Steven Wyble


How do you get modern audiences hooked on Celtic music? Scottish band Skerryvore seems to have the right approach, mixing pop and rock music with traditional Celtic sounds.

The story of Skerryvore starts nearly two decades ago. Brothers Daniel and Martin Gillespie grew up on the Scottish island of Tiree, which boasts a population of about 700 people. Fraser West, the band’s drummer, accompanied by and Alec Dalglish, the band’s singer, would visit the island from Livingston every summer.

It was a chance encounter at a local bar that brought the members of the band together.

“Somebody in Fraser’s family said that Fraser was a musician as well,” Daniel recalled. “So we did a bit of a jam together and then it sort of snowballed from there. There wasn’t really any plan to be a band.”

Just like the formation of the band itself, the band’s sound was also a kind of happy accident.

“The fusion elements existed right from the very start,” Daniel said, referring to the band’s mix of pop and rock sounds with traditional Celtic music. “Myself and Martin were brought up with very traditional Scottish folk, Celtic type music. And Fraser and Alec were brought up a lot more in terms of pop and rock, and both of ’em were in brass bands and things as well. So there was an immediate different fusion of different styles and approaches to music.”

Melding traditional music with modern sounds makes it more accessible to people who may not have otherwise been exposed to Celtic music.

“[Pop music is] obviously the most popular style of music in the world,” Daniel said. “So it’s going to be more accessible to people’s ears when they hear it. But I think something that we’ve always been keen to do is surprise people as well in terms of the combinations of styles.” People may expect to hear an electric guitar rift, but end up hearing a whistle or fiddle instead, he said. “The bottom line is, it’s just got to be good songs that are the heart of it all.”

Although the COVID-19 pandemic was hard on many musicians and other performing artists, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Skerryvore.

“We always look back and it obviously was a very tough time for lots of people all around the world,” Daniel said. “But for us, it was a chance to reset and try a different approach, try different things, and it worked in our favor. We managed to connect really well with people all over the world during the pandemic, whether it was through the songs we released, or the livestreams.” One of those livestreams saw people from about 34 different countries tune in, he added.

They had fun choosing locations for their livestream performances. One they did from a whiskey distillery. Another was recorded at the Robert Bonds Museum. Another yet was from the Royal Yacht Britannia. “When people couldn’t travel, we wanted to bring people to Scotland and show them cool venues and things about Scotland they couldn’t get to see,” Daniel said.

The band has toured internationally for around 12 or 13 years, and been to more than 30 countries around the world, Daniel said. “We’ve been to China, we’ve been to the Middle East, we’ve been to Australia, we’ve been in the U.S., which is probably our most visited international destination.”

Daniel described Skerryvore’s performances as “high energy.”

“We always aim to have a very high energy, engaging set,” he said. The band includes two bagpipers, which adds to the volume of the shows, he added. “It’s like a big rock show with sort of a Celtic twist. We’ve got a lot of songs that have got great parts for the audience singing back. We always say that at shows we’re guaranteed to have a lot of people singing back in their best Scottish accents, if they can.”

The band has traveled to 36 of the 50 United States, and has ambitions to travel to even more. “We’re slowly getting around to them all,” Daniel said.

The band’s new album, “Tempus,” comes out on April 28.

Skerryvore at the Admiral Theatre

Skerryvore performs 7:30 p.m., April 15, at the Admiral Theater, 515 Pacific Avenue, Bremerton. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $19. Buy tickets here.

The effects of climate change leave many feeling hopeless. This year’s Bainbridge Island Environmental Conference on Saturday aims to inspire people to be part of the solution.

That’s the focus of Madeline Ostrander’s book, At Home on an Unruly Planet, which chronicles four stories of communities taking concrete action to combat the effects of climate change. Ostrander is the keynote speaker at this year’s conference.

People sometimes feel like their own actions aren’t significant enough to make a dent when it comes to the environment, that there needs to be large-scale change through laws or regulations. The people profiled in Ostrander’s book occupy a middle scale, she said.At Home on an Unruly Planet book cover

“I write about communities in the book and how communities are searching for solutions related to climate change,” she said. “And I think there’s a lot of potential for people to make a big difference at that scale.” The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act last August has prompted a push to organize communities all over the country to get involved in things like transitioning to renewable energy and electrifying transportation, she said.

What happens at the community scale also often inspires action at a higher level, she noted. “What happens at the level of the community can become an example that then can influence state policy and then, eventually, federal policy,” she said. “But there’s a lot you can do kind of quickly and simply and in a really empowering way at the local level.”

