WEEKEND: Concert to benefit Paradise Theatre

PORT TOWNSEND — Hillbilly jazz and swing, American roots-rock and a bit of country blues will flow through The Undertown cafe Saturday night as two outfits play a benefit for the Paradise Theatre School.

The five-piece Southbound band and the Toolshed Trio, both featuring singer-guitarist George Rezendes, plan on entertaining from 7 p.m. till 10 p.m. inside the subterranean venue at 211 Taylor St. Admission is a suggested donation of $10 to $20.

Proceeds will help the Paradise, the community theater operation in an old chapel in Chimacum, upgrade its building and continue staging new and classic plays.

Rezendes promised a genre-jumping night of music, including songs like “Blues for Dixie,” “Caravan,” “Baton Rouge” and the novelty jazz tune “Devil with the Devil.”

These bands are just plain fun, Rezendes said, and each musician stirs in his own flavor: Southbound’s Dave Meis sings, plays steel guitar and dobro while Stephen Ruffo sings and plays guitar, and bassist Kurt Jensen and drummer Russ Lowrey lay down the rhythms. Rezendes sings and plays guitar in Southbound and in the Toolshed Trio, whose other two players are Lowrey and Meis.

This concert was Rezendes’ idea and a gift to the organization he feels strongly about.

“I owe a great debt of gratitude to the Paradise Theatre. They mentored my son [Ben Rezendes] in acting, and he got into one of the best acting schools in the world: Stella Adler,” he said, referring to the New York City school.

Ben, now 23, has since begun a professional career; he appeared in last summer’s Key City Public Theatre production of “Macbeth,” staged at Chetzemoka Park in Port Townsend.

The Paradise Theatre School, with its artistic directors Erik and Pattie Miles Van Beuzekom, nurtures other local actors, directors and playwrights.

Over the past eight years, its offerings have ranged from “The Cherry Orchard” by Anton Chekhov, Diana Son’s “Stop Kiss” and Doug Wright’s “I Am My Own Wife” to “Jalopies” by local actor Mark Cherniack and “Blood Orange Bakersfield” by Pattie Miles Van Beuzekom.

“They build community through theater,” Rezendes said.

“They’re struggling to upgrade their facility,” though, so he hopes to use music to buoy the Paradise a bit.

To learn more about the Chimacum playhouse and school, visit www.TheParadiseTheatreSchool.org or phone 360-643-3493.


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

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