Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts highlights weekend

  • NANCY RUDOLPH
  • Friday, May 25, 2001 12:01am
  • News

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By Nancy Rudolph

Juan de Fuca Festival fever begins today and will keep going throughout the Memorial Day weekend.

With more than 125 lively performances on five different stages — four of them downtown and one at the Port Angeles Arts Center — fun awaits the community, said festival director Anna Manildi.

“I'm looking forward to it, myself,” she said.

“What I tried to do, and I think I accomplished, is to put together a schedule that would have something for everyone.”

The Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts is sponsored by the Peninsula News.

The list of music, dancing, theater, comedy, juggling, jazz, arts, crafts and food is a lengthy one, and Manildi would like to see a sellout crowd at each venue, she said, “But several acts stand out as `not-to-be-missed.' One of them is Assane and Oussaynon Kouyate. They're kind of an unknown and who I'm taking a chance on.”

The showcase performance of these twin brothers from the West African nation of Mali includes dancing, drumming, and a third member who plays the kora — a stringed instrument.

They perform at 7:15 p.m. Saturday in the Vern Burton Community Center's Swain's Main Stage and at the Fine Arts Stage, 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd., at 2 p.m.; plus a Sunday performance and workshop at 11 a.m. on the KONP Mason Stage, Masonic Temple, at Lincoln and Seventh streets.

“They've toured with the National Ballet of Senegal and I think they're going to be spectacular,” Manildi said.

“We're not going to see anything else like them.”

Another entertainer to watch for, Manildi said, is Jenna Mammina, who plays on three stages — the Fine Arts Stage, at 4:30 p.m. Saturday; Swain's Main Stage at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday; and the Chamber Stage at the Vern Burton Community Center at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

“Jenna is an exceptional jazz vocalist just waiting to be discovered,” Manildi said. “She has performed at the Monterey (Calif.) Jazz Festival and all around the country. Try to see her. You won't be disappointed.”

Manildi also said the Mud Bay Jugglers, performing only one time on Saturday at 2:45 p.m. on Swain's Main Stage is “perfect for an all-out good time, especially for kids.

“They are acrobatic, silly, talented and fun.”

Not to be overlooked with all the grandeur of big shows, Manildi said blues singer Alice Stuart will be an audience favorite, too.

“She's fantastic and well-known from the 1960s and 1970s,” Manildi said.

“She's one of the first women to start a blues band, and she sang with Van Morrison, John Prine, Jerry Garcia and Tower of Power.”

Stuart sings Saturday at 6 p.m. on Swain's Main Stage and again at 2:45 on the Chamber Stage.

Assistant festival director Rosie Sharpe would like everyone to catch The Dusty 45s.

“They're punk, rockabilly and swing all at the same time,” she said. “I like music with lots of different genres.”

The group performs Monday at the KONP Mason Stage at 2 p.m. and again at Swain's Main Stage at 7 p.m.

Sharpe also recommends the Clumsy Lovers — fiddle-dancing music — and the Casey Neill Trio — high-energy Celtic music with fiery medleys of reels and jigs, harmony singing and hints of bluegrass.

The Clumsy Lovers play Saturday on Swain's Main Stage at 9:15 p.m.; Casey Neill Trio performs Friday on the Chamber Stage at 9 p.m. and Saturday on the KONP Mason Stage at 11:30 a.m.

Manildi and Sharpe both give two thumbs up, though, to the showcase performance of Bertram Levy and the Seattle City Sextet with tango dancers Todd Teeples and Julia Barrington on Sunday at 7:45 p.m. on Swain's Main Stage.

Teeples and Barrington will also give a tango dance workshop on Sunday afternoon at 1:45 on the KONP Mason Stage.

“Bertram Levy is from Port Townsend and is internationally known as a fantastic musician,” Manildi said.

“He's one of only a few people who can play the bandoneio, a small, portable organ.

“The tango dancers will dance to some of his music. It's going to be beautiful and sensuous. This will be one of the biggest highlights of the festival.”

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