Finding community is an important part of finding purpose and hope, Ostrander added, whether related to climate change, global pandemics, or economic turmoil. Researchers have found that a crucial remedy for that kind of existential anxiety is “to be able to find community and to be able to come together and come up with shared things that inspire us, shared actions that are creating something positive. That’s hugely helpful for people’s ability to cope with whatever it happens to be, whether they’ve lived through a wildfire that’s burned down a lot of their community, or whether they’re really just coping with a sense of unease about how troubling things are right now.”

Ostrander said someone recently asked her on social media, “What’s one surprising solution to climate change that you’ve come across?”

“I said, ‘getting to know your neighbors,'” she said. “Because even though that seems small, there’s a lot that can come out of a conversation with your neighbors. And also we’re all more resilient against certain kinds of threats and impacts and crises when we get to know our neighbors.”

She pointed to a famous study that found that after a heatwave, communities where people knew their neighbors and there was more social cohesion were better able to withstand the heatwave with fewer health impacts, even if they had more vulnerable populations with, say, elderly residents, or people with lower incomes.

“The effect of people knowing their neighbors was as powerful as if you had given everybody an air conditioner, because people checked on each other,” she said. “So I think there’s a lot that comes from getting together in community and talking together about, how do we deal with the challenges we’re facing?”

Ostrander is a former editor of YES! Magazine, which was founded on Bainbridge Island. She credits her time at the magazine with planting the seed that would eventually grow into her book. During her tenure there, she traveled to the Bay area of California to talk to environmental justice groups working on climate change, she said. The community organizers she spoke with talked about climate change in a tangible, local way, she noted. They asked how it affected communities of color, people living in poverty, or other vulnerable populations.

“Because decisions that are made on a local level can either make better or make worse the kinds of disparities that we already have in our society,” Ostrander said. “But what was inspiring about all of that was that they had such a tangible, real way of talking about climate change — what does this mean for us here in our home? And I think that was one of the first threads that got me thinking about this book. How do we talk about this in a way that people understand it in places that are familiar to them, in contexts that are meaningful to them?”

Bainbridge Island Environmental Conference

Bainbridge Island Parks and Trails, Bainbridge Island Land Trust, Sustainable Bainbridge, EcoAdapt and Islandwood host the Bainbridge Island Environmental Conference, noon – 5 p.m., March 25, at the Bainbridge High School theater, 9330 High School Rd NE, Bainbridge Island. Madeline Ostrander delivers the keynote address. Register for event.

Learn more about Madeline Ostrander on her website.


Just a couple years into his fledgling comedy career, Felipe Esparza landed an appearance on Showtime’s Latino Laugh Festival. Having previously frequented open mics, it was a big step up in his career — one that had unintended consequences.

“I only had seven minutes of material,” he said. “I didn’t have a whole hour, or 20 minutes … and it was funny, because people saw me on Showtime, on that show, and I guess they thought I was an experienced comedian.” He got booked to perform one-hour sets, but since he only had about seven minutes of material, he would try to stretch his material out to fit the allotted time.

“It was bad, man,” he said. “The beginning of the show was great, but the last 40 minutes was horrible.”

Esparza has come a long way since then. He went on to win the seventh season of the comedy competition show, “Last Comic Standing.” He has a comedy special on Netflix, and he recently appeared in the streaming service’s original movie, “You People,” which stars Eddie Murphy, Jonah Hill, Lauren London, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Even after having achieved that level of success, Esparza said he’s still learning the ropes of standup comedy. 

“Some people, they do standup comedy and they feel like they made it to the level where now they’re invincible, or the crowd laughs at anything they say,” he said.  “I’m not even at halfway to that level, still. When I was on Last Comic Standing, I had one hour of material, but it was the same one hour and 45 minutes that I’ve been doing for five years. It took me 10 years to build that one hour. And I knew it back and forth, but everybody else knew it, you know? It was like, ‘When is this dude going to write new jokes?'”

Esparza has ventured beyond joke-telling and entered the world of podcasts. He has two separate ones: What’s Up Fool?, and History for Foos. (He also used to have a podcast with his wife called Enchilada Casserole). But he was reluctant to get into the podcast game at first.

“There’s some comics that do podcasts and they’re only known for doing that podcast,” he said. “And they go on stage and the crowd doesn’t know the difference between standup and talking on stage. And it’s tough for the comedian, because they don’t know if they’re bombing or doing well anymore.”

That changed after he was a guest on the podcast “The Champs,” hosted by Neal Brennan and Moshe Kasher.

“I told a bunch of stories about my life,” he said of his appearance. “They thought it was crazy that all that stuff happened. So they said, ‘You should have a podcast.’ And I said, ‘I don’t know.’”

He ended up getting approached by Bill Burr and Al Madrigal (who are the founders of the All Things Comedy podcast network) to do a podcast. “And I said, all right, I’ll do it, but I’m gonna do it my way,” he said.

