Next week’s Juan de Fuca Festival kickoff band mixes Pink Floyd with Land of Oz

PORT ANGELES — Getting your head around the Wizard-of-Oz-Pink-Floyd-bluegrass show, coming to town Thursday night to warm us up for the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts, is not easy.

So, says Poor Man’s Whiskey guitarist Jason Beard, just come and dance to the music.

The band, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is coming north to do what’s gained it much notoriety: “Dark Side of the Moonshine,” a rock-meets-bluegrass concert celebrating Pink Floyd’s landmark “Dark Side of the Moon” album.

But that’s not all.

“Moon” has an uncanny synchronicity with the 1939 classic movie “The Wizard of Oz,” Beard and the band believe.

The Oz story and the “Moon” song lyrics match up in places, Beard said, adding that this phenomenon caught on some years ago on the college concert circuit.

Therefore the Poor Man’s Whiskey players dress up as Oz characters and use all manner of special effects, for what he vows will be “a full-spectacle show.”

Beard urges concert-goers to “come in costume or come as you are,” to be part of the show to start at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Vern Burton Community Center, 308 W. Fourth St.

Tickets are $15 in advance for adults or $7 for children 12 and younger; at the door they will be $20 for adults and still $7 for kids.

Since this is a presentation of the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts — and Poor Man’s Whiskey will give a second concert of its own new music next Friday, May 27, on day one of the festival — tickets are available at www.JFFA.org.

Other outlets include Port Book & News, 104 E. First St., Port Angeles; Quimper Sound, 230 Taylor St., Port Townsend and Pacific Mist Books, 121 W. Washington St., Sequim.

At “Dark Side of the Moonshine” concerts, the band members of course dress up as if they’re off to see the Wizard.

Beard is a Cowardly Lion who, when things get hot on stage, takes off his mane.

And “we get a lot of Dorothys and a lot of lions,” in the audience, he said, adding that people are also encouraged to try a flying monkey or munchkin look.

Poor Man’s Whiskey, meanwhile, is a classic example of a Juan de Fuca Festival headliner: irreverent, exuberant and, Beard said, eager to share those feelings with the crowd.

Together a decade now, Whiskey spills out a sound Beard and crew call “Nor­Cal new time,” as in Northern California-flavored old-time music, updated and dance-friendly.

“We’re all really good friends. We have fun amongst ourselves,” he said, “and people say it’s infectious. . . . Sometimes you show up and you can just feel the energy in the room.

“And I love when you get to that point when the crowd is relaxing, and they let you know by dancing and cheering.

“We’re right there with them,” Beard said. “There’s a relationship going on.”

Poor Man’s Whiskey is one piece of a Juan de Fuca Festival lineup that tosses together newcomers, festival veterans and local luminaries.

The four-day festival starts May 27 with, among others, blues singer-guitarist David Jacobs-Strain; the popular local foursome Abby Mae & the Homeschool Boys; Canadian singer Frazey Ford and the bluegrass-honky tonk-folk band Marley’s Ghost.

Saturday, May 28, the festival continues with two dozen more concerts and workshops: jazz by Hot Club Sandwich; a Celtic-Bhangra musical melting pot by Delhi 2 Dublin; juggler Rhys Thomas; the Pacific Northwest Guitar Trio; rockabilly-country outfit Rose’s Pawn Shop; jazz vocalist Halie Loren — plus classes in both Zumba and tango dancing.

The menu of performers for Sunday, May 29, ranges from The Paperboys and Ranger and the Re-Arrangers to modern dancer Maya Soto, the Kora Band and Garett Brennan & the Great Salt Licks; on Memorial Day Monday, May 30, the festival finale includes Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, Shoehorn Conley, Tiller’s Folly and Chez Jazz with chanteuse Sarah Shea.

Juan de Fuca workshops, meantime, go from yoga and songwriting on Saturday to ukulele, swing guitar and hula on Sunday to tai chi Monday morning. A full-festival pass costs $50 in advance or $55 once Memorial Day weekend has arrived; single-day tickets are $15 to $18.

Complete details about the festival, which will spread out from the Vern Burton Community Center to seven other nearby venues, are at JFFA.org and 360-457-5411.

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