By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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It is one strange and wonderful circus, promises Sophie Pipia, the younger half of the Pipia Sisters.
The New Old Time Chautauqua is a vaudevillian blend of magic, feats and music to tumble across the American Legion Hall stage at 7 p.m. Sunday.
“It's not something that happens in Port Townsend very often,” said Pipia.
To wit, the New Old Time Chautauqua performers include, but are not limited to:
■ The larger-than-life yet nimble puppet known as Godfrey Daniels;
■ The Flying Karamazov Brothers, who declare they have “reinvented juggling forever;”
■ Poet Kevin Murphy, author of Between Onions and Oxygen;
■ The Fighting Instruments of Karma Band;
■ Chautauqua Ring Leader and youngest juggler Miles Freelan, 11;
■ The Skitnik band, purveyors of Balkan-inspired music;
■ Pipia Sisters: Phina, 25, on guitar and Sophie, 21, on accordion;
■ Those Juggling Jollies, acrobatically inclined young men from Bellingham.
The New Old Time Chautauqua's mission is to bring old-fashioned live entertainment to small towns, schools, prisons and retirement homes across the country.
The three-decades-old company has traveled from Louisiana to Alaska; last summer, a couple of the stops were the Oregon Country Fair and a prison in eastern Oregon.
“How lucky we are” to perform at such a variety of places, said Joey Pipia, the tuxedo-clad Port Townsender who is the Chautauqua's Commissioner of Comedy.
“People should not be allowed to have this much fun in one night,” he joked.
Seriously, each performer goes all out with his chosen art form, Joey said.
“What you're getting is everybody's finest 10 minutes,” whether it's juggling or playing genre-defiant music the way the Pipia Sisters — yes, his daughters — do.
The Chautauquans had a peak experience this past July, Joey added, when they did a show at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Facility. Afterward, they received a message from Dale, an inmate.
Impact on people
Dale writes: “Most of us are ordinary people who made a few bad choices. We really appreciate your large group looking beyond our pasts and coming in to share so much energy and excitement . . . The best words I could use to describe your group were 'Freedom of Expression.' You guys just have no inhibitions, no reservations, and live life to the fullest.
“Nearly every member glows with happiness because they are doing what they want to do. Too many people live in self-imposed prisons, with walls built from trying to conform to what others want or think.
“You gave us a taste of real personal freedom, which is so much more than removing the bars and walls. Once again thank you for bringing so much to us. Best wishes, Dale.”
“Isn't that incredible,” Joey said softly.
Doors will open at
6:30 p.m. for Sunday's New Old Time Chautauqua show at the American Legion, 209 Monroe St. Tickets, at $16 for adults and $12 for children 11 and younger, are available at www.brownpapertickets.com and at the Food Co-op, 414 Kearney St.
The Chautauquans' visit to Port Townsend this time is sponsored by SOS Printing, Pane d'Amore Artisan Bakery and Metro Bagels.
For more information about the New Old Time Chautauqua and to read its blog, which includes Dale's letter in its entirety, see www.Chautauqua.org.