Marc Cohn and Blind Boys of Alabama

There’s nothing like the musical musings of beloved classics. On Saturday, Jan. 27, Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Marc Cohn and the Blind Boys of Alabama will bring theirs to Tacoma’s Broadway Center for the Performing Arts. 

Cohn’s fans will surely come to hear their favorites from his cache of visionary songwriting. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of his platinum-selling debut album, Cohn will be playing through all of the nostalgic, original classics from that self-titled album.

In an interview with Park Record earlier this year, Cohn said, “I never take for granted that I have an audience, and I’m very grateful for that. So I try to play the songs my fans come to hear.” He added that some artists hate it when there are certain things that are expected, “but it doesn’t bother me at all.”

The key to staying fresh throughout his career, he says, is trying new things with his older stuff. His most recent album release, last year’s Careful What You Dream: Lost Songs and Rarities, featured a collection of demos written and recorded in his early years. Cohn talked about it in an interview with The Sacramento Bee, saying he’d somehow forgotten about those songs. That album, he says, has old demos with songs that his fans know, and also “10 or twelve songs that nobody knows.”

In concert with Cohn, the Blind Boys of Alabama will bring their own arsenal of exciting and traditional southern music. After decades and decades of their southern roots style, today they’re easily recognized as an innovative gospel-style, southern rock band. by Jordan Marie McCaw

Marc Cohn with the Blind Boys of Alabama

Saturday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m.

Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, 901 Broadway, Tacoma

22nd Annual Model Train Festival

Welcome to a journey through the miniature world of model trains! The Washington State Historical Society’s 22nd Annual Model Train Festival chugs into town December 22, 2017 and is open through January 1, 2018. The festival takes place at the History Museum in Tacoma. The state’s largest permanent model train layout is always featured at the museum, operated by Puget Sound Model Railroad Engineers; the Model Train Festival brings other railroad clubs from around Puget Sound to share their amazingly detailed layouts. Visitors can travel among the many displays, watch dozens of tiny engines rolling across trestles and through tunnels, talk with the operators, and make their own train creations in the TNT Activity Room.

“It’s certainly the most wonderful time of the year at the museum,” said Molly Wilmoth, the museum’s lead program manager.  “Every available nook and cranny is activated by trains, enchanting kids of every age with intricate, realistic layouts. And the hands-on Activity Room is stocked with toy trains, Legos and Lincoln Logs; it is always a highlight for families.”

Santa is making a stop at the Model Train Festival, too. Come to the museum on Friday, December 22 or Saturday, December 23, from 11:00 AM through 3:00 PM to greet this cheerful visitor from the North Pole and take advantage of a free holiday photo opportunity.

“The Historical Society really enjoys hosting the Model Train Festival. The festival has become a popular holiday tradition for families and their guests because it delights the child in all of us. Everyone has fun watching the model trains and just enjoying the festive atmosphere, not to mention learning a bit about the history of railroads while they’re here,” said the museum’s director, Jennifer Kilmer.

In addition to the model trains, in the Great Hall of Washington History visitors can see artifacts and find out more about how the railroads influenced growth and development in Washington State. The Telegraph – Morse Code Club will present an interactive display chronicling the history of the telegraph as it relates to railroading. Visitors can also stop by Operation Lifesaver’s exhibit, educating the public about safety at railroad highway crossings and the dangers of trespassing on railroad property. Their current focus is the new Amtrak route between Tacoma and Nisqually.

The Tacoma Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS) will be on-site to celebrate and promote the 20th anniversary of Rail Camp, which gives teens the opportunity to spend a week with other teens who share railroad interests. The NRHS crew will also honor the end of an era: Since 1914, at least one train per day, almost every day, carried passengers from Portland to Tacoma, rolling along the Puget Sound shoreline and Commencement Bay. That passenger service ends on December 18, 2017. NRHS will share photos and stories of the route’s 103-year history.

Bring the railroad buffs in your life to the Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, for this annual celebration of holiday cheer and history. Details at

The museum will be closed on December 24, Christmas Eve, and December 25, Christmas Day.

Get your glow on

With Jack Frost nipping at your nose now is a perfect time to bundle up and head outside to enjoy the frosty weather with family and friends for a special holiday escapade featuring traditional and new Tacoma attractions.

