The name David Arkenstone evokes images of warriors and wizards and heroic quests.
But while he’s not going to be slaying dragons with his piano or lifting his guitar out of an enchanted stone anytime soon, Arkenstone is looking for adventure in Enumclaw when he comes to perform at The Chalet this weekend on May 14.
The “An Evening with David Arkenstone & Friends” tour is the first time the five-time Grammy nominee is visiting the Pacific Northwest, outside playing with a Top 40 band in the area many years ago and recording for an album once in Vancouver.
“I haven’t taken my original music to the Pacific Northwest before now,” he said in a recent interview. “So it’s a big moment for me.”
You’d be forgiven if you thought his last name is a stage name, especially if you’re a J. R. R. Tolkien fan, but it is in fact his legal name, and has no relation to the precious stone Thorin and Co. are searching for in the Lonely Mountain.
However, “The Lord of the Rings” is Arkenstone’s No. 1 book to read — when he has time to do so.
“That [series] just changed my life when I first read it. It has a lot to do with me as an artist, I think, just the way the story unfolds and the characters and the settings and things like that,” he said. “It made me want to put that into my music. I’ve done two ‘Music Inspired by Middle Earth’ recordings.”
Not all of Arkenstone’s music is inspired by Tolkien — the upcoming show also promises some Celtic-influenced pieces and neo-classical works with progressive rock and orchestral music through in — but many of his albums certainly revolve around the idea of adventure.
“My first Grammy-nominated album was called ‘In the Wake of the Wind’, which was an adventurous album. We came up with a story about a young man who goes on an adventure on the sea. So we’re playing a couple of songs from that, which I’ve never played live before, so I’m very excited about that,” he said, adding that the album eventually turned into a trilogy. “… the two albums following that, Quest of the Dream Warrior and Return of the Guardians, are all part of that same universe. So those three albums tell a larger story, but each album is a collection of stories.”
It was Arkenstone’s thirst for adventure that ultimately led him to chose to perform at The Chalet, passing over larger, more well-known venues.
“… It looks so beautiful. When I looked it up on the map and I saw pictures, it was like, wow, you got Mount Rainier in your neighborhood. It’s beautiful,” he said of Enumclaw. “I like playing smaller independent theaters because there’s more rapport with the audience that way. They’re right there. You can see them instead of a 3,000-seat theater, you don’t know who’s in the back. It’s a disconnection.”
Playing 17 shows means Arkenstone and his band, consisting of Terre Lee on violin, Kimberly Zaleski with the flute, percussionist Josh Gilgoff, and Pierre Derycz amd Carlyn Kessler on cello, are traveling around the PNW fast.
Still, he hopes to experience more of “The Gateway to Mount Rainier” than just the inside of its independent theatre.
“I’m hoping that we’re there early enough to where I can check out the town actually because it looks super attractive. That’s part of the reason for traveling and taking in these experiences, when you see the town in the daytime and then playing the next night. When you can see the town and then meet people later at the show, there’s a connection,” he said.
The Chalet’s doors will open at 6 p.m., and the show is expected to start an hour later.
Tickets, which can be bought at chalettheatre.com, are $30 for general admission and $20 for students.
VIP tickets, which are $45, come with a tour-laminate lanyard, a custom compilation CD, preferred seating, a photo for signing, and a post-show autograph meet and greet.
If you can’t catch Arkenstone in Enumclaw, he’ll be playing at the Fremont Abbey Arts Center in Seattle on May 16, and then at the McMenamins Spanish Ballroom at the Elks Temple on May 22.