FEATURE: Music, music and more music

Posted in Feature, Festivals, Music

Slower Loris at Choochokam Arts July 2012.

BY PATRICIA DUFF, Whidbey Art Source Editor.
Whidbey Island is no slouch when it comes to its concerts. Everything from classical, to folk, to alternative, jazz, rock, bluegrass and gypsy jazz is being played in some shape of concert or festival on the island this summer and Whidbey Art Source is happy to reveal the skinny. (Also, the Source welcomes music members, so musicians, go to the “Join” tab and get in the fray.)

Jason DeWitt is a South Whidbey musician who decided to combine the casual with the concert. This summer his band, Slower Loris, started the Freeland Lawn Chair Concert Series every other Sunday in Freeland. DeWitt and members of his band invite any other musicians to join them at the Catherine DeWitt Custom Frame Shop parking lot at the corner of E. Harbor Avenue and Main Street, after Gerry’s Kitchen closes. (It usually happens at about 1 p.m. but always check their Facebook page to see if the gig is happening that week and at what time.)

“It was great this weekend,” DeWitt said of the Aug. 5 lawn chair show.

“Biggest crowd ever and a super set by Baby Island!”

Baby Island is Mark Buzard (guitar), Nick Dubesa (drums), and Eli Moore (bass and voice). Eli’s wife, the extremely talented Ashley Eriksson, occasionally plays and sings with the band. Moore and Eriksson also play in a band called LAKE, another great alternative band, as well as a few others.

DeWitt, who plays guitar, said the musicians in his band came together by chance. He started playing with fellow guitarist Bryce Wills when he moved to the island. “Bryce and I played guitars together in my barn every Sunday for nearly a decade and wrote a ton of songs in that time,” DeWitt said.

When he met Esther Iles she had never played bass before.

“She kept showing up to practice, so then we were three.”

One day his massage therapist, Anastasia Brencick, said she’d always wanted to sing in a punk rock band. DeWitt told her she was welcome to come and sing with his band. (She now also sings jazz, including gigs lately with DB Jazz.)

The drummers were not as easy to find and the band went through a few of them before Jeff Fisher, the recording engineer on the band’s first CD, declared that he would like to try his hand at the drums.

“So he got a kit and learned how,” DeWitt said matter-of-factly, as if it was the most natural turn of events.

“I think I speak for everyone in Slower Loris when I say that our band can make dreams come true,” he added.

Such serendipity is also present at the Freeland Lawn Chair Concert Series, where anything can happen and any musician can show up. Also, don’t forget to bring a lawn chair on which to sit down and enjoy the serendipity.

The concerts are free and DeWitt said folks can park right next to the band, because after all, it is a parking lot.

“It is a little silly to play in a parking lot, but lots and lots of things are silly and we do them every day,” he said.

Here are some other best bets for music around the island.

Tonight the final South Whidbey Parks and Recreation “Concerts in the Park” series wraps up with Michelle Taylor and the Blues Junkies from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Community Park at 5495 Maxwelton Road in Langley.

Bring a picnic, the children, lawn chairs, blankets and dogs on a leash and enjoy Whidbey’s summer night concert series in the park. It’s all free.

The Whidbey Island Music Festival continues with its second half this weekend,  Aug. 10, 11 and 12.

Artists Janet See, baroque flute; festival director Telka Cunningham, baroque violin; Laurie Wells, baroque viola; and Tanya Tompkins, baroque cello will perform Program III featuring “Mozart’s Magical Flute” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 10 at St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods in Freeland and again at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12. at Greenbank Farm.

Program IV includes JS Bach’s works for solo flute, cello  and violin and will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday only, Aug. 11 at St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods.

Also coming up, Taste for Wine at the Bayview Cash Store in Langley has Siri Bardarson on her electric cello and vocals from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday Aug.12.

Hang outside the tasting room and enjoy a few light tastes and delicious sips of local wines, while listening to this extraordinary musician do her thing on a summer afternoon.

If it’s a little bluegrass music needed, mark the calendar for Whidbey Island’s fifth annual Bluegrass in the Gardens festival at Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens in Greenbank on Saturday, Aug. 25.

Sit among the flowers and listen to some laid back, acoustic, foot stompin’ music.

The festivities start with an open mic from 11 to11:50 a.m., so bring the instrument and pluck around with some fellow pickers. Admission is $10.  Children 15 and younger get in for free.  Dogs on a leash are welcome.

Here’s the schedule for the day:

Bayview Sound ─ noon to 1:10 p.m.

Pearly Blue ─ 1:20 to 2:30 p.m.

Deadwood Revival ─ 2:40 to 3:50 p.m.

Money Creek Mining Co. ─ 4 to 5:10 p.m.

The first ever Oak Harbor Music & Jazz Festival is Aug. 31 to Sept. 2.

Enjoy soft rock, jazz, gospel, R&B, folk, karaoke and more at this combo street fair and music fest.

The festival will take place on Pioneer Way in the historic downtown area, where guests can also shop and dine out at local restaurants.

This year’s proceeds will go toward the drive to save the Blue Fox Drive-In, which needs to raise funds for its necessary digital conversion. Help save one of the nation’s last drive-in theaters!

Whidbey Island Center for the Arts  has announced that ticket sales are underway for the 12th annual DjangoFest Northwest, coming to Langley Sept. 12-23. Get them at the website.

DFNW is considered by many to be the premier showcase for Gypsy Jazz in North America, having presented some of the biggest names in the genre to thousands of enthusiastic participants.

This year the fest continues that tradition with a stellar lineup featuring:

Paulus Schäfer and Tim Kliphuis

Lollo Meier and Tcha Limberger

John Jorgenson Quintet

Pearl Django with Martin Taylor

Joscho Stephan

Robin Nolan Trio

Gonzalo Bergara Quartet

Antoine and Sebastien Boyer

Hot Club of Detroit

Cyrille Aimée and Diego Figueiredo

Whit Smith and Matt Munisteri with Beau Sample



Greg Ruby Quartet

Jimmy Grant Quartet

Don’t miss DjangoFest; it really is an exceptional event and check the website for the newly expanded roster of workshops with the musicians offered to festival-goers. Buy tickets early, because this festival, like the hotel rooms in Langley during its five days, sells out.

On the orchestral music front, save the dates for Saratoga Chamber Orchestra’s upcoming sixth season. (Auditions are coming up and the search is on for a new conductor as founding conductor Legh Burns is getting ready to retire his baton.)

The season opener will be at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, at South Whidbey High School Auditorium with Legh W. Burns, Conductor and Gloria Ferry Brennan, violin soloist.

The program will include “Overture to Der Freischutz” – Carl Maria von Weber; “Concerto for Violin, Op. 61” – Ludwig van Beethoven; and “Symphony #8 in G Major, Op. 88” – Antonin Dvorak.

It’s hard to believe that there would be more orchestral music on the island, but there is.

Although the season has not yet been announced, keep an eye out for the concerts of the Whidbey Island Community Orchestra and the Whidbey Island Youth Orchestra.

The Whidbey Island Youth Orchestra is for youth under 21 years old. Musical choices are selected to introduce youth to an orchestra setting and expand their skills. Both strings and winds are welcome. To join the youth orchestra or for more information, contact whidbeyorchestras@gmail.com.

The Whidbey Island Community Orchestra consists of strings, winds and percussion of all abilities and backgrounds. To join the community orchestra or for more information, contact whidbeyorchestras@gmail.com.


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