WEEKEND: Snowgrass brings bands together for annual fundraiser
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The Fiddle Kids, led by Al Watkins, at rear, are one of four bands playing at Snowgrass at the Port Angeles High School auditorium Saturday. The kids are, from left, Adam Watkins, 10, Charlotte Hertel, 11, Imogen Fraser, 6, and Lael Butler and Elizabeth Watkins, both 13.

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Bluegrass, from players age 6 to 84, is about to take over the Port Angeles High School auditorium.

This is the 11th annual Snowgrass, the convergence of four local outfits offering that old-fashioned American music, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

The doors of the high school auditorium, 304 E. Park Ave., will open at 5:30 p.m. with Denny Secord Jr. serving as master of ceremonies and shepherding the Old Sidekicks, the Fiddle Kids, Crescent Blue and Luck of the Draw onto the big stage.

But this isn't just another music festival.

Snowgrass is a benefit for First Step Family Support Center, provider of child care, supplies, classes and other resources to young families.

Tickets are $10 in advance for adults, $7 for seniors age 60 and older, and free for children age 10 and younger.

At the door Saturday night, adult tickets will sell for $12.

And everybody will be tempted with treats at intermission: Northwest Fudge & Confections has signed on to handle the Snowgrass concession stand.

Young players

Nita Lynn, executive director of First Step for 31 years, is delighted the 2013 Snowgrass features five especially young players.

The Fiddle Kids, formerly the Black Diamond Fiddle Kids led by Rosie Sharpe, is composed of musicians age 6 to 13.

Al Watkins is the band leader. Reached just before practice Wednesday afternoon, he predicted that the Fiddle Kids will reel off classics such as “I'll Fly Away” and “The Crawdad Song” in the band's half-hour set.

And yes, the kids are excited, said Watkins, since this is their first time on the Snowgrass bill.

When asked to talk Snowgrass, Lynn took a first-things-first tack.

“Come and enjoy yourself,” she said.

Drop-in center

You can feel good knowing that your ticket will help First Step's Port Angeles drop-in center stay open, Lynn added.

The center, which has a playroom, a children's clothing closet, a baby-equipment closet and cooking classes for parents, has seen its funding from the city decrease. Fundraisers like Snowgrass are key to its survival.

First Step, meantime, has not seen any decrease in clientele.

The agency, which has another drop-in center at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 525 N. Fifth Ave. in Sequim, served 1,800 families last year.

The drop-in centers logged more than 5,500 visits.

Year after year, local bands support First Step by donating their performances at Snowgrass, Lynn added.

“It's a really wonderful thing . . . one thing First Step is about is community,” she said.

Crescent Blue is one of the groups returning to the annual fundraiser.

The band — Barney Munger, Mary Meyer, Ken Lambert and Dave Lenahan — will play its signature mix of tunes sad and joyous, familiar and not-so-familiar.

The Old Sidekicks will step up, too, with Bill Camuso, W.L. Martin, Steve Sahnow, Jack Reagan and Vern Sprague stirring together country and bluegrass on fiddles, guitars, bass, harmonica, banjo and Dobro.

They're at the opposite end of the Fiddle Kids age-wise, seeing as how singer and multi-instrumentalist Martin celebrated his 84th birthday this month.

Lineup wrapup

Rounding out the show is the Luck of the Draw, led by Dave Secord on mandolin, banjo, guitar and strum stick.

Beside him are his wife, Rosalie, on rhythm guitar and vocals, singer-fiddler Dennis Schosbock and Barb Priebe on washtub bass.

Ticket outlets are plentiful for Snowgrass. They include Odyssey Books at 114 W. Front St., Port Book and News at 104 E. First St., Strait Music at 1015 E. First St. and First Step itself at 325 E. Sixth St. in Port Angeles; Forks Outfitters, 950 S. Forks Ave. in Forks; and Pacific Mist Books, 121 W. Washington St. in downtown Sequim.

Tickets also will be available at the door.

To find out more about First Step and Snowgrass, phone the agency's development director, Melissa Randazzo, at 360-457-8355 or search for First Step Family Support Center on Facebook.

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Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 24. 2013 5:38PM
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