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Gypsy jazz DjangoFest Northwest to draw thousands

Jeanne Juneau, marketing and publicity coordinator at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, inserts letters in the reader board at WICA to announce the upcoming gypsy jazz festival — DjangoFest Northwest.  - Celeste Erickson / The Record
Jeanne Juneau, marketing and publicity coordinator at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, inserts letters in the reader board at WICA to announce the upcoming gypsy jazz festival — DjangoFest Northwest.
— image credit: Celeste Erickson / The Record

Musical talent from around the world will descend on Langley next week for the 13th annual gypsy jazz festival — DjangoFest Northwest.

The event begins Wednesday, Sept. 18 and will run through Sunday, Sept. 22 at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts (WICA) 565 Camano Ave.

Stacie Burgua, executive director at WICA, said the festival often feels like a family reunion. She said she looks forward to seeing everyone as well as seeing new artists perform.

The festival features 13 musicians and bands with new acts, including Olli Soikkeli, Brishen, New Hot Club of America with Gonzalo Bergara, Kruno Spisic with Filip Novosel, Trio Dinicu with Tommy Davy and Whidbey Island musicians 3 Cent Stamp.

The festival will also feature music from the John Jorgenson Quintet, Pearl Django, Fishtank Ensemble, Caravan with Marc Atkinson and Daniel Lapp and the Denis Chang Quartet. Fapy Lafertin, from Holland, will headline the event this year and will be joined by special guest Tcha Limberger, from Belgium.

Last year the festival sold about 3,500 tickets throughout the weekend. Jeanne Juneau, marketing and publicity coordinator at WICA, said she expects similar sales or more for 2013.

Juneau said the festival has a stellar line up this year and she is excited to have the hall full of artists throughout the week.

Langley musician Troy Chapman said he is looking forward to hearing and seeing famed musicians Lafertin and Limberger. Chapman, a guitarist for Pearl Django, will perform at the festival on Friday.

Chapman described the gypsy jazz style as engaging and infectious music that has become ubiquitous. The music is not just for jazz or bluegrass fans, but spans a whole genre of listeners, he said.

“You hear it in background music all the time, on TV shows and commercials,” he said. “It sneaks its way in.”

Chapman has played jazz for 40 years. When he first heard music from Django Reinhardt in 1976 there wasn’t a whole lot of information. He became reacquainted with the music at the first DjangoFest in 2001. 

“The people of South Whidbey have one of the greatest music festivals in the world in their backyard,” Chapman said.

Burgua said she is excited to see Whidbey Island musicians — James Hinkley, Gloria Ferry-Brennan and Levi Burkle — from the group 3 Cent Stamp play on Sunday.

“Gloria is well known in the community as a violinist and learned gypsy jazz to be a part of DjangoFest,” she said. “I’m excited for a local group to be joining the festival.”

The music from 3 Cent Stamp puts a lot of emphasis on vocals and combines different genres and styles. The trio includes Ferry-Brennan on violin, Burkle on guitar and Hinkley on cello.

Hinkley, from Langley, said he plays many forms of jazz music and loves the improvisatory nature of both jazz and gypsy jazz.

Hinkley is excited about appearing at DjangoFest. The show will be a premiere performance for the group, which was formed less than a year ago, he said.

“It’s really fun working with Gloria and Levi. For Gloria, this is a very new experience and she’s taking to it as a duck to water,” Hinkley said. “It’s fun to watch her grow in this environment.”

The festival also will feature expanded workshops and presentations for guitarists and violinists. Workshops will also be available for non-musicians.

The workshops provide an opportunity to get up close and personal with the artists at DjangoFest, Burgua said.

“It’s nice for the public to get to see artists on a more intimate level,” Burgua said.

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