A BENEFIT FOR THE PAC – THE PRESS GANG WITH HANZ ARAKI

“A bold sound from New England,” “an Irish music phenomenon in America,” and “pure exhilaration for the ears” are a few of the comments from recent reviews of the The Press Gang, a traditional Irish band from Portland, Maine, that will perform at 7 P.M. on Friday, February 10, at the Clatsop Community College Performing Arts Center, 588 16th Street, in Astoria.

The Press Gang fuses the talents of squeezebox player Christian “Junior” Stevens, fiddler Alden Robinson, flute-player and vocalist Hanz Araki, and guitarist Owen Marshall into a high-octane musical partnership. The quartet blends their skill and fluency in traditional Irish music with their curiosity and aptitude for other styles. The joy that these musicians pour into playing music together is unmistakable and infectious. The result is a unique sound; at once energetic and sensitive, innovative and reverent.

Flutist and vocalist Araki is no stranger to the North Coast. He was based for many years in Portland, Oregon, and recorded solo albums as well as several albums with Kathryn Claire. Araki has performed locally at McMenamins’ Sand Trap Pub, KALA, the Fort George, the Peninsula Arts Center, and as a soloist with the North Coast Symphonic Band at the Liberty Theater.

Admission to the February 7 performance is $15 for adults and $10 for youth. Proceeds benefit the PAC. Tickets are available at the door and online at www.littlesearecords.com. For more information, call Partners for the PAC co-chair Charlene Larsen at 503-325-0590.

SKAMOKAWA SWAMP OPERA

Do you enjoy unusual instrumental combinations like cello and banjo? Guitar and jew’s harp? Gorgeous solo voices that come together in tight harmony? Then come to the PAC at 2pm on Sunday afternoon, February 5th, to hear the soon-to-be famous Skamokawa Swamp Opera.

Four talented musicians make up the SSO, headed by Skamokawa resident and string musician extraordinaire, Andrew Emlen. Singing and playing guitar is Kyleen Austin (the opera connection). Eric Friend plays percussion and mandolin; he has a fine tenor voice. Jillian Raye plays banjo and sings, both enthusiastically.

The SSO plays almost every kind of music—-hip-hop, opera, folk, pop standards and more. Their concerts include lots of “sidebar” comments to the audience and they are family friendly. A review of their last concert described them as “serious, zany, talented, learned”. They are all that and, yes, even more.

Tickets to see Skamokawa Swamp Opera are $15 and will be available on Feb. 5th at the Performing Arts Center at 588 16th street in Astoria. Children under 12 are free. Doors will open at 1:30. Their director Andrew Emlen has said he hopes there will be “dancing in the aisles”! So come and enjoy!!