Anacortes Music Project helps the community ring in the holiday season at the Depo Arts Center in grand style.
The Second Annual Rockin’ Yule Bizarre carried on the tradition of presenting an evening of out there, beautiful performances by local musicians, combined with lots of creative decorations, and gaudy, outlandish holiday apparel worn by the widest span of ages possible. Does that sound like an overwhelming experience? Well, it should. The sensory input from all five hours was pretty staggering.
The event is organized by the Anacortes Music Project, a non-profit whose purpose one of its board members described as “amplifying Anacortes music.” The president of AMP, Sommer Velin Carter had this to say about their mission.
“Music is a light that shines from the inside of our community. It’s a wellspring.”
When I asked her who came up with the idea of the Rockin Yule Bizarre, she indicated that three of the other board members were its creators.
“Doug (Cassidy), Karl (Blau), and Juels (Avalon) thought that during this dark time of year, it was a way to celebrate the joys and talent of our community.”
I posed the same question to Doug and Karl. Doug responded that,” Juels came up with the idea as a way to force me to sing Christmas music.”
Whatever the reason, or whoever came up with the brilliant concept, the Rockin Yule Bizarre has become a way for locals and visitors to get together to experience the wide range of talent around us.
Old Town Tonic started off the festivities with their solid, jazzy sound. In keeping with the unpredictable nature of the acts on the bill, The Enthusiasts plus Family performed a hilarious rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas- Muppet style next. While they ran through their mash-up of the holiday classic, Cascadia Groove set up on the main stage.
The four piece swung their way through a set of Christmas favorites, fronted by AMP board member, and legendary creator of the Yule Bizarre, Juels Avalon. Doug Cassidy joined Juels for a great version of the well loved song, “Baby, its Cold Outside.” The group finished off their performance with a bluesy number, “What Do Bad Girls Get For Christmas?”
Over on the side stage, the duo Figgy Pudding led the crowd in several jazzed up holidays tunes, finishing off with a rip-roaring version of the Vince Garaldi piano piece from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
Local string band, The Hoe and the Harrow, took over the main stage. Their front man, James Harper introduced their first song.
“We normally do mostly murder ballads, but believe it or not, our first song is about Christmas, sort of.”
Their nice vocal harmonies and ear pleasing sounds of violins, upright bass, cello, and bouzouki spread over the every growing crowd. After their short set, Lizzie Weber took the stage. In her gorgeous, high, clear voice, she filled the room with her rendition of “Christmas Time is Here Again,” and of all things, a mellow Bruce Springsteen number.
Already a half hour behind schedule, and mid-way through the line up, the conclusion of Lizzie’s one woman show heralded the beginning of the electric segment of the evening. The band New Uniform, formerly Pulsar, shocked everyone with their take of the Dave Bruebeck Classic, “Take Five.” They ran through a couple sing alongs before relinquishing the stage to Luuk Honey’s solo set as Composed Heap.
His atmospheric offering complete with tape loops and amplified banjo contributed to the completely unpredictable nature of the evening. Another group of young Anacorteseans, The Opines took the stage next. Their power quartet set was enhanced by the brightly colored fright wigs.
Without missing a beat, the pace of the music kept on rocking as The Mosstones grooved their way through “Felice Navidad”, “Santa Wants Some Lovin”, and “Slip and Slide”.
To really change things up, Pearl Tottenham was next on the bill. I’m most familiar with her bright solo vocal and guitar work. Tonight, she was backed by her dad Brian on bass, and local drum god, Braydon Krueger. Ever the local singing sweetheart, Pearl and the band had the crowd right where they wanted them. On the last number, she handed off the guitar to Brian, and playfully told the crowd that, “this is my chance to play pop star.” Amid applause and hoots of approval, Pearl delivered a stunning version of “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”
In keeping with the zig zag musical offerings, Buffet, featuring well know local musician John VanDeusen were up next. Pounding rhythms, slashing loud guitars, screaming vocals, and a mosh pit burst the evening wide open. After their blazing, race car fast set, the crowd was dazed.
It was already past the stated end of festivities when the resurrected jam, space groove band Captain Fathom assembled to guide the evening to a close. Karl Blau on bass, Jacob Navarro and Brian Totteham on guitar, and Nick Myer on drums created a sound that swirled and swooped over the dancing, swaying crowd of hard core holdouts. Being the inclusive guy he is, Karl invited someone to come on stage and sing. Rob Westergard accepted the invite and added some low, moaning vocal chants to the sound. Mosstones’ drummer Rob Sharpanus took the mike next. He had a louder, slightly more aggressive style, and finally Juels stepped up to mix some vocalese into the blender of instruments. Her soaring, powerful voice added to the trace like feeling as the evening wound down.
Thanks to Anacortes Music Project, and all the volunteers and patrons that supported another exhilarating, fun filled evening. Have a safe and happy holiday season from all of us at Skagit Art Music.
Entertainment Writer Mark Perschbacher…A man who will cross great barriers to find exceptional music, art, food, and beer. Mark is a long time Skagit County resident, contributor to, and supporter of local arts.