AUGUST IS FESTIVAL SEASON in the Pacific Northwest. Some biggies have already come and gone: The Waterfront Blues Festival, Chamber Music Northwest’s summer fest (although you can still see videotaped concerts from CMNW’s summer shows through Aug. 31). In southern Oregon, Ashland’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Jacksonville’s Britt Music & Arts Festival keep on trucking.
Meanwhile, the Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival and William Byrd Festival are sounding out. Washington County’s Concerts at the Barn series continues this Wednesday, Aug. 10, with a concert by virtuoso cellist Nancy Ives and friends (take a look through Joe Cantrell’s ArtsWatch photo essay on the barn festival’s opening concert here). And you can check Charles Rose’s August MusicWatch column for details on gatherings ranging from the Montavilla Jazz Festival to the Vancouver Wine and Food Festival to Portland Hip-Hop Week.
Meanwhile, a couple of free gatherings coming up this Saturday, Aug. 13, are worth noting, too:
PORTLAND HOMOWO & TWINS FESTIVAL. This gathering is a celebration of Ghanaian life, music, and culture, featuring lots of drumming and dancing and food and crafts and more. It’s an outgrowth of the Homowo Festival run for years by the late, great Portland Ghanaian master drummer and composer Obo Addy and his wife, Susan. Drummer and dancer Nii Ardey Allotey has picked up the threads and combined Homowo – a harvest festival of the Ga people – with another Ghanaian celebration, the Twins Festival.
The festival will feature, among other things, storytelling from West Africa and the Caribbean by the excellent Habiba Addo; music and dance by Nii Ardey Allotey and friends including Brian L. Davis and members of Bloco Alegria, Lions of Batucada, and Pink Martini; a performance by Virginia Lopez and her Cuban music group, Melao de Cuba; and (because both Homowo and Twins are harvest celebrations) lots of food, including oto (white yam, red yam, eggs) and kpekple (a corn meal, okra, seasoned palm oil, and palmnut soup).
It’s happening at 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, At King School Park, 4906 N.E. Sixth Ave., Portland. Dance, drum, eat, celebrate, bring the kids.
WASHOUGAL ART FESTIVAL. Just across the Columbia River from Portland and a little east in the riverfront town of Washougal, Wash., it’s time again for the annual Washougal Art Festival, a summer celebration of the visual arts with some music, food, visiting, and even a little impromptu dancing in the city’s downtown Reflection Plaza.
Clark County has a lot of artists, and Washougal is a town that likes to nourish and celebrate culture: It has an active organization, the Washougal Arts and Cultural Alliance, to help bring it to the fore. The alliance calls the art festival its “flagship event” of the year, and describes it adeptly on its website:
“Every year we gather dozens of local-area artists to participate in a festival-like atmosphere. Artists are able to meet not only other artists, but also people who love Art. It allows a free-flow of information, ideas and feedback for the artists while also providing a way for local area residents and visitors to become engaged with Art in a more hands-on way. As opposed to a gallery showing, the Washougal Art Festival is an outdoor, energetic, lively event that families can attend and truly become engaged in Art in ways that aren’t often possible.”
Come for the art, come for the visiting, maybe even kick up your heels and dance. The festival happens 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13.