Friday, April 30, 2010

All That Jazz and May Activities

All That Jazz

I am on the road with my first laptop; struggling with Word 7 and Wi-Fi. The reason for this trip was the Reno Jazz Festival (April 22-24) My husband, Ed, had attended this annual competition between middle and high schools and colleges for years. It had been a guy thing; a high school buddy (Bob) of Ed’s. a retired University of Reno professor and serious jazz trumpeter, would host a small high school reunion. But as the guys dropped out, I began attending.

The Festival consists of two days of jazz choir, combo and big band performances and three nights of concerts. The Friday night concert features a “big name” guest artist and the Saturday concert showcases some of the competition winners. We usually skip the Thursday night concert because it features the Collective, a University of Reno jazz faculty ensemble that is a little too avant-garde for our taste. Ed says they are doing the equivalent of presenting papers. And it is the only time we have time to play the penny slots.

The talent is amazing and it is encouraging to see that some schools still consider art important. Ed had come back with stories of 12 year old vocalists or trumpet players bringing tears to his eyes. The talent is still there but what is changing each year is jazz. All the groups are spending more time “outside the chord.” This is a term that I learned from Bob that describes the increase in dissonance in modern jazz. (Inside the chord describes church music, conventional and comfortable.) There is also a trend toward performing original compositions rather than standard tunes. Modern jazz doesn’t swing and I miss it.

This is not to say that the Festival wasn’t wonderful. We spent most of our time listening to the choir competition and were very pleased that the choir from Columbia Basin Community College in Pasco, WA won their category. They had an older female soloist that we suspected had a singing career in a previous life. The winning high school, Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, sung an acapella version of "In the Wee Small Hours" that caused Bob to weep. The winning small school combo from Sisters, OR performed two sweet, melodic songs with vibes in the lead. And the winning bands from Seattle’s Garfield High School (they always do well) and Portland’s Sunset High School did swing – on one of their two tunes.

The other highlight was the Friday Night performance by the Bill Holman Big Band. Bill Holman, a gentleman in his 80’s, is a Grammy Award Winning saxophonist and arranger. He has arranged and composed for many of the best jazz musicians – Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, Mel Torme, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, Natalie Cole. He has some outstanding musicians in this band (Ed says he had some of the Stan Kenton band) and they could swing. But they didn’t swing the traditional tunes; they swung bebop and Thelonious Monk. And these songs had melodies buried beneath complex rhythmic structures and cascades of notes. Ed said it was the best big band concert he had ever heard. I appreciated Monk for the first time.

NOTE: The picture at the top is of the Contra Costa College, San Pablo CA, choir.

May Activities

April 29, May 6, 13, and 27: Community Conversations. Wings on the Human Spirit, the Visual and Performing Arts. April 29: “Music and Dance in the Balkans” by Daniela Ivanova-Nyberg, Professional dancer and teacher; May 6,“The Play’s the Thing” by Don Correll, LCC Drama instructor; May 13, “An Exploration in Dance” by Megan Jasurda, LCC Dance instructor; May 27, “Theatre as Consciousness” by Kurt Beattie from A Contemporary Theatre in Seattle. 12pm-1pm. Wollenberg Auditorium, Rose Center for the Arts, Lower Columbia College, Longview, Wash. Info: 360-442-2311 or

April 30-May 1-2, 7-9, 14-16: The Fantasticks. Dinner Theatre by The Storefront Theatre Company. 6:30pm; Sunday matinees1:30pm. Three Rivers Mall (next to Bath & Body Works), 351 3 Rivers Drive, Kelso. Info: Phillip A. Kennedy 360-487-6190 or e-mail

May 1, 8, 15, and 16: Longview Historic Preservation Month. May 1, Opening festivities, walking tour of old Westside homes, presentation of Historical Preservation awards. 10:00am-11:45am. The Merk on Commerce and Broadway, Longview. May 8: Walking tour of Historic Downtown. 10:00am-11:30am. The Merk on Commerce and Broadway, Longview. May 15: Walking Tour of Lake Sacajawea. 10:00am-11:30am. Meet at lake entrance at Kessler and Hemlock. May 16: Tour of Donnie Doble’s dairy barn. 1:00pm-4:00pm. 2703 Pacific Way, Longview. Info: 360-423-4427.

