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Concerts bring a world of music to Ober Park
It’s summer on Vashon — which means Islanders can take advantage of an astounding 10 free concerts coming up at Ober Park in the next few weeks.
The concerts, presented and funded by Vashon Park District in association with other groups including Vashon Allied Arts and Vashon Folk Dancers, will provide a sampling of lively music from all over the world — from Bosnian blues to Brazilian samba to the all-American sounds of John Philip Sousa.
For Susan McCabe, program coordinator for the park district, it’s a busy but fulfilling time.
“My job is to make fun happen,” said McCabe, who booked many of the bands that will soon appear on Ober Park’s stage. “I spend all year getting ready for this time of year, and it’s great to see people coming to the concerts and families having fun.”
McCabe oversees two different concert series that happen at Ober Park. One of the series, presented on Monday nights at Ober Park, is curated by Martin Koenig and features a diverse array of world music groups. These events include free folk-dancing instruction just prior to each concert.
The other series, which the park district has presented in partnership with Vashon Allied Arts for the past decade or so, takes place on Thursday nights and features well-known performers from Vashon and beyond.
Coming up in that series, from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, July 7, will be a show by The Sedentary Sousa Band, a group from Ballard that plays classic marching band songs — but without the marching. The group even features a sedentary majorette, Edith Farrar, who sits and twirls a baton to such iconic tunes as “Stars and Stripes Forever” and other Sousan favorites.
The show will also provide the audience with a music lesson about Sousa and other composers of marching band and military music.
“We interact with the audience a lot,” band lead Liz Dreisbach said. “I tell stories about the composers, bands and the music.”
The group proudly wears a rainbow-colored assortment of mismatched marching band jackets.
On Monday, the first concert in Koenig’s folk music series will take place — a reunion of a group of Bosnian musicians who have played on the Island several times.
The concert, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Monday, July 11, will feature The Zulum Band — an ensemble of musicians formerly known as Bosnian Blues.
The players are all renowned Bosnian musicians who fled their war-torn country in the 1990s, winding up in Seattle.
Several other performances are planned (see box below), and it’s a lineup that Janice Randall, who is director of performing arts at Vashon Allied Arts, said she can’t wait to see.
“Any group that gets people up and dancing is always fun,” Randall said. “If you look out at the audience, everyone has a smile on their face.”
Thursday nights, 7 to 9 p.m.
July 7 — The Sedentary Sousa Band
July 21 — LeRoy Bell & His Only Singer Friends
Aug. 11 — Brazilian samba music by the Eduardo Mendoca Quartet, with special guest dancer Claudia Castello, lead choreographer for the Copacabana Samba Show in Los Angeles
Aug. 25 — Shark Biscuit, an Island surf band, will lay music from the 1950s and 60s.
Saturday night, 7 to 9 p.m.
Aug. 13 — DJ MirageSix, also known as Islander Marcus Fellbaum, will play electronic dance and techno music by Deadmau5, Daft Punk, Morgan Page and others.
Monday nights, 6:30 to 9 p.m.
July 11 — The Zulum Band, Bosnian music
July 25 — Juliana & Pava, Russian songs and dances
Aug. 1 — Nadia Tarnawsky and Alchymeia, Celtic East European fusion with a touch of French cabaret
Aug. 8 — Jovino Santos Neto and Ben Gown, Brazilian accordions and more
Aug. 29 — Dromeno, Greek traditional music and dance