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story.lead_photo.caption D. Clinton Thompson, left, and Michael Cochran perform Sunday at The Mission, while the Missouri Cultural Conservancy records the performance as an ongoing effort to preserve cultural history, particularly music, from communities along the Missouri River. Photo by Gerry Tritz / Fulton Sun.

They might not have made music history Sunday afternoon at The Mission, but they took one more step toward preserving it.

With several dozen people in attendance at the Jefferson City venue, Missouri River Cultural Conservancy, also known as MoRivCC, made a live recording of a performance by the duo D. Clinton Cochran (Michael Cochran and D. Clinton Thompson).

The conservancy is a little-known group with a few volunteers dedicated to preserving cultural history in what it calls the "Central Missouri River Region." It does this mostly through recording video and audio recordings of songwriters, composers, poets, storytellers and other artists along the Missouri River and surrounding communities.

Mike Cooper and Jerome Wheeler came up with the idea in 2005, while sitting at Cooper's Landing, Cooper's full-service marina along the Missouri River near Columbia.

"They were talking about all the great artists coming through there that were writing their own material. Not necessarily making records and making it big, but it was a piece of the Missouri River Region's history," said Vanessa Leitza of MoRivCC. "It's just a different type of music than you hear anywhere else. And so they conceived this idea that they should start recording it, start preserving it for future generations."

At the time, Wheeler was battling cancer. Within about three months, he died and Cooper continued to make their dream a reality.

Later that year, MoRivCC was founded, and started a project that, so far, has resulted in thousands of hours of high-quality video/sound recordings of live music.

"We go around to bands that are performing original music, not just covers, and we record them," Leitza said. "All different ages, different genres, we're not picky. As long as it's their music, we're ready to record it."

It records all genres of music, but much of the music so far has been folk, Americana and bluegrass.

MoRivCC is working with the State Historical Society of Missouri, which eventually will be the repository for the live performance recordings.

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One of MoRivCC's big events of the year is the EcoArtFest, an environmental fair and art show the second weekend of every September. The event features 16 bands, and MoRivCC records them all.

The organization has been more Columbia-based, MoRivCC member Ron Penny said it is making an effort to get to other locations.

"We've recorded square dances, poetry readings, all kinds of (things)," he said. "And we're just kind of branching out now, and we're wanting to come to Jeff City. It's part of the river and we've never really recorded here."

The performance and recording Sunday was part of MoRivCC's winter recording series. Other recordings have been held at Cafe Berlin in Columbia this winter.

The conservancy operates on a rag-tag group of dedicated volunteers. Donations are solicited at winter recording series, but the group is also seeking more volunteers. Anyone interested can visit Performers who wish to be recorded can also contact the group through its website to make the request.

It plans to return to The Mission to make another live music recording March 11.

Cochran, 74, started playing the guitar when he was 12. In the '70s, he was part of the popular group Sound Farm. He's also a writer who co-wrote autobiographies of Les Paul and Chet Atkins, both friends of his.

"Donnie and I both gigged for years in different bands, played all around the country. We did some original music, but mostly we had to do what the band is doing. We got together and started playing, and said, let's just do what we want to do and not restrict ourselves to any other genre."

Their music mixes folk, blues and other types of music. Cochran, a founding member of MoRivCC, said he and Thompson drove from their hometown of Springfield to donate their Sunday performance at The Mission.

The conservancy, he said, "has archived a lot of wonderful material from a lot of really great artists and songwriters that, otherwise, would have just been forgotten just because they didn't become famous."

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