May 2: Kaleidoscope Concert. Classical, opera, tango and Broadway music. Celebration Concert Series. 3pm. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 1428 22nd Ave., Longview. Info: Gary Lindstrom 360-431-8653.

May 8: KUKN Country Nashville Unplugged presents Billy Dean.7:30pm. Columbia Theatre.

May 14-15, 21-22: The Matchmaker: Mainstage Theatre production of Thornton Wilder play on which “Hello Dolly” is based. 7:30pm; 2:00pm on May 22. R.A. Long High School auditorium, 2903 Nichols Blvd, Longview.

May 15: 3rd Annual Antique Appraisal Day- Up to three items-art, jewelry, furniture, ceramics, glass, etc. to be appraised by Robin Caton and other guest appraisers from Portland and Seattle. Donation $5.00 to the Downtown Street Decorations fund. 10:00am-2:00pm.Teague’s Interiors, 1267 Commerce, Longview

May 15: Frank Ferrante as Grouch Marx (substitute for Jack Benny Show). 7:30pm. Columbia Theatre.

May 24: KLASS – concert of the Kelso-Longview associated schools symphony for children in grades 3-12 and Mark Morris band. 6:00pm. Mark Morris Cafeteria, 1602 Mark Morris Court, Longview.

May 26-29, June 2-5, 10-12. The Three Cuckolds – LCC Center Stage production of masked commedia. 7:30pm. Rose Center for the Performing Arts, 15th and Washington, Longview. Info:

May 27 – June 11: LCC Annual Student Art Show. Opening Reception: May 27, 5:00-7:00pm. . LCC Gallery at the Rose Center, 15th & Washington, Longview. lowercolu

Writers Wanted: Valley Bugler seeking writers to produce 400 word essays on their profession or passion. Contact Michelle Myre, Publisher, at

Grant Writing for Artists. Presented by Artists Trust. June 12. Vancouver, WA. Info: Miguel Guillen at 206/467-8734 x11, 866/218-7878 x11 (toll-free) or

Zydeco Dance Lessons: Thursdays April 22-May 20. Classes 6:30pm-7:30pm; CD dancing 7:30pm-8:30pm. Public Welcome. No experience or partner necessary. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 1428 22nd Ave. Longview. Info: Chere Weiss 360-430- 8865.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Welcome and May First Thursday Activities

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez

Welcome to my first blog post. I have named my blog "ARTS Lagniappe." The "ARTS" part of the name is because this blog will focus on art happenings in the cities and towns along the western Columbia River (the border between Oregon and Washington states in the USA). I have been sending out a monthly email for the last several years listing First Thursday activities, a calendar of art events for the month, and information about opportunities, classes, etc. This blog will continue that effort.
"Lagniappe" is a word used in Southern Louisiana that means an extra or unexpected gift or benefit. So along with information about art activities and opporunities, I will try and add a little dollop of whimsy. My life motto is "Easily Amused" and I think there is no such thing as too much fun.

The web address for this blog is for a group that was started 4 years ago - the Greater Columbia ARTS Network (ART-Net). This group's mission is to promote the wonderful art and artists in our little part of this big world.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans
My husband and I lived in New Orleans for 6 months in 1991. We were there for Mardi Gras and it was fun. Mardi Gras is so much more than the day before the start of Lent. Depending on when Lent falls, the celebration, which really starts after New Years Day, can run from 6 - 10 weeks. And every week there are several parades - float parades, day parades, night parades, truck parades, walking parades - leading up to the major parades that take place the last 4 days of Mardi Gras. We saw at least 25 parades and were in the French Quarter on Mardi Gras. At midnight, the city water trucks come through the Quarter and wash everybody off the streets (and into the bars).

