Jazz event 'immensely successful'

Peter Ferrero and Marian West dance to "Waltzing with Bears" played by Brownsmead Flats, the opening band Sunday morning at the Jazz and Oysters festival held on the grounds of the Oysterville Schoolhouse.<I><BR>DAMIAN MULINIX photo</I>

OYSTERVILLE - There was no dance floor to be found, but the couple made do. With a field of soft grass to waltz their way around on, Peter Ferrero took his friend Marian West for quite a spin around the yard of the old Oysterville Schoolhouse Sunday morning, to the sounds of "Waltzing with Bears."

The silly song was being played by bluegrass band Brownsmead Flats, the opening act of this year's Jazz and Oysters (J&O) festival. The one-day event was headlined by jazz saxophone artist Reggie Houston and his Earth Island band.

According to J&O board president Dick Brown, the event was up in attendance from last year, drawing 135 people for the morning performance - almost double from last year - and another 500 in the afternoon. Brown said that food and beverage sales (much of the product being donated by some of the Peninsula's finest restaurants) were up as well, and that J&O merchandise was nearly sold out.

"I think we'd say it was immensely successful," said Brown of the event.

Though clouds and fog made for a gray morning on the grounds of the historic schoolhouse, at 1 p.m., just as Houston and his band were taking the stage, the sun came out and stayed for the majority of the afternoon.

Houston, a native of New Orleans' Ninth Ward, has played in Fats Domino's band, and told many stories about growing up and getting into the music business in a city with such a rich musical history.

"It was very interesting to hear him talk about growing up there," said Brown. "Plus, he's an excellent performer. He was terrific."

In fact, Houston was such a hit with the crowd that he had sold out all his CDs he had for sale by the end of the day. J&O is a fundraiser for the annual Water Music Festival, and Brown said that there are commemorative posters made of a commissioned Dick Lemke oil painting for sale at Buzy Beez in Ocean Park that will also benefit the festival which takes place in October.

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