Preston Singletary was meant to create Native American inspired glass. He’s been able to meld two aspects of his Tlingit ancestry into his art. As a child, Singletary listened with fascination to traditional stories told by his great-grandparents, who were both full Tlingit. Their myths and legends became an inspiration for his work. Additionally, the tribe used glass to craft beads which were used not only for currency, but for adorning clothing and ceremonial objects.
Singletary was first introduced to glassmaking as a teenager. A friend’s father was a glass artist; since Singletary spent considerable time at their home, he became acquainted with several of the older man’s contemporaries.
He learned his craft through practical experience at Seattle’s The Glass Eye and by attending workshops at Pilchuck Glass School.
A turning point in his style occurred when “I realized that there was a lot of dialogue about how modern art was influenced by art of ‘primitive’ societies. These artists tried to embody the spirit of the objects created by other cultures. My work began to take on a more figurative and narrative style with a new intent. I found a source of strength and power that brought me back to my family, society, and cultural roots.”
Who/what inspires you?
Today my inspiration comes from the Native culture and environment of the northwest, as well as the glass community and all the creativity in the Seattle area.
What is the biggest challenge you have overcome?
My biggest challenge is making glass have the same spirit as the old Tlingit art.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
My most proud accomplishment is that I found a loving wife, Asa, and that we have two lovely kids, Orlo and Lydia as well as an older daughter Sienna.
How do you measure success?
I measure success by being able to make a living as an artist and being able to sustain that.
What is the most memorable compliment you have received?
The most memorable compliment I ever got was when I was adopted by Joe David and he shared his Indian name with me. On the northwest coast you can receive additional names throughout your life which usually comes with growth and maturity.
What is one thing people don’t generally know about you?
One thing people don’t know about me is that I thought I’d be a professional musician as a living.
Seattle guitarist Michael Powers’ career began as the result of an accident. At fifteen, a skateboarding mishap left him with a broken wrist. While recuperating, he saw a documentary about Jimi Hendrix. He thought he would love to play the guitar and his doctor agreed it would be excellent therapy.
Initially inspired by Hendrix, Powers was also influenced by B.B. King, Carlos Santana, George Benson, and Lee Ritenour. He “worked on being a chameleon musically,’ being able to pick up a lot of styles and emulate them.”
His debut album was released in 1988. With his distinctive guitar and the unique sounds that are created, he has toured all over the world.
How do you measure success?
I think success is really a function of being able to live your life well, being creative, and being a contributor to society. I don’t necessarily measure that in monetary terms.
I had an experience where a woman came to me at one of my shows and said, “I just wanted to thank you. I was in Harborview at the Trauma Center when you and your group came to play. They brought out all the patients, some in traction, some in comas. I was in a coma and they didn’t have a lot of hope that I would recover, but just a day or two after hearing your concert, I woke up and they said it was because of musical stimulation.” What else can you ask for if you can make that kind of an impact on somebody and touch their lives in a positive way?
Who do you admire most?
Bobby McFerrin as a musical artist because he can really do anything, genre-wise. He can emulate instruments with his voice. It’s funny because, on the other side, I’m doing everything I can to make my guitar resemble a voice. I’m a mirror image. He’s someone I really look up to.
Tell me about your new CD
It’s coming out in the beginning of June and it’s called “Soul Man”. It’s a collection of soul classics done in my style, in an instrumental style, a really nice combination of tunes. I’m really excited about it.
For information about performances and purchasing CDs, please go to www.michaelpowersmusic.com.
If you’re not careful, the message that we are, in fact, living in perilous times can be overpowering. But I’ve been thinking lately that there’s been no better time for people who love music than right this very minute. As someone who remembers playing scratchy LPs on a stereo the size of my parents’ station wagon, I am enthralled by the ease with which I can play the music I want to hear. Because—let’s face it—the balm of music has the power to blunt even the most distressing news of the day, to give us courage, and to connect us all.