King Cake
But, I must confess, my favorite part of Mardi Gras is the King Cake - a gooey, yeast coffee cake covered with frosting and colored sugars (purple, green and gold) and, if you want to pay more, filled with cream cheese and fruit preserves. They are sold in every grocery store (and I have eaten more than my share of mass produced King Cakes) but some bakeries and restaurants specialize in putting out a premium product and I attempted to eat them all. There are lots of parties and office parties and King Cake is a must. Each King Cake contains a tiny plastic baby figure (I am pretty sure it is pushed into the cake after it is baked) and whoever gets the baby has to buy the next cake for the next party. I miss them a lot. I have been known to order them from New Orleans (quite expensive) and to bake them myself (I just can't get them gooey enough).

I had guests around Mardi Gras this year and decided to make the King Cake recipe in "Kneedlessly Simple" by Nancy Baggett. I have been making no-knead, slow rise breads out of this cookbook for about a year and could not be more satisfied. I was surprised that she included a King Cake recipe and, after making it, think it should have been omitted. But it had the essential essence of a moist, sweet yeast bread and we ate it all.

So, even though I long to be listening to live jazz, eating beignets and drinking cafe au lait in New Orleans, I know that the good times roll here also!

First Thursday - May 6, 2010

This first post covers the activities happening on May First Thursday. The exciting new news is the opening of a new downtown gallery - Lord & McCord at 1416 Commerce Street. The gallery is wonderful; don't miss it. Linda's 92 year old mother has very colorful quilted and beaded purses and glasses cases for sale at the gallery at very reasonable prices. I have included one of Linda's watercolor picture of her mother that is included in Linda's show at the Koth Gallery at the Longview Library; the exhibit closes on April 21. It is called "Stir Crazy" and I hope she is stirring up King Cake!

1. Broadway Gallery, 1418 Commerce, Longview

The featured artists are Jinx Victor (painting), Heidi Bishop (paper), David Myers (Photography) and Suzy Halversen (knitting, painting, jewelry).
Reception: 5:30 – 7:30pm. Music by John Kramer.

2. LCC Gallery at the Rose Center, 15th & Washington, Longview

Featuring Mary J. McInnis (Pastels), Chaim Bezalel and Yonnah Ben Levy ((Paintings). (Exhibit closes on May 7.)
Open until 7:00pm.

3. Longview Public Library Koth Gallery, 1600 Louisiana, Longview

The featured artist is David McDonough (Oil Paintings) (Exhibit closes May 12.)
Open until 8:00pm.

4. Lord & McCord Artworks, 1416 Commerce, Longview

Grand Opening. The featured artists are Michelle Cooper (jewelry), Ken Knodell (glass) and Kathryn Marks (painting.)
Reception: 5:00 – 7:00pm. Live Music.

5. Teague's Interiors, 1267 Commerce, Longview

"Celebrating Spring," a juried show of works with a floral theme. Local Author Jane Still will be signing her new book “Mothers Daze”.
Open until 7:00pm.

6. ZoJo Coffee, 1335 14th Avenue, Longview

Featuring the works of Carine Crooks, Kimberly Palmer, Heather Steely, Julianna Dunning, Dana Marie Cummings, Jubilee Steely, Kassy Kandle, Hadassah Cummings and Mary Dumke in a wonderful mix of styles and mediums.
Open until 7:00pm.

7. The Bistro, 1329 Commerce Avenue, Longview

Wine Tasting. Live music. Door Prizes. Reservations Recommended.
Hours: 5:00 - 8:00pm.

8. Cowlitz County Historical Museum, 405 Allen Street, Kelso

"A Small Newspaper’s Biggest Challenge: Covering the Eruption of Mount St. Helens” by former Daily News Managing Editor Bob Gaston.
Program begins at 7:00pm; Museum open until 9:00pm.