Musician creates music inspired by hidden histories

Vashon Allied Arts and the Friends of Mukai have joined forces to bring “Panama Hotel Jazz” by the Steve Griggs Ensemble to the island at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Blue Heron. The event is the first performance in VAA’s Jazz Series.

Steve Griggs and his ensemble will play at the Blue Heron on Saturday.

Vashon Allied Arts and the Friends of Mukai have joined forces to bring “Panama Hotel Jazz” by the Steve Griggs Ensemble to the island at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Blue Heron. The event is the first performance in VAA’s Jazz Series.

Inspired by James Ford’s best-selling novel “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,” jazz musician Steve Griggs wrote a set of music for the historic Panama Hotel in Seattle’s International District

The 103-year-old building became a prominent safe haven for storing personal items belonging to incarcerated Japanese Americans during World War II. To date, some of the items remain unclaimed and can be viewed through a window into the hotel’s basement.

In Ford’s novel, a Seattle jazz musician, Oscar Holden, writes an imaginary song he calls “Alley Cat Strut.” Grigg will perform his composition of this fictional song as part of the multi-media program that combines narration, original compositions, archival photographs and video.

Some of Vashon’s Japanese-American community will join the Steve Griggs Ensemble to share memories of their experiences during this difficult historical time.

Based in Seattle, the Steve Griggs Ensemble includes trumpeter Jay Thomas, saxophonist Steve Griggs, vibraphonist Susan Pascal, guitarist Milo Petersen and bassist Phil Sparks.

The ensemble recorded an album with the music for “The Panama Hotel Jazz,” which subsequently won an ASCAP Chamber Music America award. The project also received a grant from the National Park Service Japanese Confinement Sites Program as a way to preserve the history of Japanese American internment.

A grant from King County 4Culture funded Griggs’ research into what the musician calls Seattle’s hidden histories as well as his work composing music for the project.

Tickets are $18 for VAA members, students and seniors and $22 for general admission. Tickets are available at the Blue Heron and www.vashonalliedarts.org.

 

 


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@vashonbeachcomber.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.vashonbeachcomber.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Arts

x
The Desert Island Bookworm does Dostoevsky

“The Brother’s Karamazov” is an extraordinary literary achievement, replete with philosophical ideas.

x
What’s Happening Oct. 15 – 22

Vashon Repertory Theatre takes to the airwaves, yoga at the senior center, and more.

x
Pet Protectors present ‘Quarantiniest Fur Ball Ever’

The fundraiser will be online throughout Oct. 24, with numerous objects, services and experiences up for bid.

x
Our Town: Clay was in the stars for Jane Neubauer

We hear from ceramic artist Jane Neubauer about how she has found fulfillment in working with clay.

x
What’s Happening Oct. 8 – 15

Band with local tie offers new video, a lecture at VCA is rescheduled, and more.

Meet our farmers: Lotus, in her backyard wonderland

“The ecology of how it all works together fascinates and inspires me.”

For local theater artists, the show must go on

A new company, Vashon Repertory Theatre, will launch with a set of seven short radio plays.

For some local artists, local auction is a 43-year tradition

VCA’s gala fundraising auction is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25.

What’s Happening Sept. 10 – 17

Drive the red carpet at Open Space, Passport2Pain switches gears, Rotary plans a benefit, and more.

A night at the drive-in is for the birds

Two programs, both Vashon bird-centric, will be shown on the big screen on Tuesday.

Original dance works find a place in the sun

Four pieces slated to take the stage at the Vashon Center for Dance have been reworked for video.

At Subway, a family perseveres to live their dream

In this ongoing series, we hear from island restaurateurs about how they are faring in the pandemic.