WEEKEND: Harmonica virtuoso Oskar to perform at intimate venue Friday (plus bonus appearance)
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Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News
Lee Oskar, left, shares the stage with the Soulshakers blues band — including keyboard player Jim Rosand — at last summer's Sequim Lavender Farm Faire. Oskar will be back this weekend for a concert and a meet-and-greet at Wind Rose Cellars in downtown Sequim.

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

NOTE: “Today” and “tonight” refer to Friday, Dec. 13.

SEQUIM — Lee Oskar, the harmonica player who found fame from the 1960s forward with rock 'n' roll songs such as “The Cisco Kid,” “Low Rider,” “Why Can't We Be Friends?” and other hits with the band War, will slip into town this weekend.

And it may seem incongruous for a musician of Oskar's stature, but he's about to do a concert and an informal meet-and-greet at a downtown Sequim wine bar.

Years ago, a friend introduced Oskar to Sequim and to Mike Reichner, owner of Purple Haze lavender farm.

Also a visual artist, Oskar had his painting of a lavender field chosen as the 2013 Lavender Farm Faire poster.

Oskar also met David Volmut, owner of Wind Rose Cellars, Sequim's petite winery, tasting room and live music venue.

Wind Rose, at 143 W. Washington St., became a gallery for Oskar's paintings.

Musical trio

Tonight at 7 p.m., the tasting room will be the place where Oskar along with a trio of Sequim and Seattle musicians will give a two-hour performance of blues, jazz, ballads and then some.

“I might do 'Low Rider,'” allowed Oskar, 65.

“I might surprise you. I don't want to give it away,” he added.

A top 10 hit in 1975, “Low Rider” has been covered by dozens of artists from Phish to Barry White and was the theme song for comedian George Lopez's television show.

Oskar will join Sequim bassist Taylor Ackley, as well as drummer Andrew Cloutier and guitarist Steve Nowak, both of Seattle.

Advance tickets are $25, including a glass of wine, at www.WindRoseCellars.com.

If any are left, tickets at the door tonight will be $30.

Guests are encouraged to bring a toy or a food item for the holiday donation box, and more information is available by phoning Wind Rose at 360-681-0690.

Saturday conversation

On Saturday afternoon, Oskar will be at Wind Rose for informal conversation about his art and music.

He's been painting about as long as he's been playing the harmonica: since he was a 6-year-old boy growing up in Copenhagen, Denmark.

At 18, Oskar packed up and moved to New York City to seek his fortune as a musician.

This was 1966, and Oskar found it — in New York and in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, where he arrived in time for 1967's Summer of Love.

Rock critics have since hailed him as a harmonica wizard — a War hero.

In 1983, Oskar, who lives in Redmond, formed Lee Oskar Harmonica, a maker of harmonicas for blues, folk, rock, R&B and country musicians.

And if his appearance at this past summer's Lavender Farm Faire is any indication, Oskar still feels strongly about his instrument.

At the free faire at Sequim's Carrie Blake Park on July 21, Oskar stepped onto the stage with the Soulshakers, a Port Angeles blues band, and played like mad.

Painting, Oskar writes on his website, is like making music; the two art forms come from the same place.

Yet with palette or harmonica, “I've always had a difficult time with categories,” he said.

“They're either for librarians . . . or marketing.”


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 12. 2013 11:07PM
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