Photo Challenge..Prolific Singers and Musicians

Every year on the day after Christmas, the University Unitarian Church in Seattle puts on a full-length Handel’s Messiah Sing-along/Play-along.  They do the full Messiah, all the arias, all the choruses, and all the recitatives; not a note is left out.  Everyone sings everything that is within his or her vocal range-no soloists.  You may even hear some of the musicians singing along.  They pack the place to the rafters with singers and musicians.  Performers spend three hours at it (two intermissions), and are exhausted at the end.  There are very few experiences that are as exhilarating as playing or singing the complete Messiah.  Here are some pictures from last year, taken from my place in the Violin I section.

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Faces in a Crowd…of Accordions!

Notice all the faces in this group of accordion players getting ready for the big Accordion Parade down the main street of Leavenworth, Washington.  All ages, both sexes, no two alike.

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I’ll bet you could not tell that the man at the right with his back to you and the LIAC t-shirt is blind.  Yes, a blind accordionist, guided by the friend on his left.  Music makes every face a happy one!

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Final Photo Challenge of 2017-Favorites-Travels with/to Friends

2017 was highlighted by travels, to various destinations to meet with friends, and to get re-acqainted with old (in both senses of the word) friends.  Here are my favorite highlights.

In February, Hubby and I traveled to Phoenix for a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar.  This was our third trip to Arizona with the Hillsdale folks, and was just a reinforcement of why we continue to support Hillsdale, one of the last, best, hopes for the future of higher education in America.  No “snowflakes” here.

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The view from our balcony was so peaceful in the early morning.

After the Hillsdale Seminar ended, we took a trip up to Prescott, in the mountains north of Phoenix.  An entirely different Arizona.  The reason was a meet up with our Ricochet friends.  We took sustenance from our Ricochet family, as we all watched the Left and the Deep State do their best to destroy a duly-elected President.

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No palm trees here!

In June, we took our annual trip to Washington’s “Bavarian Village” of Leavenworth, for Hubby to play accordion with his band.  They were just awesome this year, and everyone was impressed with their performance.

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And we always love the Accordion Parade, ending up in the Gazebo downtown.  Our hearts are warmed by watching and listening to all the players, from ages 7 to over 70.

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In September, we drove all the way to Montana and back, for the Ricochet meet up that had been planned since September of 2016!  Due to wildfires in Washington and Montana, we drove through thick smoke all the way-the skies didn’t clear for an entire week!  But the people we met were typical Ricochet, salt-of-the earth types.  We couldn’t imagine being with a better group of friends, our Ricochet Family.

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Yes, that is Lake Coeur D’Alene on the way over.

Sailing on Flathead Lake

On the second to last day, sailing on Flathead Lake.

And to top off the year, I had my Fiftieth High School Class Reunion.  My favorite part of that was tagging along with the golfers on the outing to the local golf course, and meeting a classmate who I had never met in high school!

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What beauty, hiding in plain sight.

We have been so fortunate this year, and had so many delightful experiences, surrounded by our friends, and our Ricochet Family.  Onward to 2018!

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A Weekend at Jazz Port Townsend

Back in March, Hubby and I attended the After Midnight Gala auction for the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, a wonderful jazz Big Band.  At that auction, we bought a weekend package that included two nights of lodging, and tickets to Friday and Saturday concerts, the weekend of July 31.  Port Townsend is across Puget Sound from our home in Everett, so the weekend started with a beautiful ferry ride from Edmonds to Kingston.  We just love this ferry, and sometimes we just go for a day trip.  It was sunny and warm.  Here are some pictures of what we saw from the ferry on the way over.

This one was taken from the ferry before we even left port!  The State is doing some upgrades to the dock, and I am always impressed with the big machinery.

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Next, I turned my camera in toward the car deck, and I just laughed to see this vehicle parked next to us.  Check out the license plate frame.

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We really do live in one of the most gorgeous places in the world.

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That’s Mount Baker, which is north of us, nearly on the Canadian border.

We drove on west through Kingston and Port Gamble, and reached Port Townsend in the late afternoon.  Here are a couple of pictures of the place we stayed.  This is a private home, which was donated by the owner for the auction (one of the SRJO board members had stayed there and loved it).  We had our own little suite with a private entrance at the back.  Beware that monster!

Friday night’s concert (and all the rest) was held in a former blimp hangar at Fort Worden.  Here are some shots of the outside and the inside.  No photography was allowed during the concerts, of course.

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Friday night’s performers were two groups.  The first group was called “Keep on Keepin’ On”, with Justin Kauflin (an amazing blind pianist), Doug Weiss, Bass, and Kendrick Scott on drums.  The second group “The Haris House”, consisted of Niki Haris, a wonderful singer, backed up by Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, Sullivan Fortner on piano, John Clayton on bass, and Joe LaBarbera on drums.  They were all fantastic, and had the audience captivated.  Jazz musicians tend to have a great sense of humor, too, and we all got lots of laughs.

Saturday had two performances, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.  Outside the hall in the afternoon, there were groups of student musicians who had been at the week-long jazz workshop, showing their stuff.  These kids are awesome!