He bought a recorder and started out interviewing people he knew, or even just random people he met on the street, for that podcast, What’s Up Fool? “I interviewed a guy who was wrongfully accused for a murder when he was 17, 19 years old,” he said. A year later, the Innocence Project helped prove the man’s innocence. “So I felt very good that I got to interview him.”

The idea behind History for Fools is that Esparza and co-host Butch Escobar pick a topic and then recount the history of it. They did an episode on stand-up comedy, for example, and another on the history of gangs in America. It’s a more structured listening experience than What’s Up Fool?, which is more freewheeling.

Esparza, who performs Saturday at the Suquamish Clearwater Casino, said he hasn’t performed out this way before, but he noted that people are planning to come from as far away as Portland, Ore., to see the show. “I’m looking forward to the trip,” he said. “They’re going to pick us up at the airport, and then we’re going to take that ferry to the show.”

The performance is sold out, but if you were lucky enough to buy tickets, the show is 8 p.m., March 18.

When Billy Joe Huels arrived in Seattle’s University District in 1989, the grunge era of music was in its infancy. But Huels, who originally hails from St. Louis, had grown up with roots, blues and southern rock, and he had to go deeper into the Seattle area’s musical history to find a local connection to the sound he loves.

“You just didn’t hear as much of those types of influences, so I had to back into the Seattle music scene, before grunge, and find bands like the Wailers, the Ventures, Don Rich — Buck Owens’ side man — is from Tacoma,  Loretta Lynn spent some time up here,” he said. “There is a lot of roots history in Seattle, but it just came before the grunge era.”

The Dusty 45s
The Dusty 45s (Courtesy of the Dusty 45s)

Huels ended up bringing a little Americana flavor to the Emerald City when he and his bandmates started the Dusty 45s in 1997. The band draws inspiration from a variety of musical genres, “from the roots of rock, rhythm and blues, honky-tonk and jazz,” as the band’s bio puts it.

“We’re old-school in the sense that everything you see is written and played and produced by us — standup bass, two guitars, trumpet and drums. If you want to experience music the way it was created, the way rock ‘n’ roll was created, then the Dusty 45s are your band.”

Huels describes the band as “craftsmen of the art of rock ‘n’ roll.”

“We don’t rule out influences,” he said. “There’s jazz, and blues, and gypsey music, and surf, punk rock … but mostly it’s just a good time.”

That doesn’t mean the band has operated in a silo, however. Huels said a great thing about Seattle’s music scene is that, “if you stick around long enough, you’re going to become friends and meet everyone from every genre.”

Case in point: Mark Pickerel of the Screaming Trees was the Dusty 45s’ drummer for almost five years, Huels said. “We were probably one of the longeset-standing bands he played with after the Screaming Trees,” he said. “It’s a big community, Seattle, and bands that have been around for decades continue to cross paths.”

Outside of the band itself, one of Huels’ local claims to fame is having starred in Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theater’s production of Buddy in 2007, a musical depicting the life and career of rock pioneer Buddy Holly.

“The music I write is based on those early influences, kind of ’50s and ’60s, like the roots of rock ‘n’ roll,” Huels said. “So I studied a lot of those artists, and Buddy Holly was always one of my heroes. If we’re going to do a cover, it’s going to be something like an obscure Buddy Holly tune, or something from that era.”

The Buddy Holly role wasn’t one Huels sought out, however. The 5th Avenue Theater scouted him.

“They were in the audience at some of my shows,” he recalled. “And they called me up and asked if I’d be interested and if I’d ever acted. And I had never been in a play in my life. So they asked me to audition and I did, and they offered me this role. And so all of a sudden I went from being a touring rock ‘n’ roll musician to starring on a musical Broadway-style theater stage at the 5th Avenue. It was a fantastic experience and it kind of stuck with me.”

Huels said he’s traveled to Clovis, N.M., where Buddy Holly and the Crickets recorded, and to Lubbock, Texas, where Holly grew up. He met Holly’s widow, María Elena, who attended the show at the 5th Avenue Theater. He also got to play Holly’s guitar. “That was an incredible experience,” he said.

After Buddy concluded, the Dusty 45s were asked to back Wanda Jackson, who knew Holly and is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Huels said. “She’s credited with being the first woman to write rock ‘n’ roll,” he said. “She dated Elvis Presley. … That was another great thing that happened in my career, about 10 years ago.”

Huels tries to put on a Buddy Holly tribute show about once a year now, he said. (He has one coming up March 11 at the Triple Door in Seattle). Last November, the Vashon Center for the Arts asked him to reprise the role of Buddy Holly for their own production of Buddy, and he agreed to do it. “It was a big success,” he said. “It’s kind of the year of Buddy Holly again for me here.”

