Jesse Boleyn presents summer concert series

Inspired by a love for the island and a belief in the arts, long-time musician Jesse Boleyn is bringing a summer concert series to the main stage at Orcas Center.

“The center has legendary status. It’s a performance venue that rewards both the audience and performer with near-perfect acoustics,” said Boleyn. “Large concert halls and stadiums can be exciting, but the intimate setting provided for songwriters like myself is to die for because it’s as real as it gets. You can see when I drop a pick or break a string – and that’s the way I like it.”

Boleyn, a songwriter, recording artist, record producer and author, will open the series on Saturday, July 15 with Seattle blues master Nick Vigarino. Both have performed hundreds of concerts across Europe, Canada, and the U.S., including Seattle’s The Triple Door and Columbia City Theater. Boleyn says his “welcome to my living room” approach will also feature several surprise mystery guests.

As a part-time resident of Orcas Island, Boleyn attended one of Martin Lund’s One World concerts (a benefit for island kids), and was moved by his generosity.

“By Martin’s example I simply felt compelled to contribute in some way as well,” he said. “Nurturing the next generation of musicians and artists is critical and something I have always supported.”

From his concert, Boleyn is donating $500 each to Kaleidoscope Preschool and Childcare Center and a local drug and alcohol treatment program. The series is being co-produced by Elizabeth Cameron Lauder, a close relative of film director James Cameron.

“Elizabeth is a highly acclaimed and internationally renowned painter and artist in her own right, and without her financial assistance in matching me dollar for dollar none of this would be possible,” said Boleyn.

Part of a military family, Boleyn grew up in foreign countries, primarily Japan and Germany. He began playing guitar at age 14 and was an original member of the first folk group to perform a mass for the Catholic Church in Europe under the auspices of Cardinal Francis Spellman for 25,000 people in Frankfurt, Germany. Boleyn’s professional career as a performer began in 1979 when he sought out one of his heroes, musician Shawn Phillips. Boleyn auditioned as an opening act for his American tour – and got the gig. Boleyn’s most notable collaboration over the past 38 years is with Chuck Hammer, a guitarist who played with David Bowie and Lou Reed. Their work together has produced a collection of masterful works, and Boleyn will be performing many of those classics.

On Friday, July 21, Boleyn is presenting German-born composer, Grammy-nominated guitar virtuoso Ralf Illenberger. He’s had a successful 30-year career that includes hits in Europe and the U.S. and performances in more than 50 countries. He has produced 16 albums of his own compositions. Illenberger’s orchestral acoustic guitar-stylings create a unique woven tapestry.

On Saturday, Aug. 26 solo American singer and pianist Adey Bell will performing. Her one woman show has been garnering new fans by the thousands. Adey is also the star and musical score composer of the newly released Indie film “The Last Avatar,” premiering later this year on Netflix.

Lighting director and 3-D laser designer Jeff Silverman will present a laser show during Illenberger and Bell’s performances.

“Jeff and I have been friends for many years and worked on several projects together. I asked him if he would like to be included because his former in-laws, Ray and Eileen Jangle, founded Ray’s Pharmacy and donated $50,000 toward initial construction of the center,” said Boleyn.

All shows start at 7:30 p.m. and the cost is $28 for adults and $14 for students. Tickets are available at or by calling 376-2281.

Ralf Illenberger

Ralf Illenberger