KINGSTON — Along with the creative and artistic energy filling the Old Kingston Hotel, another type of lively spirit is evolving in the new art center.
The Friday Night Music Jam, which moved from Suquamish to Kingston in July, has continued its tradition of inviting all types of musicians to play their instruments every Friday night at the Community Art Works Center.
The CAW isn’t just about a gallery and art space though — its also about tunes.
The CAWfee House, which overlooks the ferry, was bustling with java drinkers and friends visiting after a week on the job. The sweet smells of Judith Weinstock’s culinary delights wafted from the kitchen as she swiftly moved about to prepare homemade pumpkin pie with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
While Judith’s husband, David, who owns The Goldsmith Shop on the second floor, and Rebecca Bilbao, a resident artist and gallery manager, encouraged folks to see the second floor gallery, Bilbao insisted that Fridays are all about the music.
Even her kids are into the atmosphere and, when she checked out the upstairs bathroom, Bilbao found it filled with teenagers strumming away on their electric guitars.
Downstairs, musicians started to gather in a circle, and the java drinkers drifted over to watch the interaction between musicians.
The variety of instruments on this particular Friday night ranged from a penny whistle, two violins, two harmonicas, three banjos and several guitars to a Cajun-French accordion, played by Anya Funk, whose deep vocals and French lyrics accompanied her performance. The songs also covered a lot of culture, with Funk’s tunes to James Taylor to a Scottish acappela with an occasional banjo strum.
At one point, a Celtic-like harmony became a strong theme in the songs and someone from the audience jumped up and started doing a jig. But everyone’s feet were tapping the whole time.
Trischimmel, a guitarist who played at the Cantina and joins this group as often as she can, said while the Cantina was very dear to her, this place has a different energy of its own.
“You can feel the sense of love between David and Judith,” she explained, noting the evening’s energetic environment created by their hosts.
Violinist Tania Opland, who was part of the original group in Suquamish, said she was thrilled that the tradition has continued.
“It’s a sign how strong the music community is here,” said the world-traveled musician, who performs with her husband Mike Freeman. “It’s just great it’s managed to keep going and manage to survive.”
Emily Groff, who sang the Scottish tune, and her significant other, Bruce Haedt, have a special connection with the group. They met at the Cantina and play together with their banjos and Groff’s back-up vocals.
“It’s an infusion of new blood, which I think is good for a regular music group. It’s good to have new talent,” Groff explained, adding she is happy “the gem” of the Cantina was able to continue.
The group invites musicians of all types, including beginners like Nils Rain. While the Clawhammer Banjo player claimed he’s a “total beginner,” Rain said he was happy to jam with the group as it lets him keep his own tempo, while he learns to play with others.
Audience members, including Scott and Meredith Green of Poulsbo, were on their first visit to CAW Friday sessions and were impressed by the group.
“It’s very nice,” Meredith said as Scott pondered the possibility of joining the jams.
“I’ve been looking for an acoustic group and I can play with them,” he said.
As the audience members drifted in and out and musicians came and went, the group played strong late into the evening, breaking up around 11 p.m. or so, once the audience had dwindled and the circle had its fill — until next Friday.