Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival’s 2017 Entertainment Report

Here we go again. Before I introduce our 2017 lineup, it’s only fair to reflect on how the 2016 entertainment unfolded.

By far Rabbit Wilde had the biggest draw and the most dynamic performance. I felt like we’d finally arrived as they performed their set in front of a large enthusiastic crowd. It was almost as much fun watching their parents on the sidelines mouthing the words to Rabbit Wilde’s songs and bogeying to the music as it was listening to the band. I tried to get them back for 2017, but they raised their price fivefold, and by the time they came down to earth with what they could realistically charge, I’d already filled the bill. (I’ve a Feb. 1st deadline.) Maybe I can get them back in 2018.

I was sorely disappointed in the turnout for Alice Stuart. Her Sunday performance was truly one of the most memorable of the four years I’ve been Entertainment Director. I was thinking of all the people who should be seeing her perform who weren’t. Hopefully I can improve my promotion chops for 2017.

Alice and her band were guests at our home Saturday night. Alice was a hoot, and her band members were grateful for our hospitality. A fun and memorable experience.

Mike Faast and Archtops were as silky smooth and entertaining as always, and the Roy Kay Trio’s brand of original rockabilly was as energetic and delightful as ever.

I’m starting off the Saturday August 12th show with Orville Johnson, arguably the best Dobro (resonance guitar) player in the country. No hype here- he’s that good. He also throws down incredible vocals. I’m taking Dobro lessons from him out of Dusty Strings located in Seattle’s Fremont District. (Believe me- a torture for him and humbling for me.)

Being a student @ Dusty Strings put me in the middle of a plethora of incredible musicians. My wife and I recently attended a sold out Del Rey/ Steve James concert @ Dusty Strings. Del Rey plays resonance ukulele and guitar; Steve James plays incredible slide guitar. I kind of run out of superlatives describing these two. Very fast, very precise, awe-inspiring, charismatic, great vocals, lyrics, song selection- all wrapped up in a stellar stage presence. I’m thinking, they sold out the place @ $40 a pop, and we’re giving it away. (I’d already hired them). Goggle Del Rey or Steve James and be amazed. Show up for their performance and be even more amazed.

After Orville and Del Rey/ Steve James, we’re closing out the show with a seven- piece band out of Bellingham called The Yogoman Burning Band. I’ve got them down on our ferry entertainment flyers as a New Orleans, Jamaican dance band; but you really have to Goggle them to get their energetic, brassy vibe. The Oregon Music News tout them as one of the best live acts in the Pacific Northwest. They regularly play the Burning Man Festival in the Blackrock Desert, Nevada- which definitely fits their humor, temperament, and style.

Part of the deal in getting Yogoman hired was to feed and water them @ our house after their gig. Considering last year we put up Alice Stuart and her band for the night, and feed them dinner and breakfast; I consider our dinner deal with Yogoman a bargain.

We’re starting the Sunday show with Brian Butler, a stellar songwriter who played for us in 2015 and more than lived up to expectations with his dynamic blues guitar, harmonica; and smooth, jazzy vocals.

I wanted Brian to play for us in 2016, but by the time he said yes, my deadline had passed and I had hired someone else to fill his spot. I asked him again to play for the 2017 festival, and he was interested but didn’t commit.

A few weeks later I attended an open house @ Dusty Strings where musicians played from 11:00AM to 9:00 PM- an excellent opportunity for me to evaluate several entertainers. Turns out Brian was sitting next to me! Got his commitment.

The open house also enabled me to snag slide guitar player Mark Riley, who will be playing the Sunday to 1:00 PM to 2:30 slot. Washington Blues Society chose Mark as the Best Blues Slide Guitar Player for several years running. Mark asked me to bill his three-piece band as The Three, as a nod to the tremendous talent of his keyboardist Mark Vadalabene and bassist/ vocalist Tom Erak.

I promised Mike Faast if he opened the show both days in 2016, I’d have him back in 2017. A definite win-win for CACF and Mike. He’s closing us out Sunday, August 13th. He’ll be the only 2016 performer returning in 2017.

This year we’re moving the Beer and Wine Garden off the bluff and placing it on the grassy knoll located in front of Library- with the grassy knoll being in front of the stage. The Beer and Wine Garden took over all of the grassy knoll, so I’m putting up a big beautiful tent, loaned to me by Larry Chapman, Director of the “I’nto the Woods Musical Festival”. I help him set up for his event, he loans me his tent for my event. Also scored a nice green outdoor carpet to throw down over the gravel under the tent to cool things off/ class things up a bit. All and all we’re hopeful we’ll get the logistics right with the addition of the beer and wine garden, it will bring more eyes to the stage, increase the beer and wine sales, and enhance the entertainment experience.

Hope to see you there to witness some great entertainment August 12th and 13th at the 2017 Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival!

Randy Williams
Entertainment Director