When the Dusty 45s take the stage this Saturday in Bremerton, there will be some local flavor on display, Huels noted. Bremerton native Alessandra Rose is one of the opening acts. The local musician recently recorded an album in Nashville, he said.

The Dusty 45s at the Redwood Theater

The Dusty 45s perform with special guests Alessandra Rose and Hot Spring Water, 9 p.m., Jan. 21, at the Redwood Theater, 1520 NE Riddell Rd., Bremerton. 21+. Tickets start at $15. Buy them here.

The Dusty 45s will be touring this summer and releasing new music in the spring. Stay up to date on the band’s website.

Growing up, Ashley Dice was more into classic rock and Motown than rap or hip-hop.

Dice started getting more into hip-hop when she was in high school. Even then, she never thought about performing hip-hop music herself.

“I’ve always loved it, but I just never thought it was going to be a path for myself necessarily,” she said. “It wasn’t until later, I started making friends who made music and a rapper friend of mine was like, ‘Hey, you sing; you should do a hook for this song.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh. OK, I’ll do that.”

It ended up being two hooks, she said, and she instantly gained a fan base from it. “I just realized I could do it,” she said. “I think it was more just gaining that confidence, too, of knowing that I could do it and then it just took off from there.”

Now, Dice performs under the stage name Lady Dice and has built an enthusiastic fanbase. But she’s done it all while remaining completely independent.

“I have a distribution deal for my first album, but other than that I’m independent,” she said. “I released my last couple singles on my own.”

Although the DIY route can take more work since it requires a musical artist to wear many hats, at the end of the day, it can also lead to greater financial rewards.

“You used to need that cash advance in order to get the recording, to get the videos done, to get all these things,” she said. “And now we can learn to do it on our own.”

Dice said her live show is a “rollercoaster of emotions.”

“I’m going to take you everywhere,” she said. “There are going to be times when you’re going to cry. There’s going to be times when you’re going to want to shake your butt. … I take you everywhere, because that’s what I am. I won’t put myself in a box. If I feel a certain emotion, I write about it. … I feel there’s something for everyone at my shows.”

Having been into theater growing up, Dice said she brings a lot of theatrics to her performances as well.

“I try to bring more than just a show; I try to bring a production and an environment and a feeling. I want to change something in someone by the time they leave.”

Lady Dice at the Slippery Pig

Lady Dice performs 7:30 p.m., Oct. 22, at the Slippery Pig, 18801 Front St. NE, Poulsbo. The show features DJ Defkawn and special guest. All ages. Tickets are $20. Buy them here.

All proceeds from the show will go toward Feed the Streets, an effort by DocLuvTheKids to feed the homeless.

Learn more about Lady Dice on her website.

Cherry Poppin’ Daddies got its start from singer Steve Perry’s desire to be different.

“When I was coming up in punk rock and alternative rock, the idea was do it yourself and don’t be a follower … do something that is your own music,” he said.

That sentiment stuck with him. When he’d play shows in pre-Daddies punk bands, however, he felt many of the bands in the scene around him fell short of that ethos.

Photo of Cherry Poppin' Daddies walking down a city street
Cherry Poppin’ Daddies performs this Saturday at the Redwood Theater in Bremerton (Photo by Rod Black, Courtesy of Cherry Poppin’ Daddies)

“I’d see all the bands trying to be like Black Flag or Minor Threat or whatever. … I thought, well, you’re being a follower. You’re not doing your own thing, you’re just copying Minor Threat,” he said.

Swing music was Perry’s vehicle for forging his own path. His mom had sent him a collection of jazz cassette tapes that he neglected because he wasn’t interested in it.

“One day I put it on and it just blew my head off how great it was,” he recalled. “I started researching not just jazz, but the swing era. And I thought, wow, dance music that has these kind of roots, that would be really cool if I could somehow mix punk rock and swing music. That would be something that nobody does.”

Subscribe to Kitsap Scene+ and check out the full interview with Cherry Poppin’ Daddies’ Steve Perry

Cherry Poppin’ Daddies formed in 1988 in Eugene, Ore.  “What was weird about us, I guess, was the fact that we had a number of styles that we played, like, funky stuff and ska,” Perry said. “But the thing that really set us apart, I think, was our swing influence.”

The band’s first four songs or so were all swing songs, Perry said. They branched out into other genres, such as punk and ska, but people seemed to connect with the swing songs. “We noticed that people liked that part of our set more and more,” he said.

On the heels of the ’90s ska revival, swing music saw a resurgence. Acts like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and the Brian Setzer Orchestra blew up seemingly overnight, and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies saw huge success with their album Zoot Suit Riot. The album hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Heatseekers chart in 1998, and hit No. 17 on the Billboard 200, propelled by the popularity of its hit title track.

Although it might have seemed like that success came out of the blue, in reality, it was the culmination of years of hard work, Perry said.

