Residents and visitors alike can enjoy a diverse range of live music at Deception Pass State Park every Saturday night this summer.
From July 2 to Aug. 27, eight musical acts are performing at the park’s amphitheater, free of charge, from 7-8 p.m.
The American Roots Concert Series has been happening at Deception Pass State Park every summer for at least ten years, according to Jason Armstrong, manager of the park. This series is put together with the help of Washington State Park’s Folk and Traditional Arts Program.
Most of the musicians live in the Puget Sound Region. Part of the goal of the concert series, Armstrong said, is to expose people to types of music they’ve never heard before. This year’s lineup includes performances of Latin, Brazilian, Caribbean, Celtic and traditional Mariachi music.
Armstrong likes to bring in new bands every year.
“But there are some bands that are such a huge hit in the park that we almost have to bring them back,” he said.
Last year, Miho and Diego was one of those bands.
“They are amazing to listen to,” Armstrong said.
Miho and Diego combine Japanese and Colombian music. The pair actually met at a Cinco de Mayo festival in Seattle and unexpectedly found similarities in the music of their respective home countries.
“You can find indigenous music of Japan very, very similar to Native American and Colombian music,” said Miho Takekawa, who is originally from Tokyo.
Both traditional Colombian and Japanese music use bamboo flutes and share similar melodies, combining to make a beautiful but unlikely musical genre.
Takekawa recalled last year’s summer concert series with fondness.
“Deception Pass last year was probably the most memorable concert we have ever done in our lives,” she said.
It was the first time they played live music after all of their shows had been canceled due to COVID-19.
“It was very emotional,” she said. “The love that the Deception Pass audience showed us was really overwhelming, and it was so beautiful.”
When they were asked to play again this year, it brought her to tears. Takekawa really appreciates the opportunity to play again, especially after how hard the pandemic was on musicians.
“We can’t wait to see the community again,” she said.
Miho and Diego are playing at Deception Pass State Park from 7-9 p.m. on Saturday, July 2. Find the full summer lineup at deceptionpassfoundation.org/park-programs/american-roots.
The weekend after that, Anjali Silva is playing. Silva considers herself “a world musician.” She performs Latin, Brazilian, Ladino, East Indian, and Hebrew music. She has Mexican, Portuguese and Jewish heritage.
“So that’s how I come to all those different styles of music,” she said.
Silva is a vocalist and will be performing with a full band, Sabor, at Deception Pass on July 9. She said she thinks her music is for everyone.
“I’ll be doing a mix of music from the Brazilian and Latin American diaspora,” she said. “I think the basic rhythm or the bottom rhythm is African-influenced. That’s the thread throughout all of it.”
She also wants to educate people about Latin and Brazilian music to “draw people in and help them feel like they’re a part of the whole experience,” she said.
The weekend after Silva performs, Joe Seamons and Briar are playing. Seamons plays blues, jazz and American roots music and is accompanied by his wife, Briar, who is a vocalist. Both are from the rural Pacific Northwest and play folk music that originated in the region. This summer is their second time playing at Deception Pass.
Seamons described their performance last year as “magical” because of the beautiful surroundings and large, welcoming crowd.
“It was remarkable and deeply enjoyable,” he said.
Seamons and Briar are passionate about teaching the history of folk and blues music. They have a nonprofit, the Rhapsody Project, that celebrates music and heritage through an anti-racist lens. They teach an eight-week racial equality workshop called Face the Music which uses the stories of Black musicians in America. Find more information at therhapsodyproject.org.
Seamons and Briar will also be available to talk about the history of the music they play after their performance at Deception Pass.
This summer, Armstrong would like to see a mixture of campers and community members attend the concerts. He said in the last three years there hasn’t been a seat left open at the amphitheater. He recommends getting there at least half an hour before the music to secure seating in the amphitheater. People are welcome to bring lawn chairs, blankets and food.