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Yarn, yarn and more yarn (not a tall tale)

November 16th, 2017

Years ago, the neighbors where I live on South Hill noticed a strange phenomenon. A woman was sitting on a bench, knitting, hour upon hour, day after day, and her knitted rope was strung across the street, going down to Taylor Avenue dock and the water. That person was artist Christen Mattix, and she shares her memoir “Skein: The Heartbreaks and Triumphs of a Long Distance Knitter” at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17 at Village Books, 1200 11th St. The book’s about how her daily knitting practice attracted the attention and chats with her neighbors and others who happened upon her when she knitted the half-mile rope to Bellingham Bay. Disclaimer:  After her three-year project was complete, I was part of the celebration the day the South Hill neighbors and her friends unraveled the rope down to Taylor Dock and let it loose in the bay. She says “Skein” is an intimate glimpse into her psyche (she admits she’s really a little shy) and a sparkling account of a neighborhood with its joys and sorrows. And today, Nov. 16, she turns 40!! More on her at christenmattix.com.

A Musical Weekend

November 14th, 2017

This is one of those weekends that makes us happy and astounded at the variety of music taking place in our corner of the world.

Uncle Bonsai returns to the Fairhaven Library (upstairs) at 1117 12th St.,  to celebrate the release of its ninth recording, “The Family Feast: The Study of the Human Condition, First World Problems, and the Lasting Physiological and Psychological Effects of Eating Our Young.” Now in its 36th year, the Seattle acoustic folk-pop trio continues to tackle topics such as first-world problems, the creation of the universe, the afterlife, and, of course, holidays with the family. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m., and admission ranges from $12 to $15. Tickets are available online at  bonsaibham.bpt.me or call 800-838-3006. It’s co-sponsored by the Whatcom Family & Community Network and the Whatcom County Homemade Music Society.South Hill’s

South Hill’s David Harris and Grace Phelan have been organizing concerts of the folk-Americana-world-bluegrass genres since at least 2005 and have probably hosted more than 60 concerts. They say they began arranging concerts when East Coast musician friends wanted to do West Coast tours but had no contacts.

“We knew folks in Seattle who hosted house concerts, and from them and others we figured out who were good contacts in Portland, Port Townsend and Vancouver B.C.,” says David.

“It was logical that if a performer or a group’s tour would start out in California, proceed to Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, that a concert in Bellingham should be scheduled. Once we had promoted a few concerts for East Coast musician friends, we began to get inquiries from other performers and bands and have always tried to accommodate individuals and groups that embrace old time or traditional music.”

They typically provide dinner for the artists on the day of the concert and house them that night, and more, if needed. They’ve have had world-famous performers as well as less-known regional musicians. All have been pleased and sometimes surprised by the enthusiastic Bellingham audiences, they say. “Grace and I never really thought much about why we do what we do,” David adds, “except that we love doing it and think that we are exposing folks to wonderful musicians.”

There are three events that they are coordinating this month alone. All take place at 7 p.m. at the YWCA Ballroom, 1026 N. Forest St., and tickets are $15 each at the door. First up are violinist Ruthie Dornfeld and guitarist John Miller, performing at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19, at the YWCA ballroom, 1026 N. Forest St.

Ruthie and John have been performing together for over 20 years now, playing café music from around the world–Finnish polskas and schottishes, French musette waltzes, Venezuelan merengues, Brazilian choros, American and Canadian fiddle tunes, as well as a host of original tunes. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and admission is $15. For more information about this concert, contact John Miller at: john@johnmillerguitar.com or call 206-817-8785. Coming up are Albanie Falletta and the Sweet Tooth Serenaders on Nov. 26 and John Reischman and the Jaybirds on Nov. 29.

Whatcom Symphony Orchestra’s third Harmony from Discord concert honors the story of Holocaust survivor Curt Lowens at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19, at Mount Baker Theatre. The concert showcases “Bestemming – Concerto for Cello, Orchestra, and Narrator” by  composer Sharon Farber, performed by international cellist Amit Peled with noted baritone Erich Parce narrating. Farber’s work inspired by Lowens’ acts of heroism in saving more than 100 Jewish children, and two American pilots. The afternoon closes with Beethoven’s iconic Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica).

