Wagner Performing Arts Center is once again becoming a popular venue for Monroe events after years of neglect, thanks to the restorative work of the Monroe Arts Council.
But the building needs many renovations, most immediately new bathrooms that are accessible to wheelchairs.
So the Monroe Arts Council is holding an unusual fundraiser to help pay for restrooms; they are bringing two bluegrass bands in for a benefit concert Saturday evening.
“We have been trying to raise money to build these bathrooms for quite a while now, but they cost a bit,” said Kim Hoover of the Monroe Arts Council. “This will go towards that.”
Bluegrass is one of the most American of music forms. It originated in the Appalachian mountains, and includes Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English music, as well the use of such traditional British Isles instruments as mandolin and fiddle.
Added in America was the African banjo and often the gut bass, or washtub bass, an innovation of a stick with a single string tied to it that uses an inverted tub as a resonator and is played by adjusting the tension of the string as it is plucked.
Much of the music is traditional to England and the Isles, including old ballads and reels, but it also includes American gospel forms.
Vocal harmony is a large part of bluegrass, and it has formed the basis of a lot of modern music including folk and roots rock.
The Money Creek Mining Company, a bluegrass band based in Everett, is a four-piece band of husband-wife team LuAnn Price and Michael Johnson, Duvall bassist Dave Toler and Steven Leming, a Wenatchee native, on banjo and dobro.
LuAnn Price grew up with the bluegrass tradition; her mother was a performer on West Virginia radio and Price was involved with music at church as a child. After moving to Washington, she was in a Gold Bar bluegrass band for a while, and has been playing bluegrass in the region for many years.
She is a vocalist and rhythm guitarist in Money Creek Mining Company, and influences include Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton.
Her husband Michael Johnson plays mandolin and guitar and has also been playing all his life.
All the members sing, and have decades of experience between them.
To learn more, visit http://www.moneycreekbluegrass.com.
The Stillwater Hill Bluegrass Band will join headliners Money Creek Mining Company at the Performing Arts Center.
Stillwater Hill plays a lot of traditional bluegrass featuring fiddle songs, gospel and country, and instruments include washtub bass, fiddle, banjo, mandolin and guitar.
The bathroom project is likely to cost about $150,000. So far, the MAC has won some grants and applied for more, and has found a lot of donated labor and some discounted materials, which will bring the costs down.
Tickets are $7; family packs are available for $15.
The doors open at 5 p.m. Saturday, June 14, and there will be vendors, crafts and food to begin the evening. Music starts at 7 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com, or at the door.