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Lots of terrific music comes through the Methow Valley. This weekend is the Winthrop Rhythm and Blues Festival. Next week is the start of the Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival. Last night we got to see Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley, a pair of uniquely gifted musicians from Nashville. According to their website, “Rob Ickes is a longtime, well-established instrumental giant, and Trey Hensley is newly arrived in Music City, bursting with talent both as a vocalist and guitarist. They are in town for the Blues Fest and the Methow Valley Ciderhouse hosted them for two hours. What a treat for folks that don’t get to go to the festival.

Living in the Methow there is no shortage of fun stuff to do and often a person needs to make a choice between various planned events. This weekend is the big Rhythm and Blue Festival outside of Winthrop so there are lots of people in town. And motorcycles too. We did not go to the festival. It’s a BIG event. We stuck to smaller things.

There was the Farmers Market in Twisp in the morning. In the afternoon we went out to the Methow Valley Ciderhouse to listen to Danbert Nobacon and Anna Dooley perform in the relaxed atmosphere under the big tent. After that we went into Twisp to enjoy a couple of gallery receptions – at the Confluence and also Donna Keyser’s D*SIGNS. Later in the evening Ken did go visit some friends who live across the river from the Blues Fest and he enjoyed the music from afar.

We’re Not Burning Man was the theme of Saturday’s Phoenix Festival at TwispWorks. After this summer in the Methow Valley, folks came together from TwispWorks, Methow Arts, KTRT, The Confluence Gallery and others to create a reason to celebrate; to put this summer of fire behind us. It was a grand success! The music, the visual arts, the fun all put smiles on people’s faces. Spontaneous hugs erupted all over the place. We were able to enjoy fire – campfires, fire juggling, and later on (I missed these) fire dancing and a trumpet of fire!

There was music on two different stages from the start at 2 in the afternoon til way after 10 at night. All kinds of music. There were art demonstrations. There was interactive art. There were art vendors. Artist studios were open. Kids played with balls. Dogs were seen enjoying the scene.

Firefighters, the ambulance crews, law officers and a lookout were honored for their work during the emergencies.

People shared deeply personal art in the Share building. Some pieces were created for the show including paintings, collage, photos and poetry. Some were artifacts from the fires. It was all deeply touching.

Here are a few (too many) images from the event.


What’s a New Years Eve party without a campfire and some fireworks and other fun? Several good friends joined us to ring in 2014 last night with good food, warm fires, some alcohol, dogs and music too! We started inside with food and beer and wine and moved outside to a campfire with some music, s’mores, more to drink and a few bottle rockets. Later, when we determined that it was 2014 somewhere, maybe not here, we started the big New Years Pyre. And we turned it into a sacrifice to the snow gods. Someone said that Ullr (I need to look this up) is the winter god and if we could appease him, maybe, just maybe and if we did a snow dance too, maybe we would get some snow. Soon. We hope. So Ken added an old classic three pin binding ski to the pyramid shaped pyre that also had some sparklers and other pyrotechnics. As we watched it all go up in flames, we shared a big bottle of champagne and our fine friendships and looked forward to 2014 with optimistic anticipation.

The Merc Playhouse in Twisp hosts an open mic from time to time. It’s a great opportunity for musicians to perform in a professional setting with great acoustics and good lighting and also a comfortable audience. The Merc underwent a remodel last year and while I thought it was good before, it’s even better now. There is more seating and the acoustics have been improved. If you are nearby, I highly suggest that you take it in as a participant or an audience member.



Finish with a flourish






Gudron’s music is cued up




Ken loves performing at the Merc




What key?


Oh, that one





Steve did a heartfelt version of Christmas in the Trenches



I did not catch this young man’s name. He did some original works.


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