Summer Solstice Festival

Show me the light


What: Summer Solstice Music Festival

When: 1 pm Sat., Jun. 22

Where: Guemes Island General Store, Guemes Island

Cost: $15-$20


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

I usually don’t mind darkness. I’m not making a dramatic existential statement—I’m talking about literal darkness. When the seasons change and the days become more night than day, I don’t exactly welcome it like some kind of vampire, but I don’t shun it either.

I hate the cold, but I can get down with the dark.

Until last winter.

For the first time, the shortening of the daylight hours and the increasing encroachment of night felt oppressive. I didn’t become depressed or distressed, but nor was I zesty and full of life. I ventured forth from my house sparingly, complained often and wished mightily for the return of my former agnostic attitude regarding the dying of the light.

However, mostly I paid close attention once the days began to lengthen discernibly. Like a cat stretching in a sunbeam, I expanded once again into the practices, places and corners of my life that I’d put on hiatus until a lighter, brighter time. Now that the daylight hours are almost impossibly long, I have to admit, I feel like a lighter, brighter version of myself as well.

This is my longhand way of saying that I never really understood why the solstices are such a big deal to people. Mind you, I support any occasion that necessitates a celebration, so my position on any/all solstice-related events falls into the general category of Bring It On. This year, though, I’m down to do more than a little commemorating of the longest day of the year.

Thankfully, just when I choose to get serious about the solstice, there happens to be a serious solstice celebration for me to attend. Even better, it will happen in a locale that is as unlikely as it is magical: the Guemes Island General Store.

Guemes Island is a literal five-minute ferry ride from Anacortes—and is proof that it takes very little time to be transported a world away from the mainland and its problems, trials and concerns. One need not travel to an exotic locale to have an island vacation. With its welcoming nature—and limited cell service—Guemes Island is prime staycation real estate, even when the General Store isn’t throwing one or another of its inclusive, come-one-come-all events.

But the Summer Solstice Music Festival, which takes place Sat., June 22, isn’t just any old party. It’s a pretty big deal—the kind of big deal that had me looking at the live music lineup and wondering how many of its signature fried cheese curds and Hoagie Juan Kenobi sandwiches the Guemes Island General Store had to promise to the bands and musicians scheduled to play to lure them to the island.

Probably not many once the bands caught wind they’d be playing on an outdoor stage in an idyllic spot that features a killer menu of locally focused food and beverages, with the expanse of the Guemes Channel as their backdrop. For folks accustomed to performing on sticky stages in dark bars, the Summer Solstice Music Festival might just sound like a little slice of heaven.

Or at least, that’s what I imagine drew the likes of the Smokey Brights and the Cave Singers to sign on to this solstice soiree. Seattle’s Smokey Brights are anchored by Kim West and Ryan Devlin, who began as songwriting partners that evolved into life partners. Now married, they remain as committed to their music as they are to each other, somehow melding their love of stoner rock with their disco sensibilities to create music that’s made for dancing.

As everyone from around these parts is well aware, the Cave Singers are Seattle music royalty. Comprised of one part Murder City Devils and Pretty Girls Make Graves (Derek Fudesco), one part Hint Hint (Pete Quirk), and one part Cobra High (Marty Lund). Before the Fleet Foxes spawned Father John Misty, and bands like the Head and the Heart and Band of Horses centered Seattle firmly at the heart of the neofolk movement, the Cave Singers were simultaneously lulling and wowing us with their debut album Invitation Songs. Their sound has evolved in the dozen or so years since, but the massive amount of talent contained within the band has never wavered and is always on full display during their live shows.

Augmenting this lineup of heavy hitters is Bob Fossil, Milo Matthews, and a showcase from the Anacortes Music Project featuring Pearl Tottenham, Ristfut, and Kalopsia. Between those acts, you’ll be treated to the circus magic of the Bunion Sisters and comedic juggling by highly skilled vaudevillians Wren and Della. Food will be available for purchase, and Aslan beer will be flowing throughout the day.

In order to maximize the lengthy day, the music begins at 2pm and concludes just before the final ferry sailing of the night. However, should you decide you don’t want to worry about ferry schedules and being on time for things after a day of island revelry, it’s worth noting that those who book a weekend stay at the Guemes Island Resort get to attend the Solstice Festival free of charge.

With a party such as this one on the horizon, the dark days and endless nights of the winter seem a long way off. Summer solstice, you’ve shown me the light. Consider me your newest convert.

Paradise Silver Reef
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