Journalist David Neiwert will talk about his new book, "Of Orcas and Men: What Killer Whales Can Teach Us."
In "Of Orcas and Men," a marvelously compelling mix of cultural history, environmental reporting, and scientific research, Neiwert explores an extraordinary species and its occasionally fraught relationship with human beings. Beginning with their role in myth and contemporary popular culture, Neiwert shows how killer whales came to capture our imaginations, and brings to life the often catastrophic environmental consequences of that appeal.
David Neiwert is an investigative journalist based in Seattle and a contributing writer for the Southern Poverty Law Center. He is the author of 'And Hell Followed With Her: Crossing the Dark Side of the American Border' (NationBooks, March 2013) -- winner of the General Nonfiction first-place prize in the International Latino Book Awards -- as well as five other previous books.
This event is FREE and open to the public. Orca Books is at 509 4th Ave E in downtown Olympia.Google Plus One Facebook Like
By Kathryn Millhorn
For this year’s all-inclusive silver anniversary of the America’s Classic Jazz Festival at Saint Martin’s Marcus Pavilion, organizers have really gotten into the swing of things…pun intended! From June 25-28 there will be 96 performances from 13 bands on four stages at one location with crowds hailing from 22 states. Whew!
The Greater Olympia Dixieland Jazz Society takes pride in supporting young musicians and vocalists through camps, sponsorships, and performance opportunities. Their annual Jazz Festival helps fund training for such rising stars as clarinetist Claire McKenna who “recently appeared in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and his Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.”
Jazz Society Co-Director Walt Bowen explains that “the purpose of the Greater Olympia Dixieland Jazz Society is to preserve and promote the performance of live jazz. We do this by sponsoring youth scholarships to annual jazz camp. This year we have 13 students. These students are the performers of tomorrow. In addition to jazz camp, we have high school students volunteering from Saint Martin’s, North Thurston High School, Timberline High School, and Aspire Middle School.”
Thursday evening, June 25, is a 7:00 p.m. Kick Off Party in the Saint Martin’s University Marcus Pavilion. Friday includes concerts from 11:00 a.m. until 10:45 p.m. with a free mid-day stop-off at the Olympia Farmer’s Market from 11:00 a.m. until 1:45 p.m.
Saturday the music flows from 9:30 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. on four stages. Bowen is proud to offer “plenty of dance lessons, great bands, and four large dance floors are sure to provide a wonderful time for all. Other festival features include on-site RV parking, shuttle service, parasol parades, a swing set, and After Glow Party.”
He continues, “The main way that we draw attention to jazz music is to sponsor our jazz festivals that bring some great musicians to our area. At this festival we have seated areas for listing but we also have four large dance floors. On those floors we have dancers from three to 93. We encourage families to attend.”
“Music students can shadow and be in contact with some very experienced musicians and see them close-up,” adds Bowen. “Some of our fans are attracted to the music and others to the dancing. Many enjoy both. Other people like to hear the music and look at the dancers and their costumes. Some dancers belong to swing dance clubs and come the festival to dance before a live band.”
Sunday morning cools things off with a free gospel program at Saint Martin’s at 9:30 a.m. featuring Portland favorites Marilyn Keller and the Black Swan Classic Jazz Band. Downtown the Grand Dominion Jazz Band takes over the United Churches of Olympia at 10:00 a.m. After a last, rousing day of music, the Festival winds down at Tugboat Annie’s with the Olympia After Glow Party starting at 5:00 p.m.
Out of towners are invited to contact local hotels and ask for ‘Jazz Rates’ or inquire about limited RV parking on-site at Saint Martin’s. Contact info for these options can be found online here.
Tickets can be purchased for the entire event or specific days or evenings. Students are encouraged to attend and an all-event pass for ages 14-22 with student ID is only $15. Tickets can be purchased at the door and anyone willing to volunteer for a total of 8 hours can earn a free 3-day pass.
Henry Rollins puts it all into perspective: “Live music is the cure for what ails ya.” No matter what’s going on in the world around us, music can be a bridge, balm, and source of unrivalled joy.
For festival information, please contact Charlotte Dickison at 360-943-9123 and for info on RV parking call Pat Herndon at 360-956-7132.
