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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.

Pianist George Li performs at WWU

October 16th, 2017

I had the opportunity to email the enthusiastic pianist George Li, who’s performing works by Haydn, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Liszt at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, at Western Washington University’s Performing Arts Center in the Sanford-Hill Piano Concert Series.

(If you are unfamiliar with the series, I encourage you to attend, since the program benefits scholarships for serious young musicians at WWU. Jeffrey Gilliam founded the series with South Hill music advocate and philanthropist Sibyl Sanford in 2003, and it became the Sanford-Hill Piano Series in 2011, when her friend Ford Hill, professor emeritus joined her in a commitment to support the series.)

Li will also conduct a masterclass from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday at the PAC.

Li has performed with Seattle Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony, among others; and has performed chamber music with dozens of notable musicians, including James Ehnes and Benjamin Beilman (the recent guest violinist at Whatcom Symphony Orchestra’s season opener).

I did not know much about Li, and when I did some background research, I was delighted to see a video of his debut at Carnegie Hall at age 11.

His talent and incredible focus at such a young age was remarkable, and so I asked him if he ever considered pursuing another career, and also what brings him joy about his decision.

Here’s what he said.

“I don’t think I had decided on my career that early, but it was certainly around that time when I really started feeling connected with music, or at least affected by it.  When I was young, I thought of music and piano more of as a hobby, but when I reached adolescence, I became enchanted with it.
Part of the joy is the process of internalizing the emotions and nuances of a work and communicating them to the audience through the piano.”
I also noticed that when he performs, he seems transported to another world.
I asked him what goes through his head when he plays.
“When I play, I don’t think much about the notes, or pictures of the score in my head; rather, I envision and hear the feelings, imagery and sometimes even color associated with the music, and those ‘visions’ help me understand and perform the piece better.”
I wondered if he is competitive, because of his many accolades and prizes for the competitions he’s involved in, or if he’s just “having fun” and enjoying the moment.
“I’m definitely more of the latter, since I really believe the art of making music can never be competitive, but is a more self-discovering process and one that is constantly striving for perfection.”
And of course, I asked him how can young people become more enamored with the arts, specifically classical music.
“I think one big key is just to be surrounded and exposed to it from an early age; after all, that’s how I started!  It’s also really important to have a musical education, whether it be through public schools, or attending pre-concert lectures.  I think that music education allows us to understand the fundamental elements of classical music, which would allow for a greater appreciation and understanding, before ultimately leading to enjoyment.
We as young artists also have a responsibility to reach out to the younger groups, and I do believe that personal connection makes a big difference, so I hope to be doing more of that in the coming years!”
Tickets for the concert range from $17 to $42, depending on seating, with discounts for students, and are available by calling 360-650-6146 and at tickets.wwu.edu.
For more about him, go to http://www.georgelipianist.com/

Falling Out of the Box at Jansen Art Center

October 11th, 2017

Fifty identical boxes of materials went out to artists around the country this fall with just four weeks given to them to complete this year’s Jewelry Challenge, organized by artist and teacher Judith Gathier, for an exhibit at the Jansen Art Center, 321 Front St., in Lynden. The theme for the creations was “Holding Space,” with the instructions to make an object that can hold something.

An opening reception for the dozens of artists that submitted works is from 6 to 8 p.m. this Thursday, Oct. 12, in the upstairs gallery space, with music by Cheko Tohomaso in the Piano Lounge.

Last year’s theme was “Take a Wrist,” in which artists made bracelets inspired by a risk-taker. When I attended the opening reception, I was astounded by the personal creations that were displayed; artists were inspired by a family member, famous people, not-so-famous people, friends, and others who meant something to them in their lives, and their accompanying personal statements were incredibly revealing.

The exhibit will be on view until Dec. 1. If you can’t attend the opening, stop by the Jansen, where there’s live music during lunch hour on Wednesdays and during the dinner hour on Thursdays. For more on the exhibit, call 360-354-3600, or go to https://www.jansenartcenter.org/exhibit/falling-out-of-the-box-holding-space.

A Weekend of Fun in Whatcom County

October 5th, 2017

One of our favorite family activities over the decades has been the annual Fruit Festival at Cloud Mountain Farm Center, 6906 Goodwin Road, near Nooksack and Everson, where our kids sampled not just a wide variety of apples, but also kiwi and berries.  This year’s festival is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, with cooking demonstrations and samples by the executive chef of Keenan’s at the Pier, Pizzaza food truck and ice cream from Mallard made with fruit from Cloud Mountain. Admission is $5 per person or $10 a carload, kids younger than 5 get in for free; please leave your pooch at home.  Call 360-966-5859 for details.

