PORT TOWNSEND — From “It Had to Be You” to “Star of the County Down” to “God Bless the Child,” singer-guitarist Mike James plans on a varied evening of music and vocal harmony this Thursday.
James, along with his wife Val, will give this month’s Candlelight Concert online at 7 p.m. via Trinity United Methodist Church’s website, www.trinityumcpt.org, while KPTZ-FM 91.9 and www.kptz.org will simulcast the live performance.
Backing up the Jameses will be Bruce Cannavaro on bass and piano and Chris Gilbert and Jay Hagar on harmonies.
The concert was initially planned as an in-person event at the Uptown church, but organizer Beth Kissinger announced Jan. 13 that it would go online.
“With COVID-19 infections in Jefferson County being the highest they’ve ever been, it’s a good time to be extra cautious,” she noted.
Admission is free, but, as is traditional with Candlelight Concerts, donations will be shared with a local nonprofit group. James chose YEA Music!, the Youth Education in Arts organization providing instruments, instruction and day camps to young players across the North Olympic Peninsula.
Last summer, YEA Music! gathered music teachers from around the region to offer pay-what-you-can camps at Fort Worden State Park, with public outdoor concerts capping each week of instruction. Information about the program, in which organizers are also developing an East Jefferson Symphony Orchestra of high school students, can be found at www.yeamusic.org.
James is a retired educator and counselor. He’s known for his efforts to keep local maritime history alive through music-making, including sea-chantey workshops he put together with help from his musician friends.
Mike and Val James have collaborated too on several recordings of old and new folk songs, maritime music and originals for adults and younger listeners.
As for his Candlelight Concert repertoire, “I just call it a mixed bag,” James said.
Neo- and traditional folk, bluesy and jazz-flavored numbers can all find their way onto his set list.
“I don’t do classical; I don’t do rap,” he quipped.
In 50 years of performing, he hasn’t done an online concert until now, James added.
“We’ll make the best of it and have fun,” he said.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected] news.com.