North Bend Jazz Walk jumps ahead on calendar, adds venues and high schools

March 11th 2015 – Valley Record

Katy Moon sits in the Mountain Valley Montessori School classroom, one of 22 venues for Saturday’s Jazz Walk. - Allyce Andrew/Staff Photo

Katy Moon sits in the Mountain Valley Montessori School classroom, one of 22 venues for Saturday’s Jazz Walk.

— Image Credit: Allyce Andrew/Staff Photo


Regulars at the North Bend Jazz Walk and the corresponding Blues Walk may be squinting at their calendars this spring, looking for the Blues Walk. In past years, the Blues Walk followed the early fall  Jazz Walk, and we just had a Jazz Walk, didn’t we?

Yes, and we’re having one again, for good reason.

“We’re doing back-to-back jazz walks because of the calendar flip,” said Danny Kolke, event organizer and founder of the Boxley’s Music Fund that puts on the annual concerts.

The third annual Jazz Walk was exactly six months ago, on Saturday, Sept. 14. The fourth annual, this Saturday, will be the first to showcase the high school bands that inspired the move on the calendar.

Most high school bands aren’t ready for a big public performance just a few weeks into the school year, Kolke said, so organizers decided, “We’ll do blues at the end of summer and jazz in the springtime.”

As in every previous year, though, there are other changes. New artists are on the bill, and many new venues, bringing the total number of performers to over 200, and the number of venues to 22.

“We’ve had people asking about (participating) as a venue,” in past years, Kolke said, and some places just suggested themselves, like the Casual Dining Barstools & Dinettes store. He recalled visiting The Swirl next door to talk about their participation in the Jazz Walk, and then noticing the huge windows and showroom filled with barstools at Barstools & Dinettes.

“It’s a great spot,” he said he thought. “Let’s put a band in there!”

Mountain Valley Montessori School is another new venue.

“I don’t know if there are words to attach to a musical experience,” said Katy Moon, owner and director of the preschool. “You don’t know how it’s going to affect a child, but we know that music makes an impact.”

Moon said she’s never been to Jazz Walk because she’s a mother of a 3-year-old, but is a long-time sponsor and frequent visitor of Kolke’s jazz club, Boxley’s Place. She said the decision to open her doors for Jazz Walk was easy, as she has 3,000 square feet available to work with.

“I really appreciate what Danny has done in our community,” she continued. “He has a positive attitude (and) music brings people together. Music is certainly something we incorporate into our Montessori curriculum.”

Moon likened music and sports, as community events. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from or your background. Everyone can enjoy the game. I feel that way about music and I think Danny has brought something so unique to our small town. I just want to be part of that.”

Moon said she would love to see families with young children stop by to see the Ham Carson Quartet perform at 7 p.m., but, because her students range from 3 to 6 years old, she empathizes with those who won’t be able to make it.

“As a mother of a 3-year-old, it’s always, ‘Gosh, I’d really like to go!’ but when you get home you’re (saying) ‘Oh, I’m so tired!’” Moon laughed.

Mountain Valley Montessori has hosted bluegrass and classical musicians for the students, but this is its first public show.

“It tightens the community when we work together,” Moon stated. “It’s an interesting town with a lot of power in a small space.”

A few blocks away, at the Mount Si Senior Center, Ann Landry, interim executive director and Jazz Walk regular, is preparing to host Lance Buller and the Roadstars Band.

“Danny Kolke and I had talked about doing some jazz performance here and utilizing the space before,” Landry began “We hadn’t made any specific plans and then the Jazz Walk committee did approach us, which is great. We’re excited to open up this as a venue for the public moving forward. In fact, we just got a beautiful baby grand piano donated from someone’s estate.”

The show starts at 7 p.m. and Landry said the senior center would be an ideal first or second stop for Jazz Walk attendees, especially since its offering an added perk.

“One thing that we’re doing that most other venues are not, is we’re going to be serving a full dinner,” Landry explained. “We have a Cordon Bleu-trained chef, Joy Lund.”

Lund, former executive chef at Bake’s Place in Bellevue, is cooking up surf and turf, plus a kid’s menu. Beer and wine are also available.

Besides the community exposure and development, Landry stated allowing outsiders to mix with senior-center regulars is a great opportunity.

“I hope they get to meet some new people; I hope a lot of them come out,” she said. “I know they’re proud of our center — it’s a home away from home for a lot of them. I think it’ll be a great opportunity for them to mix and mingle in our community.”

The senior center is not exactly on the Jazz Walk’s main strip, but with two other shows in nearby venues, Kolke says, “You get rewarded for walking the block.”

Barstools and Dinettes will feature the Chuck Deardorf quartet with special guest saxophonist Bill Ramsay, who played in the big bands of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman,  and Quincy Jones.  The Swirl hosts returning favorites, the Chris Fagan Trio.