I recently found an old friend from my San Francisco days via Facebook. He’s the type of guy who’s always humming a tune under his breath and absently trying out new dance moves at his desk, in his car, walking down the street. He frequently dispenses advice, wisdom, and commentary in the form of song-lyric snippets. I believe he knows the words to every song ever written. Music is his medium.
When my friend and I have our online conversations, I feel like a baby bird being fed by its mother. We’ll be chatting away and he’ll write, “Are you ready for another?” and then up pops a YouTube video featuring a lyrically luscious song— usually of the electronica or obscure dance genres, by groups with names like Treasure Fingers, Santigold, and Fare Soldi. He “feeds” me in this way throughout our conversation, our chats flow with the rhythm of the music and we glide along, enjoying the ambience he spontaneously creates for us.
I have been blessed with several friends who experience music as a sort of lubricant for their lives. These people all have a particular yen for ferreting out good music via channels with names like imeem, iTunes, and jango and through music-centric radio stations such as KEXP and KCRW streaming to their laptops. Luckily, in addition to being hip, sensitive, resourceful individuals, they are generous; they share their finds with me.
One of those people is my little brother, who has recently given me the greatest gift: he introduced me to Pandora.com. (Before you start thinking you’ve been hooked into reading an ad, let me say that I have nothing to gain from this endorsement. My friends will tell you that they’ve all heard this spiel from me too.) Pandora.com is, in my opinion, almost too good to be true. It’s what everyone wishes for as they’re flying down the road, furiously flipping through stations: The ability to listen to radio that plays only the type of songs you like and have a hankering for right this very minute. I won’t go into the details of how it works because that’s easy to look up and read for yourself, but I will tell you that it has made a big difference in this writer’s life. The inspiration for this very article is brought to you by Thievery Corporation Radio on Pandora.com. Hosting friends for tapas? Create Gipsy Kings radio and transport yourselves to Seville for the evening. Have a hot evening at home planned with that special someone? Yes, you can even set up Tom Jones radio. R-r-r-rrarrr!
I’ve given some thought over the years to why music has such a transformative effect on my daily life—especially now, when I can dial up whatever I’m in the mood for or acquaint myself with entire new genres of music with a click—and one of the reasons I’ve come up with is this: On some level, aren’t we all starring in our own little documentaries? We need soundtracks!
When we’re working out, Eye of the Tiger still gives us goose bumps and the urge to throw our arms up in the air, right? When we’re enjoying a cup of tea, reading, with a cat in our lap, we think George Winston’s piano—soft, in the background—sounds just right. Iron and Wine’s laid-back vibe makes Saturday morning errands more of a dance than a chore.
And when we hear an old familiar song, we’re transported, no matter if it’s delivered via vinyl album, cassette tape, mp3 player, or YouTube. Just as certain smells can evoke memories of gramma’s kitchen, vacations at the beach, and college apartments, the right song has the power to catapult us right back into that particular chapter in our own personal documentary. For me, old Conway Twitty, Ronnie Milsap, and Dolly Parton (Please don’t laugh; this is my personal documentary, remember?) transport me back to fifth grade when I was given my first clock radio. I’d lie in bed in that small room and listen to the tiny music and marvel at this brand new world I’d found. Until then, we’d just been exposed to music at church and dad’s old Kingston Trio, Burt Bacharach, and Jim Croce albums. This was music I was choosing to listen to. I recently purchased Ronnie Milsap’s Only One You from iTunes and thoroughly enjoyed my little joy ride down memory lane, surprising myself by remembering all the words.
And the music we choose for our soundtracks can be so personal, can’t it? I cringe to remember that I irritated more than one college roommate by playing brilliant selections from my tape collection for them, aggressively imploring them to “get it” when all they wanted to do was hang out. Ronnie Milsap’s recounting of worldly wonders (“There’s only one Mona Lisa, one Leaning Tower of Pisa, one Paris, and there’s only one youuuu…”) was a strong elixir to my budding romantic mind back in 1970-something, but I can hear you snickering.
