PORT ANGELES — They all do it for love: of music, the little ones and their folks. Snowgrass, Port Angeles’ 14th annual bluegrass-and-roots festival this Saturday night, is one melodious party for players and listeners, all to raise spirits and funds for First Step Family Support Center, the 43-year-old agency serving young families in Clallam County.
“All of the performers are completely donating their time and effort,” said First Step marketing coordinator Amber Hosken, “and we are so grateful for that.”
Doors of the Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center open at 6 p.m. Saturday with the first of four bands starting at 6:30. General admission is $12 in advance or $14 at the door, while seniors come for $9 no matter when they buy their tickets. Children 10 and younger are admitted free.
Dave and Rosalie Secord, Mr. and Mrs. of ceremonies this year, will first bring onto the stage the Flying Strings, the Port Angeles quintet with youth on its side. Singer-guitarist Elizabeth Watkins, 16, is the eldest member besides her father, bandleader Al Watkins; the youngest is fiddle player Imogen Fraser, 9.
Elizabeth was cagey about which songs are in the 30-minute set for this, the band’s fourth Snowgrass. But of all the music she makes — in the Port Angeles High School Symphonic Orchestra and in the Bella Voce and Vocal Unlimited choirs — this gig is one of the high points.
“It’s just a really fun concert. The energy is so high,” said the teen.
Also on Saturday’s docket: the Forks ensemble Crescent Blue, featuring Snowgrass founder Barney Munger along with “songbird of Sappho” Mary Meyer, Dave Lenahan and Ken Lambert. They’re all harmony singers and string players, and they have a guest artist too, in banjoist Rochelle Munger.
While Crescent Blue is a longtime Snowgrass participant, there’s also Tony Flagg’s Trio, a band brand-new to the event. With singer-acoustic bassist Strider Yocum, singer-mandolinist Ed Schmid and singer-guitar man Gary Korb, the trio’s repertoire ranges from Grateful Dead songs to the Searchers’ 1965 hit “Love Potion No. 9.”
FarmStrong, the Sequim-based quartet known all over the Northwest for its “bluegrass and beyond” sound is the headliner. These four men also dip into musical history, with their distinctive interpretation of the Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” alongside The Band’s “Ophelia” and even the Cars’ “Drive.” Saturday night presents a chance to see FarmStrong before they head for Wintergrass, the big bluegrass gathering in Bellevue next month, and pick up a copy of their CD “Forever.”
To pick up Snowgrass tickets in advance, stop in at Port Book and News, 104 E. First St., in Port Angeles, the Clallam Co-op at 216 E. Washington St. in Sequim or Forks Outfitters at 950 S. Forks Ave. in Forks. Tickets are also available via FirstStepFamily.org, while information about the event and about First Step can be had by phoning the agency at 360-457-8355.
First Step offers support at drop-in centers in Port Angeles and Sequim as well as play-and-learn groups, a postpartum support group, parenting classes and other programs. The agency is also holding a diaper and book drive at Jim’s Pharmacy, 424 E. Second St.
“People can drop off a children’s book or a package of diapers or wipes, through Jan. 31,” Hosken said, adding that plain cash donations are welcome too.
Hosken also hailed Snowgrass’ sponsors, Johnson, Rutz & Tassie Attorneys of Port Angeles and Sound Community Bank.
“Their contributions mean that all ticket proceeds go directly to First Step,” she noted. The sponsors, the bands and the ticket buyers together help First Step further its mission: to see all children in Clallam County grow up feeling loved, safe and cared for.