IN THE PENINSULA SPOTLIGHT: Guys and their guitars perform on Cinco de Mayo tonight for nonprofit

IN THE PENINSULA SPOTLIGHT: Guys and their guitars perform on Cinco de Mayo tonight for nonprofit

SEQUIM — This combination bursts with sabor — flavor — and it’s cooking up quick.

Men with Guitars, an evening of songs from the 1950s and ’60s, stars nine guys from Sequim and Port Angeles. They’re getting together tonight to make music and raise money for the Mujeres de Maiz Opportunity Foundation, a Sequim-based nonprofit devoted to helping young women go to college.

These women belong to the Mujeres de Maiz cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico’s, southernmost state; their name means women of corn, the staff of life in their part of the world.

And since music is another form of sustenance and community, Mujeres de Maiz Opportunity Foundation board president Judith Pasco hoped to put together some sort of benefit with song as a main ingredient.

She’d heard of a Men with Guitars concert in Edmonds, so she spoke to her friend Steve Gilchrist about all of this.

“Next thing I knew, he was organizing it,” Pasco said this week.

Gilchrist, a guitarist, reached out across Sequim and Port Angeles, and gathered fellow musicians Cort Armstrong of the Blue Rooster band; Steve Koehler of SuperTrees; Jim Faddis, formerly of Prairie Flyer; Dan Maguire and Ron Munro, formerly of Acoustic News; Clark Driese of the Whidbey Street Revue and Noel Price of the duo Blackbird.

For good measure, he added Forrest Gilchrist, his guitarist son who played in a Beatles tribute band, the Feables, back when he was at Sequim High School.

Now 23 and a Western Washington University alumnus, he lives in Bellingham and plays with a rock band called Prowler.

So the whole nine guitars will converge tonight on the Pioneer Park clubhouse, 387 E. Washington St.

The concert will start at 7 p.m.; doors open at 6:30 p.m. with admission a $15 donation at the door only. Beer, wine and other refreshments will be available, with all proceeds going to Mujeres de Maiz.

In the six years since its inception, the foundation has funded many programs, from eye examinations and glasses to college scholarships, for young women in Chiapas.

Pasco, along with fellow board members Linda Finch, Molly Rivard, Martha Rudersdorf, Patsy Simpson, Sandy Reed and Mary Norton, works with the women on community development — children’s enrichment programs, business classes — so the people can stay in their homeland.

And as it turns out, Men with Guitars falls on Cinco de Mayo, that day when Mexico celebrates its heritage, freedom and the victory of its people over the French army in 1862’s Battle of Puebla.

The men, meanwhile, are stirring up a diverse fiesta of songs. Munro and Price plan on “La Bamba” and “Helplessly Hoping,” while Faddis and Armstrong like “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Sixteen Tons.” The Gilchrists will offer “The Wanderer,” among other classics; Driese and Maguire like “Long Time Gone” and “Wooden Ships.” Koehler, who totes a 1965 Fender Telecaster, is thinking “Knock on Wood.”

“I think it’s going to be a really fun evening,” said Pasco, who’s marveling at the musicians’ gusto. They’re all donating their time and tunes because, as Koehler said, Pasco and the Mujeres project are “awesome.”

A Spanish instructor who teaches community classes — having retired after 20 years at Sequim High School — Pasco founded the Mujeres de Maiz Opportunity Foundation in 2006. It began with the awarding of one scholarship to a teenage girl who is studying computers and English at the university in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico; today 17 young women are pursuing their educations with the help of Mujeres scholarships.

To learn more about the organization’s work, visit www.MujeresdeMaizOF.org or phone Pasco at 360-683-8979.

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