Getting Funky with Thaddeus Turner

Thaddeus Turner, also known as Thaddilac, is ready to rock for Town Hall and is inviting your kids to get funky. As part of Town Hall’s Saturday Family Concert series, Turner will combine the beauty of traditional soul with the power of rock on March 9 at the venerable Royal Room in Columbia City. KIDS ARE FREE (and adults are only $5). For more information and tickets go here.

Turner has become something of a Seattle institution. He’s currently the music director for the Grammy award-winning Digable Planets, is lead guitarist of Maktub, and has toured with the likes of Dave Matthews, India Arie, Lauyrn Hill, Stone Gossard, and many others. He’s also the co-founder of Totem Star, a non-profit dedicated to “amplify and empower youth voice through music production and performance to strengthen life skills in leadership, civic engagement, and community building.”

As a preview to the coming Saturday Family Concert, do you want to see him do his thing? Of course you do:

Here he is at the Columbia City Blues Festival:

Here he is rocking with Joe Doria and Scott Goodwin:

Here he is playing a cover of a Led Zeppelin song with Maktub:

 Awesome, right? Go check him out with your tots.

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, “Mr. Guy Manners, writer, soldier, and poet will speak before the Fine Arts Society, and, “Sverre Mack is leaving Seattle shortly for Norway where he will make his home. In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

“Dancing feet need expert care,” noted a Frederick & Nelson ad in the February 15, 1919 edition of the Town Crier. “Dancing feet need expert care to keep them always well-groomed and graceful, whether one dances barefoot or in slider silver slippers.” The ad continues, “The foot that is properly cared for knows no discomfort; it is conscious only of its daintiness and good grooming.”

There are plenty of feet dancing in Seattle. Here’s a (by no means comprehensive) list!

ARC Dance Company. Operating a 9,000 square foot dance facility in North Seattle, ARC supports community dance education programs and performances through ARC Dance Company and ARC School of Ballet.

Khambatta Dance Company. Since arriving in Seattle from New York in 2001, KDC’s programming has been seen throughout the west coast and abroad by over 40,000 people with works ranging from site-specific pieces to staged, full-length interdisciplinary productions.

Pacific Northwest Ballet. One of the largest and most highly regarded ballet companies in the United States, PNB was founded in 1972. The Company of nearly 50 dancers presents more than 100 performances each year of full-length and mixed repertory ballets.

Spectrum Dance Theater. Founded in 1982, Spectrum was founded to bring dance of the highest merit to a diverse audience composed of people from different social, cultural, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. They’re under the artistic leadership of Donald Byrd.

Velocity Dance Center. Velocity is Seattle’s award-winning art center dedicated to contemporary dance, fulfilling an un-duplicated role as an incubator and forward-thinking laboratory for new dance in the Pacific Northwest.

Whim W’Him. Whim W’Him is an award-winning contemporary dance company founded in 2009 by Olivier Wevers, former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer and choreographer, that showcases innovative dance in collaboration with global artists.

Happy Valentine’s Day

The February 17, 1923 edition of the Town Crier had this to say about Valentine’s Day:

Ash Wednesday, St. Valentine’s day and the worst snow storm of the year form a rather unusual combination for this section. Over the phone comes the information that the storm was due, as it is seven years since the last one, which set the high mark for all time evidently in quantity and quality. Perhaps there is something in the cycle theory – not to mention groundhog superstition!

As for the first day of Lent and St. Valentine’s day falling on the same date, they were both celebrated by the ancients as the harbingers of Spring: Lent, in the Saxon language signifying Spring, and choosing one’s mate on February 14, by the primitive custom of drawing the names of young women from boxes by the men, being a sport practiced in the houses of the gentry of England as far back as 1476…

It is easier to adjust oneself of the paradox of a fast day falling on the day of entwined hearts than to contemplate the stopping of all traffic on account of storm. No street-cars. People walking down the hills in the middle of the road – for that is what it was for all intents and purposes. The dull wall of the fog-horns came up from the bay and from that direction came also a wind that carved the icicles, hanging from the eaves on the house across the way, into the shape of stockings with the toes pointed sharply to the east.

The quiet enveloped one softly as the dawn. It was a day to sit comfortably at home, to put fresh logs on the fire and to cut the leaves of a new book…

Happy Valentine’s Day. May you be sitting comfortably at home, entwined with love. May the snowpocalpyse of 2019 soon be a quiet memory!

Movin’ Around the World: Winter

It’s like Town Hall, but over at the Seattle Center. “Through intergenerational, multicultural exchange, we aim to promote greater social understanding,” reads Northwest Folklife’s mission statement. It’s quite similar to Town Hall’s mission statement. “A vibrant gathering place in the heart of Seattle,” it reads, “fostering an engagement community through civic, arts, and educational programs that reflect and inspireour region’s best impulses: creativity, empathy, and the belief that we all deserve a voice.”