I think that’s why music is so important, can be so universal in its power to change our lives, but still so personal to us. We are doing more than hearing it. We feel it and it changes us: We become softies. We’re 17 again. We get over it and find our happy face. We finally see the answer. We connect with someone. We grieve a loss. We’re distracted from the hard work at hand. We find the courage to do the thing we think we cannot do.
One day, as I rode the ferry over from my home on Anderson Island to Steilacoom where I was to meet a marathon-training partner for our first 20-mile run, I was feeling uninspired, lacking in courage. I contemplated bailing on the run. As we approached the dock, I remembered I had a Steve Winwood cd and my Walkman (remember those?) in my bag. I popped it in and dialed up Arc of a Diver. I stood on the ferry deck, listening to this man’s amazing voice, and feeling my mind’s focus narrow to just me, just my muscles and my heart and my breathing. And then I ran 20 miles.
The oldest seafood restaurant in Washington, The Oyster House, overlooks Olympia’s Percival Landing and Budd Inlet. It’s a casual family eatery where diners can watch televised athletic events and view sports memorabilia displayed in the lobby. Dark wood and rich green colors make the dining room warm and welcoming.
We began with angels on horseback—oysters wrapped in bacon, skewered and then broiled. As the shellfish cook, they curl, resembling angel wings. The smoky cured pork, sweet mollusks, and zesty cocktail sauce are a satisfying starter. Others include Cognac oysters, crab cocktail, nachos and potato skins.
The house dressing is fresh ginger vinaigrette. Mixed greens come alive with flavor when combined with the spiciness of the pungent root.
Pacific oysters are lightly dusted with flour and pan-fried in butter. The delicate shellfish are accompanied by tangy cocktail sauce, a lemon wedge, and choice of baked potato, rice, vegetables or fries. The grilled halibut sandwich is well-prepared, the flatfish firm and fresh. The Oyster House buys local seafood whenever possible; it’s purchased fresh seven days a week. Only oysters from Oyster Bay, procured from Olympia Oyster Company, are served here.
Other seafood entrees include crab and gorgonzola tortellini, steamers, blackened salmon and coconut prawns. The extensive menu is not limited to seafood, however. Also available are burgers, sandwiches, steaks and pasta. Try the bacon wrapped filet mignon, teriyaki chicken sandwich or baby back ribs. Salad entrées range from cobb to seafood louie to wonton chicken.
A variety of tempting options are presented on the dessert tray, including mud pie, M&M fudge brownies, bread pudding with caramel sauce, cheesecake and chocolate cake. Fudgy French silk pie is decadent with a double crust—dense brownie on sugar cookie; a tunnel of caramel is hidden within the filling. Multi-layered banana poppy seed cake is slightly lemony and the flavors are enhanced by buttercream.
Appropriately, the dining establishment began as an oyster culling house owned by the Olympia Oyster Company. As far back as 1859, the company shipped the delicacies to San Francisco where diners would pay $20 per plate. Eventually, the original owners started a small seafood bar in the southeast corner where oyster cocktails were served.
In the 1940s, the eatery began to evolve into a larger operation. Two or three additions were completed before it was purchased and completely remodeled by the current owner, Rich Barrett, in 1996. The establishment is still patronized by loyal elderly diners who reminisce about the restaurant’s evolution. With public docking available, it’s also a popular place with boaters and families.
There’s a reason The Oyster House is the oldest seafood restaurant in Washington. Fresh, generously portioned food and relaxed, casual dining with a view keep customers coming back.
1552 Commerce St, Tacoma
TWOKOI: Sushi for the Senses in Downtown Tacoma
I would no more invite just anyone to enjoy sushi with me than I would visit just any sushi place. That sounds a bit vain, I know, but I love the details of Japanese cuisine: The prelude in a handleless cup of genmaicha, the chopsticks tucked crisply into the napkin, the snap of the sticks separating, the little mound of wasabi, mixing my personal ratio of wasabi to soy sauce… I love this ritual. When my dinner companion is similarly taken with such fine points, the server presenting the food is in tune with the details, and the ambience is thoughtfully composed, I feel as though I’m living inside my own perfect little haiku.
