New series, Jazz Legacy Concerts, to entertain and inform at Firehouse Performing Arts Center


Drummer Julian MacDonough recently announced a new, eight-month jazz series, Jazz Legacy Concerts, at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center, to begin in October 2013.


I was at the Redlight on State Street a few weeks ago listening to the regular last-Tuesday lineup of drummer Julian MacDonough, sax player Josh Cook and bass player Chuck Kistler, when Julian happily announced a new, eight-month jazz series, Jazz Legacy Concerts, at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center.

Julian says there will be a theme for the monthly performances. The first concert, at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 16, is called "The Art of the Piano Trio" and features Canadian pianist Miles Black, performing with MacDonough and Kistler. The show will be an "overture" for the upcoming season, Julian says.

The series will officially begin in October. Each concert will feature the music and style of a specific pianist or trio, and will have an educational element, too. The musicians will recommend recordings by, and provide historical information about, the artists they are featuring.

The shows will be for all ages, with kids encouraged to attend. Details: Legacy Jazz Series on Facebook.


Often, I'm laughing so hard at NPR's "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me" that I can't hear all of the witty answers from the panel, which includes Paula Poundstone.

When I was offered the opportunity to email Poundstone a few questions in advance of her appearance Saturday, May 18, at Mount Baker Theatre, I emailed her publicist right away. Here's what resulted.

MB: I know you've said you have the record for being the "biggest loser" on "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me," because you say you are too busy to be informed about the week's news, but how do you respond so quickly on the show?

PP: It's true, I hold the record for losses on "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me." I really thought I was going to make a splash by winning the game on the recent Cinecast, but no, I lost again. I studied, too, and I was willing to cheat.

I am the luckiest performer in the world to get to be on "Wait, Wait ..." I love to think of funny things to say and say them. When people laugh, it is the gravy on the cake. I think I am able to have multiple experiences on this wonderful news quiz show that work just that way, where I say something and people laugh, mostly because my bosses on the show encourage me to do just that.

I can't tell you how many jobs I've done where I am hired to appear and then told not to do what I do. Either they want it to be scripted or they want me to censor in some way.

On "Wait, Wait ...," right from the start they've asked that I jump right in and say whatever I want.

It's very freeing. The people on "Jeopardy" didn't feel that way at all. "Wheel of Fortune?" Same problem.

MB: What happens if the audience (in live shows) doesn't get the humor?

PP: The audience plays a huge role in the success of a show. I'm lucky because I happen to have the greatest audience members in the business.

Back when I worked with other comics in nightclubs, guys would kill to work with me, not because I am such a stroll in the park, but because they wanted to talk to my crowds.

Frankly, that's why I don't work with anyone else on the bill any more. I don't want to share the crowd. I'm selfish. I want them all to myself.

It doesn't happen often, but there have been nights where I just can't connect with the audience in front of me. I try every angle I can think of, and remember, I've been doing this job for 34 years. That's 34 years of angles. It's rare, but it has happened that I just couldn't get anything going.

That's why I keep my cellphone in my pocket when I am on stage. I use speed dialing, without taking the phone out. On my signal, one at a time, the original audience members are lured out of the theater and surreptitiously replaced by paid, model audience members from the luxury bus waiting in the parking lot.

MB: Do you think of funny lines spontaneously, and if so, do you write them down?

PP: My desk is covered in little pieces bearing phrases like "overly anxious nipples," "I'm jealous of Joan of Arc," and "punctuation camp."

MB: (after reading that Poundstone is a fan of "Perry Mason" and "Leave it to Beaver" reruns): What is your relationship with Perry Mason or Beaver Cleaver (pick one), and why are they such a good escape for you from real life?

PP: What's not real about Perry Mason?


The State Street Studio Theatre Company is opening the summer with a controversial musical, "Spring Awakening," staged by a student-directed cast.

"Spring Awakening" is a rock musical with music by Duncan Sheik and a book and lyrics by Steven Sater. It's based on the controversial 1891 German play of the same name by Frank Wedekind, which was banned in Germany for some time due to its frank portrayal of abortion, homosexuality, rape, child abuse and suicide.

Set in late-19th century Germany, the musical tells the story of teenagers discovering the inner and outer tumult of sexuality. In the musical, alternative rock is employed as part of the folk-infused rock score.

The production includes vulgar language, obscene gestures, and various controversial subjects, as well as flashing lights and fog. Viewer discretion is advice.

Due to the content, audience members must be 16 or older to attend without being accompanied by an adult.

Kaleb Van Rijswijck, a senior at Bellingham High School, initiated the project as a "last hurrah" for several Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth graduates, as well as for college students and community members from Whatcom County.

The production is seeking money for costumes, lighting, set design, set construction, sound and advertisement. Kaleb says at least $5,000 is needed.

The deadline to donate through Indiegogo is Monday, May 20. Here's the link.

For more on the show, go to "Spring Awakening: A New Musical" on Facebook.

Reach Margaret Bikman at 360-715-2273 or Follow Bellingham Entertainment on Facebook or @bhamentertainme on Twitter.

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