Arts and Entertainment

A Kitsap musical tribute: Party like it's 1939

Legendary Northwest Guitarist Del Ray will headline Hard Times Fest, a tribute to Depression era music to benefit Haiti, on Bainbridge. - Courtesy photo
Legendary Northwest Guitarist Del Ray will headline Hard Times Fest, a tribute to Depression era music to benefit Haiti, on Bainbridge.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Hard times are a sure part of the human condition, and for generations people have turned to music for comfort, consolation, and eventually to celebrate newly found joy.

So it stood to reason for Mark Hoffman, when planning his quarterly concert on Bainbridge Island, that tunes from the epitomic Depression Era would make for a good show. Add the news of the recent disaster in Haiti and Hoffman’s plan materialized.

“I started looking at the reports from Haiti and thought, ‘We have to make this a benefit,’” said Hoffman, musician and co-author of one of the foremost selling blues books in the world, “Moanin’ at Midnight: The Life and Times of Howlin’ Wolf.” Hoffman holds a show featuring area musicians four times a year.

“You talk about hard times,” he said. “Everything they’ve got is gone, and they didn’t have much before.”

The benefit, aptly titled Hard Times Fest: A Tribute to the Music of the (Last) Great Depression, will be from 7-10 p.m. this Friday, Feb. 19 at the Island Music Center, 10598 NE Valley Road Rolling Bay, on Bainbridge.

Proceeds from the show will be split, half going to support Doctors Without Borders, the other half going to Friends of the Orphans of Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund, the organization Port Orchard’s Molly Hightower worked with until her death during the 7.0 earthquake that rocked Port-au-Prince in January.

The quake lasted about 35 seconds, but its damage and that of the aftershocks that followed took the lives of an estimated 230,000 people.

Hoffman hopes to raise $1,200 to split between the organizations, and he plans to put on a good show to do it.

Headlined by legendary Northwest guitarist Del Ray, nine local acts will take the stage playing songs of the 1930s. It was a time when mythic hard timers Jimmie Rodgers, Charlie Patton and the Mississippi Sheiks were on the airwaves.

“I love the music of the Great Depression,” Hoffman said. “That’s when several genres of music that have become the standard for popular music started.”

Blues and country western are two of the types of music made popular at the time, when folks sat listening around the radio or learned to make music themselves.

“It’s really a bonding experience,” he added. “Listening to music, commiserating together and celebrating together.”

The show will be dedicated to Hightower, and will feature literature from both Doctors Without Borders and Friends of the Orphans, for those who would like to continue to help.

Other performers include: Whozyamama, Rick Barrenger, Georgia Browne and Rob Gilbert, Brent Grossman and Jeremy Rothbaum, Chele’s Kitchen, Emily Groff, Bob Burmer, Peter Spencer and Mark Hoffman and Art Hanlon.

Catch the show

Tickets to Hard Times Fest are $15. Find the Island Music Center at 10598 NE Valley Road Rolling Bay on Bainbridge. For more information, visit or call (206) 780-6911.

Read more about Hard Times Fest at The What's Up Blog.

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