Arts and Entertainment

Vashon concert series to go around the world in 4 shows

Pangéo, a group drawn together by their love of Greek and Balkan folk music, includes, from left to right, Kane Mathis, Christos Bovetas, Ruth Hunter and Will Dowd. - Courtesy photo
Pangéo, a group drawn together by their love of Greek and Balkan folk music, includes, from left to right, Kane Mathis, Christos Bovetas, Ruth Hunter and Will Dowd.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Islanders will have a chance to kick up their heels at four world music concerts presented this summer by Vashon Park District and Vashon Folkdancers.

The unusual outdoor concert series will not only provide an eclectic lineup of world music groups but also engage concertgoers in lively, participatory folk dances from various cultures.

Vashon Park District program coordinator Susan McCabe is planning to attend each of the concerts.

“We’ve been presenting this series for at least the past four summers,” said McCabe. “It’s a very special thing because Martin Koenig and the Vashon Folkdancers bring such top-notch musicians from such a wide variety of cultures to our little village. These events are not only fun, but they are also very professionally done.”

Everyone is invited to enjoy these family-friendly evenings — dancers and listeners alike, McCabe said. Folk dancing instruction will be provided prior to each concert, she added, and no partners or experience are required to participate.

“The instruction is great, and the dance steps are very simple. Anyone can do it. You just pick up a few pointers, and you’re ready to trip the light fantastic.”

The first concert of the series will feature the music of Pangéo, one of the most respected Greek ensembles in the United States. The concert will start at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 23, at the Village Green.

Pangéo is a four-member musical group based in Seattle and drawn together by a passion for Greek and Balkan folk music.

With a taste for old-style dance music, the band is equally at home playing Greek ballads, faster tunes from the Bulgarian, Yugoslavian and Albanian border areas and Roma dances from the Gypsy quarters in Macedonia.

The band’s instrumentation includes clarinet, accordion, guitar, percussion, voices and bouzouki — offering a sound that McCabe says “will transport listeners to another world.”

Bandleader Christos Govetas was born in the village of Proti in Greek Macedonia. A well-known singer and an accomplished musician, he immigrated to Boston in 1978 and joined the Greek Rebetiko band Taximi as a bouzouki player and vocalist. He has performed extensively in the United States, Canada and Greece and is the 1999 recipient of the Washington State Arts Fellowship Award honoring his cultural contribution to the Greek-American community.

Govetas will be joined by Ruth Hunter, who began singing and playing Balkansmusic in the early 1980s. A veteran of such San Francisco Bay area groups as Medna Usta, The Balkan Noyz Boys, Bay Area Balkan Ensemble and The Balkan Appliances, she now lives in Seattle and, in addition to her work with Pangéo, performs traditional Greek music from Asia Minor with Sultna and European and Balkan music with Cerise.

Another band member, Kane Mathis, is a master of Turkish classical music. He is a skilled player of oud, a pear-shaped, stringed instrument commonly used in Middle Eastern music, as well as the kora, a stringed African instrument.

Since moving to Seattle in 1988, percussionist Will Dowd has played with artists and groups as varied as Amy Denio, Tone Dogs, The Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet, Laura Love, Orville Johnson, The Mazeltones and Jessica Lurie. He has toured in Europe and Africa and has performed on numerous recording projects and film scores.

Green Man Review has called Pangéo’s work “some of the finest Greek music that you’ll ever have the pleasure to hear, bar none.”

Future concerts in the series will include Bosnian Blues on Monday, June 30, at the Village Green; the nine-member salsa band Son Café Cambalache on Aug. 11 at Ober Park; and Mary Sherhart & Balkan Cabaret on Monday, Aug. 18 at Corbin Beach.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets for seating.

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