TWOKOI—TWOKOI Japanese Cuisine, to be exact—has taken me to that place on a number of occasions since it first opened in 2006. One recent frigid evening, my friend Rebecca and I shrugged off our coats at the bar, took our seats, and were immediately asked, “Would you like a cup of hot tea?” Of course that was exactly how to begin.
I’m far from being an expert on Japanese cuisine, but happily, TWOKOI diners don’t have to know everything, and questions are met with gracious smiles and definitive answers. So we asked, Rebecca and I, about the sake. We were looking for something to take the chill out of our bones, “the Mondays” off our minds, and to set the tone for the meal we were both anticipating.
The sake samplers provide generous tastes of three sakes, ranging from sweeter to drier. The choices were formidable—the menu featuring ten sake samplers from which to choose—but we settled on the number one and the number four: The number one because the Murai Nigori Genshu promised “a hint of coconut,” which always piques my interest; and the number four because each of the descriptions used the word “refreshing,” and, as I said, it was a Monday.
And as we talked, we came to this conclusion: TWOKOI may just be the perfect place for two friends to meet and rejuvenate. There is something about the atmosphere here that invites lingering conversation and contemplation of the food, rather than mere enjoyment of the meal. TWOKOI is serene with its creamy Japanese lanterns, dark wooden surfaces, up-lighting, and strategically placed bamboo, yet contemporary and fun with a digitized aquarium near the sushi bar and its view over the “minimalist” Tollefson Plaza to Tacoma Art Museum and beyond.
After comforting bowls of miso soup, we realized that we’d both been craving sushi for some time and were in the mood for simple, clean, honest, raw fish. Neither of us is one to splurge on a big dinner, so we agreed on three choices from the sushi menu—hamachi, maguro, and sake (yellow tail, tuna, and salmon: two pieces each)—and when our server presented them, we both actually sighed.
We also ordered a dish to share called the TWOKOI Tower. When it came to our table, the word I finally found to describe it was “confection.” Spicy tuna and salmon alternate with layers of rice in a tall cylinder, which is topped with tiny crisp rice noodles, set atop drizzles of richly savory and sweet sauces, and sprinkled with three different kinds of tobiko (flying fish roe).
After enjoying mango and strawberry mochi ice cream balls split into petallike fours and adorned with reasonable poufs of whipped cream, we were happy, full, relaxed, and somehow transformed by what we both agreed was more a dining experience for the senses than simply a meal.
It wasn’t all that long ago that America was dominated by Main Street, that avenue of local businesses where everything you needed was available and sold by people you knew. There is a South Sound organization based in Tacoma which works to bring that back around by committing more dollars and traffic to local independent businesses and local products.
Go Local Tacoma, a two-year old organization of Tacoma business owners, is showing all of us that the more we support local independent business, the more everyone benefits. Patricia Lecy-Davis, proprietor of the Embellish Salon in Downtown Tacoma, is the organization’s president. She stresses the links that tie independent local business to the community at large. “It’s the thread that links business to community, to non profit entities, to government, and to customers.
Go Local has worthwhile goals, but what do they do? Most importantly, Go Local is a brand. Go Local companies are advertised as such, with a distinctive logo featuring Mt. Rainier. The logo is prominently featured on everything the organization releases, plus it is shown on the storefront of all members. In addition, Go Local has a presence at local events throughout the year, with a particular focus on Tacoma’s many neighborhood farmers markets. The logo is splashed on local magazines and newspapers, and will soon appear on the fleet vehicles of Click Cable TV, as they are one of the organization’s sponsors. If someone has not seen the logo they soon will. Go Local seeks to raise visibility for local business wherever and whenever possible.
The Go Local organization and the connected, larger idea of local production and consumption offers many advantages to local consumers. Money spent locally stays local. A Go Local business is owned and operated by the consumer’s neighbors and friends. Go Local views this as an inherent good to it’s surrounding community. Also a local-based economy is a greener economy. Money spent locally decreases the carbon footprint—the amount of total greenhouse gases caused both directly and indirectly by a product—by a significant amount.
