Artfully Edmonds: Strong programming choices lead ECA to string of full-house performances

Joe McIalwain Photo: Facebook

Well, Halloween season is over. We’ve chased the spirits and specters back to the Memorial Cemetery; our two theatres have dimmed the footlights on their October offerings – but don’t think for a moment that makes things dull around Edmonds.

“Artfully Edmonds” turns its attention to Edmonds’ main stage – the ECA – which continues to sell out performance after performance. You may have noticed that we have taken to tagging many ECA mentions with the designation “Sell Out Alert!

Why might audience levels be soaring at our distinguished arts venue? Program selection, mainly.

We asked ECA’s Director of Marketing & Business Development, Tina Stryker, how the center makes so many winning choices in its program selections and she responded with this explanation, “ECA’s Executive Director Joe McIalwain begins the process of identifying artists for the Presented Artist Series at least one year in advance of a new season. He attends regional and national booking conferences and, with the support of ECA’s Programming & Marketing Committee, works with agencies and artists to curate a season that will bring a diverse range of performances to the ECA stage.”

Stryker also gives credit to Education & Outreach Manager Gillian Jones, who “identifies and programs the performances falling under ECA’s Education & Outreach umbrella – the Education Matinee Series, Family Series and ECA’s new Dementia-Inclusive Series. She also attends booking conferences to research and meet potential artists for these series, including the International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) Showcase.”

So there you have it. Obviously many hours of effort go into bringing Edmonds-area audiences the very best in programming – season after season. Watch for the Sell Out Alert! for the ECA shows for which tickets are going faster-than-fast in our “Artfully Edmonds” mentions as many of the ECA’s sold out shows are the natural result of spectacular choices.

Let’s see what’s on tap at the Edmonds Center for The Arts over the next two weeks:

~ ~ ~ ~

Edmonds Center for the Arts (ECA)
410 4th Ave. N.
Monday, Nov. 9
7:30 p.m.
Tribute Concert!
Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra (SRJO)

In its first performance of the 2015-16 season Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra has joined forces with Earshot Jazz to salute the genius of Ellington’s right-hand man, composer and pianist Billy “Sweet Pea” Strayhorn (1915-1967).

This special tribute concert which SRJO is featuring as its inaugural 2015-16 concert will include many of Strayhorn’s greatest works.

Presented as part of the 2015 Earshot Jazz Festival, SRJO trombonist Dan Marcus will be featured, playing his own favorite Strayhorn ballad, “Lush Life” arranged by Michael Brockman.

Roxy Coss, New York-based tenor saxophonist and an alumnus of the Garfield High School jazz band, will join SRJO for the evening. Coss was listed in the 2015 and 2014 Downbeat Critics Polls as a “Rising Star” on soprano saxophone.

Billy Strayhorn

Strayhorn has fascinated jazz aficionados and musicology scholars for decades and no wonder that Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra would choose to commemorate the life of “one of the most accomplished composers in American music”. It is said that Strayhorn played the piano from the time his fingers could reach the keys

In his work titled “Lush Life,” biographer David Hajdu characterizes this master of the ivories as a tragic figure, revealing, “he was overshadowed by his friend and collaborator (of three decades) Duke Ellington.” Strayhorn was described as star-crossed with Ellington, and many musicians observe that it is difficult to discern which of the two men played a hand in any number of passages of their many compositions.

Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” has served as a cover for a wide variety of singers and musicians including Lady Gaga.  Originally titled “Life is Lonely” this – along with the majority of his compositions – have become jazz standards over the years.

In 1967, Strayhorn died of cancer. Although a debate ensues about the difficulties between Strayhorn and Ellington — reportedly over the level of credit for his work that Strayhorn received — Ellington’s response to [Strayhorn’s] death was to record what the critics cite as one of his greatest works, a collection titled “And His Mother Called Him Bill,” consisting entirely of Billy’s compositions. Later, a scholarship fund was established for him by Ellington and the Julliard School of Music.

No wonder SRJO has selected this jazz phenom as the focus of their 2015-16 opener. See you there – Monday, Nov. 9.

Your link to the ECA box office for this unforgettable event is here.

