Recently we’ve started an exciting new project here at the Anacortes Museum. For years our antique 1866 Packard pump organ sat soundless in our exhibit. Its exquisite design fascinated visitors, but they were barred from its true purpose by a small piece of paper stating, “Please Do Not Touch.” Perhaps, we thought, it was time to take Anacortes’ oldest pump organ out on a spin.
Thus, Organ Territory was born and the organ finally has the chance to sing again! In collaboration with local musicians, we are releasing intimate monthly organ recordings from inside the Carnegie Gallery. After performing, the musicians sit down with us for an interview with conversations exploring the history and community of Anacortes, and learn how these talented artists have sprung up from the fertile musical soil in Anacortes.
When this session with surf rock band The Crabs was recorded in August of 2020, it was a whole lot warmer outside. We were lucky to be able to get anybody together to record due to… the current state of things. So what a pleasure it was to bring Jonn, Lisa and Vince in for a session of summertime jamming by the sea! Their anthemic track “Alien Girl” is played with enthusiasm on the old 1866 Packard Pump Organ. Following was a conversation on the band’s quirky lifespan and how the tides of the Salish Sea found their way into the tones of their guitars. Their tunes can bring you the feeling of warm summer wind and partying at the beach during this particularly cold and lonely winter. Enjoy!
There’s a certain Northwestern sentiment that radiates off of Pearl Tottenham from the moment you meet her. It would be easy to pin it down to her free-spirited DIY attitude, but it’s more than that. There’s a ruggedness to her character--a kind of wisdom that is brought on from years of soul searching. Pearl talks openly about struggles with mental health, and how music has provided essential therapy during her rainiest days. You get the feeling listening to her projects that they are perhaps more for her than for any audience. Though her music is often soft, her character is tough. After all, she grew up listening to the blaring guitars of her father’s band, Enduro.
History, fatherhood, and city planning were all among the topics John Van Deusen talked about when he sat down with us the other day. We chatted for a while and he played us a song on our 1866 Packard Organ, quite possibly the oldest pump organ on Fidalgo Island. The organ has been longing to find someone to harmonize with and John presents himself as the perfect duet partner. The whine of the reeds and John’s melodic shouts blend together almost perfectly into one cohesive instrument. In the song, “Yes, Maybe, No,” Van Deusen sings of abstract ideas, admitting he himself is not quite sure what the piece means yet. Sometimes art is about conveying an idea, sometimes it’s about figuring out what idea you’re trying to convey. It may take a while to fully understand what feeling lies beneath his lyrics, but it was a feeling we all felt hearing him play this ancient instrument. We hope you feel it too.