First, lace up your skates and glide across the ice at the new Frozen Fountain Ice Skating Rink.  Relocated from Tollefson Plaza this winter, the community-focused ice rink makes it’s debut appearance at Tacoma’s latest hot spot– Point Ruston. A few turns around the ice is a healthy way to get some exercise on these nippy days and will bring a glow to your cheeks that will warm you from head to toe. Take a break and grab a bite to eat at any one of the great new restaurants.

After your ice skating adventures head up to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium to enjoy the spectacular light displays at Zoolights. With over half a million twinkling bulbs everyone will love the humorus 3-D glowing creations brought to life. This year’s animal light displays feature hammerhead sharks and sea turtles (coming in next year’s new aquarium) as well as carnivorous plants with their insect prey, a majestic polar bear family, a gorgeous giant Pacific octopus and a whimsical 30-foot-wise underwater landscape. Add a ride on a camel or the carousel to your outing to make it a holiday to remember.

After a chilly evening of skating and dazzling lights you’ll be ready to sip some cocoa and snuggle in for a long winter’s sleep.

The Indigo Frozen Fountain Ice Rink

Frozen Fountain

Regular Hours:

Mon-Thurs: 4pm – 9pm
Fri: 4pm – 10pm
Sat: 10am – 10pm
Sun: 10am – 9pm
*All Hours Subject to change

Holiday Hours:

Winter Break | Mon. – Thurs. 10am – 10pm
Christmas Eve: 10am – 9pm
Christmas Day: 10am – 9pm
New Years Eve: 10am – 1am
New Years Day: 10am – 10pm
*All Hours Subject to change


Point Defiance Zoolights
Opens Daily 5-9 pm; Closed 12/24

Tacoma City Ballet Has a New Home

Tacoma City Ballet has officially become the resident dance company of the new Federal Way Performing Arts and Event Center. The change of venue for the ballet, welcomed by Federal Way, means that The Nutcracker of Tacoma will now be in Federal Way.

“I’m happy moving to Federal Way,” Ceragioli said. “The stage is bigger and there’s more wing space; the orchestra pit holds 52 musicians; and the box office is inside the beautiful, huge lobby. It will be very convenient for our audiences because there’s plenty of free parking, as well as nearby shopping and restaurants. It’s wonderful working in such a warm and inviting atmosphere.”

The Tacoma City Ballet has an exciting season planned, kicking off with the timeless holiday classic of the most famous ballet in the world. Now told in its entirety, The Tale of The Hard Nut is presented alongside the traditional Russian , creating a glorious production filled with dancing, live orchestral music, grand scenery and lavish costumes, bearing all of the original trappings of the beautiful 1892 Russian production.

In April and May, audiences can enjoy the storybook classic Cinderella, followed by a full-scale production of Dracula next October. All Tacoma City Ballet productions are accompanied by the Tacoma City Ballet Orchestra.

Tacoma City Ballet


Federal Way Performing Arts and Event Center


Kelly Lenihan

Washington College Savings Plans

Washington parents will have a new way to save for college this year. The state is opening DreamAhead, a type of 529 plan offered by many other states. 529 college savings plans help families save for future higher education expenses—making college more affordable and thus more accessible.

Parents may also pay tuition in advance at a set price today through the state’s Guaranteed Education Tuition, or GET, plan. This plan just reopened on Nov. 1, after being closed for two years. Since 1998, GET has paid out more than $1 billion to 50,000 students attending schools nationwide.

DreamAhead 529 College Investment Plan

Intended to complement the GET program and provide additional savings options for Washington families, DreamAhead works differently than GET. DreamAhead’s investment returns will be tied to financial market performance.

Families interested in saving with DreamAhead will have multiple investment choices with varying degrees of customization and risk. “Year of enrollment” options will automatically adjust the investment mix as a student gets closer to college age. Stand-alone options will give investors flexibility to set and adjust their investment mix as they go.

GET Prepaid Tuition Program

GET allows participants to pay for future tuition via GET “units” purchased in advance. The new, lower unit price is $113 for the current enrollment period of Nov. 1, 2017, to May 31, 2018. GET units can be purchased in whole or partial amounts, from one to 600 units per student.

One hundred GET units are guaranteed to pay for a year of resident, undergraduate tuition and state-mandated fees at the state’s most expensive public college, no matter how much tuition costs may go up since the units were purchased. GET units can be used to pay college costs practically anywhere in the country and even at schools around the world.