Faber will talk with Western Washington University’s Ryan Dudenbostel at 2:15 p.m. in MBT’s Walton Theatre, free with concert tickets.

For tickets, call 360-734-6080 or go to mountbakertheatre.com. Here’s more on the concert from music director Yaniv Attar.

Dine first, jazz later this Thursday, Nov. 16

November 12th, 2017

Sylvia Center for the Arts, 205 Prospect St., is sponsoring a cool event on Thursday, Nov. 16, (and that’s not all that’s happening that day!). Supporters of downtown Bellingham’s newest arts center can eat and drink at participating local restaurants to support and help build this great venue.

Participating businesses will donate a percentage of their proceeds from their sales that day to the Sylvia Center’s capital campaign, at no extra cost to customers.

Participating restaurants:

Mallard Ice Cream

The Rickshaw

Pure Bliss Desserts


Goat Mountain Pizza

Aslan Brewing Company

Hundred North

Leaf & Ladle

The Racket – Bar & Pinball Lounge

Cafe Velo

Rudy’s Pizzeria

Black Drop coffeehouse

Electric Beet Juice Co.

Details at http://sylviacenterforthearts.org.

And here’s what’s more!

Whatcom Jazz Music Arts Center, whose new home is at the Sylvia Center, hosts its first-ever fundraiser for the WJMAC Jazz Education Program from 6 to 11 p.m. on Thursday at five venues in the arts district. WJMAC hosts live jazz concerts at 7 p.m. every Wednesday from September through June at the Sylvia Center, but the proceeds from Jazz Walk will directly benefit the WJMAC jazz performance education program for high-school musicians.

The venues and the lineup:

Cafe Adagio, 1435 Railroad Ave.

6:30 p.m.: Alicia Dauber

7:45 p.m.: Kevin Woods

8:30 p.m.: Gail Pettis

Bayou On Bay, 1300 Bay St.

7 p.m.: Zoo Patrol

8:15 p.m. Joe Doria

The Black Drop Coffee House, 300 W. Champion St.

7 p.m.: Blake Angelos Trio

8:15 p.m.: Dawn Clement/Mark Taylor Duo

Make.Shift, 306 Flora St.

6 p.m. Milo Peterson

7 p.m.: Hot House Jazz Band

8 p.m.: Casey MacGill Orchestra

Sylvia Center, 205 Prospect St.

7 p.m: Dan Faehnle Quartet

8:30 p.m.: Ari Hoenig Trio

Sponsor a band for $600 or an entire stage for $1,200. Any other donations are greatly appreciated and can be made at www.wjmac.org/contribute. WJMAC is a 501(c)(3) non profit arts and education organization. Donations are tax-deductible.

Advance tickets are available at brownpapertickets.com. Day of tickets and maps for the event are available at the Sylvia Center after 5 p.m. Tickets are $25 general, $15 students.

More information at www.wjmac.org or 360.647.0741

Bring your receipt to a Jazz Walk venue to get your snazzy wrist-band!

You can also purchase tickets at the door with cash or check. Use a credit card that night at the Sylvia for ticket purchase.

