PORT ANGELES — Lady A, a specialist in blues, soul, funk and gospel music who will help open the 29th annual Juan de Fuca Festival over the upcoming Memorial weekend, has no trouble explaining her purpose.
She’s here to “share a message of hope, encouragement and FUN,” she wrote in an email to festival organizers.
Lady A has a full schedule of concerts this summer — starting with her Friday night show at the Juan de Fuca Festival main stage at the Vern Burton Community Center. As she returns to the spotlight, she said she feels blessed to do one thing: share her love of music.
“What I write is meant to encourage your heart in whatever situation, as well as make you laugh, tap your feet and understand the struggle or triumph in the song,” she said, adding that her music is made of true stories.
Along with her band, Lady A is among more than 40 acts converging at the festival this coming Friday through Sunday, May 29 at and around Vern Burton, 308 E. Fourth St., and the Naval Elks Lodge ballroom, 131 E. First St.
“The 2022 event, the first all-in-person Juan de Fuca Festival since 2019, is a reunion for the whole community,” said Kyle LeMaire, who became JFFA’s executive director nine months ago, in press release.
The two-person staff — LeMaire and operations manager Kari Chance — plus the nine-member board and more than 100 volunteers host the event for people of all ages and backgrounds, he said.
Discounted three-day passes are on sale now. They are $100 general, $50 for students and free for youngsters 14 and under.
Complete information about the festival lineup and what the passes include is found at JFFA.org, while the festival office can be reached at 360-457-5411.
Tickets are sold on the website and at Port Book and News, 104 E. First St.
LeMaire said that the festival is still looking for volunteers.
As in past years, people who volunteer at the festival receive free single-day passes.
Potential volunteers are encouraged to visit https://jffa.org/volunteer/.
Throughout the weekend, the festival street fair will be open and free to the public from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday, May 29 on the grounds surrounding the Vern Burton Community Center.
At the fair sponsored by JACE Real Estate, more than 30 regional artisans join food trucks with Northwest fare from tacos to espresso to ice cream.
This year’s festival also has the Community Tent for local organizations’ activities. These range from the Clallam Resilience Project to the Peninsula College Drama Department to necklace making with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.
The festival brings together performers from all over the Pacific Northwest – from Port Townsend to Seattle to Portland, Ore., to Victoria, LeMaire noted.
Festival favorites from past years such as David Jacobs-Strain and Bob Beach, the Shook Twins, Rose’s Pawn Shop and Ballet Victoria are coming back.
First-timers such as singer-songwriter John Craigie, the blues-rock band Eden, singer Jacqueline Tabor and the Country Lips are arriving.
So are the zydeco band the New Iberians, world beat ensemble Budapest West, neo soul group Motus, Americana duo the Black Feathers and blues performer Christopher Worth.
Local bands — The Shift, Backwoods Hucksters, Twisted Roots, Chandra Johnson and the Homeschool Boys, Brother Townsend and True Reckoning – round out the lineup.
Craigie, when asked how it feels to re-emerge, said there’s nothing like a festival to nourish a sense of community.
“It feels good to be gathered together again. Music isn’t the same through screens,” he said.
This year’s festival also offers five workshops.
Songwriting with Maiah Wynne, scarf felting with Cabled Fiber & Yarn, the “Where the Clouds Grow” immersive movement experience and two paint-and-sip workshops, one with Port Townsend artist Jesse Joshua Watson and another with Port Angeles painter Jeff Tocher, will be spread out over Saturday, May 28, and Sunday, May 29.
Space is limited at each, so registration is available at JFFA.org under Festival and then Workshops.
The festival will follow federal, state and local guidelines for protection against COVID-19. Hand sanitizers will be available and wearing face masks will be recommended.
Katelyn Shook, who with her sister Laurie fronts the Shook Twins band, like LeMaire, voiced her feelings about this reunion of musicians, artists and audiences.
“I’m looking forward to visiting Port Angeles again. It’s such a sweet place, and the only other time we’ve been there was the last time we played Juan de Fuca fest in 2013,” she said.
Shook describes her band’s sound as folk-pop with a groove. The sisters’ twin harmonies are the driving force behind the songs, she said, “and at our live shows, we invite the audience in with our silliness and hope to make them feel comfortable in their own skin.”
The Shook Twins are booked for the middle of the festival, with a main stage show at 8:30 p.m. next Saturday, May 28. Bookending them are Lady A and her band at 8:30 p.m. Friday and Craigie at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, May 29.
These finales will follow full slates of music on the adjacent Chamber Stage, the Main Stage, the Elks ballroom and the free First Fed Community Stage outside the Vern Burton entrance.
Ten local performing groups, from the Soundwaves marimba band to the Shula Azhar bellydancers to the Olympic Peninsula Queer Xoir, will appear there, Friday afternoon through the afternoon of Sunday, May 29.