Seattle musicians form “Alley Band” in Loyal Heights

Several local musicians have teamed up to form what they call the Alley Band, performing regularly in Loyal Heights.

Ballardite Valerie Shields organized the Alley Band last year after the concert halls where the musicians usually perform—Benaroya Hall, McGaw Hall, and the Fifth Avenue Theater—were shut for the pandemic. They first met in the alley between 22nd and 23rd in Loyal Heights, then moved to a garden and finally took to the streets, where they began performing one-hour shows every Sunday on the corner of 23rd Ave NW and NW 83rd St.

Most of the musicians are members of the Fifth Avenue Theater Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra. The charter members are Zart Dombourian-Eby and Joycelyn Eby from Queen Anne Hill, Roberta Downey from Haller Lake and Ballardites John Cunningham, Ingrid Fredrickson, Laura Renz, and Valerie Shields.  About a dozen other musicians have joined in, and each concert has a theme and includes a mixture of classical, pop, and theater tunes.  

Bernice Mohrweis, age 93, has lived in Loyal Heights for 63 years. “The concerts brought our neighbors together during a time when we were all feeling so isolated,” she says.

Another neighbor, Ryan Kellogg, says the Alley Band was, “one of the joys of our neighborhood in 2020, connected neighbors, gave the musicians much-desired performance time, and created new friendships during a difficult year.”

If you want to catch the Alley Band, they’ll be playing this coming Sunday (May 30) at their usual corner (23rd and 83rd) in Loyal Heights. This week’s themes are Memorial Day – Graduation – Neighbors. Concerts usually start with rehearsals at 3:15pm, with the show starting at 4pm sharp. They will take place about twice monthly throughout the summer.

The Alley Band is just one of a number of local artists who have started performing from home. Stephen Wall, a tenor with the Seattle Opera, began his lawn concerts in early April last year when his live performances were canceled. He coined himself the Ballard Opera Man, offering both live and recorded performances throughout most of last year.The Ballard Opera Man has resumed his outdoor performances, singing for neighbors from his lawn every Friday at 5pm at 9th Ave NW and NW 60th Street.

The Alley Band is just one of a number of local artists who have started performing from home. Stephen Wall, a tenor with the Seattle Opera, began his lawn concerts in early April last year when his live performances were canceled. He coined himself the Ballard Opera Man, offering both live and recorded performances throughout most of last year.

The Ballard Opera Man has resumed his outdoor performances, singing for neighbors from his lawn every Friday at 5pm at 9th Ave NW and NW 60th Street.

Photo: Ryan Kellogg

*This article has been updated with corrections.

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