What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “Arrangements are now being made whereby members of the Seattle Tennis Club may keep their canoes at the canoe house,” and, “The Fortnightly Study Club met with Mrs. Robert Brinkley for a luncheon that developed into a delightful all-afternoon visit.” In this series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

Sunday, May 12, is Mother’s Day. Let’s look back, fondly, at the May 12, 1923 Town Crier as they wax poetic about mothers. Truth is, they sort of throw the mothers of 1923 under the bus!

“Tomorrow, the second Sunday in May, is set aside for the annual observance of ‘Mother’s Day.’ Today will find the florist shops raided by sons and daughters bent on paying formal tribute to their mothers if the latter are within reach, or, otherwise, obeying instruction seen on every hand this week and telegraphing flowers ‘to any part of the world.’

It’s a beautiful thought. Every mother appreciates it. But if there is the tiniest sense of humor left in her system she will smile to herself perhaps a bit sadly at the mother she is and the one they think she is. No one may say a word against her precious mother but when it comes to one’s self – that’s quite another matter. She knows she is not the belle of the Mother’s Day party. Far from it. But outwardly she never lets on – she must keep faith with the tribe and not let them down.

Long ago when mothers reached the venerable age of forty, they took to caps and chimney corners. Nowadays caps have given way to cigarettes and mothers, or many of them, smoke like chimneys. Powder, rouge, eyebrow pencil, and lip stick, are not beyond the ken of the modern mother. She keeps up with her daughters and can give and take on an equality with her sons. It may have its perils but this is certain: They tell her things that the sons and daughters of fifty years ago would never have dreamed of mentioning to a parent.

She may not be so revered as was her mother, but she may be confident that she is as deeply loved by her children. She may not be so wise as the mother of that period, but nine chances out of ten she knows more about human nature and its divagations. She is clearer-eyed. She needs to be. Training children is the most important business in the world and if she neglects it she is quite aware that it is not her ignorance but her indolence that is the cause.

A mother of today needs to be alert if she would keep in spiritual touch with her children and when she shares all knowledge with them as they grow to man- and woman-hood and tries faithfully to guide them, then there can be no tribute too great paid her. But, let her not vaunt herself and let her not be unduly puffed up. A humble heart and contrite spirit would be more in keeping with the realities in the case. When all’s said and done there must be many derelict mothers to be held accountable for the army of derelict children and grown-ups. Modern or ancient the command of ‘line upon line and precept upon precept’ still holds good. There is no short cut for mothers. Those who instituted ‘Mother’s Day’ must have understood that and tried in their dear bungling way to express their heart full of tender sympathy.”

You modern mothers, you, those of you who smoke like chimneys and those that do not, those with humble hearts and those with proud hearts—have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

Don’t Be a Chump. Go to the Jump Session Show!

For 20 years, Camp Jitterbug has invited Seattle to learn from talented musicians and spectacular dancers. Now their incredible Jump Session Show returns, filling Town Hall’s stage with a celebration of Jazz, Tap, Lindy Hop, and Swing dances featuring some of the top dancers and musicians from around the world. It takes place on May 24 at Town Hall’s Great Hall. Tickets are on sale now!

To get your toes a’tappin’ before the event, we offer up a few videos of some of the dances you might see the night of the show!

Lindy Hop:

The Lindy Hop was born in Harlem in 1928, evolving with the jazz music of the time. A fusion of many dances, including tap and the Charleston, it was exceedingly popular during the swing era of the 1930s and 40s.

Interesting Factoid: It’s named for Charles Lindbergh who “hopped” over the the Atlantic on his famous flight.


Swing dance is an umbrella term for a variety of specific dances, including the Lindy Hop, the Balboa, the Collegiate Shag, and the Charleston. The majority of swing dances originated in African American communities.


Tap dancing has many variations: flamenco, jazz, classical, Broadway, and post-modern tap. With roots in the fusion of several ethnic percussive dances, from Spanish flamenco to African tribal dances, English clog dancing to Spanish jigs, it gained prominence in the mid-1800s with minstrel shows.