Another Fun Weekend in Whatcom County

November 7th, 2017
Wine Time in Downtown Bellingham! The Downtown Bellingham Partnership hosts the inaugural downtown Holiday Wine Walk from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10, in a tasting tour of wines at downtown retailers while having the opportunity to shop along the way.
Participating businesses are Apse Adorn, Backcountry Essentials, Bank of the Pacific, Bellingham Frameworks, Bison Bookbinding & Letterpress, Downtown Emporium, Fringe Boutique, Gold Comb Salon, Ideal, Lisa Crosier Skincare, Novato Shop & Studio, Quinn and Foster, Social Fabric, Spruce, The Sugar Shack, Third Planet, and Wise Buys.
Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 day-of and include a commemorative wine glass, tasting tickets, and an event guide.  Tickets are available for purchase now on the Facebook event page. Other details: downtownbellingham.com, 360-527-8710.
It’s time for an island getaway! Lummi Island artists Judy Arntsen, Karen Myers Barker, Pete Bowman, Lynn Dee, Paul and Leslie Dempsey, Susan Dworski, Pam Einhauser, Sharon Grainger, Ria Harboe, Bridged Lott, Al Rosen and Norbie Schmidlin open their studios and galleries from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 11 and 12, for the Lummi Island Artists’ Holiday Studio Tour.
Drive or bike around the island to see and purchase paintings, drawings, photography, jewelry, pottery, sculpture, glass, woodwork, stonework, fiber arts and more.
If you’ve never been to Lummi Island, take exit 260 off of I-5, go left (west) to Slater Road, then left again at Haxton Way to the ferry dock at Gooseberry Point.
The Whatcom Chief ferry departs at 10 minutes past every hour for the eight-minute ride to the island, and leaves the island on the hour. When there are too many vehicles, the ferry will return for a second run to clear the dock. The round-trip ferry ride is $13 for car and driver and $7 per person or per bicycle and rider. Accompanied children younger than 12 and passengers age 12 to 19 ride free!
Maps available at The Islander Store, online at http://www.Lummi-Island.com. Watch for the balloons marking each location.
For additional information call 360-758-2815 or 360-758-7121.
Live with Kaeli Earle
The Atlantics played for a Halloween dance last week at Lovitt, 1114 Harris Ave., to benefit Northwest Youth Services, and the venue, once home to The Fairhaven Pub and Anna’s Kaddy Shack, is now featuring live music on Friday and Saturday nights. But kicking off this weekend, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, is The Kaeli Earle Trio, a jazz trio based in Bellingham, headed up by bassist and vocalist Kaeli Earle, with piano and sax player Conner Helms and drummer Alex Roemmele. The trio gets down to originals, covers, and favorite jazz standards and no two shows are the same. If you miss them on Thursday, they’ll play from 8 to 11 p.m. Friday at the Fireside Martini and Wine Bar, 416 W. Bakerview.  Check out their live album Bellingham Sessions Vol 1 on her Facebook page ; they will be recording Vol 2 at this very concert!

Humor for Housing

November 1st, 2017

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 6 p.m., Lydia Place and The Upfront Theatre will partner to take a serious stand for homeless families at the second annual Humor for Housing to benefit Lydia Place, a Bellingham non-profit celebrating 28 years of housing and supportive services to local families, including case management and in-home parenting education and counseling.

“Having unique and accessible events that the community can support like Humor for Housing is a central component of our engagement program, giving space and opportunity to support the work of Lydia Place, and families we serve,” says Shultzie Willows, Lydia Place community engagement director.

Limited tickets are on sale for $40 at www.humorforhousing.com and include hors d’oeuvres and party favors. Online ticket sales end Tuesday, Nov. 7. For more details, visit lydiaplace.org.

The Importance of Program Notes

October 28th, 2017

If you’re new to opera, or ballet, or jazz, or theater, or dance, here’s a helpful hint: read the program notes and attend a pre-talk with someone associated with the production. You’ll learn so much about the background of the work, about the creator, and even how it relates to today’s artistic endeavors. I attended Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s “Jewels” in September, and I learned so much from education program manager Doug Fullington’s pre-show talk. In October, Ryan Dudenbostel gave insights on Whatcom Symphony Orchestra’s opening concert. And just last night, at McIntyre Hall in Mount Vernon, Bellingham’s Mitch Kahn shared his first experience hearing “Tales of Hoffman.” (There’s a show at 3 p.m. tomorrow, Oct. 29, and also on Nov. 5, as well as at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3. Tickets at 360-416-7727, mcintyrehall.org, or go to pnopera.org for details). Here are more events to add to your calendar:  Journey to see the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s “”The Nutcracker” at McCaw Hall in Seattle on Saturday, Dec. 9, in a road trip hosted by Whatcom Community College. The group will depart WCC at 10 a.m., arriving in time for lunch and a stroll around the magically decorated Seattle Center. The performance begins at 2 p.m. Cost is $125. Registration deadline is Nov. 27 at noon. Ages 10 and older are welcome to register with an adult. To register, call 360-383-3200 or go to http://whatcom.edu/academics/community-continuing-education/road-trips. But before “The Nutcracker,” PNB is staging “Her Story” Nov. 3-12. The program features works by Twyla Tharp, Jessica Lang, and Crystal Pite. Get tickets at pnb.org. On Nov. 19, WSO performs its “Harmony in Discord” concert at Mount Baker Theatre, with a concerto inspired by Holocaust survivor Curt Lowens. Composer Sharon Faber will be at the concert. Details at mountbakertheatre.com and whatcomsymphony.com. I encourage you to not only attend and support these fine organizations, but to take time to learn from the people who know these productions well. You’ll enjoy the shows even more!

