"A Portland Story" is a documentary concert film celebrating the life and legacy of Derek Rieth and his contribution to the diversely talented Portland music scene.
On August 20, 2014, Derek Rieth’s long struggle with bipolar disorder ended when he took his own life at the age of 43. To the outside world, Derek was best known internationally for his 18 years of percussion work with Pink Martini. But in Portland, Oregon he was also a local hero, giving tirelessly to help others fulfill their dreams.
Shortly after Derek’s death, on October 19, 2014, over 60 local musicians and dancers, from Portland, whom Derek collaborated with, came together at the iconic Conga Club, formerly on Martin Luther King Blvd in NE Portland. Together, they celebrated Derek’s life and legacy and the newly established Derek Rieth Foundation by performing in a benefit concert, produced by Scott Wardinsky, Derek’s first teacher and mentor.
Aside from Derek’s work with Pink Martini, his musical collaboration with other local Portland bands was revered. He loved all genres of music, especially world music. Derek began his musical career focusing on Afro-Caribbean and Brazilian folkloric and popular drumming styles. His studies eventually took him to Cuba, Brazil, New Orleans, and New York.
Among the Portland music scene, Derek founded and performed with GoGringoGo, a jazz band, Free Beat Nation, a marching brass band in the style of Maracatu and Brazilian folk music. In addition, he worked with Axe Dide, which presents music and dance traditions of the Caribbean, Central and South America. Pura Vida Orquestra, a Latin band, Ramsey Y Los Montunos, a Salsa Orchesta, and The Doo Doo Funk Allstars, all sought after Portland bands who participated in this soulful tribute to a man sworn to rhythm.
Despite Derek’s long struggle with mental illness, he deeply believed in the power of community. Through interviews with Derek’s bandmates, collaborators and students, we feel the unity and inclusivity Derek enjoyed providing and the profound effect he had on the Portland music scene.
Derek’s most trusted inner circle was deeply involved in creating this massive night of music. Gavin Bondy, trumpet player with Pink Martini, Howie Bierbaum, Pink Martini tour manager, Martin Zarzar, music producer and former member of Pink Martini, Michael “Shoehorn” Conley, tap dancing saxophonist, Scott Wardinsky, Derek’s first teacher and mentor. Also, Tadimdia Bridges, Derek’s then-girlfriend including various other artists share their personal stories, anecdotes and heartfelt testimonials about Derek and his insatiable appetite for discovering and generosity of sharing music with all he came into contact with.
Executive Producer - Howie Bierbaum
For over 30 years, Howie Bierbaum has celebrated and supported artists and the arts. Presently, Executive Director of the Portland Saturday Market, Bierbaum began his career as Executive Director for Portland’s Echo Theatre/Do Jump!. He then went on to become Executive Director of the Portland Area Theatre Alliance, creating the city’s first half-price day of show ticket booth. He subsequently worked with Portland Symphonic Choir and Third Angle New Music Ensemble. In 2004 he co-founded and managed Wonder Ballroom, leaving that position in 2008 to become tour manager for the band, Pink Martini. After retiring from the road, he took a position as Executive Director for Oregon Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.
An independent impresario, Bierbaum has presented over 75 performers, including works by Quentin Crisp, Tim Miller, and Eve Ensler. Since 2007 he has worked with singer Storm Large and her annual “Holiday Ordeal” show.
Bierbaum has served as a grants panelist for RACC, OAC and the Oregon Community Foundation. He presently volunteers as a community member/stakeholder for Multnomah County's Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge project and the Vortex 2020 Music Festival.
Director/Producer - Joanie Fox
Joanie is a writer, producer, and director living in Portland, Oregon. She began her career in the arts at the age of 11 dancing with Ballet West. At 17, she moved to Boston to dance professionally with jazz/tap ensemble “Boston Gold” before moving to New York City to perform on Broadway at Radio City Music Hall with “The Wizard of Oz, Live”.
From there, Joanie went on to do national tours and off-Broadway productions before studying acting and moving to Los Angeles, where she landed a recurring role on the hit TV Series ER, along with numerous film and TV appearances including Grey’s Anatomy, JAG and The Fighting Temptations.
Fox is the writer of “Skater Boy” with Paramount Pictures and MTV Films. Her original screenplay, “Arranging Mia” was an official selection and award winner at the LGBT Toronto Film Festival, she is the director of the award-winning short film documentary, “The Joy Block.”
Producer - AJ Gordon
AJ is an organized and reliable film-nerd evoking the entrepreneurial spirit. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon as a fan of the outdoors, film, live music, film, sports, film, and movies. After earning a bachelor’s degree in digital media production, he immediately moved to LA to pursue a career in entertainment. Gaining years of professional experience on national commercials
and A-List special events before re-relocating back to Portland to be involved in its ever-growing motion picture community.
Editor - William Hoshal
William is an award-winning composer, orchestrator, sound designer, and filmmaker. His music has appeared in feature films, television, video games, and on the concert stage worldwide. He has released and produced over 20 album projects, including the multi-award nominated “Rumor of The Sun” (NAMA, IMA, and GRAMMY shortlist), and been nominated three times for the Schallwelle Prize in electronic music.
Production Accountant - Robin Hewitt
Robin Hewitt is an independent production accountant with over 25 years of experience in the film industry. Robin’s film accounting career started in Los Angeles as a Controller for live-action film production companies with an eventual shift to VP of Finance for an animated film and television studio (producing Duckman, Rugrats, Wild Thornberries, Rocket Power to name a few) including a commercial division and record label.
Upon moving to Portland, Robin continued working on animated films and television series for a Los Angeles studio with clients including Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, DC Comics, Disney, MTV Networks, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Turner Networks.
Upon learning of the hit comedy show Portllandia, Robin was thrilled to be back in the live-action game and worked on Portlandia Seasons 2 through 8. Other projects in Portland include Documentary Now!, Comedy Central animated series Jeff and Some Aliens and various Warner Bros. live-action productions for The CW Television Network.
Robin’s background includes accounting in the music business. Robin started her career at the Rhina Records label in the early ’90s and has worked with various event productions including Peak Experience Productions, String Cheese Incident and currently Vortex2020