PORT TOWNSEND — All week long at Fort Worden State Park, the people are playing, learning, dancing and jamming indoors and out. The Centrum foundation, whose motto is “creativity in community,” does this at high summer every year: the Acoustic Blues Workshop and Festival.
“Welcome back home,” program manager Mary Hilts Parry said at Sunday night’s gathering of workshop teachers and students.
Then the music poured forth: blues and soul from denizens of Detroit, Mississippi, Louisiana, Port Townsend and New York City.
There were accordions, guitars, fiddles, a piano, bass and mandolin, harmonicas, voices deep and high — and even a fife in the small hands of Shardé Thomas. The Acoustic Blues Workshop has drawn 241 participants from across the United States, Canada and Australia.
These singers, players and dancers will fill public venues big and small starting tonight. The annual Blues Dance will feature the band Frog and Henry, which includes Port Townsend-based jug player, clarinetist, saxophonist, composer and arranger Jonathan Doyle.
Both Friday and Saturday, free concerts will happen: the noontime blues showcase on the Fort Worden Commons lawn Friday and the Port Townsend Gospel Choir performance in the Wheeler Theater on Saturday morning.
Those evenings, the campus will throb with Blues in the Clubs, the circuit of shows open to all ages. Then comes the MainStage festival showcase Saturday afternoon, bringing together some two dozen performers, from dancer Junious Brickhouse and Terry “Harmonica” Bean to ukulelist Lightnin’ Wells and accordionist Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes.
“Bring your happy faces and your open hearts and your love,” said Jerron Paxton, artistic director of the fest. “We’ll have a ball.”