would love you to do something in mesquite nv

  • Gordon Strang January 14, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Great Article Ed!! Thank you!

  • Tyler Bradshaw January 14, 2014 at 11:21 am

    It is great to see the support for Tim! As a local musician and having Tims support I am honored to be able to donate one of our songs to the compilation. Also this is a very well written article and a good read for all.

  • Lisa Cretsinger January 14, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Thanks for recognizing the goodness that we have brought to south western Utah and especially the positive energy and guidance from thirty years of experience in the music industry that Tim has freely offered to anyone who will partake. We are facing an uphill battle, but with all the love and support of friends near and far and the musical community of Utah and Oregon and elsewhere, I know Tim can fight back and be whole and healed again. Thanks Ed.

  • Lamar Savage January 14, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Simply perfect, Ed…..

  • Mike Allen January 14, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    As with Tyler, I am honored that our band is participating in the fund raising. Growing up in Long Beach and hitting Music Plus for an album the day it was released was a HUGE thing! and in my teen years working for the Warehouse music store I truly appreciate Groovacious and what they have to offer. Tim has a great store and when I needed the “obscure” album he was able to get it for me. He did not hesitate to have our local bands CD for sale in his shop. This community and tons of local musicians have come together quick and I hope that we can make even a small dent in the expenditures that these two awesome store owners are facing.

  • Sala Tumanuvao January 14, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    This article is fantastic and articulates perfectly what Groovacious, Groovefest, and especially Tim and Lisa are all about. Thanks, Ed. I really enjoyed reading this and I know it will inspire others to do what they can to help as well.

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