“There’s a bunch of great people playing,” said Kolke, when asked if any band in particular was this year’s must-see show. “I can’t tell you, don’t miss anybody.”

Advance tickets are on sale now for the event, which has a limit of about 1,700 people. Previous Jazz Walks have sold out, said Kolke, but never in advance. He expects ticket sales on Saturday to be roughly double the advance sales.

For the full list of venues and the schedule, band information, a map and tickets, visit the Jazz Walk website,

Danny Kolke playing piano with his trio in the 2014 Jazz Walk.


Jazz band rocks: Mount Si selected for return to Essentially Ellington

Mention: 2/25/2015
Original article available here:

Comment:  Super proud of these kids.  And yes… that’s my daughter playing lead trumpet.

Jazz band rocks: Mount Si selected for return to Essentially Ellington

Mount Si High School Jazz Band I director Matt Wenman, right, cues his students in rehearsal for the band’s upcoming “Hot Java Cool Jazz” concert performance. Last week, Jazz at Lincoln Center announced that Mount Si was chosen for a return trip to the annual Essentially Ellington festival. - Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

Mount Si High School Jazz Band I director Matt Wenman, right, cues his students in rehearsal for the band’s upcoming “Hot Java Cool Jazz” concert performance. Last week, Jazz at Lincoln Center announced that Mount Si was chosen for a return trip to the annual Essentially Ellington festival.

— Image Credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

  • Feb 25, 2015 at 7:00AM updated Feb 26, 2015 at 11:53AM

They were just selected for one of the most prestigious youth jazz events in the country, and for a second time, but the Mount Si High School Jazz Band I is, on the Monday after spring break, all business, no celebration.

A group of 15 students, assembled at 6:30 a.m., is working away on a new tune, feet tapping, lips pursed, eyes on the sheet music. The students, and their director, Matt Wenman, are intent on getting this piece right.

The piece, called “Bodysnatchers,” is not actually for their return trip to Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington event in May, but for a March 20 event that could help get them there.

“Our first really big fundraiser is Hot Java Cool Jazz, which is March 20, right after the (North Bend) Jazz Walk, and it’s at the Paramount,” said Wenman.

The Starbucks-sponsored concert will feature five area high school bands, and each band will receive the proceeds from ticket sales at their local Starbucks shops. Tickets went on sale last Thursday at the Snoqualmie Ridge Starbucks.

Wenman estimated the cost to bring the band to New York in May for Essentially Ellington at about the same as last year.

He’s hopeful that between this concert in March and another “Little Town Blues” gala being planned at Boxley’s, the band will meet most of its fundraising needs — music boosters are setting their goal at $22,000.

Since the announcement was made last week while Mount Si students were on spring break (Wenman asked Jazz Band II director Danny Kolke to play for the students a video of him making the announcement), most of the students hadn’t thought much about their goals for this year.

“I think just having the experience under our belts will be a huge benefit to us in going back, knowing a little more what to expect,” said JT Hartman.

“Our goal is to relax more and have a little more confidence, since we know what to expect.… There are all these great musicians there, so we want to connect with people,” added Hayden Kajercline.

“It’s the top-tier jazz festival in the country,” said Wenman, and a great experience for everyone selected, no matter how they place in the final competition. Only 15 schools are selected, he said, adding, “It’s exciting and energetic, it doesn’t feel cut-throat competitive.”

As a group, the band has also discussed leaving a day early for the event, to spend more time at workshops and just explore New York.

That, of course, will depend on flight costs, and funds available.

In the worst case, Wenman jokes, “We’re going to charter a private Volkswagen bus.”

Mount Si’s Jazz Band I will be part of the North Bend Jazz Walk’s high school big band performances. The show starts at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 14, at the North Bend Theater.

Hot Java Cool Jazz is 7 p.m. Friday, March 20, at the Paramount Theater in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now at the Starbucks on Snoqualmie Ridge.

Learn more about the band and fundraising efforts at

Leslie Kolke solos on trumpet at Essentially Ellington 2014.

Hayden Kajercline performs a solo at the Snoqualmie Valley Schools Foundation fundraising luncheon last year.

Getting beyond it’: Explosion can’t faze 2nd annual North Bend’s Blues Walk | Photo Gallery

Originally posted
Apr 29, 2014 at 5:13PM

A couple dances to the sound of Paul Green, left, and Seth Freeman at Twede’s Cafe, Saturday evening, April 26, during the second annual North Bend Blues Walk. - Seth Truscott/Staff Photo

A couple dances to the sound of Paul Green, left, and Seth Freeman at Twede’s Cafe, Saturday evening, April 26, during the second annual North Bend Blues Walk.

— Image Credit: Seth Truscott/Staff Photo

The blues is about dealing with adversity.

