PORT ANGELES — Maybe you’d like some rhythm and blues right about now, or perhaps you’re in the mood for Dirty Cello, Shaggy Sweet, Champagne Sunday or Ballet Victoria.
The hybrid — in person, virtual and extended — Juan de Fuca Festival aims to provide these bands and then some, Friday and into next month.
The event, held on Memorial Day weekend since the 1990s, skipped a beat last year as the pandemic canceled large gatherings, but this year it’s back and it’s “reimagined,” organizers say.
“We’re on version three or four,” Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts Executive Director Kayla Oakes said of the festival, a convergence of free workshops, intimate in-person performances and 20 concert films.
It all begins at 11 a.m. Friday with the free street fair around the Vern Burton Community Center, 308 E. Fourth St. Come Saturday and Sunday, the music from inside the center will be broadcast live to fair-goers starting at 4:30 p.m.
The in-person concerts also will be available for live-streaming to those who buy a $45 Virtual Experience pass; these passes are unlimited in supply.
In contrast, just 134 tickets have been made available for the In-Person Experience inside the Vern Burton center, due to the needed safety protocols indoors, Oakes said. Those tickets are $80 and cover concerts from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Pass sales and information about all things Juan de Fuca can be found at JFFA.org/festival, while the JFFA office can be reached at 360-457-5411.
Gus Clark and the Least of His Problems, a country-honkytonk-Western swing band from Seattle, is set to play Saturday night. That means harmony vocals, twin fiddles, upright bass, pedal steel, accordion, drums, harmonica and Hank Williams Sr., Clark promised.
“We’ll bring the whole show and put on a good one for the folks,” he said.
Kim Trenerry, vocalist and guitarist with the local band Joy in Mudville, looks forward to her first full-band show in 15 months. The 6:15 p.m. Saturday show is loaded with the foursome’s favorite original songs, bluegrass classics and “interesting covers,” she said, featuring Trenerry’s husband, singer-songwriter-guitarist-banjo maker Jason Mogi.
The Vern Burton concerts will look different from those of previous festivals, thanks to a new light system; “because we’re streaming the live shows, we’ve totally upgraded our lighting,” Oakes said.
Virtual Experience pass holders are in for a variety of shows.
In addition to streaming the Vern Burton concerts in real time, viewers will be able to enter several virtual “stages” to watch 45-minute performances presented by Canada’s Ballet Victoria, David Jacobs-Strain of Eugene, Ore., dancer Jessie Young of New York City, singer-songwriter Jack Dwyer and harpist Sophie Wilhoit of Port Townsend, Daniel Costa Dance of Seattle and the Paperboys of Vancouver, B.C.
The virtual lineup also offers Pacific Northwest Americana from Kristen Grainger & True North, physical comedy by soloist Henrik Bothe, gypsy jazz from Hot House West, and Mozart, Ravel and a tango from the Port Angeles Symphony String Quartet.
This virtual lineup will be available for at-home streaming — on any device or television set connected with an HDMI cable — from Friday through June 30. Viewers can sample artists, watch shows again and send tips to anyone they like, Oakes said.
For the first time, festival-goers won’t have to choose between two bands performing at two venues at the same time, she added. That’s a problem well-known to people who came to the old-fashioned event with performers at the Vern Burton, Naval Elks Lodge and Chamber Stage all at once.
Online workshops, all of them free, are also part of festival weekend. A ukulele basics class, two creative movement workshops and a spoken-word exploration with Ghanaian-Bajan performer Naa Akua are open Saturday and Sunday, with registration details at FFA.org/festival/workshops.
Oakes said she and her setup crew are coming to this weekend with a new perspective and sense of gratitude for music, dance and the chance to discover something different.
“Our whole point is offering this community event, to the level that we can, and celebrating our mission,” to share art and culture with the whole North Olympic Peninsula.
As for Trenerry and Joy in Mudville, the set list for Saturday’s show is still taking shape. It will almost certainly include their own “Shake the Barnhouse Down” — and a few surprises.
Trenerry plans to sing for the crowd inside the Vern Burton, outside at the street fair and streaming at home.
This year’s festival, after all, “can just be a big outdoor dance party,” she said.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]