A quick Google Search for “knitting popularity” returns scores of articles confirming the anecdotal evidence this 40-year-old writer collected locally (mainly that I’m knitting, my friends are knitting, so everyone must be knitting). People of all ages, mainly women but also many men, are taking up the traditional hand-crafts of their grandmothers with increasing frequency.
Why? For most, it’s connection to something real and tangible in a world dominated by social media and virtual conversation. Knitting and crocheting provide an opportunity to create something with your own hands that can last for generations.
Additionally, there is a sense of community fostered among those who share a hobby. In particular, fiber arts are tailored to group gatherings where needles click and stories unfurl as quickly as the yarn. Advice on life, as well as dropped stiches is traded and cherished. And, it all fits neatly in a tote bag. Bonus.
Those of us ready to knit up our next awesome cowl, maybe inspired by the wildly popular knitware on the Starz series Outlander, now have a new option for finding the perfect yarn. Michelle Cohen’s new shop, The Black Sheep Yarn Boutique, opens in West Olympia. Becoming a small business owner, running her own shop and selling something she loves is a dream come true for Cohen. A dream that for many years, she couldn’t even put a name to – a dream she came close to never discovering at all.
“I’m from Seattle, but grew up all over the place,” Cohen shares as we settle into the cozy armchairs and couch in Black Sheep’s sitting area. It was in her early 20’s that she reconnected with family in the Pacific Northwest and felt a sense of belonging she hadn’t known before. Returning to Seattle, she met and married her late husband Mitch, a family physician in Elma who passed away suddenly five years ago.
She and Mitch made a home in Olympia where she “loved the rural feel and small town atmosphere” after living for years in bigger cities. The couple had three children and Cohen was “doing the mom thing” full-time when Mitch died. Cohen was daunted by the prospect of heading back into the workforce full-time. But, as is typical for Cohen, as anyone who knows her would attest, she forged ahead, securing a job to support her family. Just three months into her new job, Cohen was diagnosed with breast cancer and faced a long, intense treatment. With her determination, positive outlook, and the support of friends and family, Cohen is now cancer free.
“I’m the kind of person who thinks about life as a series of events with one thing leading to the next,” she explains. While she admits it took time to find her way out of grief after her husband’s death, she also shares, “I really try and look at the blessings in life – to focus on the positives.”
While Cohen had achieved success in non-profit management among other business pursuits, she never felt she was doing “what I was supposed to do.” And, as with many women after leaving professional careers to care for and raise their children, Cohen found herself one day at a crossroads. “I just hit that point in life where you say to yourself, ‘What am I going to do? Isn’t there something more I’m supposed to do?’”
For Cohen, the answer came nine months ago while helping a close friend look at vacant spaces for a new business. Her friend asked, “If you could have a shop, Michelle, what would it be?” She didn’t have an answer ready, but it rattled around in her head for weeks until she happened to visit Gig Harbor’s Rainy Day Yarns.
“I had this revelation that if I owned a yarn shop, this would be it. It was fun, pretty, cozy and it started me thinking,” Cohen shares. As an accomplished knitter, Cohen has spent time in her fair share of yarn shops, yet this time it was different.
“I literally heard myself getting excited. I had a real self-awareness that for the first time, this could be my dream. This could be the right thing for me,” she recalls. “I channeled my inner Russell Wilson,” laughs the Seahawks super-fan, “and said, ‘Why not me?’”
She dug in, did the work with the help of local life coach Logan Reed and her network of supportive friends and family, and this week will open the doors to The Black Sheep Yarn Boutique.
The space is inviting and cozy with walls fittingly painted “Knitting Needles Gray” and includes a project space, perfect for the classes Cohen will offer. A true beginners class will be first, followed by kids classes, a sock class, and holiday decoration classes. “My goal for the shop is for people to feel like they can come here and find what they want – something unique – without breaking the bank,” Cohen explains. Her selections include skeins starting at just $3 and she looks forward to customer suggestions on yarns and products to carry.
I have my eye on a delicious merino wool, perfect for fingerless gloves come fall.
The Black Sheep Yarn Boutique offers area knitters and crocheters more than a source for beautiful yarn. It offers a place for community, a place for learning, and a place for creating something that lasts. Keeping your hands busy with needles and hooks, not your smart phone, is definitely trending in Olympia.
