Inaugural Poulsbo Blues and Jazz Festival Feb. 23-24

Local married couple Mary Gorman and Joe Hulsey have spent the last 20 years often traveling in search of a purpose.

“We decided everywhere we go we’re going to find music,” Gorman said. “We got really deep into it.”

Last year was a busy one of traveling for the couple as they were gone 10 months, attending 43 music festivals. Four months were spent in the French Quarter of New Orleans where they immersed themselves in the contagious music scene.

Knowing they were going to be home last fall, Hulsey, a Poulsbo Rotary member, pitched the idea of creating a Blues and Jazz Festival in Poulsbo to the organization.

“They said sure, we’ll back you,” Gorman said. “We started in August, kind of just spur in the moment. It has been insane how much support we’ve gotten from the community in terms of volunteering to help or donating money. I have more people than I know what to do with.”

The inaugural festival will take place Feb. 23-24 at various venues around downtown. A total of 13 bands will perform over the two days. The weekend includes a Friday night kickoff at The Slippery Pig, hosted by Rockin’ Ruby’s Records, followed by an evening of live music Saturday. Four venues will be hosting shows featuring 12 bands from 5:45 p.m. to midnight. From midnight to 2 a.m. there will be a musician’s jam at the One Ten Lounge. Other music venues include The Brass Kraken Pub and Western Red Brewing.

The festival sold out in December at 500 tickets. A ticket gives you access to all performers and venues. “You get a wristband and you wander from club to club hearing whatever you want for as long as you want,” Gorman said. “We intend to double our size next year.”

Gorman said four of the acts are from Kitsap, while others come from around the state and as far as California. She is hoping to bring in more artists next year from further away places, such as New Orleans.

This year’s performers include: Lady A, Eugenie Jones, Polly O’Keary and the Rhythm Method, Rafael Tranquilino, Front Street Revue, Stacy Jones Band, Fat Saturn, Dave Carson and the Jazzaholics, WEPA, Joel Astley Band, Big Mama’s Blues Brigade featuring Jacqueline Tabor, The Steph Johnson Trio featuring Rob Thorsen, and Unpants My Heart.

“For us, it’s all about the quality of the music,” Gorman said. “We’re trying to bring in really quality acts that will elevate the experience. We’re trying to keep it tight and have very few moving parts so we don’t have failure. Our goal isn’t for us to make money, it’s to grow the festival and in the future give back to Rotary so they can give back to the community.”

Gorman said early bird tickets for next year’s festival will be on sale shortly after the conclusion of this year’s event. Additionally, the couple will be starting a concert series starting April 18 at the Slippery Pig where soul artist Marcel Smith will perform.

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