Go Local is not just about production and consumption. They confess to aim higher than that. There is something larger and more important at stake. A sense of community, a sense of ownership for everyone. “Local matters, it matters a lot!” states Patricia Lecy-Davis, “We have an opportunity to make a shift in mindset.”
As Lecy-Davis put it, “consumers feel value in knowing that their dollars are going to support their neighbors.” Pick up a “Tacoma Live” at any Tacoma Farmers Market, and enjoy the guide of your local independent businesses in 14 neighborhoods, downtown, and on the waterway. Go to www.golocaltacoma.com for more details.
Confucius said, “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” Summertime in Western Washington is alive with ways to experience music—street fairs, concerts in the park, county fairs and music festivals. From the Olympic Peninsula to Tacoma to Seattle, music festivals feature classical, jazz, hip-hop and everything in between.
At the Olympic Music Festival, the sweet smell of hay mixes with the exquisite sounds of classical music. Located near Quilcene on the Olympic Peninsula, the festival is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Alan Iglitzin, a founder and member of the Philadelphia String Quartet, originally intended the property to be a summer retreat for musicians—a place to rehearse and enjoy the serenity of the fifty-five acre spread. He soon discovered that Northwest audiences were interested in enjoying chamber music in a pastoral setting. In 1984, the Olympic Music Festival was born.
What began as a three weekend festival has grown to twelve. This year’s performances begin on June 27 and continue through September 6.
With something for every chamber music lover, the festival presents a wide range of composers, from Dvorak to Schubert to Mendelssohn. Compositions by Beethoven will be featured the second weekend in July; works by Brahms the first weekend in August.
For early arrivals, there are footpaths to explore and donkeys to feed. Rusty old farm implements dot the landscape and tables are available for picnickers. For sale in an old milking shed are CDs, coffee, wine, souvenirs, and carrots for the donkeys.
In Tacoma, over fifty-thousand travelers will explore the world without leaving the shady, leafy oasis of Wright Park. The 24th annual Ethnic Fest takes place July 25 and 26. Coordinator Lori Crace says “We all get together and celebrate our differences and what we have in common, and appreciate what is special and unique about other cultures.” Participants celebrate the richness of ethnic diversity in the Tacoma area by experiencing dozens of activities. The event is a sensory adventure. Festival-goers can savor food from around the globe, admire exotic arts and crafts and enjoy the sounds of native music.
Culturally authentic musical performances will take place on two stages throughout both days of the festival. Some are returning acts; others will be performing at Ethnic Fest for the first time. Among the genres represented will be Irish, reggae, Japanese, gypsy jazz and African.
Gaelic group Crumac entertains with time-honored Irish music. Upbeat and light-hearted, their performances are defined by spirited banter and audience participation, contributing to the crowd’s lively mood. The trio plays Uilleann bagpipes and whistles, fiddles, and guitars. Their repertoire includes lively jigs, flings and reels. All three band members have northwest ties.
Though Alex Duncan has a background encompassing all types of music he is mostly influenced by reggae. Characterized by a strong syncopated rhythm and lyrics of social protest, reggae is a style of Jamaican popular music blending blues, calypso, and rock-’n’-roll. His high-energy excites; his uncommon dedication to the sanctity of human life makes him a noteworthy artist in our time. The Beat Magazine wrote “Self confidence is one of the most important assets in the music business and this clearly dedicated artist shows he has that in abundance by setting high standards and continually surpassing them.”
One World Taiko is a Japanese drum ensemble which combines Japan’s age-old tradition of animated, spirited festival drumming with contemporary jazz rhythms. The group performs a modern style of Japanese drumming that blends intensely energetic movement with pounding percussion. Dancing while playing an assortment of drums, the entertainers’ energy fills the stage. Included in their repertoire are traditional pieces and original compositions embracing their own imaginative rhythms, arrangements and dance moves, adding a modern spirit to the venerable tradition of Taiko.