Keep track of Michelle Cohen and The Black Sheep Yarn Boutique via Facebook.
2615 Capital Mall Dr SW #3B (in the Outback Plaza, near Black Bear Diner)
Grand Opening – June 27 and 28 from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Regular business hours:
Tuesday and Wednesday – 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Thursday – 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday – 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed Sunday and Monday
Submitted by Thurston County
Thurston County officials are issuing a countywide burn ban that will take effect at 5 p.m. today, Tuesday, June 23, until further notice. The burn ban covers all of unincorporated Thurston County. Thurston County cities and designated urban growth areas already have a permanent outdoor burn ban in place.
The burn ban decision comes as weather forecasters predict record high temperatures coming later this week along with the possibility of lightning strikes, but little or no precipitation.
“This weather pattern of high temperatures combined with lightening but no rain is expected to last through the Fourth of July weekend. That means the burn ban is a critical part of protecting lives and property. Our local firefighters will have their hands full as it is,” said Resource Stewardship department director Scott Clark, who also serves as the county’s fire marshal.
The countywide ban on outdoor burning applies to all land clearing and yard debris burning. However, residents in the unincorporated county outside of the urban growth areas will still be able to enjoy small recreational fires in fire pits, as well as cooking with outdoor barbeques and stoves. The use of self-contained camp stoves is strongly encouraged as an alternative to recreational fires. All small recreational fires must meet the following criteria:
If you see illegal burning or evidence of a wildfire, call 9-1-1 immediately. The penalty for illegal burning during a countywide burn ban is a fine up to $1,000 or up to 90 days in jail. “Conditions are really dangerous right now, so anyone planning on barbequing or having a campfire needs to follow the rules and keep it under control. If you don’t, you should expect the county to enforce the restrictions. It’s a matter of public safety,” said Clark.
The countywide burn ban does not apply to fireworks, but fire officials are strongly encouraging residents to reduce the risk of fires and enjoy only the professional fireworks displays this year. Some cities within Thurston County have fireworks bans already in place or have specific restrictions on the use of fireworks, so residents who live in or near city limits or urban growth areas should check for any city regulations prior to purchasing or discharging fireworks.
“We’re already in the midst of a statewide drought, and the record high temperatures coming our way can make even the tiniest fireworks spark turn into a raging fire within minutes,” said Chief Steve Brooks, Chief of Lacey Fire Protection District 3 and president of the Thurston County Fire Chiefs’ Association. “It’s best to leave the fireworks to the pros this year.”
Residents who do light their own fireworks this year are reminded that the sale of fireworks in unincorporated Thurston County is legal only at inspected and approved stands from noon on June 28 through 9 p.m. on July 4. Daily sales before July 4 are from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Discharging fireworks is legal only between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. on July 3 and 4. The sale and discharge of fireworks is not allowed in the cities of Olympia or Lacey.
To learn more about fireworks safety and injury prevention, go to the Washington State Patrol’s web page on fireworks safety at www.wsp.wa.gov/fire/fireworks.htm. The Washington State Patrol website also has a list of public fireworks displays in Thurston County and throughout the state.
Submitted by Rotary Club of South Puget Sound-Olympia
Eight graduating seniors from South Puget Sound high schools recently were awarded college scholarships from the Rotary Club of South Puget Sound-Olympia.
The awards were part of $13,000 in scholarships Rotary members gave to students from Oakville, Rainier, Tenino, Rochester and the New Market Skills Center. Scholarship funds will help pay for tuition and books leading to a license, certification, associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
“The Rotary Club of South Puget Sound-Olympia has a strong educational focus. In addition to these eight scholarships, our club gave $5,000 to the South Puget Sound Community College Foundation to help Thurston County GRAVITY Program students pay fees for GED testing,” stated Kim Metz, SPS Rotary Scholarship Committee Chair.
The scholarships don’t require a perfect GPA. Several factors were considered, including the desire to be successful. “A lot of these kids maybe didn’t get off to the best start in high school, but the last couple of years they’ve really stepped up,” said Metz.
For some, the award means they can focus on education, rather than paying the bills. For others, it’s the confidence they need to conquer college. “Every one of them has a plan, and I think that’s something worth rewarding and something worth encouraging, and that’s what we try and do,” said Metz.