So, in a city that made the national news a day prior due to a massive, destructive explosion, crowds lined up to let off steam and feel the groove. The second annual North Bend Blues Walk drew hundreds more listeners than last year.

“I was thinking (the explosion) might scare people off, but it doesn’t seem to have,” said Michael Wilde, a harmonica player and vocalist who performed with Son Jack, Jr., inside the intimate walls of Emerald City Smoothie. “We are rugged people,” added Wilde. The Blues “is about getting over it.”

“News coverage gave it a plug,” said North Bend Theatre owner Cindy Walker, who had the largest stage. “It’s a silver lining.”

“There’s got to be some people who decided to come out just because it’s mentioned on the news,” said Blues Walk and Boxley’s founder Danny Kolke. “We were expecting a big crowd. I’d like to think they would come here anyway.”

Last year’s Blues Walk drew about 1,100 people; this year, more than 1,300 showed. Crowds, many dressed in black event T-shirts, strolled North Bend Way’s sidewalks, queueing up for their next venues.

With Boxley’s standing room only, Kolke advised music fans to head down the block for other venues. Smaller venues like George’s Bakery had an intimate feel, with musicians playing to small rooms of diners. Couples danced in the aisles at Twede’s Cafe.

“It’s a great listening room,” Wilde said of the smoothie shop.

With Son Jack, he plays music ranging from the 1920s through English blues rock. He loves this music because, unlike classic rock, “this is a lot more liberating.”

“Playing the blues, you’re not doing your job if you’re playing the song the same each time,” Wilde said. “It needs to be different.”

And, it’s all ages—“you can be 80 or 90 years old, still be doing this, and not look foolish,” he said.

“It’s all about the groove. Back in the day, when these guys were playing in juke joints, they’d get the place all fired up!”

The Blues Walk benefits the Boxley’s Music Foundation, which promotes local music and education, and also now owns the Boxley’s Place jazz club.

Boxley’s Music Foundation’s next major event is the North Bend Jazz Walk on Saturday, Sept. 13.

Seth Truscott/Staff Photos

Elnah Jordan belts out her version of “Summertime” at Valley Center Stage.

Tom McElroy on guitar with the Elnah Jordan band, feels the rhythm.

Son Jack, Jr., warms up a resonating guitar at Emerald City Smoothie.

Crowds stroll for their next downtown blues venue.

Mike Lynch of the Boneyard Preachers plays harmonica on the Boxley’s Place stage.

The Boneyard Preachers get loud on the Boxley’s stage, opening the North Bend Blues Walk, Saturday, April 26.

Boxley’s Music Foundation founder Danny Kolke chats with a television reporter.

Mia Vermillion plays to an intimate crowd of diners at George’s Bakery.

Mardi Gras celebration marching in North Bend

Originally posted:
By Sherry Grindeland

Contributed Musicians pause from the marching during a past Mardi Gras celebration.

Musicians pause from the marching during a past Mardi Gras celebration.

Beads, yes. Hurricane drinks on the sidewalk, no.

But in North Bend it will be the traditional “laissez les bons temps rouler” when the Mardi Gras celebration takes to the streets at 5 p.m. March 4.

“Laissez les bons temps rouler” is the Mardi Gras slogan and means “Let the good times roll.” Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday.

Locally that’s when musicians Jay Thomas, Dan Marcus and Danny Kolke lead the parade on North Bend Way.

The event begins outside Boxley’s on North Bend Way. Kolke, as the lead “krewe” (Mardi Gras organizer), welcomes everyone to join the parade.

“We march around the downtown area,” he said. “We dress a bit wacky and play some fun music.”

This is the fifth year of the North Bend Mardi Gras celebration.

Like the traditional New Orleans wild party leading into the season of Lent, Kolke said the participants throw beads to passers-by and act a little crazy.

“We even tote Mardi Gras umbrellas, like they do in New Orleans,” Kolke said. “But I don’t think the New Orleans version is for the rain.”

They play jazzy music and wander the streets. The march around downtown North Bend will actually be done on the sidewalks, not in the streets, because the group doesn’t want to disrupt traffic. As if, Kolke joked, a bunch of folks playing music and wearing funny clothes on the sidewalks won’t disrupt traffic.

He has high hopes that the parade this year will set a record.

The first year there were eight people in the parade. The group attracts newcomers each year, and in 2013, there were 30 participants.

“I hope we break 50 this year,” he said.

You don’t, he added, need to be a musician to join the fun. Just show up and march with the group.

The parade continues until either 6 p.m. or when the cold weather drives the group into Boxley’s – whichever comes first. It’s usually the cold.

The Mardi Gras celebration will continue indoors with appetizers, a no-host bar and featured Creole favorites on the dinner menu. Dixieland jazz begins at 7 p.m.