Over the weekend, music lovers and artists alike stepped out to support the first annual “Winter Fireside Party,” a benefit to support Northwest Folklife at The VERA Project. What many do not realize is that Folklife is an independent organization that heavily relies on individual contributions to produce their signature festival year after year. For a twenty-five dollar donation, guests were treated to performances from fourteen multi-cultural musical groups, square dancing to live folk music, followed by a Northwest Fiddle Showcase. In addition, people savored fresh dumplings, Hilliard’s Beer and some delicious mulled wine later in the evening.
In the main stage area, caller Gabe Strand energetically guided dance couples through square dancing routines to the beat of lively folk tunes played by The Onlies. While The Onlies’ members, Leo Shannon, Riley Calcagno and Samantha Braman are only fifteen years old, they sure know how to invigorate a crowd. Perhaps it’s the fact that this trio has been playing and performing together since they were seven-years-old and have developed a unique bond that has kept them together even as they transitioned into becoming young adults. Having grown up listening to folk music with their parents, they were inspired to pursue their dream of performing throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. These three hardly get a chance to rest, as they recently finished their first full-length album “Setting Out to Sea,” and are now busy preparing for EMP’s Sound Off, the Northwest’s premier 21-and-under battle of the bands.
Over at the outdoor Fireside Tent, guests sat on comfy couches in a fire-lit area to enjoy the ambiance of more live music and converse with artists in an intimate setting. Ines Andrade and Marchette DuBois of Les Pamplemousses entertained the crowd with authentic French music, including some of Edith Piaf’s cherished melodies. Having met at a wedding years ago, Andrade and DuBois discovered they shared a passion for French music and have been performing together ever since. Vocalist Ines Andrade moved to the States from Paris nearly two decades ago, but has certainly not lost her Parisian flair. Her feathers, lace, and tousled up-do are inspired by the work of French painter, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, evoking the vivid and theatrical Parisian culture. Les Pamplemousses performs all over the Seattle area, often in restaurants and cafes, including The Pink Door, transporting guests to Paris one tune at a time.
Back at the VERA Gallery, Vikesh Kapoor serenaded guests with his soft but powerful voice and acoustic guitar. Kapoor is currently touring all over the US, having recently released his full-length debut album “The Ballad of Willy Robins,” which tells the brutal but hopeful story of a man who loses everything while struggling to make something of himself. Kapoor’s vulnerability and touching lyrics filled the room with warmth and left audience members in a state of peace.
With so many inspiring performances, the first annual Winter Fireside Party was a clear success and a reminder of the creative community Folklife continues to nurture. We’re eagerly anticipating what else they have in store for the festival coming up in May!
Photography by Alexcia DeVasquez