“We had been touring for 10 years at that point nationally,” he recalled. “And our thing had been growing and growing and the swing scene had been growing and growing. It just sort of was the right record at the right time.”

The album was produced on a small budget; Perry recalled that the album’s title track was recorded in a single take.

“That’s why at the end of it I’m saying, ‘I think I’m ready to sing it,'” he said. “Because I literally sang it, and I was just getting the mic tested. And he [the audio engineer] said, ‘You know what? That sounded pretty good.’ … I said, ‘Hey, that sounds great. We saved some money. Let’s move on.'”

The swing craze eventually died down, and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies returned to its roots playing a diverse mix of musical styles, Perry said. The band’s show in Bremerton will feature an all-swing set, however, including some songs off a new swing album the band has coming out soon. But Perry enjoys the freedom to explore whatever sounds the band wants to explore, while still respecting the sound that made the band famous.

“Sometimes we make a swing record entirely; sometimes we make a ska record; sometimes  we make more punky-type stuff, but we’ll always play the swing music,” he said.

Cherry Poppin’ Daddies at Bremerton’s Redwood Theater

Cherry Poppin’ Daddies performs with Cockaphonix on Sept. 24, at the Redwood Theater at Tracyton Movie House, 15320 NE Riddell Rd, Bremerton. Doors open at 8 p.m., show is at 9 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 day of the show. Buy tickets here. All ages, bar with ID.

Thirty years ago, musician Julian Stefoni began incorporating Prince songs into his performances — and the crowds responded in a big way.

“That was a good time, when Prince was really on the rise with his career,” Stefoni says. “I noticed that of all the songs we were doing, everybody really liked his stuff. I already had a knack for the kind of showmanship that went along with it. So I just took it further and next thing I know, it became a full-fledged tribute and I’ve been doing it ever since all over the world.”

Read the full Q&A with Stefoni by subscribing to Kitsap Scene+. Try 14 days for free

Stefoni’s Prince tribute act, Erotic City — named after one of Prince’s songs — performs fulltime all over the country. Stefoni has two performances coming up in Bremerton: Tomorrow night, June 4, at the Redwood Theater, and June 18 at the Manette Saloon.

Getting the sound right is half the battle for Stefoni; immersing fans in the Prince experience also entails getting the look right. Stefoni bears a striking resemblance to Prince, but capturing the late singer’s flamboyant style helps cement things even further.

Julian Stefoni performing on stage as Prince
Julian Stefoni performs as Erotic City, a tribute to the late pop star Prince. (Photo courtesy of Erotic City)

“Back then, I had to actually alter a lot of clothes to get the outfits, because I couldn’t afford it back then,” Stefoni says, recalling when he first started performing as Prince. “It’s not like a jeans and T-shirt type of deal, like with some of these other rockers. It’s very customized all the way. A lot of effort went into the outfits.”

Stefoni says he was lucky to have the right mix of musicianship and stage presence to pull off a tribute to a legendary performer like Prince.

Nobody can do exactly what Prince did. He’s just one of those people that came from a different planet.

“He has a very distinctive voice, and his range is very diverse,” Stefoni says. “He can hit those super high notes or he can go all the way in between. And that’s pretty rare for somebody to cover that and then cover all the other bases. Some people can either cover vocals, but they can’t cover the entertainment side. Some can be one or the other. … I was lucky enough to have the essence of having something that was close to his voice when I’m performing and close enough as a musician and entertainer at the same time.”

He isn’t afraid to add his own twist to the performance, either.

“Nobody can do exactly what Prince did,” he says. “He’s just one of those people that came from a different planet, you know? So you have to take what you can get from it and kind of add to it, to be your best. … I think with my audience, they love that I put my own energy and my own style, too. That’s what’s connecting to the audience. They love that stuff.”

One thing people should not expect at an Erotic City show is to hear carbon-copy renditions of the recorded versions Prince’s songs. When possible, Stefoni prefers to perform the live versions, which can sometimes markedly differ from the studio versions.

“I can do a song like ‘Take Me with U,’ and if you’ve ever seen him do it live during the Purple Rain concert era days, he really rocked it and funked it up, and it was just incredible,” he says. “And I’m like, ‘Wow, I don’t see any other people doing it like that. I wanna do it like that.’ And people love it. It takes it from zero to a hundred as far as the excitement in the room.”

Performing Erotic City fulltime is rewarding, but it can be a lot of work, Stefoni says.

