by Tom Simpson for OLY ARTS
The Oly Old Time Festival is not only a musical showcase for new, emerging and established musical artists. It’s also an experiential activity. Every evening of the festival hosts an interactive square dance with a fantastic live band and callers who provide clear direction, organization and a sense of humor.
On Friday night, the Festival hosts Chimacum-based old time quartet The High Waisted Ramblers. The Ramblers play a mix of Appalachian and midwest old-time, early honky-tonk and country, and ragtime. The quartet is composed of Davee Bolt on guitar and mandolin, Melanie Curran on banjo and guitar, Tom Fenollosa on bass and Joanne Pontrello on fiddle. Members of the band will be calling dances throughout the evening.
Each member of the quartet are separately accomplished in their instruments, and several have recorded stand-alone albums. Melanie Curran’s most recent CD Hot Sauce, for example, received notice regionally for her pairing of country, old-time and bluegrass styles written and recorded in a breezy style. The Ramblers are brought together by their shared love of old time music.
Pontrello moved to Port Townsend several years ago, because it’s “a small town where people know about square dancing,” Pontrello says. Curran is native to Bainbridge Island, but she has found a home in Jefferson County. “That’s where I started getting more interested in country music,” Curran says. “It seemed like everybody there had the blues, and they all had a story behind them.”
Tom Fenollosa is from the East Coast, but always felt like a “country boy.” During summers and school breaks, Fenollosa escaped his hometown of Lexington, Massachusetts, to work on his family’s 150-acre farm in New Hampshire. Now Fenollosa lives in the country, plays the bass and makes contrabasins on the side – a uniquely portable version of a bass for musicians who travel. Fenollosa has taken his bass and contrabasin on music tours with The Underscore Orkestra and The Dapper Cadavers throughout the USA, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
The High Waisted Ramblers at Oly Old Time Festival
South Bay Grange,
3918 Sleater Kinney Rd NE, Olympia
Friday, February 16, late night square dance
$20, Free for kids 12 and under
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