Olympia singer-songwriter Elizabeth Hummel has performed all over the country, but right now she’s more interested in bringing music to her own neighborhood.
“People seem to have a real hunger to get together in person,” said Hummel, who’s performed at Lilith Fair and opened for Shawn Colvin. “We’re all so busy, and with all the time it takes to do your online stuff, it’s hard to make time just to gather, and yet when people do, they love it.”
She and partner Brian Castillo came up with a clever solution: a twice-monthly series of concerts at Rignall Hall in the Steamboat Island area. They’re calling the series Waterwitch Presents, based on the name they use when they play as a duo.
The first concert Sunday night will feature the Elizabeth Hummel Trio — Hummel on guitar, banjo and vocals; Castillo on mandolin; and percussionist Robin Toye.
“We thought this would be a great way to get people together to hear local music,” Hummel said, “and also we have friends who tour through here.
“That building is so cool,” she said of the hall. “We’ve been fantasizing about it for the last six or seven years. We’ve been slowly gathering sound equipment and lights.”
“It’s also really near where we live, so not far to haul the sound gear,” Castillo said in a press release about the series.
Built in 1923 as a community center, the hall was once used for dances, parties, club meetings and even church services.
These days, a small group of locals maintains the building and grounds, but it sits empty much of the time. “It’s used a couple of times a year,” she said. “They have estate sales.”
The hall has a musical history, too. Nirvana played there in 1990. “You can find it on YouTube,” Hummel said. (See it at youtube.com/watch?v=pm7WkUH8Ixk.)
It also has hosted the Melvins.
But don’t expect to find loud rock at the Waterwitch Presents concerts, happening on Sunday nights.
Hummel and Castillo are envisioning folk, jazz and the like.
“We don’t mind challenging our neighbors a little bit with some things they might not be used to,” Hummel added. “In the fall we’re probably going to have some Indian raga singing, for instance. But we want it to be for all ages and just friendly to a broad audience because it’s a neighborhood.”
The concerts will continue indefinitely, and if all goes well, Waterwitch might be presenting music there on other nights of the week, too.
“We’re trying it out,” Hummel said. “If people come, we’ll keep doing it.”