“A Doll’s House” at WWU

October 25th, 2017

Just before rehearsal began for Western Washington University’s current production of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” began, it was announced that it would begin five minutes later than scheduled because the women were having trouble with their corsets. I thought that a perfect metaphor for this play, written in 1879, a time when women were repressed, trapped in roles they may not have wanted. As dramaturge Deb Currier says in the program, “A Doll’s House” was a turning point in the depiction of women on the stage and the view of women in society itself. Timely, yes, because of the recent accusations of sexual harassment, but beyond that, the drama is about complicity, ethics, criminal behavior, and societal values. “Never believe anything anyone tells you,” “It’s the trickery and cunning that corrupts,” “There’s no such thing as an action without consequences,” “It’s a good thing to have a secret up my sleeve” are lines in the play that underpin the motives for the characters.

It’s true that Nora was treated like a plaything by her husband rather than a person with her own needs, and that he calls her in turn a swallow, a dove, a skylark, and that he says “I’m your husband; it’s your job to indulge me.” But more than that, the play is about moral behavior, standing up for what is right, and being true to one’s self. Director Evan Mueller says that one of the challenges of having college students perform the play is that they have not had the life experiences that are called for. But Lauren Senechal, Bailey Ellis, Ryan Han, Aubrey Sage, and Jason Hamann rise to the maturity of characters decades older than they are.

Sacrificing one’s honor, understanding moral decay, and as U.S. Senator Jeff Flake said recently about the current state of affairs in government that, ” the notion that one should say and do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistorical and, I believe, profoundly misguided.”  “A Doll’s House” turned the notion of “a woman’s place” on its heels when it was performed, and it is no less relevant today.

The play runs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 26-28, and Nov. 1-3, with a 2 p.m. matinee Nov. 4 at WWU’s Performing Arts Center’s DUG (Underground) Theatre. For tickets, $12 adults, $7 students, call  360-650-6146 or go to tickets.wwu.edu. It’s a small theater, so reservations are encouraged. Next week, Bellingham High School presents the same play, so stay tuned for a Best Bet on that production.

October is more than Halloween

October 24th, 2017

Yes, there are dozens of Halloween gatherings this weekend (since the holiday falls on a Tuesday) but if you are longing for a few community-building events, here are some suggestions.

On Thursday, Oct. 26, Lummi Island’s Beach Store Café, 2200 N. Nugent Road (just to the right of the ferry dock) will hold a fundraising dinner for Lummi Stepping Stones to raise money for the organization to build tiny homes for their community’s homeless. The marvelous chefs at the café will prepare a three-course meal with live music and entertainment. Tickets are $100, and half the proceeds will go towards Lummi Stepping Stones. Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. Reservations are  necessary; email tessbsclummi@gmail.com right away.