2015 Scholarship winners are: Oakville – Brenda Borro, $2,000, Kayley Sharp, $1,000;
Rainier – Cheyenne Bell, $2,000, Trevor Shaw, $1,000; Tenino – Natalie Hall, $2,000;
Rochester – Kaylin Fosnacht, $2,000, Emily Masseth, $1,000;
New Market Skills Center – Thomas Tinney, $2,000.
The Rotary Club of South Puget Sound-Olympia’s 50+ members are dedicated to doing good in the world. There are more than 32,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries. We gather at weekly meetings and other functions to fulfill our commitment to the Rotarian ideals of friendship, fellowship, and service to others.
Submitted by Top Rung Brewing Company
On June 20, Top Rung Brewing was awarded a Gold medal for our My Dog Scout Stout in the American Stout category of the Washington Beer Awards. My Dog Scout Stout is one of the breweries three original brews that the brewery opened with in April of 2014. Top Rung Brewing is very honored and humbled to receive this award.
This is the first medal that Top Rung has received and the first year to participate in the competition. The My Dog Scout Stout is named after head brewer Jason Stoltz black lab, Scout. This beer was designed and developed by Top Rung co-founders Jason Stoltz and Casey Sobol.
Top Rung Brewing is a 10 barrel production brewery with tasting room at the brewery. Top Rung Brewing is a destination for craft beer drinkers to enjoy their beverage and view a production brewery facility. Our tasting room is family friendly and while we will only offer snacks, we partner with local food vendors and food trucks as well as allow patrons to bring in their own food of their choice or have it delivered. Top Rung Brewing: bringing quality craft beer to Lacey.
Dream Team Park in Lacey played host to a celebrity softball game on Saturday, June 20. Paul Richardson, wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks, invited other professional football players to join him in the 2nd Annual Celebrity Softball Game. Participants enjoyed getting their Seahawks gear signed by the players, checking out the Beast bus, and enjoy the sunshine on the field.
Submitted by Keev Farm
Keev Farm in the Boston Harbor Area of Olympia has announced that it will be offering two full scholarships to their Summer Pony Day Camp this July and August. The 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5-day camps run from July 27 thru July 31 and August 10 thru August 14. No previous horse experience is necessary.
The Keev Farm Pony Camp is an opportunity to involve elementary students in pony and horse related activities. Campers will participate in activities like craft painting, obstacle courses, collecting chicken eggs, filling horse water buckets, learning about the parts of a pony, types of tack, and different equine sports. Campers will also participate in a grooming clinic, riding lessons, and much more. The ideal range for participating in the camp is elementary students K-5th grade. Each scholarship covers the full tuition for the camp, a value of $275.
Tracie and Tim O’Brien are the Founders of Keev Farm, an environmentally responsible horse farm. The Irish word “Keev” can be used to refer to a beautiful, kind, and gentle moment, often the type of pony-child relationships we see here on our farm. Tracie O’Brien, an accomplished instructor, has a longtime passion for introducing children to riding, including her three daughters, Aidan (9), Maiti (7) and Rory (4).
O’Brien said, “My husband and I have seen first-hand the joy and developmental benefits riding had has brought to our girls and we realized we can provide that same exciting, quality experience to children throughout the greater Olympia area. This was the impetus for Keev Farm,” shares O’Brien. “We think it’s important that all children should have the opportunity to enjoy the fitness aspects of riding as well as experience the partnership developed with the horse or pony while riding,” she added.
For inquiries regarding scholarship applications you can email Tracie@KeevFarm.com or call 360-584-9988.
Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton
Meet Casey. He’s a handsome young boy and about 2 years old. Casey is an energetic guy who loves to run and play. He enjoys his daily walks and his time in the play yards. Casey responds well to basic obedience commands and is very attentive.
He is treat motivated so he should be very easy to train if you have specific training in mind. When you’re not out walking with Casey, he will be relaxing quietly at your feet. Casey is a very affectionate boy and will want to be with you whenever he can.
We have lots of great dogs and always need volunteers to help them. Contact Adopt-A-Pet dog shelter on Jensen Road in Shelton at www.adoptapet-wa.org or contact us at email@example.com or (360) 432-3091.
