Music on the Green Debuts this Friday with Steel Dragons Steel Orchestra and Some Bubble Fun from Gerald Simonsen

 

As the old saw goes, summer is here, and the living is easy. Indeed, it’s the time of year for barbecues, long walks on the beach, swimming in the sound, gardening, picnics in the park, golfing at your favorite layout, biking the island’s many hills, hiking, boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, playing tennis and pickleball, and anything else that is fun to do under the sun, or during our long days and warm evenings.

One activity, many Bainbridge Islanders enjoy this time of the year is music. There are plenty of choices, for sure, from Park District programs to First Friday Art Walks to annual events such as the July 3rd Street Dance and the Grand Old Fourth of July. Kicking it all off is Music on the Green that will be showcasing bands every Friday evening from now until Labor Day at the Gazebo. Most performances will begin at 6 p.m., with a few exceptions (See line-up below).

The Green’s first week is this coming Friday, June 28. It will include two shows. A noon one, featuring Steel Dragons Steel Orchestra, and evening show (beginning at 6 p.m.) starring Bainbridge’s own Ranger and the Re-Arrangers. The noon show will coincide with Gerald Simonsen’s Bubble Day event.

Using a Bubble Machine he bought through Amazon, Simonsen has declared Friday June 28th, the first internationally celebrated Annual Bainbridge Island Bubble Day. “There are no rules,” he says. “There are no sponsors. There is no money involved (well. except if you don’t have a bubble machine, you would need to buy one!) There is no commitment. There is no charge. There is only the suggestion that you put a bubble machine in front of your store on June 28th and we will see if we can get this place engulfed in bubbles for the day.”

The Gazebo in front of the Winslow Green

Simonsen, who lives at the Green and is taking on the secondary role of promoting Music on the Green, is co-owner of Trattoria Isola, the relatively new Italian restaurant in The Pavilion. He previously founded The Islander restaurant. Of his Bubble Day, the happy-go-lucky Simonsen says “a lot of businesses are planning to put out machines” on Friday. He encourages people to come on down to Downtown Winslow and check it out.

Meantime, the Steel Dragons Steel Orchestra is an intermediate level youth ensemble of Steel Magic Northwest, a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded and directed by steelpan artist and composer Gary Gibson. The 24-piece group is comprised of kids from Edmonds and Kent, WA., ranging in age from 12 to 18. By the time these kids make it into the group, they have already been playing steelpan for a couple of years in the organization’s beginning ensemble.

The 2023-24 version of this group is the tightest and most musically polished in the group’s six-year history, says Gibson. “Audiences who hear them perform often react with amazement.”

Their repertoire includes many styles of music, including familiar Caribbean styles like calypso and Soca, but also classical, pop, afro-Cuban and Brazilian styles, television and movie theme songs, and just about any other style you can imagine. In addition to the numerous annual local events on the group’s regular performance schedule, the Steel Dragons have toured most of Washington state.

Steel Dragons Steel Orchestra performing

Gibson is a well-known name in the steelpan world. He has recorded four critically acclaimed albums of original progressive music featuring the steelpan, and is the winner of two out of three categories of Trinidad’s “Symphony & Steel” composition contest, and is a winner (with the Exodus Steel
Orchestra) of Trinidad’s “Panorama National Steel Band Championship.”

He is known internationally as a clinician and concert/recording artist and makes numerous trips each year to adjudicate at steel band festivals or be a guest concert artist with college and high school steel band groups around the country. Gibson founded Steel Magic Northwest in order to duplicate and build on the best examples of similar programs he has worked with in his travels around the United States.

The son of two social workers, he felt the importance of “giving back to his own community, giving kids and lifelong-learning adults a positive focus and the opportunity to grow and create something unique and uplifting, and to create an organization and ensembles that the community can be proud of and which can serve as a national model.” For more information on Steel Magic Northwest, visit: www.steelmagicnorthwest.org

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