Because GET is a state 529 plan, the after-tax money you put in will grow tax-free. When your child is ready for college, the money you withdraw will remain tax-free, as long as you use it for qualified higher education expenses.

You can open an account for anyone—your child, grandchild, a friend or even yourself. The only requirement is that either the account owner or the student is a Washington resident when you enroll in the program.

The earlier you start saving—such as when the child is in preschool or elementary—the greater the opportunity for increased value of your GET account. Why not “get” the whole family involved (grandparents, aunts and uncles) on birthdays or holidays and start saving today?

For more information on these two college savings plans, visit:


Kelly Lenihan

Creative Forces Celerates 5 years

Promoting and honoring local artists, Creative Forces Gifts & Sundries is celebrating five years in business. Owner Carolyn Osborne believes that people come back to Creative Forces because they enjoy the variety, they know the importance of local and they know that she loves promoting the art of every one of her artists.

“They also know that they don’t have to ‘check’ to see if it’s local,” adds Osborne. “If it’s in Creative Forces, it’s 100 percent local. I believe that people who come back to the shop enjoy the ‘relationship’ that we establish. They know I’m a real person, realizing a longtime dream. Passion is important!”

Located in Tacoma’s Hotel Murano, the shop opened featuring 12 artists. Now it features 63, with most of the original artists still showcased there. “I have known artists, artists have found me, and I have found them,” recalls Osborne. “One artist, Nola Tresslar, had posted a piece on Facebook and I loved it, so I found more information on her, called her, and it turns out she lives within walking distance of my home!”

The art ranges from textiles to paintings to leather to blown glass. On the third Thursday of every month, the shop hosts an Art & Wine Night from 5 to 9 p.m. “People often forget what they came looking for once they step inside and see all the art,” Osborne says.

“I always wanted to open a gallery to feature my work as well as promote local artists. Not the artists that are famous and have big money behind them. I’m talking about the amazing, talented people that walk among us. Those are the ones often overlooked because of the lack of places that show local work. They are incredible people with a gift and amazing energy.”

No big changes are coming to Creative Forces anytime soon—Osborne will simply continue to feature local artists, as well as her own art. “I have watched Creative Forces grow in the number of artists,” she says. “And most importantly I have watched as more and more local people are becoming aware of our existence.” by Jordan Marie McCaw

Creative Forces Gifts & Sundries

1320 Broadway, Tacoma


The Star of the Neighborhood: Cooks Tavern

Named by readers as a new favorite in the ShowCase Magazine 2017 readership poll, Cooks Tavern has quickly risen to stardom with its cozy neighborhood atmosphere and mouthwatering menu. Located near the Proctor neighborhood in North Tacoma, Cooks Tavern will easily become your go-to spot any day of the week for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Cooks Tavern offers patrons a solid assortment of dishes that celebrate the food of the Americas, with a healthy shot of comfort foods. From Montreal to Memphis to Machu Picchu, a new menu is debuted every four months celebrating the food, beverages and cultures of a different region of North, Central or South America. Its summer of 2017 offering of Cuban-inspired entrees took your taste buds to the Caribbean with flavorful bites such as shredded pork, grilled Bistec de Palomilla, spiced and grilled gulf shrimp, plantain chips, and grilled pineapple.

If your tastes prefer to stay closer to home, the dinner menu includes a choice of small and large plates that will elevate any day. You’ll always find a fine roast chicken, a cast iron griddled steak and a simply grilled local fish. The perfect pairing for any of these meals can be found in a Northwest beer on tap or bottle of wine. For the more adventurous, a selection of cocktails inspired by the region of the rotating menu may be a better fit.

Breakfast fanatics can satisfy their appetite at any time of day. “One of our foundations as a neighborhood restaurant is to always have breakfast on the menu,” says owner Peter Levy. The morning menu rolls out at 8 a.m. featuring “not so early bird” specials, fresh-cracked egg omelets and Belgian waffles, a few of which transition to dinner offerings as well.

“We’ve been very happy to become part of this community,” says Levy. “Everyone has been so genuine and appreciative.” And that’s a two-way street for Cooks Tavern. The restaurant has hosted four fundraisers since opening in June 2016 to support two local elementary schools, the Children’s Museum of Tacoma and a school in Tacoma’s sister city of Cienfuegos, Cuba.


