My good friend David Hoskin and I are off to Cashmere and Leavenworth this Saturday morning. We're headed up and over the Cascade Mountains via Snoqualmie Pass to Eastern Washington to see a few friends.
First stop, Cashmere. This picture perfect postcard little town of about 3,000 residents sits next to the Wenatchee River on Highway 2. We're here to visit our old friend, mentor, and former music teacher, Pat Thompson and his wife Laurel. I met Pat back in 1968/69 when he first started teaching in the music department at Green River Community College.
We had a wonderful visit and of course a lot of great conversation about music and musicians. Don Gardner was there (another long time musician friend from back in the day) and it was fun to catch up about life and people we know over lunch at Country Boy’s BBQ. Awesome pulled pork sandwich by the way, and the BBQ'd beans were the best!
Pat has a gig later in the afternoon so the plan is we'll all hook up later. So Dave and Don and I drive up to Leavenworth to catch some of the Accordion Festival. We're hoping to run into another old friend from Renton, accordionist John Giuliani.
Leavenworth is a beautiful little Bavarian themed town. One of my favorite seasonal events is taking the Christmas Train from Seattle. The town totally transforms itself to celebrate an old fashioned European Christmas including carolers, sleigh rides, Kris Kringle, sing alongs and chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
We caught up with Don's wife Judy and friend Regina Mansfield at Front Street Park. We did run into our friend John Giuliani and listened to several accordion performers on the stage behind us.
(L-R) David Hoskin, Regina Mansfield, and Judy and Don Gardner.
The Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration was a blast and it was fun to see so many beautiful accordions everywhere...
Accordions of every make and model from all over the world were here on display.
It's almost 4:00 pm and time for a beverage! We're off to King Ludwig's to see The Polka Pals!
After a 37 year teaching career, Pat is enjoying retirement (if you can call it that). I don't think musicians ever really retire, they just change gigs. He's now busy playing in The Polka Pals with friends at King Ludwig's. He also performs regularly with a jazz combo, and gives his time and talents to many community events in Wenatchee, Cashmere, and Leavenworth.
The Polka Pals at King Ludwig's Restaurant... (L-R) Jim Remsen, Chuck Randall, Glenn Kelly, Pat Thompson, and Christian Shimer.
This group is quite the collection of talent. They all play several instruments and many styles of music from jazz to symphonic. They're arrangers, composers, and all have been very accomplished performers for many years. Today they're having a lot of fun playing some good old fashioned polka music.
Well, as you can see the sun is dipping behind the mountains and casting long shadows. It's time for Dave and I to head back over the Cascades for home. What a great way to spend the first day of summer!
PS... I'll have to write more about this later, but I'd be remiss of my duties as a blogger if I didn't close with a big thank you to my former music teacher. I learned a lot from Pat at Green River Community College and he created a lot of opportunities for me to develop my musical skills as a composer, arranger, performer, and teacher. So thank you my friend for a wonderful day. And thank you to The Polka Pals. I really enjoyed our time together.
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