Arts and Entertainment

‘Strawberry City Jam’ draws biggest crowd yet

Jim Strickland, who started the ‘Strawberry City Jam’ series of open-mic nights at the Marysville Alfy’s Pizza last summer, takes his turn at the mic on Jan. 24. - Kirk Boxleitner
Jim Strickland, who started the ‘Strawberry City Jam’ series of open-mic nights at the Marysville Alfy’s Pizza last summer, takes his turn at the mic on Jan. 24.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — The latest “Strawberry City Jam” on Friday, Jan. 24, scored the monthly event’s largest attendance since it started at the Marysville Alfy’s Pizza on State Avenue last summer.

“It was our biggest turnout yet, and our greatest variety of talent,” said Jim Strickland, who started the series of free open-mic nights at Alfy’s on Aug. 22 of last year, because the restaurant had been so accommodating in hosting the Marysville-Pilchuck High School Life Skills Program’s monthly pizza parties. “Our attendance has been hovering around 20 or so since the summer, but this past Friday, we had more than 30 attendees, with some awesome new talent.”

Strickland, the Life Skills teacher at M-PHS, wanted to offer an evening of participatory musical entertainment for everyone at Alfy’s, and proudly touted the broad spectrum of ages, from 10 years and younger to senior citizens, of those who stopped by to perform or listen in.

“The talent ranged from people singing along with their iPods to singer-songwriters performing original pieces,” Strickland said. “We had several guitarists and Chelsea Fowler on the clarinet. Mellory Barns, who just moved here from Utah, did two amazing songs on the ukulele.”

Of the singer-songwriters in residence, Strickland singled out Austin Shepherd for “blowing us all away” with a few original songs and a blues number, and reported that “Strawberry City Jam” regular Joey Hoerner “showed us again why he’s on a fast track to stardom,” with his “unbelievable talent and infectious energy.” Of Cama Durbin, who played the guitar and sang both an original piece and a couple of cover tunes, Strickland said, “She has a voice that will literally send chills down your spine.”

Strickland also praised two members of Village Community Services’ “Voices of the Village,” who called themselves the Cedar House Ladies Club, for taking their turn at the mic.

“Word seems to be getting around that the ‘Strawberry City Jam’ is a great opportunity to express your musical self in a very relaxed, informal and supportive atmosphere, with great music, great people, great pizza and great fun,” Strickland said. “I am continuously amazed by the talent in our community, who need an outlet like this, and I want to keep that going. The more people who come out to listen or perform, the more fun it is for everyone.”

Strickland again extended his thanks to the staff of the Marysville Alfy’s Pizza on State Avenue, whose new manager Diamond Johnston has already promised him that the “Strawberry City Jam” can return to the restaurant from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28.

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