Summer readers boogie to beat of Bogg’s band

Arrrr! Discover why Captain Bogg & Salty’s band continues
to delight SE Portland kids at this open-air music fest …

Jayla Boumann is turned into a perfect pirate puppy by event organizer Ann Knutson.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The stage is set up; the PA system is in place, the instruments have been tuned. Hundreds of kids (and their parents) – dressed in bandanas and eye-patches, and carrying plastic swords – are streaming into Sellwood Park.

That could mean only one thing, as the clouds cleared on the afternoon of August 27 – an appearance by the west coast’s favorite “pirate band”, Captain Bogg & Salty, again preparing to serenade the Sellwood Library’s summer readers.

Captain Bogg warms up the audience, asking, “How many here read a book? OK, how many here have ever seen a book?”

The pirate rock band has kids up and dancing during their first number.

This event, held in partnership with the Sellwood Community Center, annually celebrates the end of the library’s summer reading program, explains event organizer Ann Knutson, full-time library assistant at the Sellwood Branch Library, as she face-paints a Pirate Puppy.

“This event brings the community together, and gives us a chance to celebrate the reading accomplishments of our kids,” explains Knutson. “And, it seems, everyone loves Captain Bogg & Salty’s Pirate Band – they’re a big supporter of our library and the summer reading program.”

Dancing to the pirate band’s beat is Mckenna Arndt, holding Hayden Floyed.

About a thousand attendees enjoy Captain Bogg & Salty’s Pirate Band, performing outdoors at Sellwood Park.

This particular branch library’s summer reading program signed up 1,500 summer readers, with ages ranging from “very young” to kids in their late teens.

“This event gives us the opportunity to hank the half a dozen volunteers here today, and the 40 teenagers who help us during the summer reading program,” Knutson adds. “They just do a great job. And, we couldn’t be successful without the support of the Sellwood Community Center staff and volunteers.”

Captain Bogg works the crowd by wandering away from the stage, looking for kids to sing along with him.

Band on the run
As the band moves swiftly from the park’s red-brick brick utility building that serves as their dressing room, First-mate McGraw – the band’s lead guitar player – pauses to speak with us.

“This is one of our favorite shows,” McGraw says. “We look forward to performing here all year long. It’s such a beautiful setting, there is unlimited space so everyone can move around, and we have such a great, and big, crowd.”

Asked if having a good audience makes a difference, McGraw replies, “We love the great energy we get back from this audience. They seem to be really into the music.”

While it is a bit odd for a pirate-themed rock-and-roll band to also be chosen as a favorite kids group, McGraw says they’re pleased to find that people of all ages enjoy their musical act; even those in libraries. “There is literate side to piracy rooted in ‘Treasure Island’. I guess we really only have one book to stand on, but it counts for something in the library!”

The expression of joy on the faces of his young fans is evident, as the good Captain croons another tune.

Dancing to the Peg-leg Tango
As the band takes the stage, a cheer ripples across the audience, now nearing about a thousand strong.

Both kids and their parents dance to the lively beat of the music, sing along with their favorites – and make the secret sign of the pirate: The hooked finger.

As the band plays, it’s difficult to tell who is enjoying the show more – the audience or the band. The band’s motto seems to be a reverse of the one embodied by the “Pirates of the Caribbean”: “Give all you can; hold nothing back!”

It wouldn’t be a complete show without the Captain’s special brand of choreography.

Pirate Festival starts September 20
As the band packs up, McGraw reminds us that the Pacific Northwest’s premier pirate festival – for families to enjoy – runs September 20 and 21.

“I know it’s out of your territory, scribe, bein’ in St. Johns in Cathedral Park under the bridge and all … but we welcome ye scallywags from the East!” he exclaims.

When we visited that event in the past, we’ve found great musical acts (yes, there are other, pirate bands, albeit inferior to Captain Bogg & Salty), lively costumed entertainers, a vast marauder’s market of pirate treasures, children’s rides and activities, and international cuisine worthy of Blackbeard himself – as, in fact, their promotional scrolls state.

Interested? To find out more, you’ll be whisked off, like a schooner under full sheetsm to their web site if you CLICK HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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