Churches are often great places to find free music. In Tacoma, Christ Church Episcopal has a fantastic classical choir and Brombaugh organ; Bethany Lutheran has a full five-octave handbell choir; and Immanuel Presbyterian in the North Slope district has a Blues Vespers service, famous for enticing some of the best blues/jazz bands in the area. Tonight the band was Junkyard Jane, with a Martin Luther King Day reflection in the middle.
If you’re thinking of going, get there early. The Vespers is popular, and the streets were parked up several blocks in each direction. While the church was full, there always seems to be room for more, though, and the crowd is a middle-aged, middle-class mix (including dogs,) rather like a well-behaved jazz club with occasional prayer. Pastor David Brown breaks up the 90 minutes of music with silent prayer, poems and a reflective homily, and it all works really well. And yes, there’s a donation plate, but if you really can’t afford it no-one will kick you out.
Leanne Trevalyan was in fine vocal form, and the rest of the band followed her with a smooth, kick-back tempo and some excellent sax solos. They did choose their sets carefully, offering nothing more risqué than “The Devil made me do it,” and while their blues has a hard-edged, roots/country sound it’s very easy on the ear.
Next month it’ll be Mark La Voie and Bill Sims Jr. on Feb. 19. Immanuel Presbyterian Blues Vespers happens at 5 p.m. on third Sundays at 901 N. J St., Tacoma. 253-627-8371, www.ipctacoma.org
Keep following me through my Free Arts Month, as I take in a free arts experience every day in January!