By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
Want more top stories? Sign up here for daily or weekly newsletters with our top news.
PORT ANGELES — Ask Bellingham singer-songwriter Dana Lyons about one of his gigs on the Olympic Peninsula, and he rhapsodizes.
It was Sept. 17, 2011, and Lyons was on a stage overlooking the Elwha River.
To warm up the dignitaries from Washington state and Washington, D.C., he sang “One Drop of Water,” his song made for “Celebrate Elwha!” dam removal ceremony.
“What a spectacular day that was. It was one of the most moving days of my life,” said Lyons, who returns to Port Angeles for another concert tonight.
He’ll bring songs from his new album, “The Great Salish Sea,” for a 7:30 p.m. performance at the Elwha Klallam Heritage Center, 401 E. First St. Admission will be $10, with doors open at 6:45 p.m.
As Lyons sees it, the Elwha River restoration project, with its demolition of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams over the past three years, was a victory: for the natural environment, the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe and for the rest of the environmentalist community.
Yes, it took decades and, yes, there are still naysayers, but this thing came to pass anyway.
“That’s partly where I derive my hope. There’s a list of seemingly impossible things that have happened,” the world over, he said.
Lyons’ visit to Port Angeles has a twofold purpose: It’s on his “Crude Awakenings” circuit, a concert tour to raise awareness about oil train traffic that could thicken through Washington state and the Pacific Northwest.
At the same time the performance is the opener for a series of activities hosted by the nonprofit Olympic Climate Action group through Saturday in Port Angeles [see accompanying story].
“Our Oceans in a Changing Climate” is the title of the full day of events, so Lyons will sing about the seas, in all of their richness and vulnerability.
He’ll also talk briefly about proposals to bring an increased number of oil trains to sea ports on the Pacific coast.
In the past year, such trains derailed in cities across the continent, from Quebec, Canada, to Lynchburg, Va., to LaSalle, Colo. These derailments have caused violent explosions, evacuations and, in the case of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killed 47 people and destroyed 30 buildings.
“We are not going to let that happen here,” Lyons said. “We’re not willing to risk blowing up our communities,” so he’s rallying Pacific Northwesterners against oil by rail.
Hold on, though. Tonight’s event won’t be a lecture.
“The subject is so dark, you don’t want to talk about it for more than five minutes,” Lyons quipped.
So he does — and then he dives back into his art polished over 25 years of playing and touring.
“My shows are 80 percent songs and 20 percent stories,” he said.
That means “Cows with Guns,” Lyons’ best-known number, is likely to be on the set list.
“It’s a goofy comedy with a lot of bad puns, in a Johnny Cash-esque style,” he said of the song that gave his website, cowswith guns.com, its address.
Love songs, the Lyons-esque variety, are part of the concert, as are “Salmon Come Home” and “Trade Winds” from “The Great Salish Sea.”
“My primary thing is to entertain,” the singer said.
“A truckload of sugar helps the medicine go down.
“I love coming out there” to the Peninsula, Lyons added.
This time, he built in a couple of extra days — to go up and visit the Elwha River again.