SEQUIM — It’s a drive-in-radio show: Replacing Sequim’s Music in the Park summer concerts, the community radio station KSQM will mix local bands, in-studio interviews and large parking lots in a new thing called Music Where You Park.
“It’s going to be really fun,” said Tama Bankston, the KSQM staffer who thought of this outdoor, socially distanced Tuesday evening activity.
Starting today at 6 p.m., local musicians will visit the radio station, where host Rachelle Keend will interview them and play their recorded music and perhaps a few other tunes they find inspiring.
The hourlong session will be aired live on KSQM 91.5 FM.
What makes this different from any old radio show is that Bankston and her crew have driven around Sequim and Port Angeles and sought big parking areas where the station’s signal is strong.
They’ve designated 10 fields and lots as Music Where You Park venues, so each Tuesday listeners can drive up, find a spot and tune in.
The band won’t be there; the broadcast will.
“Grab your picnic basket,” Bankston writes in KSQM’s invitation. “Everyone can turn on their radios full blast and enjoy the program at their cars, together but apart.”
Today’s venue is The Pumpkin Patch on Kitchen-Dick Road just off U.S. Highway 101; the featured musician is Amy Hales, a pop and gospel singer from Port Angeles. She’s the first up in the 10-week series that will include acts such as the Stardust Big Band, Joy in Mudville, Navy Band Northwest and Black Diamond Junction.
“Certainly it’s not the same as being able to put on our show for folks live, but hopefully this will let us stay connected with all our fans,” said Black Diamond Junction keyboardist Todd Ortloff.
“We’re glad to have this chance,” he added, “since all of our shows this summer were canceled.”
Every Tuesday at a different venue, KSQM will put up its banner while two attendants help direct traffic. Free tickets — for prizes provided by local businesses — will be handed out; listeners should arrive by 6:30 p.m. to participate in the prize drawings.
Bankston is seeking sponsors for Music Where You Park, and “if we can get enough sponsorship dollars, we will be paying a portion of that to the bands. They’re missing out on money they would have gotten from Music in the Park.”
Sequim’s free live concert series, normally held at the James Center stage north of Carrie Blake Park, was canceled this spring, as was Port Townsend’s free Concerts on the Dock. Both draw hundreds of listeners and dancers.
Meanwhile, Port Angeles’ Concerts on the Pier, presented this year by the Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts, has been condensed and deferred until September. JFFA executive director Kayla Oakes hopes to rebook six of the bands initially engaged for the Wednesday evening shows on City Pier; she’s in the process of scheduling acts and dates.
As for KSQM’s Music Where You Park, this summer’s lineup includes:
• June 30: The Dukes of Dabob dixieland band at the Sequim Elks Club parking lot, 143 Port Williams Road, Sequim
• July 7: The Americana band Joy in Mudville at the Sequim Valley Airport lot, 468 Dorothy Hunt Lane, Sequim
• July 14: The Stardust Big Band at the Jardin du Soleil lavender farm, 3932 Sequim-Dungeness Way, Sequim
• July 21: Tess Teel and company with swing, jazz and bossa nova at Carrie Blake Park’s dog park, 202 N. Blake Ave., Sequim
• July 28: Mountain blues with the Backwoods Hucksters at the City Pier lot, 315 N. Lincoln St., Port Angeles
• Aug. 4: Music of John Denver by John Hoover and the Mighty Quinns at Purple Haze Organic Lavender farm, 180 Bell Bottom Road, Sequim
• Aug. 11: Classic hits with Black Diamond Junction outside the George Washington Inn, 939 Finn Hall Road east of Port Angeles
• Aug. 18: Soul, bluegrass and classic rock with Bread & Gravy at Olympic Cellars, 255410 U.S. Highway 101 east of Port Angeles
• Aug. 25: Navy Band Northwest in the Mariner’s Cafe lot, 609 W. Washington St., Sequim
“I think people need an outlet, a reason to get in their car, and go somewhere,” said Bankston, who added she and her husband Jeff went to the Sequim Prairie Grange’s drive-through ice cream social some weeks ago.
Even if there wasn’t really any socializing, it was fun to do something different, she said.
Bankston also noted vocalist Tess Teel will be featured July 21, which would have been the day of KSQM’s 12th annual Pet Lovers’ Day at Carrie Blake Park. The event is another casualty of the coronavirus, she said.
For more information about the Music Where You Park series or sponsorship, call KSQM at 360-681-0000 or visit KSQMfm.com.
Diane Urbani de la Paz, a freelance journalist and former PDN features editor, lives in Port Townsend. She can be reached by email at Creodepaz@yahoo.com.