Ensemble to usher in eclectic mix in Port Townsend on Friday
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Brian Jones
Stickshift Annie Eastwood will bring Kimball & the Fugitives to Port Townsend for a dance Friday night. The ensemble is, from left, Kimball Conant, John Rockwell and Larry Hill.

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Stickshift Annie Eastwood has, at long last, made music her main livelihood.

The artist was a graphic designer for a good 40 years, but she also sang rhythm and blues and jazz, starting in her days at Ohio's Kent State University in the 1970s.

“I'm just really enthralled with all kinds of music,” said Eastwood, who will bring her Seattle-based band to the Port Townsend Elks Lodge, 555 Otto St., for a dance this Friday night.

Origins of nickname

Eastwood was a shy person, but somehow, the songs freed her. Over the years, she sang in a series of bands, including the one where she picked up the nickname Stickshift Annie for her ability to drive a truck with a manual transmission.

She'd become a fan of guitarist Kimball Conant, and when the opportunity arose 12 years ago, Eastwood stepped on board as the vocalist with Kimball & the Fugitives.

At dances and festivals around Puget Sound, they stir up what she describes as “an eclectic combination of blues, jazz, swing and rock 'n' roll.”

Friday's event, hosted by the nonprofit Olympic Peninsula Dance group, will travel from Duke Ellington and Louis Jordan to Chuck Berry and Taj Mahal, Eastwood promised — and “we're always trying to add in some new material . . . we've been bringing in some more old blues stuff, some Freddie King,” alongside things like Lucinda Williams' “Can't Let Go,” June Carter Cash's “Ring of Fire” and the Patsy Cline classic “Walkin' after Midnight.”

Regardless of the song, the band is what keeps it fresh for Eastwood.

“I came to it later in life than the other guys did,” she said, “and I feel really fortunate to play with such fabulous musicians. You can't help but enjoy yourself.”

Starts with a lesson

As always with the Olympic Peninsula Dance get-togethers, Friday evening will start with a lesson, and this time it's intermediate East Coast swing, taught by Janice Eklund.

Singles and couples are welcome, and instruction will start at 7 p.m.

Stickshift Annie and Kimball & the Fugitives will step up at 8 p.m. and play until 10:30.

Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for students with any school ID and $7 for children 12 and younger.

For more details about Friday night as well as next month's dance, with Maia Santell & House Blend and a fox-trot lesson with Carol Hathaway on April 18, visit www.OlympicPeninsulaDance.com or phone 360-385-5327.

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

Last modified: March 18. 2014 5:18PM
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