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Drum Taps: Nine Poems on Themes of War at PLU

12 May

The Final Event in PLU’s School of Arts and Communication

Focus Series: Compassion

Tuesday, May 15, is the much-anticipated premiere of Tacoma composer Gregory Youtz‘s Drum Taps: Nine Poems on Themes of War, a monumental composition performed by the Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) choirs, orchestra and vocal soloists.

Drum Taps is a complex meditation on the universal suffering that war produces in every age and across geographical lines. The 55-minute work is structured around four poems by the great American poet, Walt Whitman, from his series Drum Taps, written during the Civil War. For Youtz, a professor of music at PLU, this muscular writing traces a shifting perception of war from excited anticipation of a quick and heroic experience, to a somber reflection on the human cost of conflict. Interspersed amongst Whitman’s poetry are five poems by writers from other countries during distant centuries. Not coincidentally, he says, these laments are from places where the US has been involved in conflict: Vietnam, the Middle East, China and Europe.

Composer Gregory Youtz’s “Percussion Concerto” was premiered by the Tacoma Symphony in 2011.

Artists from all cultures and times have provided commentary on the costs of war. In this spirit, the conversation opened by Drum Taps about war and its effects on society seems remarkably fresh, vivid and familiar across the nine poems. One hour before the program begins, a public panel discussion will take place led by Youtz and PLU Veteran Corps representative, Michael Farnem, to explore the work’s themes. Also featured on the evening’s program is Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C Minor, No. 24 performed by Oksana Ezhokina.

Drum Taps features vocal soloists Janeanne Houston, Melissa Plagemann, Stephen Rumph and Barry Johnson, and the Pacific Lutheran University choirs and orchestra.

Drum Taps: Nine Poems on Themes of War, May 15 at 8 pm at PLU, Lagerquist Concert Hall (corner of Wheeler St. and Eight Ave. Court S.). Panel discussion at 7 pm in Music Building Room 334. Tickets may be ordered at 253-535-7601 or at the door. Tickets are $8 general, $3 PLU Alumni, under 18 free.

Ruston Street Fair Call to Artists

12 May

The opening in June of LeMay – America’s Car Museum is but the big daddy of local classic car events this summer. On Saturday, August 11, the Ruston business district will throw a classic car show and street fair with a theme of “old-fashioned ragtag fun for the whole family”. Booth space is $50 plus a $10 fee from the Town of Ruston; vendor applications due August 8. Fun, low-tech events for the kids include:

  • Horse-pulled wagon rides
  • Old-fashioned kids games such as egg run
  • Pet costume contest
  • Boy Scout demonstrations
  • Bike safety rodeo
  • Bike fun hosted by Tacoma Bike
  • Cupcake walk for kids
  • Celebrity-judged baking contest
This one-day event on August 11, 11 am-4 pm is expected to attract up to 800 visitors. For details, contact Beth Torbet at or call (253) 381-1858. Continue reading

Java Jive 85th Birthday Party! Tribute Art Wanted by May 16

12 May

Tacoma loves the Java Jive so it’s about time there was an art show to honor it! The Java Jive Appreciation Society is hosting an art show like no other – “Jungle Madness” – art inspired by Bob’s World Famous Java Jive! Artists in all media are invited to create art celebrating the King of Kitschy Clubs. This one-night, 21+ up show on May 17, at 8 pm, offers a full line-up of entertainment. The show will feature an open mic for poetry, an exhibition of 2-D and 3-D artwork inspired by Tacoma’s biggest coffeepot, kabobs by Marie Sorenson, and a screening of movies featuring the landmark crockery! As usual, there will be free buttons and FUN!

Art must be received by May 16 for show setup; call 253-777-7114 for art drop off. Questions? Contact or visit their Facebook page.

Here are some Java Jive factoids to get you rolling on your tribute artwork/poem/music:

•  This Nalley Valley landmark opened in 1927 as the Coffee Pot Restaurant. It was owned by a local veterinarian, Dr. Otis G. Button, and designed by Bert Smyser, the owner of a commercial display business who had a flair for promotion.

• Standing 25 ft. high with a 30 ft. diameter, the squat concrete coffee pot has had a checkered past: it was once a fast-food drive-in, a speakeasy and a go-go bar; somehow it manages to survive.

• New owners Bob and Lylabell Radonich took over the place in 1955, turning it into a Polynesian-themed music club. The name “Java Jive” comes from a lyric in a song by the Ink Spots. One of the house bands was The Ventures, would gain huge fame in the 1960s with their instrumental surf music.

• Some will recall the Jive’s two most politically incorrect regulars – two chimpanzees named “Java” and “Jive” – who lived in the Jungle Room, where they beat on a drum kit while the owners’ son tickled the organ.

• After filming a movie in Tacoma, Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix tried to buy the Java Jive. No dice.

Nirvana was once booed off the bar’s stage.

• The kitsch-filled nightclubs restrooms are marked “Tarzan” and “Jane”.

• The Java Jive Appreciation Society, founded by Rochelle Wells and Ryan Loiselle, is keeping the legend alive with monthly events. This is the coolest place in Tacoma for karaoke for singers of all ages 21+.

Come out on May 17 and hoist a PBR to the legendary Java Jive at 2102 S. Tacoma Way!

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