Is it true, as some articles have claimed, that subsidized housing in downtown Olympia is crowding out "market rate" housing? To find out, I looked at data from the Washington State Department of Commerce and the City of Olympia about one kind of subsidized housing -- apartment buildings created for certain low income populations. I found that it is unequally concentrated in the urban areas of the county. By far most is in the urban growth area of the City of Olympia. Downtown and west Olympia were the major concentrations. By clicking on this link: http://arcg.is/1dWmehm, you will see the results of the research with graphics and additional information.Google Plus One Facebook Like
By Chelsea Royer
Why road trip to Aberdeen? Often when out of town, the people I speak to aren’t sure where Aberdeen is. More often, people know it as the town they pass through on their way to the Pacific Ocean. In the effort to make it through traffic and reach their destination, most travelers simply bypass the town without becoming aware of what Aberdeen has to offer.
Aberdeen has been working on that. After severe economy strikes, Aberdeen is seeking to rebuild and restore the fascinating aspects of their community. One way of doing that, is by celebrating and promoting the rich history Aberdeen is founded on. Long before hatching Nirvana, Aberdeen was an incredibly wealthy and vibrant community, full of logging, brothels, cigar stores, and luxury shopping centers. (If you want to tour Kurt Cobain’s memorable stopping points in town, click here.) Remembering what it was, Aberdeen realizes what it could be and is today.
Last year, the City of Aberdeen celebrated its first annual Founders’ Day. A community member dressed up as Sam Benn, representing an original founder of the city to proudly host the events. This historical figure wore the original hipster-style beard, surrounded by a community of loggers. That’s right – Aberdeen wore it first! The Sam Benn family is still alive today under the Brasfield name. These descendants attended the ceremonies of Founders’ Day last year and will be returning this year, bringing with them a family chili recipe that has been passed down for generations.
The City of Aberdeen has endured through many difficulties – the most recent of which include severe flooding and mudslides. Yet the community continues to band together more cohesively with each trial, determined to show off the pride they have for their town and each other. A parade seemed the most logical way to do this, and surrounding the big event, is a murder mystery themed dinner and interactive theatre (inspired by local history), a street dance and beer garden, as well as vendors and performances by local community groups.
Jamie Judkins, one of the original planning members, explains, “Aberdeen isn’t what people say it is. We have a lot of great history to share as well as great people and it needs to be shown to everyone.” When brainstorming, Jamie realized Aberdeen was incredibly low on the list for local events. With Westport and Ocean Shores continually hosting parades and festivals, she recognized the need for Aberdeen to host. “Hosting events is a way of bringing back pride. So far it’s working and the city supports us. I like helping Aberdeen learn to become what it once was.” The two-day celebration of community and history was full of fun last year, but this year, the planners are taking it up another notch.
The event will be incredibly family friendly with a climbing wall, a dunk tank, motorbike games, and street vendors. Karen Rowe, yet another planner in this event, is hoping to pack the town. “We have such a historical presence and the events are a great way for people to support local businesses and see unique history. We would love for people to come and experience our town and how great it is, how nice people are, and how we pull together. We have a history that is fun, crazy, sometimes sadistic yet somehow positive,” Karen laughs. “We have many awesome and famous people who come from Aberdeen, as can be seen from the stars placed in our downtown sidewalks.”
If you are looking for something to do this weekend, why not visit Aberdeen? Have a date night and solve the historically inspired murder mystery over dinner and cocktails. Come watch the parade, enjoy local performances and vendors before dancing the night away with local musicians and a craft beer. You may discover a hidden gem in downtown worth returning to visit again.
June 26 – Founders’ Day Dinner and Mystery Theatre at 6:30 p.m.
111 E 3rd St in Aberdeen
Cost is $30 per person
Parade begins at 11:00 a.m. on Market St.
Vendors and performances start at 12:00 p.m.
Street dance and beer garden 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
By Kathryn Millhorn
The National Cancer Institute estimates that “in 2015, an estimated 1,658,370 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States” and “approximately 39.6 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes.”
Such sobering statistics are scary, but a cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. Research and scientific breakthroughs are ensuring that “the number of people living beyond a cancer diagnosis reached nearly 14.5 million in 2014 and is expected to rise to almost 19 million by 2024.”
