Bluegrass twang is back in Mukilteo

By Sara Bruestle | Aug 15, 2012
Courtesy of: Christine Schmalz The Warren G. Hardings, an American roots, folk and bluegrass band, return to the annual Bluegrass and Folk Festival on Saturday, Aug. 18. The band is scheduled to play at 1 p.m.

Hear that twang? The sounds of traditional American “roots music” are back in Old Town.

The Mukilteo Arts Guild is hosting the sixth annual Bluegrass and Folk Festival this Saturday, Aug. 18, in the Lincoln Courtyard in Old Town. The festival is traditionally held the third weekend of August.

The free festival, scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, is sponsored by the Red Cup Café and located in the courtyard at 619 4th St. The courtyard will be set up with festival seating and a stage for the musicians.

“People look forward to it,” said Steve Schmalz, chair and emcee of the festival. “It’s fun for a lot of folks to get away for a little bit, enjoy the scenery and listen to some good music. It’s pretty laid back.”

Saturday's mix includes bluegrass, folk bands and solo performers, for a total of eight acts. Some of them are returning to the festival, some are new.

Repeat performers include opener Gary Davis with his original bluegrass (11 a.m.), Carpool Tunnels, a bluegrass band that covers traditional bluegrass with a hint of country and folk (2 p.m.), and the Katie Hoag & Friends, a bluegrass/folk and indie folk cover band (5 p.m.).

Newbies include Wolves in the Woods, a roots music band with sounds from rock to gypsy (noon), a folk, country, blues, jazz and soul duo from the band Just Released, (3 p.m.), and the closing band Waiting on Wendy, with its original progressive folk and country (6 p.m.).

“It’s a homegrown style of music,” said Thad Dworkin of Carpool Tunnels, returning for the fourth year in a row.

“It's families and friends and neighbors playing. You don’t need to have a lot of equipment or a PA system or amplifiers. You can just get together in your backyard and play.”

Many of the performers were discovered at the guild’s Open Mic Night, held at the café in the summer on Wednesday nights. All of the acts were selected by jury after a demo or live performance.

Instead of playing for just 10 minutes like at Open Mic, the performers get to play for about an hour.

“I try to do Open Mic when I can,” said Lisa Callahan of Just Released, adding that she’s looking forward to playing a longer set at the festival. “I love that they’re encouraging live music. I really appreciate that.”

Steve and Christine Schmalz, of the Mukilteo Arts Guild, started the festival in 2006 because they wanted to bring a bit of home to Mukilteo. Steve is from the East Coast and Christine is from the South where bluegrass and folk music are big.

Steve Schmalz said there’s a nice following of bluegrass in Washington, too, with such festivals as the Darrington Bluegrass Festival and Wintergrass in Bellevue.

He said the Mukilteo festival is different from other bluegrass festivals in the state, however, in that it showcases not-yet-discovered musicians in a small, quaint and intimate setting.

“I’m from the East Coast, too, and it’s much more popular there,” Dworkin said. “But with each progressive year, it seems to be getting more popular here. And the more it can grow, the better.”

Festival parking is free and available at Red Cup and on 3rd Street and Lincoln Avenue.

The Mukilteo Arts Guild is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering and promoting arts and artists in the greater Mukilteo community.

For more information, contact Steve Schmalz at 425-423-0450.

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