Now Playing: Concerts in the Woods

Editor’s Note: Last month the Voice ran a Spotlight article on Concerts in the Barn. The article below features another excellent music venue, Concerts in the Woods. So, whether you prefer classical, modern, traditional, nostalgic, or an eclectic mix of them all, the Voice can help you get your groove on.

Somewhere down at the “End of the Earth”—well, actually just 14 miles south of the Hood Canal Bridge on the little-known Toandos Peninsula—sits the quietly unassuming Laurel B. Johnson Community Center in Coyle, home of Concerts in the Woods. The music series was founded in 2009 by Coyle resident and long-time local music promoter/supporter Norm Johnson.

After hosting the series for its first 10 years, Johnson began looking for a replacement, hoping to find someone who would share his enthusiasm for showcasing a variety of music genres with an emphasis on as much local talent as he could spotlight. Mats Mats resident Joe McKinstry stepped in and now, after an 18-month Covid-19 caused delay, McKinstry is hosting the shortened 2021 season, which kicked off last month. The next performance, Saturday, August 21, at 7:30 p.m., will feature musician John “Greyhound” Maxwell, who was voted best acoustic blues guitarist by Washington Blues Society.

Blues musician John “Greyhound” Maxwell will perform guitar,
mandolin, and vocals at Music in the Woods on August 21.
Photo by Crystal Craig

The concerts are for all ages, featuring the best of folk, Americana, country, singer/songwriter, jazz, Appalachian, bluegrass, Celtic, and more. Two 45-minute sets of music comprise the performances and admission are by donation; no tickets are sold for the shows. Complimentary cookies and coffee are served at intermission.  

Concerts in the Woods is usually a year-round series, said McKinstry, but due to the pandemic-related delay in starting up, the 2021 season will be limited to about nine shows through December. A return to a full slate of 20 shows is expected in 2022, with a variety of talented local and national musicians on the schedule.

“Fans of Concerts in the Woods can take heart that Norm Johnson will still be very much a part of the series, offering his expertise and guidance to help maintain the family- and artist-friendly environment he created,” said McKinstry. “In fact, Norm is planning to be in attendance at many of the shows, so long-time attendees just might be seeing that familiar and friendly face.”

There are no services in Coyle—no gas station, no restaurant, and no market. Concertgoers should be prepared for a rustic experience. They should also be prepared for a beautiful drive through the woods just west of Hood Canal, and a memorable afternoon/evening of music.

For a calendar of upcoming performances, as well as directions to Concerts in the Woods, see