MARYSVILLE — Musical performers and audience members came from not only Marysville, but also Arlington and Smokey Point for the first Marysville Strawberry Jam open-mic night at the Marysville Alfy's Pizza on Thursday, Aug. 22.
According to event organizer Jim Strickland, the crowds were packed and diverse in every direction, with musical artists ranging from 4 to 70 years old, playing everything from acoustic covers of Tom Petty and Van Morrison, to a wide variety of folk, rock, country, alternative and pop songs, and while most of the performers were singers and guitarists, the instrumentalists also included a lone clarinetist, Chelsea Fowler.
"She's a Marysville-Pilchuck High School graduate who also writes poetry and volunteers in the community," said Strickland, who teaches the Life Skills Program at M-PHS. "We had several teens from Marysville and Arlington schools, and about an equal number of adults."
Among the evening's other performers who stood out in Strickland's mind were Dave Smith, the guitarist who "rocked the house" with the aforementioned Tom Petty and Van Morrison numbers, and Jim Gibbs, who's in a band based out of the Stillaguamish Senior Center and plays venues throughout Snohomish County, as well as Ernie Mapanoo, one of Strickland's Life Skills students at M-PHS whom he credited with being a very enthusiastic performer.
"Lexi Vanney, a 12-year-old from Arlington, is an awesome natural talent who's in the middle of recording a CD of cover tunes," Strickland said. "She performed songs by Adele, Bruno Mars, Sarah McLachlan and others. Cama Durbin, a sophomore at M-PHS, plays guitar and sings with a voice that sends chills down your spine. Her younger sister Vanessa, an eighth-grader at Marysville Middle School, also did a couple of a cappella numbers that were literally jaw-dropping. You will no doubt be hearing more from Lexi, Cama and Vanessa as they continue to develop and share their amazing talents."
Strickland himself even took a turn at the mic that evening, playing "Alone Without You" by Tom Morello and "Wagon Wheel" by Darius Rucker on his guitar.
"I started things off to make sure the bar was set comfortably low in the beginning," Strickland laughed. "I just like these songs, and they're fun to play. I also like to play for others to sing along, so I played a couple of songs that Ernie could sing with me."
The evening went so well that Strickland is already planning the next Strawberry Jam for Thursday, Sept. 26, from 6-8 p.m. the Marysville Alfy's Pizza.
"It was a wonderful start to something that everyone seemed to feel was worth continuing," Strickland said. "Our goal was to give people a forum for having fun making music together, and that goal was definitely met. I was surprised by the diversity of participants in age and musical talents. That diversity was one of the things that made the event so special."
While Strickland suggested that future Strawberry Jam sessions might eventually focus on specific instruments or genres of music, he hasted to add that would depend entirely upon the interests expressed by their participants.
"Marysville is in the middle of an arts explosion, and everyone has the ability to express themselves artistically in one way or another," Strickland said. "What I'd say to the community is, let's keep expanding opportunities for people to participate in the arts, not just as spectators, but as creators as well."