Arts and Entertainment

Portage Fill swings at Ober

Portage Fill, an Island tradition since 1973, will play a concert at Ober Park on Sept.4. -
Portage Fill, an Island tradition since 1973, will play a concert at Ober Park on Sept.4.
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Summer Concerts in the Park will end with a blast from the past when the Island’s own big band, Portage Fill, takes the stage at Ober Park from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4.

Comprised of about 20 Islanders ranging from professional musicians to amateurs, the community musical group is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.

Charter member Lou Engels still plays in the band.

Engels remembers how Monty Sewell, who once played with Louie Armstrong, helped found the band back in 1973. Engels said that Sewell owned a music store where Blooms & Things is now located.

“The band has pretty much been the same over all the years,” Engels said, “except we have a bigger group of musicians to choose from now. All the seats are occupied.”

When Engels was asked if he gets any special treatment for being the sole charter member still playing in the band, he said, “Yeah, they mention me every once in while, when the old gray beards get up to play.”

Portage Fill rehearses twice a month in the Williams Heating garage, thanks to the generosity of Dennis Williams, one of the horn players. “We’re the Island’s longest running garage band,” said band member David Hackett.

At the Sept. 4 show, expect vocalists Maggie Laird and Lou Mangione (yes, he’s related to Chuck) to add smooth vocals to the swinging big band sound.

Summer Concerts in the Park are sponsored by Vashon Park District, Vashon Allied Arts and Windermere Real Estate. The concerts are free.

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