The Boynton Poetry Contest hosts a couple of workshops, one taking place this Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Chuckanut Center just north of Fairhaven Park, 103 Chuckanut Drive. The leaders this time around are Nancy Pagh, who’ll explore the wonders of letter-writing; and Neil Aitken who’ll talk about techniques for writing about powerful moments in life, such as the excitement of a new relationship, the loss of a loved one, or the anticipation of a new stage in life. Registration’s required.
Go to https://thepoetrydepartment.wordpress.com/workshops for details.
If you’ve never been to one of Pam Kuntz’s dance performances (or if you have, and want more), don’t miss “Threads,” her dance-theater piece about the fabric of memories, on stage Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 26-28, at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center, 1314 Harris Ave. Pam always dives deep into issues that affect us, or that should, such as child neglect, health, death, and parenting. Here’s what she says about her current work:
“Do you remember that one specific shirt your father wore to work in the yard, or the apron your grandmother wore every year while making Thanksgiving dinner? This performance explores our history through the fabrics of our family. Performers investigate a father’s navy whites, a mother’s pre- and post- cancer blouses, and a great aunt’s swimsuit from her days in the Aqua Follies. Dancers Kate Stevenson, Vanessa Daines and Yuki Matsukura not only pull from their own family member’s closets, they also dive into the clothing of our community to share the lives of those around us.”
 Tickets are $15 and are available at kuntzandco.org, Village Books in Fairhaven, through Brown Paper Tickets and at the door. Email kuntzpam@gmail.com or call 360-510-4711 with questions. More on the show on Facebook.

Jitterbug Time with WJMAC

October 23rd, 2017

Seattle bandleader Greg Ruby emailed me about his gig coming up at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25, at the Sylvia Center for the Arts, 205 Prospect St., hosted by Whatcom Jazz Music Arts Center. Greg Ruby & the Rhythm Runners is a “wonderful ensemble of musicians from New York, New Orleans, and the Pacific Northwest,” he says, and the band is releasing a CD of the never-before recorded compositions of 1920’s Seattle jazz musician and composer Frank D. Waldron.
In 1924, Waldron, a mentor to jazz greats Quincy Jones and Buddy Catlett, self-published a book of original compositions under the guise of a saxophone tutorial book called “Frank D. Waldron’s Syncopated Classic.”  Ruby encourages jazz fans to enjoy a forgotten piece of the Pacific Northwest’s rich musical history and, most importantly, Waldron’s contributions to the golden age of jazz. You can read about a bit more here. For details, visit http://gregrubymusic.com/frank-d-waldron-project.
Admission is $10 general; $5 students; and is free for WJMAC members and WJMAC combo students.
For tickets and information on the WJMAC series, go to https://www.wjmac.org/events.

Fall fun in Lynden

October 18th, 2017

The wind’s blowing, the leaves are falling, and the days are getting shorter. But there are lots of autumnal events for you (and the kids) to enjoy.
For 28 years each fall and spring, friends Judy Meixner and Trudy Ferguson have hosted Craft and Antique Shows at the Northwest Washington Fair and Event Center, 1775 Front St., in Lynden. This season’s event runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19-21.
Admission is $6 adults, $5 seniors and is free for kids 12 and younger, and includes return privileges and parking.
The mix of handcrafts, holiday and home décor, gourmet foods, unique gifts, vintage, and re-purposed treasures includes vendors with intriguing names like The Tired Old Ladies, 2 Girls + A Bus, and Knotty But Nice; and also edible treats such as toffee, hazelnuts, and Lynden’s famous poffertjes.
For details, go to http://lyndencraftantiqueshow.com/ or to Facebook.
If you’re traveling to Lynden on the Guide, stop by BelleWood Acres, 6140 Guide Meridian, for “Harvest Happens,” which takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through October.
Visitors can climb aboard the Apple Bin Train to choose their favorite apples of the season from 21 varieties of specialty apples, and enjoy “Pumpkin Patch Pickin’,”  fresh cider, caramel apples, and farm-fresh pie, or get lost in the corn maze, play on the tire gym, walk along the orchard path or take a farm tour. Adults can taste samples of the orchard to distillery spirits. And coming up on Nov. 4 is the annual Ciderfest, with hard cider tasting, a brat bar (no, not for unruly kids; it’s sausage!), a home-cider brewing competition, a cider-making workshop, and more. Details at www.bellewoodfarms.com and Facebook, or 360-318-7720.
Still want more to do in Lynden? Stock up on books to read, DVDs to watch, and jigsaw puzzles to solve on stormy days at the Lynden Friends Book and Bake Sale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20-22, at the Lynden Library, 216 Fourth St. There’ll be baked goods on Saturday and Sunday and a $4 a bag sale on Sunday. Details: 360-354-4883, wcls.org.