Arts Walk is a time when all kinds of new possibilities open up.
People you know show their art – maybe for the first time ever, maybe for the only time all year, maybe for the only time all year in Olympia because they’re so successful they focus on the more lucrative markets of Seattle and beyond.
People who might not normally venture downtown are out in force. And stores stay open until 10 p.m.
Arts Walk XLI features artists from schoolchildren to well-known professionals showing their work at 101 downtown businesses – plus dance, music and street performances. Last fall, 101 businesses participated, too, said Stephanie Johnson, who spearheads the event for the City of Olympia. (Spring Arts Walk, which lasts two days, are typically larger.)
“I see that as a really good sign,” Johnson said. “The message to me is that in this economy, we still really have a vigorous community-based event. It’s really impressive.
“I think it really means a lot.”
While visual art is at centerstage for many during Arts Walk, the musical performances being offered this fall are even noteworthy in this musical Mecca. Arts Walk is offering some rarely heard musical styles – from music made with video-game consoles, to a one-man band that blends didgeridoo with beatboxing, to shades of “The Lonely Goatherd” yodeling (well, sort of).
What: Electronica via portable video-game consoles
When: 9-10 p.m.
Where: Reality Church, 620 Franklin St. S.E., Olympia
More information: 360-584-8028 or www.myspace.com/squarewail
Square Wail plays music on portable video-game consoles, but that doesn’t mean you’ll hear the Mario Brothers theme or the song from Ms. Pac-Man at the duo’s show.
“We’re not trying to re-create video-game soundtracks,” said Square Wail founder Matt Kenall of Lynnwood. “We’re trying to make new music.”
Matt and his wife, Rebecca Kenall, use four consoles – an original Gameboy, a Gameboy Advance and two Nintendo DSes. They use software that allows them to compose music on the consoles, using the “voice” of each machine.
“It creates a new instrument and music-composition tool that is portable and kind of nifty because it’s old technology and has a special sound,” Matt Kenall said.
Some of the music is played live and some is prepared in advance, he said. “This weekend, Rebecca is performing everything live with a stylus on the DS. The stuff I’m playing is patterns; I have a handful of tracks with patterns and I can switch between them. We have songs, but we can manipulate them and change them so that every performance is a little bit different and interesting for us to do.”
MARCUS FIRE PROJECT
What: One-man band with didgeridoo, live looping and beatboxing
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Yoga Loft, 219 Legion Way S.W., Olympia
More information: 360-870-7876 or www.myspace.com/marcusfire
The Marcus Fire Project is a world-fusion band with didgeridoo, guitar, drums, beatboxing and more. And all of those instruments are played by Mark Fisher of Olympia.
“I’m doing live DJing,” Fisher said. “I’m blending some pre-recorded stuff with live recordings of loops that people see me doing, plus the live didgeridoo and live guitar and singing. I do some live beatboxing, too.”
He hasn’t played much locally since he moved here two years ago but did perform at Olympia’s Hemp Fest a few years ago. He’s played with Ganga Giri, and he was the official didgeridoo player at this year’s Oregon Country Fair.
He mixes musical styles as freely as he mixes instruments. “I might mix Middle Eastern and Indian and the Australian didgeridoo all in one song with blues guitar, like a jam band.”
What: All-woman old-timey swing band
When: 8-10 p.m.
Where: Cascadia Grill, 200 Fourth Ave. W., Olympia
More information: 360-628-8731
Does Yodelady actually yodel?
“There is a bit of yodeling but not very much,” said Bryn Houghton, who plays upright bass. “It’s not our biggest feature.”
“We’re building our yodeling repertoire,” added guitarist and fiddler Emily Teachout. “It takes some doing.”
A bigger feature of the all-woman band is its vocal harmonies.
“We draw pretty heavily from the Carter Family repertoire and Southern American tunes,” Teachout said. “Tunes that are in the public domain and are part of American roots music are the ones we tend to gravitate to.”
The 6-month-old band is rounded out by banjo player Monica Peabody, fiddler-guitarist Callie Jan Mills and fiddler Caroline Arnold.
The name was inspired by a song that appears in the local “Oly Old-Time Songbook,” created by musicians who jam together. The song: “Yodelady of My Dreams.”