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Rob Lopresti – When Women Didn’t Count

September 1st, 2017

A Best Bet from Margaret

As a reference and teaching librarian at Whatcom Community College, I frequently took students in my research class to Western Washington University’s library to give them a flavor of what a university library is like, and to let our students know about how they can access WWU’s vast resources. One of our favorite stops was with Rob Lopresti in the government documents section. (Rob is librarian for environmental sciences, environmental studies, Canadian-American studies, and maps as well). Gov docs may sound dull, but when Rob says “How can you find out who owns the copyright to a song by John Denver?” or “How many acres of raspberries are grown in Whatcom County?” and then says the answers can be found “right here,” students are impressed.

That’s why I’m anxious to read Rob’s recently published book, “When Women Didn’t Count,” which he’ll discuss at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, at Village Books.

He told me several months ago about his research on the book, and it sounds both fascinating and timely.

For more information, here’s the press release from WWU.

The Secret Garden

August 24th, 2017

A Best Bet from Margaret

If you aren’t camping or traveling to a music festival this weekend, Western Washington University’s production of “The Secret Garden: The Musical” might be just the ticket to wind up your summer. Based on the 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the two-hour show runs at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1-3, on WWU’s Performing Arts Center Mainstage.  Directed by the dynamic wife-and-husband team of Heather Dudenbostel and Ryan Dudenbostel, the score is at times lush and flowery and as well reminiscent of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.” At one point, Ryan directs the orchestra to play “hysterically loud,” and they do (the orchestra, which performs onstage surrounded by a set of stairs and platforms, is composed of faculty, students, community members — including members of Whatcom Symphony Orchestra). The story centers on 11-year-old Mary Lennox, recently orphaned when her parents die from cholera in India, who is sent to live with her uncle in the Yorkshire moors. Mary is performed exquisitely by Isabelle Bushue, known for her singing and acting skills at Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth and community and high school theater in Whatcom County.  Mary is befriended by Dickon (Jacob Hamann), who encourages her to explore the gardens on the estate; and she eventually discovers Colin (Oceana Dunsire), the invalid son of her Uncle Archibald (Jacob Bernardo), secreted away in an upstairs room. As the three get to know each other, Mary and Colin reveal that they have constructed their own “walls,” and are “locked up” themselves, much as the secret garden itself, which has been neglected for years because it was tended by Mary’s aunt who died giving birth to Colin. Her death was devastating to Mary’s uncle, who is unable to see past his grief, but when at last the garden is open, and thrives because of Mary’s loving care, the metaphor of the possibility of emotional growth is made real. The “Greek chorus” of ghosts in the house on the hill keep the story moving forward, and once again the operatic prowess of WWU students is a thrill to see. Although the characters are children, the production may be too complex for those younger than 12. For more on the show, and for a video, click here.  

Whatcom Jazz Music Arts Center

August 23rd, 2017

A Best Bet from Margaret

If you are a jazz fan who’s not heard of Whatcom Jazz Music Arts Center, you’re in for a treat. Founded in 2014 by Bellingham drummer and educator Julian MacDonough to teach improvisation, group playing, and jazz history to youth, the organization hosts concerts throughout the year with seasoned and regional performers from around the Northwest and beyond, usually on Wednesday evenings. Performers have included Harold Mabern, Jimmy Heath, Kelley Johnson, The Small’s All Stars, Greta Matassa, and Kevin Woods. Woods, a trumpeter, composer, and assistant professor of music and jazz area coordinator at Western Washington University, will usher in the 2017-2018 season at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6, at a new, vibrant venue in downtown Bellingham: the Sylvia Center for the Arts, at 209 Prospect St., next to Whatcom Museum’s Syre Education Center. WJMAC started its performances at The Majestic on North Forest Street, moved to Unity Church last season, and now has its permanent home at the Sylvia Center, the first organization outside of the iDiOM Theater to be a resident company at this venue. Bellingham jazz historian Milt Krieger, author of “The Less Subdued Excitement: A Century of Jazz in Bellingham and Whatcom County, Washington,” says that “WJMAC‘s move to Sylvia returns jazz to previously sacred ground. Turn-of-the-millennium WWU jazz students lived, rehearsed and jammed upstairs. WJMAC stalwarts Julian MacDonough, Roger Yamashita and Kevin Woods were on that scene.” Dave McConnell, chair of WJMAC’s board of directors, adds that the Sylvia is the kind of space the group’s been searching for. “Jazz is a ‘downtown’ art,” he says, “and arriving on the ground floor of this new space is a perfect fit.” Chuck Eberdt, also on the board, says “There is so much about this that is exciting that it should be difficult to choose.  But it really isn’t – I think the coolest part about this is joining forces with a group who have the drive to create a arts center for the community.  That is at the heart of WJMAC – trying to inspire young musicians from Bellingham area who are interested in this most American of arts forms while bringing together music fans for regular live performances.” He adds “I think this move will make WJMAC more visible to community as well – both because of the association with the theater folks as well as the great downtown location.  I like that we will give folks another reason to frequent the Center; that we will help to make it a vibrant place where people want to be – as performers as well as audience.” Wednesday’s concert is a tribute to hard-bop pianist and composer Horace Silver. Woods will be joined by Cory Weeds on tenor saxophone, Tony Foster on piano, Michael Glynn on bass, and WJMAC artistic director Julian MacDonough on drums. Tickets at the door are $10 general, $5 students, and free for WJMAC members. Doors open at 6:30  p.m., and the Sylvia is handicapped-accessible. To get  to the performance space, go down the side entrance between the Syre Center and what was once was the Cascade Laundry Building. Beer, wine, cider, and soft drinks are available for purchase eventually, but not at this concert. On his Facebook page, MacDonough offers more on the Sylvia Center: https://youtu.be/ohlaHI6h-TA. For details on the Whatcom Jazz Music Arts Center, go to wjmac.org or search on Facebook.