The annual Relay for Life is a simple, fun way anyone can support both survivors and continuing study. Begun by a Tacoma surgeon in 1985, it is a fundraising 24-hour walk for people of all ages. The American Cancer Society describes it as “a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease.”
The event is nationwide but always contains three key elements: the Survivors Lap, the Luminaria Ceremony, and the Fight Back Ceremony. Shannon Zengel, Team Ambassador for the Relay for Life Thurston County, explains, “We can expect 350 cancer Survivors on the track to participate in the opening and Survivor Lap. Participants line the track and cheer the Survivors around the track. Our Survivors wear special purple shirts, and it is a moving sight to see a sea of purple shirts making their way around the track.”
Beginning at 6:00 p.m. Friday June 26 and continuing until 6:00 p.m. Saturday June 27, the Relay for Life Thurston County will take place on the Timberline High School track in Lacey.
Zengel and her team expect nearly 2,000 people to walk during the 24-hour event with a goal to make $350,000 for the American Cancer Society and “educate the community about the programs and services offered by the American Cancer Society to support cancer patients and their families.”
Active teams include Team Cameron Forever who started participating with the Relay in 2012 and have raised more than $75000 to date, and Team Tough Guy starring 6-year-old cancer survivor Peyton and his 4-year-old brother Devin.
Team Cameron Forever honors the life and legacy of Cameron Philamalee, a young Timberline High School grad who passed away only 2 weeks after his diagnosis. According to his mother Tami, “Our team consists this year of 27 members of family and friends. All of us have been touched by cancer in some way and we want to all see an end to cancer soon.” This year alone, their group has raised almost $50,000 through flower, jewelry, and storage unit sales (think Storage Wars) as well as an annual dinner and auction.
Tami is proud to walk both in memory of her son and to spread the word about testicular cancer. As she explains, “Did you know that 50% of the men who get testicular cancer are between the ages of 15 to 35? I didn’t know this either until after Cameron passed away. It is for this reason why we Relay. It is the last thing that we can do for Cameron while trying to put an end to cancer once and for all and to try to cure or save another young man from this terrible disease.”
Team Tough Guy is another family team, including the namesake Tough Guy Peyton Sheaffer. At only 6, he’s a cancer survivor who walks to help others continue the fight. Peyton was diagnosed with rhabdomyocarcoma, a soft tissue cancer, at the age of 2.
Peyton’s mom Brandy shares that “although he was very young, he took it like a champ. With every treatment he claimed the name Tough Guy. Kids are so resilient and have so much to teach us about life. When Peyton was 3, we decided we were ready to create a Relay for Life team and raise money so that we can put an end to cancer forever. We relay for hope – hope that one day no family or person, especially a young child, ever has to endure the pain that cancer causes. We are excited to participate in our third Relay event and celebrate Peyton being 3 1/2 years cancer free!”
Team Tough Guy has grown over the past years to now include Peyton’s little brother Devin, now 4. They walk to teach, inspire, and generally charm the socks off everyone they meet.
As of 2014, the Relay for Life of Thurston County crossed the $5,000,000 donation mark. Those donations profoundly change lives across our region.
Registration is available online at www.relayforlifeofthurston.org. To date, more than $200,000 has already been raised for this month’s event. Cancer survivors wanting to participate should pre-register online as well to expedite check-in at the Survivor Hospitality Tent. Sign up or simply donate to help your family, neighbors, and community beat cancer for good.
Questions can be directed to Corri Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 253-207-5165.
By Doris Faltys
“Music is food,” says local jazz singer LaVon Hardison. “Even if I was not singing on a professional level, I would still be singing because I need to. It is not an option. I have sung all my life, starting out at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Boston.”
“My family liked to sing. There was always music,” continues Hardison. “My mom would take me out of school to go see the symphony or musicals when they came through town. She felt it was really important to expose me to the music culture. I got a chance to see pianist Eubie Blake. I got to see Nell Carter in ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’.'”
Hardison explains that this exposure to music in the larger world “kept me interested in learning, and kept me in school. I had a wonderful music teacher there who would say, ‘Okay, you can go to typing class and not do anything, or you can come down here and hang out with me.’ So I would hang out with the music teacher.”
