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News Roundup -- Music has a new promoter/Araki brings Irish favorites/Club prunes a round(about)/YMCA honors BHS students

Norm Johnson -
Norm Johnson
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Music has a new promoter

There’s a new nonprofit in town, but the face is familiar.

Islander Norm Johnson, who organized live music and open mic shows at Pegasus Coffee House every weekend under the Island Music Guild umbrella, is still doing so.

But he’s now working as Music Community Resources, to focus strictly on performances.

“I continue to be astounded at the talent I see in this community,” Johnson said. “It’s so professional, (even) kids and beginning adults who maybe wanted to do music earlier in their lives, but just now start performing in public.”

A chemist by trade and an amateur alto recorder player, Johnson started organizing the concerts as a music appreciator.

Johnson says he especially enjoys the more intimate and casual atmosphere of a coffeehouse performance.

“You really feel like by the end of the evening you’ve made a friend,” Johnson said. “The performer talks to the audience and doesn’t just play a song list.

“That’s the draw to live music or even versus larger shows...you’re right up there (with the performer).”

The shows, which run Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., will continue to be an inclusive mix of “a little of everything,” jazz, classical, folk and rock.

Johnson has a “particular fondness” for doing classical music at the coffeehouse, as opposed to a concert hall where people feel like they have to put on a tux to go.

“In a coffeehouse, you’re introducing classical music to an audience that didn’t know they liked it, and if you don’t like it, there’s no embarrassment in coming and going,” Johnson said.

He cited the recent performance by islander Justin Donais, who interspersed his performance with commentary on the works he chose for the more-than-capacity crowd.

“At a concert hall, you don’t get the heartfelt comments of why he spent the last 12 years studying cello or why he chose the music he did,” Johnson said. “Really that is the connection. If an artist makes a connection with the audience, the audience goes home feeling happy.”

Those interested in playing at the Pegasus Coffee House Sunday open mic can just show up from 7 to 9:30 p.m. To book a show for Friday or Saturday evening, contact Johnson at 842-5485 or johnson5485@msn.com.

--Tina Lieu

Araki brings Irish favorites

Estimable flutist Hanz Araki had so much fun performing at his sold-out show last August at the Island Music Guild Hall that he’s coming back for more.

He and his band, An Tua, will perform traditional Irish tunes starting at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4.

Dublin’s Irish Radio Network, Live Ireland, recently named Araki “Best Male Newcomer of the Year 2005” and wrote on its website: “He is from Seattle. We had never heard of him. Then, WHAM! His album, ‘Six of One 5 of the Other,’ hit our desk. Araki is a terrific flute player and a truly terrific singer...This is a big-time talent...”

Tickets for the performance are $12 for adults and $9 for students and senior citizens. Call (360) 842-5485 for advanced tickets or more information.

Club prunes a round(about)

For some time, the roundabout at Madison Avenue and High School Road and its four corners had begun to look like an unruly and scraggly mop of weeds.

So when Marilyn Mathis, president of the Bainbridge Island Garden Club, and club members offered to take the roundabout under their green thumbs, the city couldn’t refuse.

“I think it’s wonderful that they’re doing that,” said the club’s contact, city engineer Lorenz Eber, who had ushered through the roundabout project in 2001. “We highly appreciate private organizations working with us to make Bainbridge Island a beautiful place.”

Donning city-provided orange vests, the crew began working weekly last December on weeding, pruning bushes, tidying up the neglected vegetation, and cutting back plants overhanging the sidewalk by the totem pole, which had become tripping hazards.

Local Boy Scouts referred to Mathis by gardener Ann Lovejoy joined in to help spread three loads of mulch provided by the city.

“Our plan is to do some seasonal plantings, sun-loving annuals like petunia, zinnia, marigold and (flowering) shrubs for seasonal color,” Mathis said.

The January rains slowed down the work, but the group plans to visit the roundabout once or twice a month to tend the roundabout’s plants as weather permits.

– Tina Lieu

YMCA honors BHS students

Bainbridge High School seniors Cynthia Foley and Ariana Taylor-Stanley recently were among nearly 40 teens honored by the YMCA of Greater Seattle.

They received the YMCA Youth Leadership Award for demonstrating leadership to motivate and inspire others, or using significant and creative means to make positive change for their YMCA and the community at-large.

Foley was cited as a motivated and inspiring leader for the Earth Service Corps Club at Bainbridge High School.

The YMCA lauded her for being “always full of big ideas that are going to change the world and she knows the practical steps to do it. Cynthia maintains an air of professionalism and at the same time knows how to have a lot of fun with the group she leads.”

Fellow Earth Service Corps leader Taylor-Stanley was praised for leading “through her imagination and creativity” and for “her ability to be responsible and reliable while still bringing into all aspects of her leadership an atmosphere of originality and quiet flare. Ariana is a leader who is always full of fun and unique ideas for the group.”

Furry film

for Furrytale

Helping animals couldn’t be easier.

A benefit screening of the new Disney action adventure “Eight Below” offers an evening of entertainment and the opportunity to support Furrytale Farm, the island’s no-kill sanctuary for abused and abandoned animals.

In “Eight Below,” an abandoned team of sled dogs struggles to survive in Antarctica.

The screening will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 at Bainbridge Cinemas in the Pavilion. Get advance tickets, $15 each, at the cinema box office. For more information see www.furrytalefarm.org.

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