COYLE — As the brand-new host of the Concerts in the Woods series, Joe McKinstry is programming with care. He’s scheduling these community concerts, first of all, around the sun — and around Seattle Seahawks games.
His first show is a kind of blockbuster double feature: Sicilian-born guitarist Peppino D’Agostino, whose “Every Step of the Way” album has been hailed by an industry magazine as among the best of all time, will appear along with Gyan Riley, the inventive classical guitarist from Brooklyn, N.Y.
The place is the quintessentially rural, laid-back Laurel B. Johnson Community Center, 923 Hazel Point Road in Coyle, where the Concerts in the Woods began 12 years ago.
Show time is 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and guests can plan on a pair of 45-minute sets around an intermission with cookies and conversation with the musicians and fellow music lovers.
As ever, all ages are welcome, admission is free and donations are welcome.
As has become standard, people who are not fully vaccinated must wear face masks in this public indoor setting, while fully vaccinated people aren’t required to mask but may still do so as a matter of personal preference.
For information about Saturday’s show and forthcoming events, see Coyleconcerts.com or phone 360-765-3449.
It’s been a long road to this point. McKinstry, himself a singer-songwriter, heard back in 2019 that Norm Johnson, originator of the Concerts in the Woods, intended to retire.
He admired the scene Johnson had created — both artist-friendly and ego-less, McKinstry felt — so he met with the community center board and got the green light to become Johnson’s successor.
That was around the time of the last Coyle concert before the pandemic, Nov. 17, 2019.
With the new year on the horizon, McKinstry began planning a full slate of shows for 2020.
Instead, the community center stayed quiet through the pandemic year.
With indoor gatherings resuming across Washington state this month, McKinstry delightedly joined Rainshadow Recording, the studio at Fort Worden State Park, in booking D’Agostino and Riley.
Rainshadow will host the two guitarists in an outdoor concert tonight — for which tickets are sold out.
McKinstry’s event may well fill up too, meeting the community center’s capacity of 65 listeners.
Johnson, however, has advised him that most Concerts in the Woods, remote as they are some 38 miles from Port Townsend, draw an average of 40 people out to Coyle, which is on the Toandos Peninsula.
This is a chance to witness the virtuosity of two world-class finger-style guitarists up close, McKinstry noted.
D’Agostino is known for his percussive effects, open tunings and diverse taste: the recipe for what he calls “minestrone music.”
Riley, the son of new-music icon and minimalism innovator Terry Riley, grew up in California’s Sierra foothills, studied violin first, was spellbound by Jimi Hendrix, and lived in the Bay Area until his 2010 move to Brooklyn. He’s made music with electric violinist Tracy Silverman and Indian tabla master Zakir Hussain, as well as with his piano-playing and vocalizing dad.
Will the men play together Saturday night? McKinstry will leave that up to them.
“I have a feeling it’s something they would do at the end,” he said, adding he’ll wait and see.
“I love the element of surprise in music,” the new host said.
As for the rest of the year, McKinstry has booked shows into November, with matinees scheduled as sunset comes earlier. He knows many people prefer to drive home while there’s still sunlight.
He’s also avoided booking matinee concerts when the Seahawks are playing.
It’s a leisurely jaunt out to the community center, he added.
McKinstry’s motto: “Come for the drive and stay for the music.”
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]