Cooks Tavern
3201 North 26th St, Tacoma

The Useful and the Eclectic: Fruffles in Centralia and Astoria

Eclectic design says a lot about a person, whether it’s wearable design or décor for the home. Everyone has a specific style they want to convey, and Fruffels is the place to find it.
Fruffels specializes and excels in distinctive gifts, home décor and wearables for women and men. With locations in Centralia and Astoria, the shop’s diverse offerings have customers stopping by to see what’s new every time they drive through town. As Michelle Peak Dragoo posted on Fruffels’ Facebook page: “I love this place! It’s like a wonder emporium for us adults!”

The offerings in Fruffels are seemingly endless. Just take a peek at the online shop and you’ll get an idea of what all is in store. There are lotions and candles, lamps and mirrors, vibrant floral arrangements and hand-painted fruit and veggie bowls. In the boutiques, the items are beautifully placed to showcase their capabilities for utility or decoration.

“A little this, a little that, something for everyone in every price range” is the description for Fruffels’ online store. Imagine one place that offers a dragon or octopus puppet for children, nautical cufflinks for men, and unusual leather purses for women. That’s Fruffels.

Besides home decor and kitchen gadgets, Fruffels also offers design services. These include residential and corporate design, room makeovers, landscape design, and space planning. Customers can use these services to remodel an outdated room or simply to refresh their home by rearranging what they already have. Refreshing and remodeling a home is a “science” that Fruffels is expert in and enjoys putting to use to help others.

For more information about store locations or to peruse the online shop, visit Fruffels on Facebook or at Stop by once and you’ll have a similar reaction to customer Patricia Riffe: “Love your shop and stop there every time I’m in Centralia!”


2017 Gift Guide

Give santa a run for his money with our top picks for holiday giving!

Bitter & Sweet
Bittersweet Chocolates of Olympia.
Affordable handmade artisan chocolates using the finest local, natural and organic ingredients in their beautiful creations.

Warming it Up
Savor market spics tea made and sold locally

Foot loose
Okabashi shoes are proudly designed and manufactured in the USA, as well as being 100% recyclable, fun to wear, and joyfully comfortable.

Build it, baby
LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox, includes over 840 LEGO pieces, plus a LEGO Move Hub, Interactive Motor and a Color & Distance Sensor.

Cooking it up
PolyScience Smoking Gun&trade Handheld Food Smoker. Finish any dish, drink, or sauce with a hint of hickory or applewood using this culinary must-have.

Turn it up
Amazon Echo, a hands-free speaker you control with your voice. Echo connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, make calls, send and receive messages, and provide information, news, sports scores, weather and more—instantly. All you have to do is ask.

The Student Orchestras of Greater Olympia

Student Orchestras of Greater Olympia hasn’t lost its focus—the students—since it began 18 years ago.

SOGO Executive Director Krina Allison recalls the beginning: “Two young teens, Ted and Jeff, came knocking on our door and wanted to talk to my husband and me about starting a youth orchestra organization where the young musicians had input. Then it was six weeks later that we had the name SOGO, budget, conductors, coaches, rehearsal venue, 90 young musicians, and we had our first downbeat!”

Everyone involved in the first year volunteered their time without pay. All tuition went to the maestro John Walsh. About two years ago he announced his retirement, and since then SOGO has been on the hunt for its next maestro.

“We would like to grow in membership and continue to explore more musical opportunities for young musicians,” says Allison. “We are in the process of reexamining our vision for the future, so this is a very exciting time for the organization.” She says there is a committee that has put together the next music director’s job description and they are now in the process of getting the word out.

Allison explains that SOGO “lives outside the box” by discerning what students want to learn and going from there. To keep the focus student-centered, she says, there is a student board that learns leadership and how nonprofit organizations work.

“We have tried different ideas,” she says, and then rattles off some of them: touring to schools, the Sample of SOGO, Media on the Mezz, Chamber Ensembles, Summer Music, Music in the Park, Instrument Petting Zoo, HO HO Brass Choir Holiday Show, and POGO (Play On Greater Olympia), an after-school program for disadvantaged children.

SOGO isn’t afraid to try different and new ways to educate its students. Partnering with other organizations in the area, SOGO encourages and makes possible the students’ desire to learn. For more information about SOGO and the search for its next maestro, visit