Arts Briefs | July 11 edition

Enjoy virtuosic pianists and folk, indie and country rockers.


The third annual PianoFête — a four-concert festival of piano virtuosity — began on July 10 and will continue at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, July 11-13, at Vashon Center for the Arts.

For the now-beloved event, Fête curator and award-winning pianist Vyacheslav Gryaznov selects acclaimed musicians to join him for a residency on Vashon Island.

PianoFête boasts two Steinway Concert Grands on stage. Each evening’s performance showcases a different soloist, who is then joined by one or more of their colleagues to close the program by playing four-hand piano and piano duos. Featured pianists this year will be Gryaznov, Kevin Kenner, Konstantin Soukhovetski, and Rexa Han. The festival’s finale on Saturday, July 13, will feature all four pianists on both pianos accompanied by the Vashon Maury Chamber Orchestra.

Buy tickets and find out more at

Poetry in the woods

Vashon Poet Laureate Margaret Rancone will host a forest reading at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, July 11, in Island Center Forest. Meet at the entrance at the end of 188th St SW. Poets should bring a slip of paper with a line of poetry written on it to toss in the hat — slips will be drawn for poets to use as writing prompts.

Saint Ophelia

Saint Ophelia will perform on the Sugar Shack backyard stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 12, in what has become an annual event.

The five-piece folk/rock ensemble has been a Vashon favorite for years, and have released two albums produced by islander Martin Feveyear. Their original music moves fluidly from folk rock to psychedelia, country to jazz. The band is fronted by vocalist/guitarist Rebekah Kuzma, singer songwriter Joe Panzetta, and pedal steel magician Dan Tyack. Wesley Peterson, on drums, and Chuck Keller, on bass, make up the band’s killer rhythm section.

The show has a cover charge of $10, and is for ages 21 and older.

Elevator Operator

Elevator Operator, a popular indie rock band from Olympia, Washington, will play a show at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 18, at Open Space for Arts & Community.

The band, originally founded in 2018 by songwriters Noah Bears R. and Ivy Jordanne, was first called Waking Bear, but in 2024, changed its name to Elevator Operator. It is still the same band, with all the same players, but with a name that better fits the intention of their music: to inspire and uplift.

Find out more and get tickets at

Iris DeMent

Iris DeMent, an acclaimed singer and songwriter who country music legend Merle Haggard called “the best singer I’ve ever heard” and whose inimitable voice was described by her duet partner, John Prine, as “like you’ve heard, but not really,” will perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 18, at Vashon Center for the Arts.

Her debut record in 1992, “Infamous Angel” (1992), was named one of the “greatest country albums of all time” by Rolling Stone Magazine, and the two albums that followed, “My Life” and “The Way I Should,” were nominated for Grammy Awards. From there, DeMent released three records on her label. The most recent of these, “The Trackless Woods,” (2015), was hailed as “a quietly powerful triumph” by The Guardian. DeMent’s songs have also been featured in films and television shows such as “True Grit” and “The Leftovers,” and recorded by numerous artists. She received the Americana Music Trailblazer Award in 2017.

“Iris DeMent makes music that celebrates humanity’s efforts toward salvation while acknowledging that most of our time on earth is spent reconciling with the fact that we don’t feel so redeemed,” said a review of her work on National Public Radio. “Grounded in hymns, early country songs, gospel, and folk, DeMent’s work is treasured by those who know it for its insight and unabashed beauty.”

Her show at VCA is currently sold out, join the waitlist at

The Pharmacy returns

The fabled Vashon band, The Pharmacy, formed in 2002 by Vashon High School students Scott Yoder and Brendham Bowers, will reunite for an epic show at 7 p.m. Friday, July 19, at the Vashon Eagles Club. Also taking the stage will be three other Vashon-bred bands: Gloomgazer, fish narc, and Skyer Ford & The Legions of Peace.

The night is a must for those who have followed Vashon music evolution since the 2000s, as well as devotees of dance-punk, psych-rock, and metal music. Tickets are $20; buy them at The show is all ages until 9 p.m.

Festival music

Vashon Strawberry Festival’s main stage for music and entertainment will return this year to Ober Park, with a lineup of more than a dozen local, regional and national acts.

Following festival tradition, the island band Loose Change will kick off the music lineup at 3 p.m. Friday, July 19. Shows continuing that afternoon and evening include The Pazific; Wild Rumors; and Jon Langford — a high octane alternative country act with punk overtones, straight out of Chicago.

On Saturday, July 20, entertainment starting at 12:15 p.m. will include 123 Andres; Taiko Drumming; Tacoma’s Kubuki Academy; Sinner and the Saints; Steve and Blues; The Djeliyah Band; with Bowie/Rex and His Boogie Army closing down the night.

On Sunday, Reptile Man, a hands-on zoological presentation, will take the stage at 10:45 a.m., following by Glitterfox, a Portland, Oregon band bringing queer rock anthems at 12:30 p.m., and Vashon’s music stalwarts Poultry in Motion/The Coop, at 2:30 p.m.

Find out more going on at the festival at

Dine, drink, dance and donate

Vashon Youth & Family Services (VYFS) has booked Billy Joe and the Dusty 45s to perform at its summer fundraiser, scheduled for 5-9 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at Dig Deep Gardens.

Iyad’s Syrian Grill will be at the event to serve up its signature dishes, and local businesses have donated specialty silent auction items. Beer and wine will be available for purchase at the Octopus Bar.

The Dusty 45s have been playing rock, rhythm and blues, honkytonk, and jazz together since 1997. They have shared the stage with Brandi Carlile, Lyle Lovett, John Prine, and Lucinda Williams, to name a few. Attendees are urged to wear their dancing shoes to enjoy the band’s high-octane, brassy Americana repertoire.

Advance tickets, available at, are $65, or $75 at the door. A VIP package, for $150, includes a drink ticket and VYFS swag.

Funds raised at the event will support youth programs including Vashon Kids child care, youth counseling and the VYFS medical voucher program.

The Pharmacy will play a reunion show on July 19 at the Vashon Eagles Club. (Courtesy photo.)

The Pharmacy will play a reunion show on July 19 at the Vashon Eagles Club. (Courtesy photo.)

Iris DeMent will appear in concert on July 18 at Vashon Center for the Arts. (Courtesy photo.)

Iris DeMent will appear in concert on July 18 at Vashon Center for the Arts. (Courtesy photo.)

Glitterfox, from Portland, is in the lineup of Strawberry Festival mainstage performers. (Courtesy photo.)

Glitterfox, from Portland, is in the lineup of Strawberry Festival mainstage performers. (Courtesy photo.)