What happens when you mix art, food, music, a lovely winter day, Friday, old friends and new?
If you are lucky, you get asked to dance by a beautiful woman.
The first Friday in February marked the opening of Alley Cat Artists’ new location in Ellensburg. From their web site: “Alley Cat Artists encourages empowerment and collaboration for artists with and without disabilities to utilize and foster resources that will sustain professional development. Alley Cat Artists is a Central Washington Disability Resources Program.”
I went to hear my friends Avolition play – in the spirit of first Friday, they were unveiling their new acoustic set. (What do you do after you spent a year releasing a new demo song every single week? I mean, on the artistic level – I won’t speculate on the types or amounts of personal revelry and/or collapse that might or might not have occurred at the conclusion of that endeavor. Avolition’s still pushing their artistic envelope, with new original songs, new covers, and acoustic arrangements, not to mention rumors of upcoming all-Beatles and – dare we dream? – all 80’s Hair Metal* sets.)
The art was all inspired by, or related to, the new Year of the Dragon; artists expressed their “visions of the future, power, luck, eccentricity, and passion.” Pieces by local artists Lynne McCowan, Scott Mayberry, and Cecilia Powers are just a few of those worth seeing.
The joy was inspired by the people.
I have to include the members of Avolition in that – it’s not just that they’re great musicians playing great music. It’s the whole spirit of the endeavor, the fun they have with the music and each other, the fun they share with the audience. Tiny boys and girls danced in front of the band, and were invited to play percussion or adjust the sound. Friends were greeted with big smiles and warm welcomes. The venue was inaugurated with a powerful rendition of Al Green’s Take Me to the River.
Yes, you need to hear Dan Leavitt play acoustic guitar with the same skill and energy he plays electric. Yes, you need to hear Mike Nelson sing Rebel Rebel. You do. You just do. Yes, you need to hear Rob Fraser take the tempo of Boom Boom Boom down and do strange and wonderful things with it. Yes, you need to hear Andy Cleman’s bass hold up the hymn-like Find the Cost of Freedom and yes, you need to hear Mike Hougardy’s newest original song, which he dubs “Ellensburg funk” and includes the lines:
Lord, if you take me tonight in my sleep, I’ll be good I promise, my soul is yours to keep.
Yes, it works as Ellensburg funk. Don’t ask me how; just listen to it yourself.
But all that doesn’t quite compare to watching the eyes of a lovely woman shine brightly when she reaches through her “disability” and puts her hand in yours, pulls you out on to the dance floor, and pulls you right into the joy she finds in the music, the art, the people, the food, the friends, old and new.
Thank you, Ms. J., for the dance.
*If anyone has an amp that goes to eleven, please contact Avolition’s booking agent.