With that in mind, Town Hall is eager to be present at the coming “One Big Neighborhood” winter festival (2/16-2/22). It’s being put on by Northwest Folklife and the Seattle Center. We’ll have a table there on Saturday (2/16). Come on by and make a zine with us! The multi-day festival is a youth and family program that provides opportunities to share and sustain the vitality of folk, ethnic, and traditional arts for present and future generations.

Saturday’s (2/16) theme is “Youth Rising.” Performances will include the School of Rock House Band, Lil Brown Girls Club, and others!

Sunday’s (2/17) theme is “Expressions of Asia.” There will be martial arts, dancing, and much more.

Monday’s (2/18) theme is “Beats and Rhymes Hip Hop” and is being presented by 206 Zulu.

Tuesday’s (2/19) theme is “Rhythms and Motion” and will include Seattle Drum School and majorette dances.

Wednesday’s (2/20) theme is “Middle Eastern Folk Traditions.” There will be plenty of dancing.

Thursday’s (2/21) theme is “Festa Brazil!” and will include world music and Brazilian capoeira.

The festivities conclude on Friday (2/22) with “Roots of America.”

Whether you’re interested in breakdancing or taiko drumming; Appalachian dance or learning a Jimi Hendrix tune on ukulele, it’ll be One Big Neighborhood – one that Town Hall is so fortunate to be a part of.

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, “If conditions are favorable the Renton Hill Guild of the Orthopedics Association will give a card party next Tuesday , and, “the Monday Practice Club met Monday afternoon. In this new 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 February 8, 1919 editors of the Town Crier sang the praises of Seattle’s libraries in an article entitled “The Use of Books.” It reads, in part, “To thousands the Library is simply a place where one volume of fiction may be replaced by another. They have not yet learned how to use this great public utility. To other thousands it is a mine of knowledge from which they may draw that which they need at pleasure.” Other than the police station, the library is “the only public institution that is open to all in the evening: the only place where men, women and children alike are always welcome without money and without price.” The Crier took note that libraries were becoming community and neighborhood centers. “They are fulfilling their highest mission – public service.

Seattle’s first public library opened in April 1869. Sarah Yesler (1822-1887) was its first librarian. Yesler was a reader, an advocate of women’s suffrage, and a very active community-member. With $60 in funds, books were purchased. Some of them included Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essays and Percy Shelley’s Collected Poems.

By 1890, the Seattle Public Library had been adopted as a branch of Seattle city government. During the early decades, it operated in various places downtown, always needing more space. With some Andrew Carnegie funding, a new home for the library opened in 1906. Designed by architect P.J. Weber of Chicago, it was bounded by Fourth and Fifth avenues and Madison and Spring streets. When it opened it contained 81,035 books, had 22,444 borrowers, and 47 employees.

But by the 1930s, it too needed more space. It took some time to build a new structure. Dedicated on March 26, 1960, the new 206,000-square-foot Central Library took 21 months to build at a cost of $4.5 million. The five-story library featured escalators, air conditioning and a film department with 1,000 16-millimeter films. The new facility had 1 million books and 260,425 borrowers.

The 1990s brought about another round of library improvements. It included demolishing the existing Central Library and building a new one on-site. The new Central Library opened May 23, 2004. Designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, it is now prolifically sited as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.

Town Crier’s writers would be pleased at how far the library has come in fulfilling its highest mission.

Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater

The sorrowful mother was standing. This is the rough translation of “Stabat Mater dolorosa,” the first line of a 13th-century Christian hymn to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. The hymn portrays her suffering during Jesus’s crucifixion, and it is sung as the liturgy on the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. Many composers have set the hymn to music, including Antonio Vivaldi (1712), Joseph Haydn (1767), Antonin Dvorak (1876-77), Giuseppe Verdi (1896-97), and Arvo Part (1985). Seattle Baroque Orchestra and the dance company Whim W’him come together to bring Giovanni Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater to life on February 23 and 24. More information about the concerts can be found here.

Alex Weimann, Music Director of Seattle Baroque Orchestra, says “Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater has always been a challenging, disturbing piece for me. The noble sadness of the poetry is so powerful.” Olivier Wevers, Artistic Director of Whim W’him states, “I want to pay deep respect to the origins of the music and the story it is based on, but I also want to challenge it and find a way to bring its spirituality out without being literal. It is a fantastic and inspiring challenge.”

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736) was an Italian composer, violinist, and organist. His most important works were the opera La serva padrona and the aforementioned Stabat Mater. He died of tuberculosis at the age of 26.

The hymn’s author may have been a Franciscan friar named Jacopone da Todi (1230-1306), but its origins are cloudy. The earliest notated copy belonged to the Dominican nuns of Bologna in the late 13th century. Well-known by the 14th century, it was used in Provence during the nine days’ processions.

The text, translated here by Edward Caswell, begins:

Stabat mater dolorosa
juxta Crucem lacrimosa
Dum pendebat Filius.

(At the Cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful mother weeping,
Close to her Son to the last.)