While you are out and about in the county, check out some of the 40 artists participating in the 23rd annual Whatcom Artist Studio Tour, taking place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. this weekend and next (Oct. 7-8 and 14-15). One of my very favorite artists (disclaimer: I have lots of her art in my home) is Anita K. Boyle, whose studio is practically on the way to Cloud Mountain. Her assemblages are inspired by her love and respect for the natural world and often incorporate bits and chips from computers (ask her where that comes from).

A couple of music events I’ll be attending: The next installation of the Sudden Valley Jazz Series, with headliner gospel-jazz-blues singer Josephine Howell and her band from Seattle is at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 at the Sudden Valley Dance Barn (take Gate 2 and follow the signs). Opening the concert is one of my must-see bands in Bellingham, The Atlantics, featuring Paul Klein on vocals and keyboard. Tickets, $20, are available at Village Books, the YMCA desk in Sudden Valley, online at www.fswl.org, or by calling the indefatigable organizer of the concert series, K.C.  Sulkin, at 360-671-1709. Proceeds benefit the South Whatcom Library.

I’ll also be at Whatcom Symphony Orchestra’s first concert of the season at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 8, at Mount Baker Theatre, featuring violinist Benjamin Beilman. The program: “Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten” by Arvo Pärt, the Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 by Jean Sibelius, and the Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 56 (Scottish) by“ Felix Mendelssohn. A pre-concert lecture about the repertoire by WWU’s Ryan Dudenbostel is at 2:15  p.m. (get there early!). From WSO’s Facebook page, you can see music director Yaniv Attar talk about the concert. Call 360-734-6080 for tickets.




Music Club hosts talented Seattle kids

October 2nd, 2017

I was alerted by Fiona Cohen, one of my former colleagues at The Bellingham Herald, as was her husband, Aubrey Cohen, that a photo of their daughter, Harriet, appears on page 13 of the October issue of Entertainment News NW. Harriet is one of a group of students ages 12 through 15 who’ll be performing from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 119 Texas St., as part of Bellingham Music Club’s First Wednesday music series. The instrumental ensemble, a program of Seattle Historical Arts for Kids, will perform music from French Renaissance, led by Shulamit Kleinerman. For more on the free concert, call 360-305-6526 or go to bellinghammusicclub.org.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Community Cider Press at Lydia Place

September 27th, 2017

Lydia Place hosts its annual cider press to enjoy the bounty of the season along with Lydia Place staff, Board of Directors, volunteers, neighbors, and the community from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28.

A special addition this year will be the official ribbon cutting of the organization’s second-story addition and ground floor remodel. This marks the completion of the organization’s Capital Campaign, Strengthening Families, Building Futures, a multi-year campaign to add capacity and expansion for programs and services, specifically to end child homelessness and break the cycle of poverty. There will be a pie bar, live music, pizza, games, tours, and representatives from the City of Bellingham and Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce. The event is free; however, space is limited. To rsvp, or to learn more, go to http://lydiaplace.org or call 360-371-7663.

Mennonites and Cajun tunes at BUF

September 26th, 2017

I’ve long been a fan of the Happy Valley Sluggers, a Bellingham band that’s played zydeco-Cajun-bluegrass tunes for decades. I received an email a while back from Loretta Willems, who introduced herself as the mother of Nina Richardson, who plays guitar with the group. Loretta will be talking about her recently published book, “The Gift of Laughter: The Story of a Mennonite Family,” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1, at Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, 1207 Ellsworth St., and the Sluggers will be performing too, and there’ll be an exhibit of works by Paul Buxman, the plein-air artist who designed the cover of the book.

Loretta says one of the reasons the Sluggers are playing is that music was a big part of her life growing, up–not just church music, she adds. “My dad and his brothers sang in taverns and bars for drinks in their ‘wild youth’ during the Great Depression, and his sisters sang harmony, like the Andrews Sisters. The Sluggers’ music feels just-right for a celebration of a book about my family’s heritage.”

“Family Plotz” with the Addams Family in Lynden

September 21st, 2017

And lest we forget Morticia, Gomez, Uncle Fester, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandmama and Lurch, you can hum along at Lynden Performing Arts Guild’s production of “The Addams Family” musical, opening tonight and showing through Oct. 8 at the Claire vg Thomas Theatre in Dutch Village Mall, 655 Front St. For tickets, call 360-354- 4425, or go to http://www.theclaire.org/ or the Claire on Facebook. Steve Riccii, who often runs sound and light for productions, made this enticing video on YouTube.