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Choochokam Arts gathers its stars today in Langley
It’s surely summer when artists line the streets of Langley. The 35th-annual Choochokam Arts festival gets under way today with its galaxy of fine artists, entertainment, mouth-watering fare, a half-marathon, a family fun area and the famous Saturday night street dance.
The Choochokam Arts organizers, who combined forces this year with the Langley Chamber of Commerce to create the venue for 85 artists and craftspeople, three music stages and plenty to do for the kids, said this year’s “gathering of stars” is not to be missed.
Everything happens from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 11 in downtown Langley.
Tradition is important in the Village by the Sea, and Choochokam Arts has any number of rituals that remain close to island hearts. One of those is the Saturday night street dance on First Street.
This year, the king and queen of Whidbey Americana blues rock, Janie & Joe’s Mojo Medicine Show, will open the dance when they take the mainstage at 7 tonight. They’ll be followed by that other Whidbey rock ’n’ roll icon, Western Heroes, at 8 p.m.
The word from music producers Allikat Productions is that a particular highlight in the entertainment category this year are the final mainstage performances tomorrow of reggae artist Adrian Xavier at 3 p.m., followed by funk band 20 Riverside at 4 p.m.
Xavier has brought together some of Seattle’s most influential musicians to record and tour. The all-star cast of musicians includes platinum keyboardist Mark Cardenas, violinist Geoffrey Castle, Lennox Holeness on bass, drummer David Carpenter and Brian Ray on lead guitar.
Xavier has been on tour with practically everybody who’s anybody on the ska and reggae circuit, including De La Soul, Joss Stone, Ziggy Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Toots and the Maytals, among a long list of other notables.
And if there is music that can be described as “Everett Soul,” it is 20 Riverside, a group of six promising young musicians from Everett. 20 Riverside won the battle of the bands in 2008 at the Mars Bar in Seattle and a fan base soon followed.
Lead singer and emcee Aron Glidden’s hip-hop delivery is backed by the band’s funky blend of old-school soul, jazz, rock and reggae. The band has consistently sold out large venues in the Pacific Northwest with its all-original, all ages music.
Beyond art, music, food and fun, Choochokam Arts also includes a half marathon at 8:30 a.m. Sunday.
This year’s festival features three stages, including an array of acoustic music on the Useless Bay Coffee Shed Stage, plus non-stop fun at the Family Park Pavilion where kids can do chalk art, hear a children’s vocal ensemble and a barbershop quartet, play games, get a painted face, see the “Stilt Man” and catch a puppet show starring the latest Langley star, Nymbol.
Also, two shows not to miss are the Whidbey Children’s Theater production of “Robin Hood,” on the theater’s stage, and Harmonica Pocket’s interactive musical kid’s show at the pavilion.
The Langley Chamber Beer Garden will be open, as always, with cold beer and Whidbey Island wines, and nine food booths will have everything from shaved ice, doughnuts and Thai food to bratwurst and Greek food. Vendor booths will also line Langley’s streets with a variety of merchandise.
Visit www.choochokamarts.org for marathon registration info and shuttle bus info from the Clinton ferry dock.