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Local musicians donate talent for PAC - Three winter concerts at old high school benefit new high schools theater

The interior of the new performing arts center has no seats yet, nor curtains, rigging or other finishing details, but it will be ready for a grand gala opening May 31 - June 3. -
The interior of the new performing arts center has no seats yet, nor curtains, rigging or other finishing details, but it will be ready for a grand gala opening May 31 - June 3.
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ARLINGTON Jeff Nicely and Sean Denton, Toby Strotz and Bev Soler are just some of the talented musicians in the Arlington community who are donating their time and talent this winter to benefit the new Performing Arts Center at the Arlington High School.
They are the leads in three concerts on the third Fridays in January, February and March in the old high schools auditorium when 100 percnet of the $10 admission will be donated to Arts Alive to help meet its goal for the AHS PAC.
Thanks to generous donations of time and talent by everybody involved, there are no expenses to be paid out of the ticket income.
The musicians are donating their time and talent.
The Arlington Boys and Girls Club is providing the venue at no cost.
Kyle Blevins is offering a 75 percent discount in costs for his Superior Sound system and Arlington Rotary Club is covering Blevins cost.
The benefit not only anticpates the future of the new PAC, but also celebrates the old auditorium.
The last time I played this hall was 1973, said AHS class of 74 graduate Toby Strotz, the founder of the band Strutz which will play classic rock and roll in the second of the three concerts on Feb. 16.
Its going to be a gas to rock these walls, said Strotz who works by day as co-owner of Roads West Construction with Kirby Lundberg.
Strotz, whos 12-year-old son is an aspiring drummer, said hes glad to do this for his hometown, where the Strotz ancestors homesteaded the lower Stillaguamish generations ago.
Its all about community, Strotz said.
The performers in the Jan. 19 Winter Blues Night program are donating their time because they feel strongly that the PAC will be good for the Arlington community as well as the high school students.
A relative newcomer in town, Sean Denton plays guitar and sings American blues tunes with his old high school buddies in south Seattle, in The Gryffyn Band, who made their first Arlington appearance in last summers Music in the Park series in Terrace Park.
Although the rest of the band members still live in south Seattle, they are willing to perform free in this special concert series because they value the performing arts.
The Performing Arts Center will help the community grow culturally, said Denton, whos wife, MaryRose Denton owns the Denton Wellness Clinic in downtown Arlington. We home-school our two young daughters, and hope they will be involved with the PAC as performers as well as spectators in future years, Denton said.
In todays economy, its not always easy to write that check for your favorite cause, so when I have an opportunity to volunteer my skills, I feel like I can make a bigger contribution.
Denton likes to encourage people to get out and enjoy live entertainment whenever possible.
I feel very fortunate to be playing with guys who are so willing to give of their time, even when they have no ties in this community.
Along with Dentons guitar and vocals, The Gryffyn Band is made up of Mark Talbott on drums, Rick Mutter, on organ/ piano/vocals and Jim Collins on bass.
We have played together off and on through the years, taking time off to start families and establish careers, Denton said.
A special guest with The Gryffyn Band, blues harmonica player Jeff Nicely agreed to play for free because he feels strongly that the Performing Arts Center will be an important resource for the whole community. Nicelys former band, Blues Therapy has made many local appearances in recent years, and he has been playing some since last summer with The Gryffyn Band, after meeting them at a Katrina benefit concert at the Grandview Community Center last winter.
As a musician and a resident of the community, I believe we all will benefit from the performing arts center that will offer a variety of cultural experiences, said Nicely, who works by day for Housing Hope in Everett.
Whether youre the performer on stage or in the audience being entertained and educated, the new venue will provide personal growth, Nicely said and pointed out that even though the new PAC is located at the high school, it belongs to the whole community.
This benefit concert series offers a fine transition from a classic auditorium enjoyed for many decades past at the old high school to the modern performance hall being established with a vision for future generations. I hope folks recognize the importance of supporting this, said Nicely.
The goal for the series is to open each concert with young musicians who are striving to get a start in the world of performance and Nicely is the one who suggested John Tezak should be the one to open the Winter Blues Night.
A 2006 graduate of Arlington High School, Tezak won a soloist award at the Bellevue Jazz Festival as a senior in high school last year, with a years tuition to study music at Bellevue Community College music department. He plans to attend the Berkeley School of Music next year. Tezak and his friend James Waggoner, now an AHS?senior, will play their original bluesy sort of alternative stuff, at the Jan. 19 concert.
We all benefit from cultural experiences, Nicely said. I hope folks recognize the importance of supporting the PAC project by attending all three concerts.
The final concert in the series, A Classical Spring Night, offers yet another group of fine musicians with connections in Arlington. Brass Menagerie includes two AHS teachers, band director John Grabowski on tuba, and Kipp Otterness on trumpet, as well as Oso resident Bev Soler, who has seen two of her three children study music with Grabowski. Two Skagit County residents, Malcolm Peterson and Bruce Seltveit, are also willing to join the effort to raise money for the AHS PAC because they recognize its importance.
I have been traveling to Mount Vernon to perform with the Skagit Opera and Brass Menagerie for many years and am very happy well soon have a venue here in Arlington, Soler said.
Even the sound guy, Marysville resident Kyle Blevins, is willing to help out. He has provided sound for many events in Arlington in recent years, including the Arlington Street Fair and Arlingtons Fourth of July events.
Im willing to donate my time and my equipment, but I had to have some cash to hire help and buy gas,?Blevins said.
We really want Kyle to do the sound because hes the best, Strotz said.
Presented by the Arlington Arts Council and the city of Arlington, the concerts have the potential to raise almost $5,000 each, if the community turns out and fills up the auditorium.
Weve got all kinds of great talent and weve got the old auditorium available, said Hegge, who is instrumental in coordinating the Music in the Park summer concerts as well as the Community Recreation program.
Its really fun to see people come together and enjoy music.
Although the Arlington School District is already proceeding with the completion of the PAC and is planning its grand-opening celebration at the end of May 2007, the volunteer fundraising group, Arts Alive is still committed to raising the $300,000 balance of its original goal of $2.5 million, a portion of $6.5 million for the high school PAC.
We still have hopes for one outstanding major grant, said ASD Superintendent Linda Byrnes. She repeated at a recent Arts Alive meeting that the deadline for recogition on the PAC Founders Wall is March 1.
Well save a space for the Arts Council, because were sure theyll meet the minimum of $5,000 donation from the concert series. Byrnes added that any extra money will go toward the four-day long grand opening celebration.

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