Ferndale's Jon Mutchler, 52, is an active man. He serves as pastor of Ferndale Alliance Church, which he founded 24 years ago; he's a member of Ferndale City Council; he runs marathons and triathlons; he parents seven children (all home-schooled) with wife Diane of 27 years, he performs piano weekly at Stars Restaurant at Semiahmoo Resort,; and he will teach and play at this year's Blaine Jazz Festival, which runs July 8-14.
For more about him, go to JonMutchler.com, FerndalePiano.com or find him on Facebook.
Question: Who were some of your mentors on your musical journey?
Answer: I was fortunate to have two remarkable parents, both educators. Mom made sure I attended countless piano lessons and kept up with my studies. At Olympic College in Bremerton I had the pleasure of studying with my late father, Ralph Mutchler. I inherited my passion for jazz from him.
After attending Olympic, I came to Western Washington University and began a student/teacher relationship with Ford Hill that has developed into a long-term friendship. I was profoundly influenced in how I thought about music, sound, style, practicing - the piano itself - from him. One of my recent honors has been to perform with Ford at Amadeus Project with others in the Keyboard Friends series.
I received my Master of Divinity from Regent College, Vancouver, B.C., while living in Blaine.
Q: What else have you done, musicwise the past year?
A: About a year ago drummer-son Tommy, 21, and I were sent by our church to Paris and Toulouse to perform in a dozen jazz concerts with other church friends. And recently, daughter Emma, 17, began playing jazz bass with me at Maggie's Pub in Ferndale. We call ourselves, "Two Mutch" and play mostly jazz and pop standards. Both kids are Blaine Jazz Camp alumni.
Q: What's your history with the Blaine Jazz Festival?
A: I was introduced to the directors of the festival, Bruce and Sandy Wolf of Semiahmoo and Ted Decorso, about 10 years ago one evening while playing piano at Stars. They invited me to join the staff and this is my 10th year teaching, composing, directing, and playing.
This is a wonderful event for Blaine and the county, with a dedicated and experienced staff committed to giving each student a fantastic week of jazz. It's a ton of fun, too.
Q: What kinds of music do you perform, and with what groups, and where?
A: Right now seems to be mostly a season of solo piano work. I am putting on a series of six to eight concerts yearly in my home studio called "The Art of Piano Improv." I had one in June featuring music from movies. Two months back was all "West Side Story"/Bernstein music. Before that, all Beatles music. It's a rewarding endeavor to pick a theme and see what comes of it in a fairly unplanned and informal evening of piano improvising
Q: What music do you enjoy listening to?
A: I have to listen to and play the classics: Beethoven, Bach, Schubert, Chopin. My radio is tuned to King 98.1 FM. But nothing is like live music, certainly. Diane and I were given a trip this January to New York City that included tickets to Carnegie Hall to hear my favorite pianist, Keith Jarrett. We also caught Marcus Roberts at Dizzy's and took in the Broadway version of "Spiderman" (with music by U2).
Q: Stars Restaurant at Semiahmoo has reopened and you have returned as its pianist. Tell me about that.
A: I have been at Semiahmoo a long time, 16 years. I am there Saturday nights, playing show tunes, jazz standards, classical music and pop tunes. And, of course, requests. I was trying to figure out the other day - that I have probably played for some 35,000 to 45,000 people there over the last 16 years!
Q: I see on your website that you enjoy triathlons.
A: I decided three years ago that to keep up this pace as a pastor, family guy and musician I needed to take responsibility for my health and fitness. Somehow I fell into triathlons and just completed my 13th. I found a knowledgeable coach, Judy Pratt with Bellingham Fit, who has been a great help to me. And last year I finished my first Half Ironman. Some of my kids are now "trying the tri."
Q: What else keeps you busy?
A: Well, I think I thrive in the creative chaos of trying new things and keeping my life full, especially activities that help or bless others: pastoring, teaching, performing. I love and value Ferndale and want to be part in directing its bright future.
Serving on council just seemed like a natural way for me to impact more people. It's been a real privilege. I like Mayor Jensen, respect this council, and appreciate our city staff. Ferndale has a great future and I'm happy the Mutchlers get to enjoy it.
Reach MARGARET BIKMAN at email@example.com or 715-2273.