“It’s like salt and sugar,” he says with a laugh. “It’s grueling, but if you love what you do and the passion is there, then it doesn’t seem like work. It just seems like, hey, I gotta go from that city to that city, but once you’re there and you’re rocking with that crowd, you’re not thinking about work anymore. You’re just thinking about the purpose of what you’re doing it for, and that’s where it is for me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Erotic City performances

Catch Erotic City live at one of two Bremerton shows:

  • 9 p.m., June 4, at the Redwood Theater (in the Tracyton Movie House), NE Riddell Road, Bremerton. Tickets are $13.76. Buy them here.
  • 9 p.m., June 18, at the Manette Saloon, 2113 E. 11th St., Bremerton. 21+. Tickets are $10 at the door.

If you can’t catch either of the Bremerton shows, Erotic City is also performing 9 p.m., June 10, at Jazzbones, 2803 6th Ave., Tacoma. 21+, doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20-25. Buy them here.

The band will be back in Bremerton Sept. 4 to perform at the Blackberry Festival.

Jordy Sam avoids labels.

The Bremerton musician raps, sings, and engineers his own music. It’s difficult to pin down a single label to describe what he does.

Read the full Q&A with Jordy Sam by subscribing to Kitsap Scene+ — try 14 days for free

“I like to just categorize myself as an artist,” he says. “I wouldn’t necessarily put myself in a box and say that I could be primarily one [genre] or the other. I just like to go with how I’m feeling.”

Sam grew up in a musical family; both his parents sang, and his dad was a musician, he says. Sam started playing drums at age 2, and a cousin showed him how to play piano at 7. By the time he was around 10, he started getting into the production side of music: songwriting, composition, recording.

I feel like we need to have more of a stage for people who are bringing original hip-hop content to the table, because there’s a lot of that that’s being slept on out here

Learning to record his own music at a young age made it easier to explore different genres without getting tied to a single musical style, he says.

“I started off making my music and beats and stuff in my kitchen, just at my computer,” he says. “I didn’t have to listen to anybody tell me how to do certain things. I was able to just go in, do how I was feeling and let that speak.”

Jordy Sam
Bremerton rapper and R&B artist Jordy Sam (Photo by Robbi Perez; courtesy of Jordy Sam)

It’s no surprise he eschews being boxed into a single genre considering the range of his musical influences. It’s difficult for him to narrow it down. There are Gospel artists: Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, and John P. Kee. Then there are classic R&B musicians, such as Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, and more recent acts, like Eric Bellinger and Chris Brown. And he looks to modern rappers such as Dom Kennedy, Nipsey Hustle, and Schoolboy Q.

There’s plenty of inspiration close to home as well. In an area better known as the birthplace of grunge and renowned for its rock and alternative scenes, the Pacific Northwest — and Kitsap County in particular — are a hidden trove of rap and hip-hop talent, Sam says.

“We don’t get the same attention as far as music,” he says. “I understand it with me being a musician — it’s different seeing music with people on stage playing instruments and such, or having a band behind them versus a DJ. I can understand it, but that doesn’t take away from that one person’s creative ability.”

Sam says he’d like to see more opportunities for rap and hip-hop artists to perform and get their names out there locally.

“I feel like we need to have more of a stage for people who are bringing original hip-hop content to the table, because there’s a lot of that that’s being slept on out here, I think,” he says.

Like other musical artists, COVID-19 restrictions forced Sam to find creative ways to exercise his musical muscles.

“The initial hit obviously stopped everything until people started figuring out certain ways to go about being able to still do things,” he says.

One way to keep the music going was by live-streaming performances on Facebook, he says. Shortly after things shut down, he performed an in-studio performance at Bremerton’s BoomHouse Studios. Shortly after that, he performed a musical contest with Seattle rapper Ellis Prescott.

“So there were still opportunities to do music and promote music and engage with fans,” he says. “It didn’t stop as far as that goes. But obviously with live shows, that was at a standstill.”

Post-COVID, Sam said there may be opportunities for hybrid shows, where people can attend performances in-person, but others can stream it online. “There’s an exclusiveness — people come there, but they can still view online as well,” he says.

One thing that won’t change, pandemic or no, is Sam’s commitment to continuing to grow as a musician and refine his sound. As an engineer, he says, “my ear’s getting more trained to the sound and as I’m getting around other engineers … I’m able to get their insight on what I’m doing and what I should work on.”

He researches techniques to practice or perfect online and then puts it into practice, he says.

“I’m always trying to apply that to what I’m working on currently, or even stuff that might not be out,” he says. “I’ll go back and redo what I just learned with something that might be old just to see the difference. I’ve definitely taken a lot of time and effort in getting the sound that I have currently.”

Check out Jordy Sam’s music

Jordy Sam performs 9 p.m. tonight, May 20, at The Crazy Otter, 141 Chimacum Road, Port Hadlock. Doors open at 8 p.m. 21+. Tickets are $25. VIP meet and greet tickets with exclusive poster are $35. Get them here.

Follow Jordy Sam on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

For more info on Sam’s production work, find him on BeatStars.