– – –

Chris Thile performs on Nov. 12 at the ECA. Photo courtesy Edmonds Center for the Arts

Thursday, Nov.12
7:30 p.m.
Chris Thile at the ECA

Chris Thile, multiple Grammy winner and 2013 MacArthur Fellow recipient, is slated to delight ECA audiences with his musical virtuosity this month. A member of Punch Brothers and Nickel Creek, Thile plays the mandolin and is both a composer and vocalist. With his broad musical outlook that encompasses jazz, rock, bluegrass and classical, Thile creates, with his genius, an unforgettable musical experiences for his audiences.

Thile won a Grammy for his work on The Goat Rodeo Sessions, collaborating with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan.

In 2013, Thile released Bach: Sonatas & Partitas, Vol. 1, then in September 2014, Thile and renowned bassist Edgar Meyer released their latest album collaboration, Bass + Mandolin, which won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album in 2015.

Punch Brothers released their latest album, The Phosphorescent Blues, in January 2015.

On this new program, Thile performs Bach solo violin works on the mandolin, as well as his own compositions and contemporary music.

Interviewed on YouTube following his performance at Carnegie Hall, Thile reveals an unassuming portrait of himself.

– – –

Saturday, Nov. 14
7:30 p.m.
Sell Out Alert!
Los Lobos at the ECA

Los Lobos is right now racing toward Edmonds to the warm welcome of a sold out mid-November concert. At press time there are only single and back row balcony seats for this sizzling hot show! Photo courtesy

– – –

Tuesday, Nov. 17
10 a.m.
ECA Education Matinee:
Meena’s Dream

By Anu Yadav

“Meena’s Dream” tells the story of a single parent immigrant family in the U.S.

By day, 9-year-old Meena wishes that her ailing mother would recover; by night, the Hindu God Lord Krishna appears, entreating Meena’s help in his war against the Worry Machine.

Critically-acclaimed writer and performer Anu Yadav creates a fantastical world in Meena’s Dream through storytelling and music.

“Meena’s Dream” premiered at the Round House Theatre in Silver Springs, Maryland in 2014.

“Meena’s Dream” Photo courtesy ECA.

Treat your children (or grandchildren!) to this colorfully, vibrantly-staged delight. Best for 4th Grade and up.

Tickets for this wonderful production are just a click! click! away right here.

– – –

Sell Out Alert! The 36th Seattle International Comedy Competition returns to Edmonds on Nov. 18th. You’ll want to grab your tickets early!

Wednesday, Nov. 18
7:30 p.m.
Seattle International Comedy Competition

The 36th annual Seattle International Comedy Competition is chuckling its way toward Edmonds again this year – back by popular demand.

Who will be the last comic standing as the troupe tickles the funny bones of audiences in the final rounds of the competition? Our ECA venue is among the last stops for the comedians after elimination rounds take place at such locations as “The Gum Wall” at the Pike Place Market, Seattle’s Comedy Underground, and Monroe’s Slaughterhouse Lounge.

The top 10 comics who make it to the semi-finals will be announced at the Seattle Comedy Underground on Sunday, Nov. 22.

Sell Out Alert!  Go Local . . . Buy early! Grab your tickets today at this ticket site.

~ ~ ~ ~

“Mrs. Prince” by Tracy Kay Felix.

Edmonds’ rich and exciting art and performance possibilities spread out far beyond the ECA . . . so let’s take a look at what’s coming up on the calendar in the other parts of town.

Edmonds Arts Commission (EAC) is sending out an invitation to the public to view a selection of works by artist Tracy Kay Felix.

Ms. Felix “Autumn Series” in abstract acrylic will show at the Edmonds Library now through Dec. 14th.

Edmonds artist, teacher and business owner Felix grew up in Indiana. She studied art throughout her education, completing a degree in graphic design from the American Academy of Art in Chicago. With Pioneer Square art gallery experience added to her portfolio Felix dreamed of opening an arts supply store. She was able to realize her vision when she partnered with Denise Cole, owner of Cole Gallery to open ArtSpot in Edmonds.

In a recent statement Felix observed about her art, “I am an experimental painter. I love to find new and unusual ways to make my paintings unique. Acrylic paints and mediums allow me to paint in both water media techniques as well as traditional oil painting approaches. I am also enamored of encaustics. It is the perfect material for experimentation. For me, cutting edge is creating new ways to assemble the visual.  Paintings need to be about something. I feel strongly that creating a feeling of depth is important – both visual and of meaning. My paintings are built in layers of color, texture, images and mixed media when it supports my concept. But also layers to the imagery…  painting fascinates me and I teach to share my love of self-expression with these beautiful materials.”