The concerts take place at Shorecrest Performing Arts Center in Shoreline. Click here for tickets.

Snow Day

It’s a snow day in Seattle

Let’s hearken back, then, to January 1, 1937. The Town Crier published this poem:

Softly the Snow
by Marietta Conway Kennard

Softly the snow…gently the snow…
Feathery white like the breast of a bird,
Covers our cottage and folds us within,
Veils all the trees with not a leaf stirred…
Silently falling…a whisper just heard…
Drifting like white moths now…to and fro…
Now thick and silent…now sharp and thin…
Softly the snow…gently the snow…
Covers our cottage and folds us within…
Falls the snow.

Be cozy in your cottages, friends. 

Rah, Rah, Rah, Sis Boom Bah

The big game is this Sunday. The New England Patriots will be battling the Los Angeles Rams for the trophy. Some people will be watching the game. Some people will be watching the ads.

Seattle’s Town Crier writers watched a football game or two in their day. The Town Crier was a weekly magazine focusing on Seattle’s news, arts and culture published between 1910 and 1938. Articles featured local artists, musicians, photographers and actors and reviewed local performances. That said, football wasn’t particularly their bag, art was.

Take, for instance, this brief story in the December 1, 1928 issue.

A football game at Bremerton last week-end, but the line of scrimmage didn’t mean much to us because at the end of the field there was a bank covered with somber dark green of fir trees lit here and there by bright autumn foliage, with right in the foreground a slender straight bush, its leaves of gold, just like the Walter Phillips woodcut at the Fine Arts Galleries, and in the sky a silly, misplaced scythe of a moon that didn’t know enough to go home when it got light.

The story did not mention the final score of that Bremerton game.

If football isn’t your bag, either, fear not. There are plenty of art galleries in the area that will be open on Sunday.

The Seattle Art Museum opens at 10.

The Frye Art Museum opens at 11.

The Henry Art Gallery opens at 11.

Further afield:

The Tacoma Art Museum opens at 10.

The Cascadia Art Museum in Edmonds opens at 11.

Go! Go! Go!

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, “Miss Brenda Francklyn will speak at the Sunset Club on the ‘Fatherless Children of France’ and “a ‘Salmagundi’ party was given last evening. In this new 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 was quite a program that took place on February 1, 1919 at the Women’s University Club. This, according to the February 1, 1919 edition of the Town Crier. Dr. Alexander Konanowksi was speaking. With a Russian menu served, Konanowksi told of “the prevailing conditions in Russia today.” Secretary of the Russian consulate in Seattle, the doctor asked for “promptness of members and guests as a courtesy.”

Russians began arriving in earnest in Seattle following World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution. By 1925 there were approximately 5,000 Russians living in Seattle. Refugees, and most well-educated professionals, they formed a tight-knit community around the Greek-Russian Orthodox Church on Lakeview Boulevard.

Today, many of Seattle’s Russians are involved with the Russian Community Center on Capitol Hill. With a second influx of Russians immigrating to Seattle after World War II, the Russian Community Center was founded in 1952 and it has served the Russian community ever since. Balalaika orchestras, theatrical groups, chess clubs, art galleries, puppet theaters, craft bazaars, talent shows, and more have been showcased there.

You can learn more about the center and coming events here.

Enjoying a Cup of Coffee

Howard Schultz is considering a run for the White House. The former chairman and chief executive officer of Starbucks Coffee Company also has a new book.  With From the Ground Up, Schultz writes two interwoven narratives of a conflicted boyhood in Brooklyn and a behind-the-scenes look at his unconventional efforts to challenge old notions about the role of business in society. Town Hall and Seattle Theater Group is presenting him at the Moore Theatre on January 31 at 7:30.

The event is FREE. You can learn more and register for the event here.

Coffee has been a large part of Schultz’s history and coffee has been a part of Seattle’s culture for much longer. Take, for instance, an August 30, 1919 story in the Town Crier. In a story entitled “Ideal Breakfasts” the writer tells us, in no uncertain terms, the proper way to enjoy a cup of joe…

Coffee, of course, is the proper accompaniment for this morning feast, as it is for any well-ordered breakfast. There should be a small pot of it, just enough for two cupfuls. A Hoover portion of sugar is enough, and it always has been enough, in peace times as in war. Only a perverted, or a juvenile, taste can stand a dose of syrup first thing in the morning, and one must be a lumberman or a deep-sea sailor to enjoy coffee sweetened with brown sugar or molasses. The nicely judged allowance of sugar should first go into the cup, the hot coffee being poured over it until the cup is about four-fifths filled. Then you add the cream, cold, until the blend is a delicate amber brown. ‘Two-thirds hot milk,’ Indeed! Such pap not for grown persons. If the coffee itself is as hot as it should be, hot milk is not necessary, and anyway it is an abomination.

Drink your coffee – APPROPRIATELY – and we’ll see you soon at the Howard Schultz event.

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