At one of several Thanksgiving dinners I spent with my friends Roger and Anne Griffith, Roger spoke enthusiastically about seeing original Broadway shows with the original casts, "West Side Story," among others. His love for music of all sorts is ever-present in conversations, and the songs he has chosen over the past 25 years for his much-beloved choir, the Kulshan Chorus, makes evident his eclectic choices.
Roger has transcribed or arranged many of those songs - a long-forgotten Polish carole, African tunes, jazz numbers and gospels - and has featured some of the best solo singers in town at the choir's twice-yearly community concerts, as well as at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations, and occasionally for benefits.
His warm smile and energetic direction of the chorus, often involving and encouraging the audience to sing along, will no doubt be present at this Saturday's concert, "The Second Great Beatles Singalong," at Western Washington University's Performing Arts Concert Hall.
And, no doubt, there will be a few misty eyes, because it will be Roger's last concert directing the chorus. He and his wife are moving to France the summer of 2014, where they have been working hard to convert an ancient house in a small village into a bed-and-breakfast and residence.
I've attended most of the choir's concerts, which grew from small crowds in Whatcom Museum's Rotunda Room and at Sacred Heart Church to filling Bellingham High School's Performing Arts Center and Assumption Church with toe-tapping and hand-clapping tunes, accompanied by musicians who have included Seattle accordion player Steve Rice and his French-bistro ensemble; Bellingham klezmer band What the Chelm!; the Bellingham classic-rock and blues band The Atlantics; and the classic-rock cover band The Walrus.
On Saturday, April 27, The Walrus will be joined by Atlantics front-men Paul Klein on keyboards and Mark Kelly on saxophone, and the program not only includes Beatles' cover tunes but some favorite songs of Roger and of the chorus.
Mary Somerville, assistant rehearsal director, will assume temporary directorship of the group until a permanent director is found.
COMUS DANCE CLUB HOSTS MEXICAN-THEME EVENT
Ballroom dance aficionado Karen Harris sent me a note about an upcoming dance sponsored by Comus Dance Club, a longtime Bellingham dance-and-supper club. The club's dance May 3 at Bellingham Golf & Country Club will have a Mexican theme, with a buffet dinner that features south-of-the-border food, and dance music by the Still Bill Band.
The club encourages people to wear cocktail or Mexican attire. Details: 360-303-5782, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or comusclub.com.
WWU GRAD OVERSEES COMEDY COMPETITION IN WENATCHEE
If you're in Wenatchee this weekend you might want to catch some entertainment at the inaugural Wenatchee Comedy Competition, an all-day event that's part of the 10-day Wenatchee Apple Blossom Festival.
The producer of the comedy festival is Alex Haley, a 2011 Western Washington University graduate and former stand-up comedy performer in these parts. Haley has chosen to include members of the Upfront Theatre and Western's Stand Up Comedy Klub to represent his alma mater.