Arts and Entertainment

A rockin' weekend in Port Gamble | Kitsap Week

Garth Hudson, of The Band, will perform with his wife Maud on Sunday at the Port Gamble Rock
Garth Hudson, of The Band, will perform with his wife Maud on Sunday at the Port Gamble Rock 'n' Blues Festival.
— image credit: John Scheele

Organizers of the inaugural Port Gamble Rock ‘n’ Blues Festival dreamed big. And they'll see their dreams play on stage this weekend.

“We went really big for our first event,” organizer Bob Presley said. “We had this idea all along to do a two-day music festival.”

And what a jam-packed, rockin' two days they will be.

During the early stages of organizing, Presley posted a message online asking for bands who were interested in playing.

“I was bombarded and shocked by how many people responded,” Presley said. (Who didn't pull any strings with his famous-last name. He isn't related to the King of Rock 'n Roll.)

Presley, along with co-organizer Danny Fritts, whittled the list down from 100 inquiries to about 14 bands who will play this weekend. The duo put a lot of emphasis on local talent, drawing in bands from Kitsap and surrounding areas.

Headlining Saturday night is 18-year-old Cody Rentas and his band. Born in Washington in 1992 (some of us own concert T-shirts older than him), Rentas has played guitar since he was 6.

“People call him a young Gary Moore or the next Stevie Ray Vaughn,” Presley said. “If you close your eyes and listen to him, you feel like you're listening to a 50-year-old guy on the guitar.” (And that is meant as a compliment.)

After the Cody Rentas Band performs, festival-goers will have a chance to take part in an impromptu jam session.

Seattle rock band Midstokke performs on Sunday night. Known for their high energy, Midstokke won the 2007 Harley Davidson Battle of the Bands competition. As the winners, they received a spot in the concert line-up at The Sturgis Rally in South Dakota and opened for Aerosmith.

A last-minute addition to the concert line-up will have classic rock fans on their feet. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Garth Hudson, of The Band, and his wife Maud will entertain on Sunday. (The Band, whose heyday was in the 1960s and 1970s, had hits such as “Up on Cripple Creek” and “The Weight”.)

The Hudsons (who hail from Woodstock, N.Y.) became acquainted with local musician Eric Fridrich during a music performance at the Sundance Film Festival. Fridrich (who helped found Savor the Sound, the beneficiary of Port Gamble Rock ‘n’ Blues Festival) invited the couple to attend the festival.

Fridrich said the first time he heard Maud sing he couldn't get over her voice. “Oh my goodness. She was sultry and deep and rich,” he said.

The Hudsons will take to the stage at 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Fridrich has organized a slew of activities for the children's area at the festival.  He put together what he called a “monstrosity.”

Sounding like a child himself, Fridrich said, “I can't wait. I'm so excited.” He rattled off the child-centered activities at the festival: three bouncy houses, a root-beer garden, an instrument “petting zoo” (where children can try out different instruments), face painting and the Bubble Man from Seattle. (Who is known to blow bubbles larger than cars.)

Rounding out the festival experience will be food and merchant vendors as well as a beer garden.

But the real heart of the festival will be the music.

“Every single band we have attending is outstanding,” Presley said. “It's going to be a lot of fun. We have incredible talent.

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