Famous tap dancers include Master Juba, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Gregory Hines, and Savion Glover.

Watch some of the greatest dancers in the world on the Great Hall stage on May 24. Hot-foot it over to Town Hall after you buy your tickets.


What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “There will be an entertainment given at the Y.W.C.A. recital hall next Friday evening which should be of special interest to students of French,” and, “Dixie Fleager was the only one in any way to distinguish himself as the Seattle Golf Club sent its men’s team north to Victoria.” In this series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

The May 3, 1919 edition of the Town Crier gave high praise to a concert that took place at the Swedish Tabernacle at the corner of Pike and Bellevue. Under the direction of Rudolph Muller, with Earl Alexander and Madame Else Grieg Andresen as assisting artists, the Norwegian Male Chorus had a stirring show. “As an interpretation of Grieg’s music,” it noted, “rendered in the composer’s native tongue, the concert was one of the great treats of the season; no one can fully appreciate this music until it is heard in Norwegian.”

It seems as though Andresen, fronting the chorus, stole the show. Her solo numbers, in particular ‘Margaret’s Cradle Song,’ from Grieg, “was sung with deep feeling and beautiful diction.” The article continued, “Her solo, with the male chorus won enthusiasm.” Earl Alexander also gave several solos “which were received with hearty applause.”

The applause for the Norwegian Male Chorus is still resounding because the chorus is still operating today! In fact, the Norwegian Male Chorus was founded in 1889—the year of Washington’s statehood—and is the oldest continuously operating choral organization in Seattle.

A proud member of the Pacific Coast Norwegian Singers Association and the Greater Seattle Choral Consortium, they also partner with such arts groups as the Norwegian Ladies Chorus of Seattle, the Swedish Singers of Seattle, and the Finnish Choral Society of Seattle.

Learn more about them on their website here.

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “Mrs. Eliza Ferry Leary has gone to Washington, D.C., to attend the National Convention of the Daughters of the American Revolution,” and, “Leopold Godowsky, the noted pianist, was the honored guest at a luncheon last Saturday given by Mrs. Frederick Bentley.” In this series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

All is not well. The April 26, 1919 edition of the Town Crier laments the state of affairs within the Seattle Police Department. “There is ample room for the suspicion that all is not well with the police department of the city of Seattle.” It continues, “Such suspicion, of course, not being entirely without precedent. In fact there have been years at a time when the police department would have felt itself neglected were it not struggling from under a cloud of suspicion, or resting contentedly without struggling as the case might be.” It seems that there were grifters and ne’er-do-wells in the police force. “It has been said that it is impossible to obtain a bottle of whisky in Seattle that is really fit to drink unless you get it through a policeman.” They suggested that the police chief do “a thorough housecleaning.”

Town Hall was involved in a panel discussion about policing recently. The University of Washington’s Health Alliance International, with the UW Students of Color Affinity Group, UW Concerned Faculty, UW Department of Global Health, Red May, and Elliott Bay Book Company, invited a panel discussion on “Community and Legal Strategies to Stop Police Violence.” Panelists included Jorge Torres, Alex Vitale, David Correia, and former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper.

We Are All Made of Stars: A Brief Conversation with Moby

What do you do when you realize you have everything you think you’ve ever wanted but still feel completely empty? In the summer of 1999, Moby released the album Play, arguably the album that defined the millennium and propelled him to stardom. But then it all fell apart. He’ll discuss the second volume of his memoir, Then It Fell Apart, on May 10 at Seattle First Baptist Church. You can get your tickets now. Before he hits the stage, he sat down to chat with Town Hall’s marketing manager, Jonathan Shipley.

JS: I was curious as to how you navigated and navigate friendships, pre-fame and post. Post-fame you must be leery of anyone befriending you, asking yourself, ‘What do they want from me?’ Friendships you made before you were famous must have been hard to navigate as you became a star.

