Nancy Button brings sassy jazz to Chuckanut Radio Hour

Ferndale vocalist Nancy Button's swing-and-jazz ensemble, Stirred Not Shaken, plays for this month's Chuckanut Radio Hour on Friday, April 25, at Whatcom Community College's Heiner Center Theater.

Question: When did you discover your love and talent for music?

Answer: I am so lucky that singing has always been a part of my world. My mom made singing a natural part of our family.

She sang in women's barbershop choruses. Early on, she taught my sister and me all three parts to "Rock My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham," which harmonizes nicely when you sing them all together.

Then she took us to a performance that we thought we were going to watch. Cid and I were surprised when the emcee announced that our mom and her two daughters were singing a song for everyone. Once we got over the shock, we got up on stage and had fun performing it.

Another fond memory is a road trip I took with my mom and sister. We harmonized our way from Washington to Arizona and Utah and back.

A gift to me now is hearing my daughter as she sings around the house. Our family tradition continues.

Q: What have been some of the groups you've performed with? What have been some of your favorite memories as a performer?

A: The first band I sang with was in Prescott, Ariz., my junior year of high school. We played for church dances and weren't any good, but I learned that I loved performing.

Later, I attended Western Washington University. Up With People came to town; I loved their show and the opportunity to play music as a vehicle to travel the world captivated me. I spent a year traveling with them.

A fun memory from that year happened in Spain when the Swedish song started and the Swedes didn't come on stage to sing it. The band vamped repeatedly until it was clear they weren't going to show up.

My knowledge of their language was limited to the Swedish chef on "Sesame Street." I was one of about 30 backup singers on stage. Nobody moved, so finally I walked from my trio group to the front of the stage, took the mic, and bluffed my way through the song mimicking the Swedish chef's style.

I got the tune right, but totally slaughtered the lyrics. (Fortunately, not many folks in Spain knew Swedish, either.) Up With People also gave me my first taste of studio recording.

Since then, I have been fortunate to be involved in many recording opportunities, from radio jingles to my current band's CD.

Q: What's the history of Stirred Not Shaken?

A: Stirred Not Shaken was formed by Chad Petersen with Nicole Hurtubise and me in 2009. Chad has since moved on musically, but not before successfully launching Nic and me with what has become our own band. Chad has mentored countless musicians in Whatcom County, and we are all the better for it.

Q: What do you play?

A: Stirred Not Shaken performs old jazz, new jazz, torch and sassy songs. Harmonies are our specialty. The joy of making music and entertaining our audience is what we love to do. Nic and I love our multigenerational band.

Q: Who's in the band?

A: Frank Kuhl, who has performed all over the world, plays trumpet and flugelhorn. Johnny Toulouse, a music major at WWU, plays an awesome guitar. Peter Jull impresses audiences as our young bassist. Nicole Hurtubise and I sing.

Q: Where do you perform?

A: We play regularly around Whatcom and Skagit counties and love to play for weddings and private engagements. Contact us at snshaken@gmail.com and Facebook.

Q: What's fun for you besides music?

A: Other than music, my interests include yoga, working out, hiking, skiing, bicycling, river rafting, boating, traveling, reading, book club, caroling, and doing all those things with my family and friends.

Q: What's your day job and why do you love it?

A: My day job as a fourth-grade teacher at Central Elementary in Ferndale gives me purpose, challenge and joy. I use music daily in my classroom. (Singing is a wonderful mnemonic device.)

A rewarding musical project that I did with my fourth-graders is a parody of "Bellingham State of Mind." Look up "Central State of Mind Ferndale" on YouTube. You'll see the love and joy that these kids have towards our school. It's a beautiful thing. Life is good!


What: Chuckanut Radio Hour with author Linda Greenlaw and music by Stirred Not Shaken.

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 25.

Where: Heiner Center Theater, Whatcom Community College, 231 W. Kellogg Road.

Tickets: $5, at Village Books and Brown Paper Tickets.

Details: 360-671-2626, villagebooks.com.