The high-energy combo, Ranger and the Re-Arrangers, is led by Bainbridge Island’s fiddling sensation Ranger Sciatta. The group plays intriguing melodies in an upbeat, unique “gypsy jazz” style. Sciacca’s featured violin solos have been described as “sizzling”. The band features an exceptional jazz improviser, Dave Stewart, on mandolin. The remaining three members of the five-member, all instrumental band excel at their respective instruments—bass, rhythm guitar, and percussion. Ranger’s creative leads complement the group’s steady, swinging rhythms. Influenced by the style created in the 1930s by Django Reinhardt and other European string players who embraced American jazz, their music is exhilarating and inspiring.
North of Tacoma lies Seattle, where it seldom rains on Labor Day weekend. Yet the word Bumbershoot is thought to be a combination of the “umber” (from umbrella) and “chute” (from parachute). It’s meant to be a metaphor; the festival is an umbrella for all the various arts and performances it includes.
Since 1971 Bumbershoot has drawn artists representing the best in film, comedy, spoken word, dance, theatre, visual arts, and music. It’s North America’s largest urban arts festival and one of the largest in the world. Over 150,000 visitors are expected to converge upon the seventy-four acre Seattle Center.
Regional favorites to international superstars like Sheryl Crow will perform in a variety of settings. Some venues are large, others small; some indoor, others outdoor. The home of the 1962 World’s Fair boasts a top-notch opera house and an outdoor stadium.
The Temptations. The Four Tops. Gladys Knight and the Pips. Soul artist Raphael Saadiq counts all of them among his greatest influences. With uncommon ability, he’s been able to meld their sounds with his to create his own style of passionate soul music. Some pieces have an insistent driving beat; others have a smooth balladry sound. Fusing the best of traditional and contemporary R&B, he’s an artist continuing a tradition that goes back to the ‘60s.
Michael Franti wears no shoes. In an anti-poverty protest, he gave up footwear, initially for three days, and never went back. Except for occasionally wearing crocs or flip-flops, Franti has been shoeless for almost ten years. His music reflects his support for a wide spectrum of peace and social justice issues, voicing his political observations through music. His band, Spearhead, complements his captivating, sensual singing voice, blending hip hop with a variety of other styles including funk, reggae, jazz, and folk. More recent compositions combine affirming lyrics are set to swelling rock chords. “I think over time, we’ve created a sound that’s unique to our band,” he notes.
De La Soul’s style is “anti-rap”. Creative and innovative, the three man jazz-rap group bucks current trends and remains true to itself. The three musicians create hip-hop that mocks the work of the latest overnight sensations and their often ostentatious charades. Though they’ve been disparaged for their refusal to embrace violent themes, they’ve received a Grammy and high praise from critics. De La Soul’s sounds are novel and refreshing.
A summer-long music extravaganza awaits. Whether you prefer classical, international or pop, put on your shorts and sandals, pack up the sunscreen and enjoy. As Ronald Regan said, “Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music.”
South Sounders convened for the 20th annual Capital Food and Wine Festival held at the Norman Worthington Conference Center at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey. Guests sampled cuisine, wine and micro brews from 60 local vendors. Pearl Django, The BaudBoy and Sweet City Slang kept the evening’s melodies playing to accompany the festivites. Proceeds from the event provide support for the Saint Martin’s Alumni Association.
Wearable art lovers from across the south sound flocked to one of the best gala parties in the area. The Rags Wearable Art Gala Show was held March 12 at Mercedes-Benz of Tacoma in Fife. More than 50 unique artisan vendors offered the attendees unparalleled opportunities to find treasures prior to the doors opening to the public. Shoppers enjoyed the sounds of music played by the Kareem Khandi Band while noshing on food provided by Corina Bakery, Joeseppi’s Ristorante and Snuffin’s catering. Proceeds from this juried wearable art sale benefited the YWCA’s domestic violence prevention programs.