PORT ANGELES — Pato Banton, the internationally known reggae artist, can hardly wait to arrive in Port Angeles, where he and his band, the Now Generation, will be part of the eight-week Concerts on the Pier lineup.
“We’re very excited to bring our positive vibration,” the London-born Banton said in an interview from Lake Elsinore, Calif., where he lives.
The Now Generation will take the City Pier stage at 6 p.m. July 28, at the tail end of Banton’s West Coast tour. He has longtime friends who live here, so he’ll stay for a few days, just to enjoy the place.
Banton’s concert comes at just about the center of the series of free shows, which begin July 7. The music in these two-hour concerts will range from reggae and gypsy jazz to classic rock and country swing, with artists from Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Sequim — and Brooklyn, N.Y., where Banton’s bandmate, Antoinette Rootsdawtah, grew up.
“I just booked Aba Kiser,” former Juan de Fuca Foundation executive director Kayla Oakes said excitedly, right after she’d added the Port Townsend singer-songwriter to the mix. Kiser, aka Abakis, offers a set that ranges from covers of Sam Cooke and Beyonce to her own original songs.
Oakes finished assembling the Concerts on the Pier before resigning from her post as executive director of JFFA; her last day was June 15. JFFA Administrative Manager Kari Chance is orchestrating the Concerts on the Pier while Oakes’ successor is found.
JFFA, the presenter of the series, had to cancel last year’s shows due to the pandemic. The 2021 rebirth is a little shorter in length than previous years — two months instead of three — but “luckily it’s an outdoor series,” Oakes said.
Concert-goers who aren’t full vaccinated are asked to keep 6 feet from people outside their households; if they’re unable to do so, “we ask that you wear a mask,” Oakes said.
If the weather turns wet, the Concerts on the Pier move under the Gateway pavilion at Front and Lincoln streets, she added.
In mid-August, the band Backwoods Hucksters will appear, with Sequim’s Cort Armstrong leading the way. Armstrong relishes talking about his bandmates: Eric Bogart, “an astonishing guitar player,” bassist Paul Stehr-Green, fiddle players Jon Parry and Joe Gish and harmonica player Sean Divine. That musician has a heavenly name, but “he’s a sinner like you and me,” Armstrong quipped.
As for the Hucksters’ music, “we refer to it as mountain blues,” he said, adding that Divine “loves bluegrass music, though it’s not his main thing … so he sings the bluegrass songs we do in a classic Chicago blues kind of style.
“Sean and I have been singing together for many years,” said Armstrong, so “the band is kind of the intersection of our personalities.”
Here’s the Concerts on the Pier lineup, while more information can be found at JFFA.org under “Concerts” and by phoning 360-457-5411.
• July 7: AntBath brings underground garage surf music.
• July 14: Country swing and vintage pop with Abakis.
• July 21: Alternative folk/rock with Crushwater.
• July 28: Positive reggae with Pato Banton and the Now Generation.
• Aug. 4: Gypsy jazz with Ranger & the Rearrangers.
• Aug. 11: Americana and blues with Backwoods Hucksters.
• Aug. 18: Rock ’n’ roll covers with Three Too Many.
• Aug. 25: Classic hits with Black Diamond Junction.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]insuladaily news.com.