Edmonds Library hours are Monday-Thursday 9 am to 8 pm, Friday 9 am to 6 pm, Saturday 10 am to 6 pm and Sunday 1 to 5 pm.

For additional information about this exhibit and the ECA’s upcoming calendar go to the EAC website.

– – –

“Ningko” by Pamela Mummy.

Local Edmonds artist Pamela Mummy reports that one of her figurative, ceramic sculptures, “Ningyo”, has been accepted to the American Women Artists Juried Exhibition for 2015.

From 1,000 entries submitted by 400 artists nationwide, the jury selected 60 works to be displayed from Nov. 12-30, 2015 at Bonner David Galleries in Scottsdale, Ariz.

She also had a piece selected to the National Sculptor Society’s national exhibit in Brookgreen Gardens, near Charleston, South Carolina in 2014 and her 2015 entry at this year’s Edmonds Arts Festival received the 1st Place sculpture award.

~ ~ ~ ~

Saturday/Sunday, Nov. 14/15
10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Auditions: Holy Rosary School, 770 Aloha St.

Performances of “In His Hands” will take place at Mountlake Terrace High School

Holy Rosary Edmonds (HRE) Parish is excited to announce the auditions for a new production of “In His Hands”, a dramatic rock opera by HRE Music Director Susan Olmos.

This opera was created in 1984 and is presented as an ecumenical venture, in keeping with its original production. Synopsis: Peter recounts the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth.

Dancers, a chorus, a 20-piece orchestra and a rock band will support the cast.

For more information visit the website at the HRE website or call 425-772-8359, ext. 248.

~ ~ ~

Happening Nearby

Saturday, Nov. 14
8 p.m. 
Everett Historic Theatre
2911 Colby Ave., Everett
Solana, Willow, and Greta
The Gothard Sisters

Edmonds’ hometown Celtic lovelies are returning to the Edmonds-area this month with their “Autumn Celebration Concert”

The three will be appearing one-night only at the Everett Historic Theatre. Ticket alert for the Gothard Sisters who tend to enjoy early sell-outs. The theatre’s on-line box office is at Tickets are available at this website.

Sell Out Alert! The Gothard Sisters are coming back to Edmonds — their hometown — for a Christmas holiday performance.

Holidays in Edmonds for the Gothard Sisters

Traveling to Everett to see the Gothard Sisters isn’t all that difficult. But news from Solana, Willow, and Greta gets even better for Edmonds residents! They’ve just announced their Edmonds Center for the Arts “Christmas With the Gothard Sisters” show and tickets are now available at their website.

On their website the Gothard Sisters send this message to their Edmonds friends and fans, “We are very excited to announce that we are once again throwing a big party at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

“The first year was such a success that we’ve decided to do it again – same time, same place.

The sisters’ attest that their Christmas show is a special one every year.  “It is different from the performances that we put on the other 364 days of the year. You can expect lots of surprises, heartwarming Christmas music, a family holiday excursion to remember, and there may even be special guests and other fun things that will only happen once.”

~ ~ ~ ~

Tuesday, Nov. 17
8-9:30 p.m.
A Fundraising Cabaret
Hosted by The Phoenix Theatre Company’s very own “George Burns and Gracie Allen”

Featuring Larry Albert, Laurie Bialik, Susan Connors, Melanie Calderwood, Jasmine Joshua, Laura Kenny – and many more names you’ll recognize as great local stage talent!

This is a fundraiser to support The Phoenix Theatre

Pick your own seat and pick your own price of admission. Seats are now going from $20.00

. . . to $500.00 (The Phoenix Dreams Big!)

This is a guaranteed night of hilarity! You’ll want to grab your tickets here now.

–By Emily Hill

Emily Hill is the author of two novels and a short story collection. She also writes the “Lynnwood Lifestyle” column for Lynnwood Today. Emily is retired from a career in public information and news media relations. If you would like your event listed, or featured, in Artfully Edmonds, Emily invites you to contact her at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.