Park Happenings: Denise Drake to gracefully rock concert series stage

Denise Drake and Dave Quinton perform at Cape D this Saturday at 2 p.m.

CAPE D - The first two performances of the Waikiki Beach Concert Series have been a great success. The new amphitheater at Cape Disappointment State Park has been proven to be both a beautiful and functional venue for live musical performances. Two Saturdays ago, Carl Wirkkala and the Ghost Town Boys played to a crowd of over 60 people, and it was just awesome. It was one of those rare warm and clear days at the beach - there were people relaxing all over the place. Some brought their own chairs, others were lying on blankets and some had pulled over picnic tables. There really isn't a bad seat at Waikiki Beach.

The Beerman Creek Stringband was on the posters and press release but they will be unable to make it to the beach this year, we hope to have them join us for next summer's series. Fortunately, when I was attending Troll Radio Review at the River Theater in Astoria last week watching Carl Wirkkala, I had the pleasure of hearing and seeing Denise Drake perform some lively tunes. I could tell she was going to be perfect for a concert at the beach. This Saturday at 2 p.m., Denise and her friend Dave Quinton will be presenting their blend of rhythm and blues for the third performance of this summer's Waikiki Beach Concert Series.

Denise Drake grew up on a cattle ranch in the high desert of Eastern Oregon. Ever since her mother can remember, Denise has been making music. A vocalist from the get-go, Denise's first instrument was the piano. She later picked up the guitar and accordion as a young woman.

Denise studied performing arts at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles. She completed two years at the Academy before she relocated to Phoenix to join her brother at Arizona State University and form the rock and blues cover band, Stop, Drop & Roll. After four years with the band, Denise took her guitar and traveled the U.S. and Canada. Her final destination, Alaska, became her home where she started a family and honed her musical skills in the local taverns and community radio stations. Now, back in the Pacific Northwest close to her roots, Denise has been performing over the past decade. A former member of the Astoria R&B band, Bulldog Rhythm Review, Denise is now out on her own and is a regular fixture in venues up and down the Pacific Coast.

Denise recently released her second CD of original music entitled "Read My Lips." In a Hipfish Magazine article which dubbed Denise as "a blues-belting, folk-rockin', coastal Mamma," her work was cited as having "a feel of comfortable familiarity" and her songwriting as "touch(ing) a myriad of genres and styles." Dave Quinton will be joining Denise at the park Saturday, playing his stand up bass and acoustic guitar. As I had a chance to witness this duo, I can tell you they are great together. I hope you have a chance to come over to the park and enjoy some beautiful music in a beautiful location.

The Waikiki Beach Concert Series is in its second year and continues to be part of the Folk and Traditional Arts in the Parks Program of Washington State Parks. Other concerts in this year's series include the Celtic band, Circled By Hounds who will be performing Saturday, July 28, Juan Manuel Barco playing Tex-Mex on Aug. 11, and the Naselle Marimba Band on Aug. 25.

The concert on Saturday is free and open to the public. The six performances of the 2007 Waikiki Beach Concert Series wouldn't be possible without the support of many partners who include: the Friends of the Columbia River Gateway, the Washington State Parks Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission.

Jon Schmidt is an Interpretive Specialist at Cape Disappointment State Park. To contact him, call the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at 642-3029 or e-mail

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