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Saturday afternoon’s concert was incredible, featuring a lady who really screamed on her saxophone.  You don’t often think of sax players as ladies, but this one, Tia Fuller, really knows her stuff!  She was backed up by Sullivan Fortner on piano, Doug Weiss on bass, and Kendrick Scott on drums.  Beautiful woman, great music, and lots of laughs-what more could you ask for?

Next on the program “Lifting Voices”, consisting of Cedric Dent and Niki Haris vocals, Sullivan Fortner again on piano, Jon Hamar, bass, and Joe LaBarbera on drums.

Last came the “All Star Big Band” of the workshop faculty, directed by John Clayton.  They did get a little snippy with the conductor, but then they’re all stars in their own right!  Soloists were Jeff Clayton on alto sax, Adrian Cunningham on tenor sax, Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, Sean Jones and Terell Stafford on trumpet, Hubert Laws on flute, and vocals by Dee Daniels and Niki Haris.  The rest of the band consisted of Mark Taylor and Tia Fuller on alto sax; Adrian Cunningham and Alex Dugdale on tenor sax; Gary Smulyan on baritone sax; Brad Allison, Terell Stafford, Sean Jones, Jay Thomas, Andy Omdahl on trumpet; Wycliffe Gordon, David Marriott, Dan Marcus on trombone; Greg Schroder on bass trombone, Dan Balmer on guitar, Bill Cunliffe on piano, Chuck Deardorf on bass, and Matt Wilson on drums.  I swear, Matt Wilson looked like something straight out of Mad Men!  Needless to say, they were awesome.

After the Saturday afternoon concert we had some free time, so we went looking for dinner.  We first drove down to the Port Townsend Marina.  Beautiful!

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Saturday night’s concert was just wonderful.  The first act featured someone who I had never heard of before, Hubert Laws, whose instrument is the flute!  You don’t often think of the flute as a jazz instrument, but Mr. Laws is a past master.  Aside from the fact that the flute can get overpowered by louder instruments, the program was very fun, and Hubert Laws is a great musician.  The last act featured a tribute to Louis Armstrong, led by Wycliffe Gordon on his trombone.  All the musicians were really playing out, and we all felt that we had been really “jazzed-up” by the end of the evening.

As usual, we arose late on Sunday for the drive and ferry ride home.  Here are some of the things we saw on the way out of town to the ferry in Kingston.

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The Fort Worden Military Cemetery in just outside the gates.  That is a cannon way over on the edge of the enclosure.

Closer to town, we drove by this old building, being devoured by the vegetation, and I just had to get its picture.

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Most of my readers and followers know my political orientation.  This sign, which we saw all over town, shows the orientation of most of the town.  Opposite from mine.

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Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

Here are a couple of photos taken from the bluff just outside the east gate of the old fort.

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That’s the old officers’ quarters, which are now vacation rentals.

We got to Kingston around 4:00PM, and got in the ferry line.  I went hunting with my camera, and this is what I found.

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The newly-legal industry is doing their “good citizen” activity.  Sigh…

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Yes, even expensive Italian sports cars take the ferry.

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The Norwegian Pearl, starting its journey to Alaska from Seattle.  Three cruise lines ply that route, and it’s prime tourist season.

Once on the ferry, I got this one.  Beautiful sailboat, in a brisk wind.  She’s the Mata Hari.

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All in all, a wonderful weekend.

Some thoughts on the King County (WA) Ballot Proposition 1, “Sales tax for Cultural Access Program”

Some thoughts on the King County (WA) Ballot Proposition 1, “Sales tax for Cultural Access Program”

Here is the text of the ballot measure on the primary ballot in King County, Washington, that includes Seattle and surrounding suburbs.

King County
Proposition No. 1
Sales Tax for Cultural Access Program

The King County Council passed Ordinance No. 18513 to establish and fund a cultural access program. The program would expand access to arts, science, and heritage programming throughout King County. The program would include cultural education in schools and transportation to cultural venues for public school students. The program would also provide funding for cultural organizations to expand programming, including to serve diverse and underserved populations. The cultural access program, including administrative costs, would be funded by a county sales tax increase of one-tenth of one percent for seven years beginning January 1, 2018.  [Emphasis mine]

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Last night, and at a concert last week, the Marketing Manager of the Seattle Chamber Music Festival urged us in the audience to vote in favor of this addition to the Sales Tax in King County.  Being a Cultural Organization, the Seattle Chamber Music Society would get some funding from the sales taxes.  Vote King County a higher sales tax, so we may have some of those funds.

Here are some of my thoughts and questions about this ballot measure.

