When Jenny Pederson hired Al Bently to work at her bookstore this spring, she asked if he could initiate some kind of musical program at the store.
“Heck, yeah!” was Al’s immediate response. “It’s really easy… all my friends are musicians.
“The musicians are really easy to find, but it’s hard to find a good venue.”
The venue… ahem. Al describes it as the “No Entry” stage between Vern’s Bayside restaurant and Darvill’s Bookstore.
“It’s a riparian zone, only for ferns and horsetails and old bottles, but there’s a place to play and a place to park bikes and get a drink at Vern’s or a book at Darville’s — it’s a place where good music happens,” says Bentley.
Musicians for the Friday performances are loosely scheduled through July 3. Bently describes the booking process as “thinking about it on Thursday, and really fast, making a poster and go around putting them up and then asking the musicians if they’ll come.”
It works for Bently.
“Here on Orcas, if somebody smiles at you, it’s like a contract.”
Regular performance time is between 5 and 6 p.m. Bently and local sax great Gregory Books played the first Friday. The next week Farmers Market Manager Charly Robinson came to the venue and played her ukulele.
Big Blue, composed of Bruce Harvie, Tom Reardon and Ben Shepherd, formerly of Slappy Tubbs, played last week. (As Bently says, “There’s 17 musicians — but 40 bands — on the island.”)
The Two Daves — Zoeller and Parish — are booked for July 3, and beyond then, Bently hopes to snare Carolyn Cruso and “The Dynamic Duo” of Gene Nery and Martin Lund to Friday Freebie some time soon. “They have a dueling gig at the Orcas Hotel on Fridays, so we may have to arrange an alternative date,” said Bently.
Also on his wishlist is Carlos Jose Camblor, who has been heard reading at Doe Bay’s open mic. “He’s one of the best singer-songwriters on the island, playing organ, harmonica, guitar and the vox humana,” says Bently.
Bently himself has been heard playing “a mean sax,” most recently at Martin Lund’s “One World Music Festival” last weekend, but with his typically humorous spin, he adds, “I like to think I express the wide range of human emotions, not just ‘mean.'”