The Stanwood-Camano Fair, the largest community fair in the state, has the well-deserved nickname best little fair in the West. It’s a family event, with lots of fun 4-H action in the barns. This year, however, it’s worth the trip to Stanwood if all you do is listen to music.
“The fair has a great lineup,” said Toby Strotz, drummer for the popular Arlington-based band Strutz, which opens for Heart by Heart on Saturday night at the fair.
Strotz knows what he’s talking about. For many years, he’s put on Strutzfest, a Darrington summer music festival that includes the best cover bands in the Northwest. Strutzfest is on hiatus again this year, but Strotz helped nab Heart by Heart (with members from the original Heart) for the fair.
Greta Gothard, of the Edmonds-based Irish band The Gothard Sisters, which closes the fair on Sunday, agrees.
“Heart by Heart, well, they are fantastic,” Gothard said. “I am impressed that this community fair has lined up top quality entertainment from this area. And it’s offered at no extra charge.”
On Friday, you can see Seattle comedian and guitarist Eric Haines, Camano Island’s Ron Stubbs and his “Outrageous Rock and Roll Comedy Hypnosis Show,” Seattle singer Brittany Collins, the talented Swingnuts jazz band from Skagit Valley, Washington Blues Society award nominee Blues Playground, Left Turn Only, Stanwood’s country rock band Trainwreck and country singer Chance McKinney.
McKinney won Country Music Television’s Music City Madness online contest in 2009 for his ballad “Be Real” while teaching math at Kamiak High School. His following in Snohomish County is big. McKinney has been working with many well-known musicians during the past few years and has shared stages with the likes of Dwight Yoakum, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Kenny Rogers, Phil Vassar and Alan Jackson.
On Saturday, see the Stanwood-Camano bluegrass band Blueberry Hill, Stanwood Christian artist Leanna Crawford, Turner and Joe, Bellingham bluegrass group David’s Drinking Band, Camano Island punk-pop band Mixtape Minus, Stanwood punk-reggae band Perfect by Tomorrow, Strutz and Heart by Heart.
Strotz said his band hasn’t played much in the past seven months, so they are looking forward to performing.
“I am a local boy from Silvana, so this is my fair and I love it,” Strotz said. “We played there last year, drew a good crowd and wanted to do it again. I’m looking forward to the show by Heart by Heart, too. They’re hall-of-famers.”
Heart by Heart drummer Mike Derosier joined Ann and Nancy Wilson’s band Heart during the recording of the band’s first album, “Dreamboat Annie,” and is noted for his rhythm work on Heart’s biggest hits. Likewise, bassist Steve Fossen was an original Heart member and honored along with Derosier when Heart was inducted last year into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Heart by Heart’s vocals are handled by Lizzy Daymont and Somar Macek, both respected musicians with long performance and recording resumes. The band is rounded out by two other Northwest legends. Bob Rivers, best known as a rock radio personality, plays keyboards for Heart by Heart and Spike and the Impalers. Guitarist Randy Hansen, a Seattle native, is best known internationally for his knowledge and performance of the Jimi Hendrix catalog.
Heart by Heart and the Gothard Sisters also will perform at the Taste of Edmonds, Aug. 8 through 10.
On Sunday, check out the Classic Roads country band from Stanwood, Arlington’s country star Jesse Taylor and the Gothards.
Taylor is a rodeo cowboy who began writing songs at age 16. In 2013, he recorded his first studio album, “Out Here In The Country,” at Blackbird Studio in Nashville. His previous album, “One Chance to Win,” was recorded in his mother’s kitchen.
The Gothard sisters grew up in Edmonds, where they were home-schooled and studied classical violin with the late Lawrence Fisher.
Their mother, Lark Gothard, is of Irish descent and got her daughters interested in Irish step dance and traditional Celtic musical instruments.
Greta Gothard, 27, and her sisters Willow, 25, and Solana, 19, all sing, play violin and are championship dancers. Greta also plays guitar and keyboards, Willow has mastered the mandolin and Solana plays the various percussion instruments and the pennywhistle. They count among their influences Mary Black, Enya, Natalie MacMaster, Edgar Meyer, Nickel Creek and Loreena McKennitt.
The sisters and their mother returned home earlier this week from a national tour that took them to 21 states.
In January, the Gothards were named best new Irish artists by the Irish Music Awards based in Kansas City.
“The awards involve musicians from throughout the United Kingdom, Canada and the U.S., so we were very excited to win,” Greta Gothard said.
Their most recent CD release is “Compass,” which they promoted on this past year’s tour, she said.
“We visited some huge Celtic music festivals in the Midwest and on the East Coast,” Gothard said. “Full-time touring can be tiring, but we had our eyes opened to what the rest of the country is about.”
Audiences in Stanwood and Edmonds can expect an energetic variety show from the sisters, Gothard said.
“We think of ourselves as entertainers now because live audiences expect more,” she said. “Music is still a big part of what we do, but we are trying to engage our audiences. If we are into it and keeping it fresh and trying new things in our shows, our fans will be there, too.”
After Taste of Edmonds, the Gothards are playing at the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden. In September, they return to the road, but will be back in Edmonds for a Christmas concert on Dec. 11 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.
The sisters say they are happy to be home, away from the heat and humidity in other parts of the country.
“This is the best place,” Greta Gothard said. “It will be great this month to connect with our longtime fans in Snohomish County, who we haven’t seen for more than six months, as well as have time to relax and write some music.”
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; email@example.com. Twitter: @galefiege.
Stanwood Camano Community Fair
When: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 1 and 2, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 3
Where: 6431 Pioneer Highway, Stanwood.
Tickets: $10 general admission or $20 for all three days. Children and seniors get in for $7 and preschoolers are free.
More information is at www.stanwoodcamanofair.org.
Friday: Erick Haines, 2 p.m.; Ron Stubbs, 3 p.m.; Brittany Collins, 5 p.m.; Swingnuts, 5:30 p.m.; Blues Playground, 6 p.m.; Left Turn Only, 7 p.m.; Trainwreck, 8 p.m.; Chance McKinney, 9 p.m.
Saturday: Blueberry Hill, noon; Eric Haines, 1 p.m.; Leanna Crawford, 1:30 p.m.; Ron Stubbs, 2 p.m.; Left Turn Only, 4 p.m.; Turner and Joe, 5 p.m.; David’s Drinking Band, 5:30 p.m.; Mixtape Minus, 6 p.m.; Perfect by Tomorrow, 7 p.m.; Strutz, 8 p.m.; Heart by Heart, 9 p.m.
Sunday: Erick Haines, 12:30 p.m.; Brittany Collins, 1 p.m.; Jesse Taylor, 2 p.m.; Classic Roads, 3 p.m.; Gothard Sisters, 4 p.m.