“I went to Boston University and majored in opera for a year. It was great classical training and really wonderful for me. The attitude there…” Hardison pauses to think. “I found it really challenging, this hierarchy of music, with Wagner on top, folk and novelty songs somewhere below. That just didn’t sit well with me.” And, she adds smiling, “I did not have the drive, or the personality. I am too silly!”
“I was very fortunate that I had this classical background. Then, and this happens to many singers if they have had classical background, they have to relearn how to sing other music. The very precise diction, head voice, chest voice, you are not going to sing.” Here Hardison goes into an operatic voice and sings, ‘I’ve Got Rhythm.’ We both laugh.
Hardison shares with me how she arrived in the Pacific Northwest. “I met my husband, Scott Stevens, an Olympia native, in Boston. We courted for a little while. Then he road his bike back here. I came out here. I was in love and it was summer. I never thought it would rain, ever. I knew, but I thought drizzles – not like six months.”
“I am really grateful for being here. Olympia is a very generous place and there is so much creativity here,” says Hardison. “I mean really, there are so many fine musicians, a lot of artists, amazing talent here. I feel truly fortunate to have worked with them.”
“I have been working mostly full time on my music since then. I did some acting, video and voice work for a while for the Washington State Department for Information Services when they were still located here in town. If you go to jury duty, you have to watch an informational video. I am the judge in the video,” Hardison laughs. “I want to say one of my proudest things is that Raymond Burr used to be the video judge. I replaced him. He really was!”
“Once in awhile someone will ask me if I’m the ‘ergonomics lady’ because I did a lot of information videos. It’s kind of funny,” Hardison recalls.
Jazz performance and live theater keep Hardison very busy. “I am currently appearing in Harlequin Productions’ Sixties Chicks Too, musical review. I am part of a four woman group and I am singing ‘Heat Wave,’ ‘No Where to Hide,’ and ‘You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.’ It’s funny when you listen to most of the lyrics in these songs. It’s like serious dysfunction. The show has wonderful women in it – great singers.”
Vince Brown shares the story of how he met Hardison. “I had a radio show on KAOS Community Radio and my radio show was immediately before Scott Stevens’ show. Scott knew that I played music. One day Scott came in and said, ‘You know, my wife sings jazz. Do you think you might be interested in getting together?’ Of course I said yes. LaVon and I talked on the telephone and made a date to get together, and she came over. I had never met her before and we sat down. I said, ‘What do you want to sing?’ She said, ‘How about ‘Body And Soul’?’ I get the first chord and LaVon started to sing. I just stopped in my tracks and looked at her. ‘Your husband lied to me. He said you can sing. I say what you do is much more than sing. It is magic. It’s amazing.’ That was the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship.”
Brown continues, “While she is a musician’s musician, somewhat unusual in a vocalist, she is extremely skilled technically. She is also such an amazing performer and brings so much of herself, and well, whoever she happens to be channeling at the moment, to every performance that she does. It is really that combination of musicianship and capacity to tell you a story through the song that really makes her strong.”
“I love working in duos the most because you can be so conversational,” Brown says. “With two people you can move and change, and things can really happen, especially with LaVon, which is why I like playing with her. She is so responsive and after all these years, it is so easy. It is really fun. I love improvisation. I don’t like playing anything in the same way twice. Sometimes with LaVon, it is more theater than jazz, but it is always improvisational.”
Neither Hardison nor Brown remembers where the name Red & Ruby came from. “It just happened,” says Hardison. “Red was a nickname Vince had from a band he was part of called Red Brown and the Tune Strings. We have been working together off and on for about 16 years, the last six or so as Red & Ruby. We have a lot of fun together. I learn so much from the musicians I work with. I improve through the aid of others.”
“It is an illusion that artists make it on their own. It takes getting your community in place. Whatever good things I have had happen in life, musically, artistically, creatively, have been through the aid, and care, and love, and support of other people,” explains Hardison. “It is especially wonderful that I have a great partner who is very supportive.”
“Don’t underestimate the power of music,” Hardison adds. “It can change hearts. It loosens up forgotten memories and emotions. That is one of the things that motivates me – that’s why I like to perform. Music has a way that touches people’s heart that words just can’t. Come to a show!”
Hardison and Brown perform around the Northwest regularly individual, as a duo, and with other musicians. Here are some upcoming places that you can see LaVon Hardison, Red & Ruby and Vince Brown perform.
