Arts and Entertainment

Three women bring a big sound to town

Pilar Díaz, Moira Smiley and April Guthrie (left to right) will play at the Blue Heron. - Courtesy Photo
Pilar Díaz, Moira Smiley and April Guthrie (left to right) will play at the Blue Heron.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

Moira Smiley and VOCO — an ensemble that is playing a concert on Saturday at the Blue Heron — might be described as country musicians, but not in the traditional sense of the term.

That’s because the group’s music — played on such emotive instruments as cello, accordion, banjo and body percussion — crosses genres and borders in its melding of Appalachian, Eastern European sounds and other world music traditions.

For Janice Randall, director of performing arts at Vashon Allied Arts, booking the group to play on Vashon has been a longtime goal.

“I’ve been in touch with them for a long time,” Randall said. “I’ve been trying to get them booked for a long time. I know they are just fabulous, and they are all so talented individually.”

Based in Los Angeles, Smiley has carved out a music career that includes more than 40 recordings as well as vocal work and compositions created for dance, theater and film. She has also worked with such such famous groups as Paul Hillier’s Theater of Voices, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, New World Symphony and Shakespeare Santa Cruz.

VOCO — a group of three singers and musicians, two of whom will appear on Vashon — has been lauded for their a cappella stylings and unique body percussion.

“Their body percussion sets are a sight to behold,” said Folkworks Magazine.

VOCO members that will appear on Vashon are Pilar Diaz on vocals, body percussion and guitar, and April Guthrie on cello, vocals and body percussion.

Guthrie has performed and collaborated with artists of all genres. Her musical style, she said, was influenced by studies with renowned Javanese composer Djoko Walujo WP.

Chilean-born Pilar Díaz learned guitar from her parents, both acclaimed folkloric musicians. She sang with a Bulgarian women’s choir and a Balkan music group, performed on Conan O’Brien’s show and gigged with Sonic Youth and Neil Young.

On Saturday afternoon, prior to the concert, Moria Smiley and VOCO will present a workshop for vocalists at the Blue Heron.

Randall sees the performance and workshop as rare opportunities for singers. “I love that they are doing a vocal workshop,” she said. “We have so many great singers on the Island.”

Moira Smiley and VOCO will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19, at Blue Heron Art Center. Tickets, $14/$17, are on sale at Blue Heron, Heron’s Nest, Books by the Way and www.brownpapertickets.com or by calling 463-5131. A workshop dubbed “Colors of the Voice: Honoring Vocal Traditions & Creating Anew” will take place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. the same day at the Blue Heron. The workshop, open to all levels of singers, will cover vocal exercises, various types of songs and percussive movement and vocal arrangement. Tuition is $30. Call 463-5131 to register.

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