M: It’s not so much that I question people’s’ motives, it’s more that pre-fame friendships tend to be based around shared circumstances and frames of reference which makes friendships more effortless. It can be hard to navigate resentments and bitterness on the part of old friends.

JS: What celebrities that you’ve hung out with have been positive influences on your life? Which ones, not so much?

M: David Bowie, Lou Reed, and David Lynch have all been wonderful, positive friendships. I’ll avoid that second question—I don’t need more enemies.

JS: Now that you’re on the other side of fame, what skills do you wish you had developed before becoming famous?

M: I honestly have no regrets, nor do I wish I’d done anything differently. I’m grateful for the weird life and perspective I have. Life and perspective are, by definition, the product of the circumstances that led to them.

JS: What did you wish you did differently after Play blew up?

M: Nothing. I love the mistakes I’ve made, as they’ve taught me more than any of the things I ended up doing reasonably well.

JS: Having ‘fallen apart,’ what are you most proud of about yourself after the fact?

M: That I can still, at times, string sentences together.

JS: Are there ways that being a music celebrity better than being, say, an actor?

M: In a way it’s better that I have a lot of creative autonomy. A musician’s work can generally be more bespoke, personal, and sui generis.

JS: You mention being sad and lonely before Play. Post Play, did that amplify it or diminish it? In what ways?

M: Curing loneliness post-Play became compulsive, at least until I got sober.

JS: What sort of emotional connections to audiences are you hoping to make with your music?

M: Ideally, a connection based in honesty, shared experience of the human condition, and service. That might sound cliché, but it’s true.

See Moby discuss his life, and maybe he’ll play a tune or two, on May 10. Get your tickets here.

Also, according to Moby’s Twitter feed, he’s the adopted son of John Waters. John Waters will be at Town Hall on May 29. You should attend that, too! Tickets are on sale now.

Conducting an Interview with Lake Union Civic Orchestra’s Nikolas Caoile

The Lake Union Civic Orchestra (LUCO) is celebrating the retirement of Christoph Chagnard this season. It’s his 20th and final season with the orchestra. The person taking his place is Nikolas Caoile. LUCO has two more concerts to round out Chagnard’s final season. On May 4, Chagnard conducts pieces by Ravel, Schumann, and Debussy at the First Free Methodist Church. On June 14, at the same location, Chagnard and Caoile share the podium in works by Nicolai, Jones, and Shostakovich. More information about those concerts can be found here.

Town Hall’s marketing manager Jonathan Shipley chatted with Caoile, LUCO’s newly appointment music director, about Sibelius symphonies, the Mozart of our time, and what a conductor actually does up there on the podium.

Caoile is currently the Music Director and Conductor of the Wenatchee Valley Symphony Orchestra, and Director of Orchestras at Central Washington University (CWU). Since 2017, Caoile has served as Acting Chair of the Department of Music at CWU and he’s guest conducted with many orchestras including Yakima Symphony, Olympia Symphony, and the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas.

JS: What interested you in being a part of LUCO?

NC: In addition to being talented and dedicated musicians, the members of this orchestra are also fun people. I had already worked with the group as a guest conductor in 2016, and we continually found ourselves laughing and having a good time. When a group loves what they are doing, it comes through in the performance and the music.

JS: What initially got you interested in classical music? What did/do you play?

NC: I’m trained as a pianist and percussionist. I grew up as a member of the Portland Youth Philharmonic, and there were many conductors who mentored me when I expressed interest in pursuing a career as a music director: Huw Edwards, current conductor of the Olympia Symphony Orchestra; Bruce McIntosh, professor emeritus at Willamette University; and Peter Erös, the late music director at the University of Washington.

JS: What are some of your favorite composers/pieces to conduct and why?

NC: Lately, I have been drawn to composers whose language is unique and interesting. Sibelius symphonies, Benjamin Britten operas, Korngold film music. Ravel ballet music.  

JS: What are some unheralded composers you wish had more prominence?