  1.  King County is the most liberal political unit in the state of Washington.  The residents of King County, and Seattle, rarely saw a tax they didn’t like.  The city of Seattle has numerous times voted to tax its property owners additionally for schools, the homeless, family programs, transportation,  ad infinitum.
  2. The liberals who live in King County are always bemoaning the “regressive” taxation scheme in Washington State, whose Constitution forbids an income tax, and its reliance on sales taxes, which disproportionately fall on the “poor”, “low-income” portion of the population. {An aside–the Seattle City Council has just voted unanimously to institute an income tax on its wealthiest citizens, knowing full well that this is illegal and will be held up by lawsuits from day one}
  3. The Sales Tax in Seattle has already broken the 10% level, and is approaching 10% everywhere else.
  4. If this measure passes, everyone in King County will be paying an extra $.01 in sales taxes on everything they buy.  Yes, those poor, underserved community members will also be paying that extra sales tax on everything they buy, in order that they may have “improved access”, whatever that means, to “cultural programs”.  There is no way to exempt the low-income from paying this additional sales tax.
  5. The money collected from this additional regressive sales tax, will cover “administrative costs”, as stated in the ballot measure above.  Did anyone opine on what percentage of the money collected will go for administration?  Administration includes the costs of collecting the money, allocating it to a special account, deciding which organizations will receive money, and deciding how much will go to each organization.  Employees will have to be hired (and paid, and provided with benefits including pension), to develop an application form and procedure, and then to evaluate the applications as they are received, to decide how the money collected will be spent.
  6. What happens when the cost of living in King County rises by the amount of this additional sales tax on everything you buy?  Might the increase in the cost of a new car discourage someone from buying a new car in King County?  The surrounding counties of Pierce, Snohomish, and Kittitas will not be raising their sales taxes, so a certain amount of purchases of expensive items might go to another county.  Those low-income residents of King County might have to defer purchases into the future, or not buy at all, since their income would not rise to cover the additional expense.  It has been shown that those who advocate for higher taxes rarely take into account the behavior changes that happen when someone experiences an increase in their cost of living.
  7. Who decides which cultural and heritage organizations will receive money from these new “access” funds?  Do faceless bureaucrats in Seattle decide how to allocate this money?  Do they solicit input from the arts community?  Do they give money to organizations whom they know and patronize themselves?  Do they favor the “charity of the month”, like the Gay Pride organization, or the Seattle Symphony?  Do they give money to the ACT Theater, which promotes liberal causes and puts on productions which take gratuitous slaps at a president they don’t like?  Will they be funding the “Resistance”?  Will they solicit input from ALL the people who will be paying higher taxes for the next seven years?
  8. What do they actually mean by “Access”?  Is there an implication that access is now denied to some of the “underserved” population?  Do they know who the underserved are?  How do they determine who is underserved?  And exactly who makes that determination?  What do they mean by “diverse”?  People of color, people of oppressed ethnic groups, people of sexual minorities?

My guess is that those promoting this new tax have not given any consideration to many of my points above, especially the one about our regressive tax system here in Washington State.  They think that everyone will just happily pay more for everything they buy, knowing that those underserved, low-income populations will benefit from their largesse.  It will make the relatively wealthy residents of Seattle feel good, knowing that they are helping those underserved populations get a dose of “culture” that they are being denied now.  Starting in the late 1960s, cultural programs in the Seattle Public Schools were reduced, in order to pay for busing students across the city for desegregation.  These days, the Seattle Public Schools have all sorts of programs devoted to sex-education, environmental education, and “white-privilege” education; and their dropout rates are much higher than they were in the 1960s.  Also, these days 40% of the schools budgets go for administration, eating up funds that could be spent on art and music in the schools.

It will be interesting to see how the residents of King County vote on this new sales tax proposal.  I do not live in King County, so I don’t get to vote on this measure.  But if it passes, I will do my best to spend as little as possible in King County.  See, people DO change their behavior in response to economic incentives.

Accordions…As Far as the Eye Can See

Accordions…As Far as the Eye Can See

Last week was the Leavenworth (WA) International Accordion Celebration.  Leavenworth is known as “Washington’s Bavarian Village”, and most of its buildings are dressed up in Bavarian Village style.  LIAC consists of four days of accordion competition, performances by local and international groups and individuals, an accordion parade through town, and all sorts of impromptu and organized jam sessions for accordion players and other musicians. In the vestibule of the main concert venue, the “Festhalle:”, accordion dealers set up their tables full of various accordions for sale.  The entire weekend is full of accordions, as far as the eye can see.  Check it out.

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This is a new fountain, in front of the Festhalle.  The shepherd has been given an accordion, so he won’t feel out of place during the Celebration.

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Here are some of the instruments (can you spot the “ringer”?) on offer in the Festhalle lobby.

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Friday night’s entertainment was the Northwest Accordionaires.  Hubby is the farthest player on the right, with his beautiful wood-faced Victoria accordion. (sorry about the bad lighting-they had a bunch of bright LED lights on either side of the stage)

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Here are the accordionists lining up for the parade through town.

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And, THE PARADE!  Yes, they are marching and playing at the same time.

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Destination for the parade is the Gazebo in the middle of downtown.  They all march there, and play a few songs for the cheering crowds of spectators.  You can see that they range in age from little kids to mature adults.

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Saturday night’s entertainment was the husband/wife team of Kim and Dan Christian.  They were very good, and Dan was a fine comedian.

A wonderful time was had by all.