Salsa dancing

August 22nd, 2017

A Best Bet from Margaret

Want to try salsa dancing, chow down on Peruvian-style sandwiches (called sanguches), like the “pollo,” with rotisserie chicken, apple slaw, shoestring potatoes, romaine lettuce, huacatay and yummy salsa sauce; and benefit a nonprofit that provides vocational opportunities for individuals with disabilities at the same time? Come to a two-part fundraiser, beginning with salsa dancing from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight, Aug. 25, at Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth, 1059 N. State St., or dine at Café Rumba, 1140 N. State St., between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26. Friday’s dance includes Latin music with DJ Antonio Diaz and dance instruction by Rumba Northwest. Tickets are $12 at the door, $10 for Work Opportunities clients. Café Rumba will donate 30 percent of all sales on Saturday to Work Opportunities, which has been offering job coaching and searching for a diverse work force for more than 50 years in Whatcom, Snohomish and King counties. Both events are open to all ages. Details on Facebook: search “Groovin and Grubbin for Good,” or go to workopportunities.org/services/whatcom-county.

Angel Food Cake

August 21st, 2017

A Best Bet from Margaret

Alyssa Balogh and Ben Briggs star in “Angel Food Cake” at WWU’s PAC. Credit Evan Mueller A country singer who failed in Nashville who has a brother that’s  taken his vows as a friar (but is convinced of conspiracy theories), and their mother, who claims that she’s been corresponding via email with Kris Kristofferson about attending her upcoming birthday party, and you have Kelli Lynn Woodend’s “Angel Food Cake,” playing at 7:30 p.m. tonight, Aug. 23, through Saturday, Aug. 26, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27, at Western Washington University’s DUG (Underground) Theater at the Performing Arts Center.  Western Summer Theater is producing the West Coast premiere of this new play, which, director Evan Mueller says, gives the cast and crew a direct line to the playwright, who’s been directly involved in this production and will be attending  performances at Western.  Starring Alyssa Balogh, Bailey Ellis, Ben Briggs, Beth Leonard, and Linnaea Groh, the play is set in a double-wide trailer home situated at a soon-to-be-demolished drive-in theater.  With references to Easy Cheese spread on Lay’s Potato Chips, Little Debbie Chocolate Cupcakes, and Peppermint Pattys, the actors avoid playing stereotypical “trailer trash” characters and instead reveal a kind of kinship compassion that reflects the Kentucky-born playwright’s sensitivity to helping and understanding each other, in sometimes unexpected ways. The play contains  adult language and explores mature themes and is rated PG-13. For tickets, call 360-650-6146 or go to tickets.wwu.edu.

Big Band Bash

August 20th, 2017

A Best Bet from Margaret

There’s a Big Band Bash coming up from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27, at the Village Green, 10th Street at Mill Avenue in Bellingham’s historic district. Skagit Swings Band, A Town Big Band, Swing Connection Big Band, and the Paul Sorensen Big Band will be joined by vocalist Cheryl Hodge and others in swinging jazz sounds, including the music of Maynard Ferguson from his classic 1950s-60s era. Details (and a video) at swingconnection.org

Margaret Bikman joins Entertainment News Northwest

August 19th, 2017

In the days following August 9, we literally read all of the comments on Facebook (365 and counting) about Margaret Bikman leaving the Bellingham Herald after 26 years. What a fine tribute to an amazing journalist and friend. We are honored to announce that Margaret has joined Entertainment News NW magazine. Margaret will be blogging and writing online and in print about music, theater, dance, visual arts, literary events and more. Watch for her posts at: ennw.info and Facebook Please email her at margaret.bikmanENNW@gmail.com with arts and entertainment ideas and news for Whatcom and Skagit counties (and maybe beyond); please allow plenty of lead time, and send high res jpgs as well. (please identify the photographer to credit). Barb & Mark Fuller, Gladys Crnich, Lynna Fuller Editor The ad for Gallery Pegasus was inadvertently omitted from the printed version of the August issue of ENNW. (It has been corrected on the online version). We sincerely regret the error. The information for the show is listed below and we encourage you stop by and take a look. SURREAL AND WHIMSY Group Art Exhibition through August 30th at Gallery Pegasus, 301 W. Holly St., #M6, Bellingham.