Jack Parker grew up in a musical family, so it’s no surprise he went on to have a wide-ranging career as a musician.

Parker, who has performed in Rocky Point All-Stars and Tumbledown, and was a touring guitarist for MxPx, now performs under his own name, along with his band, The Remedy. But it all started with the influence of his mom, a pianist and vocalist, and his dad, a bluegrass aficionado who played guitar and mandolin.

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When he was around 8 years old Parker, who grew up in the Purdy area, began playing the baritone ukulele — he was too small to play guitar at that age — and after learning his first few chords, he became addicted, he says.

His dad started taking him to bluegrass festivals and jams.

“I just absolutely loved it,” he says. “Kids weren’t really around a lot of bluegrass music. It was just me and a bunch of adults. All my friends were grownups at that point. It was an interesting way to grow up into that scene.”

Jack Parker playing guitar
Jack Parker (Photo by Logan Westom/Bremerton Canvas; Courtesy of Jack Parker)

When he got into playing electric guitar a few years later, he started raiding his dad’s record collection and exploring musicians like Jimi Hendrix and Creedence Clearwater Revival. 

When he was 19, he moved to Arizona to play in a band with his uncle, a professional musician. “He was a pivotal person in my development as a musician,” Parker says. 

It was his first foray into playing in a rock band. “I just loved it,” he says. “Especially being only 19 years old and playing in bars and stuff like that, it was like an awakening for me at that point in my life.”

Something about Kitsap County just felt right to me. Once I got here I just felt instantly at home, like, these are my people.

Parker moved back to Washington in his early 20s and got a job at Ted Brown Music in Tacoma before he was transferred to the Silverdale store.

“At first I was like, ‘Where is Silverdale?’” he says. But they were offering him full-time work that he needed at the time. “I was back living with my parents so I was just like, ‘OK, I just need to take this and embrace it.’” 

Once he started working there, he instantly began making friends with musicians coming into the store. “Something about Kitsap County just felt right to me,” he says. “Once I got here … I just felt instantly at home, like, these are my people.”

After forming a short-lived band in Kitsap, Parker met Chebon Tiger — who he describes as a “fantastic blues guitar player” — and played with him in the Chebon Tiger band. 

Parker later went on to play in Rocky Point All-Stars, which he formed with KW Miller, and Marshall and Harley Trotland.

“That was a big turning point for me musically here in town,” he says. “I still look back on that band as probably one of the best musical experiences of my life.”

One night after a Rocky Point All-Stars show, MxPx frontman Mike Herrera approached the band.

“I didn’t really know MxPx’s music back then,” Parker recalled. “I knew who he was and I knew that they were a big deal, but I was more into blues and country and bluegrass and stuff like that, so I didn’t know the punk rock scene very well back then.”

A few months later, Herrera called Parker to ask him to record a solo on one of MxPx’s albums; the solo ultimately appeared on the song “Late Again” from Panic.

Years later, Herrera approached the band again to ask if they’d come into his studio and back some country-adjacent songs he’d penned. In exchange, he offered to record the band’s second album for free. “We jumped at the opportunity to do that,” Parker says.

That collaboration evolved into the band Tumbledown, which toured all over the country, including the South by Southwest music festival in Austin for three or four years in a row, Parker says. The band recorded two albums in 2009 and 2010. “We were a tight band because we played a lot, toured a lot, and it was a lot of fun.”

Parker began subbing in for some MxPx gigs around that time. He ended up being the band’s touring guitarist for around five years, traveling with the band to South America, Europe, southeast Asia and Japan. “I really got to see the world playing with that band … It was a lot of fun playing huge, sold-out shows all over the world. That’s just an amazing experience which I am just so grateful for.”

Parker released his first solo album, Homegrown, around 2015. “I did a couple of solo tours on that which I booked all myself,” he says. “I toured once a year for about three or four years, all the way up until COVID.”

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, Parker had formed a band, Jack Parker and the Remedy, and started booking “all kinds of really cool gigs,” he says. “Obviously COVID shut that down quickly.”

The pandemic forced him to shift gears, since he couldn’t continue performing live. He bought recording equipment and taught himself how to use it. “I just really dove into that headfirst and started recording a new album which is just now finished two years later,” he says. He’s still finalizing the artwork and is hoping to release it sometime this summer.

Over the past year, Parker began teaching guitar again which, at 45 years old, has been a “total revelation” for him, he says.

“I taught guitar before, many years ago, but I didn’t enjoy it as much back then,” he says. “But now that I’m a little older and I’ve got more experience under my belt, I have just absolutely loved teaching guitar to especially kids, but adults, too,” he says, noting that he has a few students in their fifties who decided they wanted to learn guitar.