Harlequin Productions’ Sixties Chicks Too runs through July 19. LaVon Hardison will be the featured vocalist at Pacific Lutheran University’s Jazz Under The Stars on July 9.
See them live as Red & Ruby at the Olympia Farmers Market on July 31 from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
More information is available about LaVon Harsidon’s upcoming performances here. To learn more about Vince Brown’s upcoming performances, click here. View performance schedules for Red & Ruby here. Vince Brown is also a member of The Greta Jane Quartet.
Vince Brown plays every Wednesday night from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at Swing Wine Bar in Olympia.
Note: Samples of their music can be heard on each of their respective web sites.
The start of summer is marked by many things, one of which for many families across Thurston County is graduation. But while one wave of students is busy enjoying their last summer before college, another is getting ready to embark on what will be their final year of high school.
For incoming high school seniors and their parents, senior year is a time of reflection, and local photographer Shanna Paxton has made it part of her business to help students and their families remember the experience.
Senior photos are a great way to capture a teen’s last year of high school, and there’s no better time than summer to start thinking about and scheduling senior photo shoots. Here are some tips from Paxton for getting the most out of your photos.
Before you even schedule your teen’s senior photo shoot, Paxton suggests brainstorming ideas with your teen about what type of photos they want to have. Paxton says looking on Pinterest and creating a board is a great way to put ideas together and — better yet — share your teen’s vision with your photographer.
Of course, if you soon-to-be senior isn’t sure how they want to pose for their photos, Paxton can help with that, too. Paxton always schedules a 20- to 40-minute phone consultation with her clients in advance of a shoot. This way she has time to get to know them and better understand the vision they have for their photos. Paxton will ask questions like “What are you passionate about?” and “How do you want to make your photos special?” to help get the creative process going.
Paxton has photographed seniors reading books under a tree, playing with bubbles at the Heritage Park Fountain, posing in his or her new car, and much more. If your teen is having trouble developing a photo concept, Paxton can help.
Consider Your Budget
Knowing your budget can also play a role in scheduling photos. “We know parents are already spending so much money on their senior, which is why it’s good to get the photos done early,” says Paxton.
In addition to the great outdoor scenes and lighting that exist in the summer and fall months, Paxton says getting pictures done early gives parents more time to budget. Like Paxton, many photographers will offer a budget plan that allows parents to pay for the photos over three months rather than all at once.
The cost of photos will vary by session time and the types of photos that you want, but Paxton says the average parent will spend anywhere between $300 to $700 for senior photos, while people who are passionate about photography may spend as much as $1,500. “If they spend this much, we can spread the payments out over six months,” says Paxton. Another good reason to schedule photos early.
Relax and Have Fun
On the day of the senior photo shoot, Paxton says the most important thing is for your teen to relax and have fun. Paxton does her best to help teens prepare for their photo shoot during their initial consultation, but there are other ways teens can calm their nerves if they’re feeling a bit uncomfortable.
For especially nervous or shy teens, Paxton likes to meet in person for the consultation. “A face-to-face consultation helps them get comfortable with the photographer,” explains Paxton. During the consultation, whether it’s in person or by phone, Paxton will ask several questions so she can better understand her client’s comfort level and what they would like to get out of their photos. Paxton says simple things like lighting, a different pose, or a touch of makeup can make all the difference. And if a teen doesn’t like the idea of having their photo taken because they’re self conscious about braces or acne, Paxton says not to worry — these kind of things can easily be edited out.
The day before the photo session, Paxton also recommends loading up the car with any outfits or props that will be used during the photo shoot. “Having everything ready to go the day before is so important,” says Paxton.
Print Versus Digital
After the photo session, Paxton says photos will arrive within two to three weeks after the final payment has been received. Paxton says if your photographer is charging for digital files, chances are he or she is not as experienced as you may think. Through Shanna Paxton Photography, digital files are always included at no additional charge with any purchased package. However, if you want to purchase print copies, which Paxton recommends, these will cost an additional fee.
Senior year is a special time. It’s a nod to the past and the future, and it should be remembered.
If you would like to schedule a senior photo session with Shanna Paxton Photography, you can contact Paxton electronically, or visit Shanna Paxton Photography online to learn more about senior photos and other photography services.