by BLAIR TELLERS and CARRIE SCOZZARO & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & S & lt;/span & troll under the pines, meet the artists and hear some fun tunes this weekend as summer kicks off with ArtFest, the annual outdoor arts festival presented by the MAC in Coeur d'Alene Park in Browne's Addition. The 129 visual artists are an obvious draw, but ArtFest offers plenty of food, a beer and wine garden (open till 10 pm Friday and Saturday), artist demonstrations, hands-on projects for the kids and a full lineup of live music.
"It's sick and it's phat and it's really remarkable," deadpans music director/jazz hipster Craig Volosing of the 16 different musical acts appearing over the three days of the festival. A trumpet player in the five-piece horn section Underworld Orchestra Horns, Volosing will also be performing alongside ArtFest's headliner, Too Slim and the Taildraggers (Saturday, 8-9:45 pm).
"With ArtFest, we're not sitting back there on little chairs and playing our little music," says Volosing. "We're right out there in front -- blazing."
Spokane's own Too Slim and the Taildraggers frequent the Billboard charts for top Blues albums and are recognized internationally. Volosing enthusiastically describes the band as a "power-blues rockabilly-swamp-Americana-kick-ass blues band."
Originally from Spokane, Tim "Too Slim" Langford is lead guitarist and vocalist of the Taildraggers. Langford says his group doesn't limit itself to a particular genre. "We try to incorporate all kinds of musical influences, like rock, blues, country and jazz," says Langford. "We kind of reach into the old Americana grab bag and mix it up a little bit."
Other ArtFest genres include standard jazz, old-time rock, folk, Celtic and country. The music stage will feature bands playing until 10 pm on both Friday and Saturday nights. (The food booths and the beer garden stay open until 10 pm both nights, too.)
Also making a much-anticipated appearance on the ArtFest stage is the Hot Club of Spokane (Friday, 8-9:45 pm), a group with sounds similar to the soundtracks for Chocolat and The Triplets of Belleville. Hot Club plays the energetic blend often called "Jazz Manouche" -- a brand of jazz that emerged in Paris in the 1930s, exhibiting "an old style of French cabaret and Gypsy jazz, mostly associated with the great old guitarist Django Reinhardt," says Volosing.
Many of the visual artists are returning from years past, like Paul Wisdom of Dharmaworks, creator of Asian-inspired steel-bamboo lighting and furnishings. Nathan and Mary Eberle of Spokane's aNeMonE transform paper into longlasting daisies, roses and other flora while Hitomi Johnson folds Japanese "washi" paper to create quilt-patterned gift boxes.
New to ArtFest this year are polymer clay artist Jackie Zrihen of Eugene and Loretta Martinez, who uses stained glass in both traditional copperfoil technique and mosaic with colorful artworks that glimmer in the sunlight.
Functional artwork ranges from candles to puzzles to hand-tooled leather by Coeur d'Alene's Mark and Mary Rogers, toys made from hardwoods by Salem's Jake Szramek, and Craig Windom's furniture, such as seating and frames, all incorporating vintage objects like watch parts, rulers and pool cues.
"What we're trying to do basically is have a really nice art experience for everybody," says Volosing. "It's a visual arts and music festival."
ArtFest, at Coeur d'Alene Park (Second and Hemlock) in Browne's Addition, runs Friday-Sunday, May 30-June 1. Artist booth hours are noon-8 pm on Friday, 10 am-8 pm Saturday, and 10 am-5 pm Sunday. (Come visit us at the Inlander booth!) Food and entertainment available until 10 pm Friday and Saturday. Call 456-3931.