NC: Alban Berg needs more attention—he tended to use very, very large orchestras, but only used the instruments sparingly. John Luther Adams (not to be confused with John Adams) has written an amazing body of works inspired by the natural world. If you look at the prolific and varied output by Daron Hagen, well, I think he could be regarded as the Mozart of our time. He has complete control of his voice.

JS: What does a conductor bring to a performance that the layperson may not realize?

NC: The conductor makes no sound, but yet is somehow responsible for coalescing many musicians into one whole. The conductor is an active, collaborative participant but communicates silently through gesture. As well as directing the musicians, I feel that the conductor also “shows” the audience what to listen for in the music. Symphony orchestra is not a spectator sport, but as the most physically active person on the stage, the conductor can help “describe” what is happening in the music.

Watch Chagnard and Caoile coalesce the musicians soon. Buy your tickets now.

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “The social event of Easter Week will be the Franco-Amerique card party, tea, and dansant,” and, “Mr. Paul M. Gustin left yesterday for Vancouver Island on a sketching and painting trip.” In this series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

Oof. Cringe-worthy. There’s a small tidbit in the April 19, 1919 edition of the Town Crier entitled “Power.” It was only nine years after the state of Washington allowed women to vote. It wasn’t until 1920 that the 19th Amendment was ratified allowing all American women to vote. It wasn’t until 1926 that Seattle had it’s first woman mayor, Bertha Knight Landis. It was quite some time before Seattle had another woman mayor.

The little “joke” in the 1919 Crier reads in full:

“I never saw a woman so full of energy,” it reads. “Nor I. Why, merely correcting her mistakes keeps two men busy.”

The many varied themes of feminism have taken the main stage of Town Hall time and again. Elaine Weiss was here recently to discuss the women’s suffrage movement. Blair Imani celebrated under-recognized leaders of modern movements with HERstory. Jill Soloway discussed desire, power, and toppling the patriarchy. Evelyn McDonnell championed women who rock. Amber Tamblyn discussed coming of age in a time of rage and revolution and Siri Hustvedt  joined us with her book Memories of the Future.

For a full list of coming civics events go here.

Too Hot to Handel

On April 27 at St. Mark’s Cathedral, the Seattle Baroque Orchestra and the Byrd Ensemble will present Georg Handel’s most enduring work, Messiah. You can learn more about the event here.

Before the concert, learn a thing or ten about arguably the most famous Baroque composer that ever lived.

1) Handel was born on February 23, 1685 in Halle-upon-Saale in Germany. It was the same year another famous composer was born—Johann Sebastian Bach.

2) Handel’s father wasn’t too keen on young Georg’s musical pursuits. He opposed it and forbid any musical instrument to enter the house. In the attic, Georg snuck in a small spinet.

3) In 1710, Handel became a Kapellmeister. What’s a Kapellmeister? The director of music for a nobleman. He was employed by German prince George, the Elector of Hanover, who would, in 1714, become King George I of Great Britain and Ireland.

4) Handel permanently settled in London. 200-some years later another music legend lived in the same house Handel did. That man? Jimi Hendrix.

5) Handel became quite the opera star. In just twelve months, between 1724 and 1725, he wrote three successful operas: Giulo Cesare, Tamerlano, and Rodelinda. In his career, he wrote 42 operas.

6) Handel composed his first oratorio in 1707. Messiah was composed in 1741.

7) Messiah was first performed as part of an Easter celebration in Dublin, Ireland on April 13, 1742. 700 people attended the premiere. To make sure as many could attend as possible, gentlemen were asked to remove their swords and ladies not wear hoops in their dresses.

8) Of course, the most famous section of the piece is the “Hallelujah” chorus.

9) In 1751 Handel’s eyesight began to fail. He became completely blind the following year.

10) Handel died in 1759 and was buried at Westminster Abbey. The last performance he ever attended? Messiah.

Listen to Handel’s masterwork on April 27 at St. Mark’s Cathedral. Buy your tickets today.


