Mennonites and Cajun tunes at BUF

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.”