“I just think it’s so good for people to learn an instrument,” he says. “It helps us in so many different ways to make us feel better and so that’s where I’m at right now.  The look on a kid’s face when they discover they can play a G chord for the first time and their faces just light up, it’s absolutely a wonderful feeling to witness that.”

Upcoming performances by Jack Parker

Some of Parker’s upcoming performances include:

  • 8 p.m., April 30, at the Hidden Door, 14525 Aurora Ave. N., Shoreline, $10
  • 8 p.m., May 14 at the Tracyton Public House, 403 NW Tracy Ave., Bremerton, free
  • 7 p.m., May 28 at Slaughter County Brewing, 1307 Bay St., Port Orchard, free

For more info on Parker and a full list of upcoming shows, check out his website.

In 2015, Bainbridge Island Author Steph Jagger’s mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. About 10 months later, Jagger took her mother on an extensive road trip, mostly through Montana and Wyoming, that included camping, hiking and horseback riding.

Read the full Q&A with Steph Jagger by becoming a subscriber to Kitsap Scene+ — try 14 days for free

Steph Jagger portrait
Steph Jagger

That trip and her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s are the subject of Jagger’s new book, Everything Left to Remember, which is being released Aug. 26 from Flatiron Press. She’ll be celebrating the release of the book Aug. 28 at Bainbridge’s Eagle Harbor Book Co.

Jagger says she frequently journals to help her understand herself and the things that are happening in her life. That process was the basis of her new book.

“When my mom and I were flying from Bozeman to Vancouver, Canada, at the end of the trip, she was sitting in the seat next to me and I found myself furiously taking notes in the notes app on my iPhone about various different things that had happened in the trip,” Jagger recalls. “It happened really quickly when I was on that plane ride, and started to realize the volume of stuff that was coming out of me, quickly onto the app on my iPhone. And I thought, there’s something bigger here. I wouldn’t have this volume coming forth so quickly if there wasn’t something larger that wanted to be communicated or understood.”

Although it has been difficult watching the progression of her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease, Jagger says the experience has also left her in awe.

She invoked a quote from Seattle singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile: “There is nothing more real or more practical in this universe than mysticism … and it’s usually sitting right smack in the middle of grief.”

“I think that’s an interesting doorway in,” Jagger says. “If I am willing to not distance myself from grief — which, again, I think is part of our mental health process — if I am willing to walk into it and befriend it and be curious about it, and allow myself to have those feelings of, say, sadness, rage, sorrow, all of those things that come with grief, then I might also be able to witness other things, like awe and curiosity, connection, and other things on the other range of those emotions.”

Jagger says a person with Alzheimer’s is “living inside of a shifting time-space reality.”

“Sometimes she thinks she’s a teenager,” she says of her mother. “Sometimes she thinks I’m her sister, sometimes she knows I’m her daughter, sometimes she thinks I’m her sister, sometimes she knows I’m her daughter, sometimes she thinks she’s 102, sometimes she thinks she’s 17 years old. It’s a time-space reality that’s very fluid.”

That fluidity can result in interesting — even beautiful — moments, Jagger says.

“My mom had me when she was 37 years old, which means I didn’t know her when she was 0 to 37,” she says. “But because of the shifting time-space reality, sometimes she thinks she’s a 16-year-old, and I get to witness her doing things and acting in a certain way that’s like a glimpse into who she would have been at that age. And that is a phenomenal gift, when you think, ‘Oh, I wish I knew who my mother was at 16.’ Well, there you are. There’s a picture of who she was at 16 years old. So I think there’s some real gifts in there.”

Jagger will read from the book at the Aug. 28 event at Eagle Harbor Book Co. The event also includes a Q&A.

She’ll talk about her mother’s Alzheimer’s, but also tie the book’s themes to larger issues, she says. In the wake of COVID-19, we’ve all seen systems we thought would keep us safe — such as capitalism, corporate systems, or communities — be tested under the stress of the pandemic.

“I think we’re seeing a lot of those shift and change and some of them crumble and collapse,” she says. “And I think there’s a really large thread in the book that is the question of who will hold us, and where can we go to seek that safety and comfort when those things go?”

She’s also looking forward to meeting with people in her community after putting off in-person events for so long because of COVID, she says.

“We haven’t had an opportunity to do a lot of in-person events, so I’m hoping it’s going to feel a bit more intimate than some of the other cities and places that I’ll go, because these are people that I share a backyard with,” she says.

Steph Jagger at Eagle Harbor Book Co.

Bainbridge Island author Steph Jagger speaks at 6:30 p.m., April 28, at Eagle Harbor Book Co., 157 Winslow Way E., Bainbridge Island.

Learn more about Jagger at her website.

Purchase Unbound and Everything Left to Remember. (Affiliate links — Kitsap Scene may receive a commission if you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you).

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