Lectern Lectures

The Forum is now open! We’re excited about all the possibilities of the space. One item in the new space is a functional piece of art—the lectern. Comprised primarily of 14-gauge cold-rolled steel and finished with acid patina and wax, the lectern’s height is electrically variable from 42” to 48” via linear actuator. Its body rolls on ‘ball races,’ typically used for heavy material handling, but reconfigured and manufactured as furniture casters, complete with brakes!

Karl Swanson, who built the lectern, chatted briefly with Town Hall’s marketing manager, Jonathan Shipley, about his art.

Karl Swanson

JS: What is your full time job?

KS: I don’t work full-time anywhere…I am self-underemployed, focusing on my personal art.

JS: How did you get into metalwork?

KS: I was self-introduced to metal fabrication in my grandfather’s shop in Grand Island, Nebraska. He did his own maintenance on his many rental properties. He had all types of tools and materials, and me and my siblings were free to explore. I once made a chicken out of wire, nuts, and bolts! My earliest love was automobiles, and to be creative with them you needed metalworking skills, so that steered me in the general direction. Also, after dropping out of art school, my step-mother recommended that I attend vocational school and learn to weld, both for work and sculpture. Although I ultimately did not do the schooling, the suggestion nudged me toward the craft.

JS: What are some other metal projects that you’ve done?

KS: I was a metal fabricator professionally for 25 years, all told. Everything from blacksmithing to aerospace metal fabrication. I did my own sculptural furniture in Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara. The list of projects is long. Recently, I built folding bunk beds for a tiny house construction company that was being filmed for a reality TV show.

JS: Why did you want to work with Town Hall?

KS: My family has a long tradition of being supportive of—and being culturally nurtured by—Town Hall. The building’s renovation project was impressive and ambitious and I wanted to take part somehow. Also, Wier Harman had been instrumental in helping our family find the perfect care facility for our matriarch and I wanted to return the favor.

JS: About the lectern—what aspect of it are you most proud of?

KS: I am most proud of creating a tool that satisfies both myself as a designer/fabricator and Town Hall as an end user.

JS: What was the most challenging aspect of the lectern?

KS: The most challenging part was the time frame: fully six months from first discussions to finished product. There were some relatively minor technical challenges that I lost a bit of sleep over, but those are to be expected with custom fabrication when there are moving components.

JS: What’s your next metal project?

KS: I plan to do some personal small-scale sculpture with copper, brass and cloth. I will also continue to do itinerant metalwork for a shop in Santa Barbara. I might possibly help with the exterior electric bicycle corral at Town Hall, too!

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “The Art Institute wore festive attire on Wednesday, with nearly 3,000 narcissus and daffodil blossoms,” and, “Next Monday, Mrs. J.H. Hill will entertain a number of her friends at bridge at The Camlin.” In this series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

There’s an ad in the April 13, 1929 edition of the Town Crier. It’s for the Exeter. The building is “a delightful place to live.” From bachelor rooms to family apartments, they’re “all tastefully furnished.” The Exeter is across the street from Town Hall. More? Our administrative offices are in that selfsame building!

It’s a Seattle historical site, the Exeter. It was one of several high rise apartment buildings constructed on First Hill in the 1920s. It was originally constructed as an apartment hotel, with 139 two- to three-bedroom apartments, so they could be combined into larger units, and 19 large apartments with fireplaces. There was a dining room on the first floor for those who did not want to cook in their apartments. With its Tudor Gothic terracotta ornamentation, it was one of the sterling buildings in the neighborhood. It was designed by B. Dudley Stuart and Arthur Wheatley.

In the 1880s-90s, First Hill, where Town Hall and the Exeter stands, was one of the most desirable residential neighborhoods in the city. With stunning views and with its close proximity to downtown, some of Seattle’s finest mansions began appearing. Apartment building living came soon after to the neighborhood.

Interested in living at the Exeter yourself? You can! All the better that your neighbors are your friends, us here at Town Hall.

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