Arts and Entertainment

Birthday tributes: Django, Stafford

Bainbridge residents are in the mood to celebrate with birthday parties for a couple of cultural heroes: Gypsy jazz band “Ranger and the Re-Arrangers” pay tribute to Django Reinhardt and Bainbridge poets commemorate beloved Northwest poet Willam Stafford.


William Stafford

The 10th annual William Stafford Birthday Celebration will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23 at the Bainbridge Public Library, 1270 Madison Ave.

Free, but donations accepted.

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William Stafford

William Stafford was a prolific writer who described his method as “rubbing words together until something sparked.”

Those weathered fingers “sparked” 67 volumes, starting with his first book of poetry, “West of Your City,” at the age of 46. He received the National Book Award for his poetry collection “Traveling through the Dark” (1963). Stafford wrote every day of his life from 1950 to 1993.

For years, he taught poetry at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon. When asked by students how he was able to produce a poem a day as was his habit, he said, “Lower your standards.”

“He used simple language about common things to convey profound ideas about life,” said Bainbridge Island poet Neil Baker, who will moderate the 10th annual William Stafford Birthday Celebration Monday night at the library.

His style was “deceptively simple,” Baker said.

The format is deceptively simple as well: One of four local poets will read a Stafford poem, after which those gathered will have an opportunity to share with the group their response to the poem.

“Any thought, experience, comment, will help us see it from a different perspective,” Baker said.” “Every reaction is valid and important.”

The four poems will be selected and read by Bainbridge Island poets Jennifer Hager, Gary Anderson, Marit Saltrones and David Stallings.

The free event is open to all regardless of level of knowledge and experience about poetry.

“It’s an unusual opportunity to participate in something in which you may have no prior experience. We welcome everybody.”



Django Reinhardt

Gypsy-band Ranger and the ‘Re-Arrangers’ announce its third annual celebration of Django Reinhardt’s Birthday from 7-9:15 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21 at Island Center Hall, 8395 Fletcher Bay Rd.

Free, but donations accepted.

For more information, visit


Django Reinhardt

Django Reinhardt, known as the father of “Gypsy Jazz,” was one of Europe’s most acclaimed composers and guitar players. In the 1930s, injuries from a fire left gypsy Django Reinhardt bedridden for 18 months. A guitarist, he spent the time developing a whole new fingering system favoring the two fingers on his left hand that had full mobility. The new sound enthralled listeners and he enjoyed international acclaim.

In September Ranger Sciacca, who fronts the gypsy jazz band “Ranger and the Re-Arrangers,” sliced a digit on his fingering hand while cutting bread. With a gig scheduled, he taped up the wound and played his fiddle for four hours. The finger has since healed and he’ll be using it wildly Saturday at the third annual Django Birthday Party. Reinhardt was born Jan. 24, 1910, and Sciacca and friends have used the mid-winter date as a time to pay tribute to the man who has had such an influence on them.

“It’s remarkable that 60-70 years after the recordings, that he would still be the best,” Sciacca said. “I’ve listened to all the contemporary artists in the genre, but who inspires me the most is Django.”

Several talented local jazz musicians will make guest appearances at the event, including Darin Locke on guitar, Molly Knell on vocals, Chris Laughbon on trombone, Roger Ferguson on guitar and Gwen Franz on viola. The evening of music will consist exclusively of Django’s compositions and the jazz standards he recorded. Each musician will play three songs and at the end of the night everybody will come together for two final songs.

“It’s beautiful music,” Sciacca said.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the music program will run from 7-9:15 p.m. There is no charge, but donations will be accepted at the door.

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