Musical pioneer returns to join local music day

June 18, 2013

By Peter Clark

Musician Harold Belskus has taken quite a journey to arrive back in his hometown to perform on National Music Day.

Performing with his group A Cedar Suede on June 21 at Vino Bella as part of the city’s celebration, Belskus said he was pleased to take part in the event. The 2004 Liberty High School graduate said he played in a number of bands before entering the University of Washington in a pre-med program.

Harold Belskus

Harold Belskus

“Then, I realized: I don’t want to be a doctor,” Belskus said.

He decided to follow a musical path, and began his education in composition. Playing multiple instruments and traveling the Western hemisphere led him back to the Cornish College of the Arts, where he earned a degree in 2012.

“I feel really lucky that I was able to turn a passion into a viable career,” Belskus said. “I’ve been lucky enough to balance artistic passion with business.”

He said that performing at parties, in public and with other artists has proven sustainable to continue living a life based around music.

“I also teach and find it to be a very viable way to foster growth,” he said.

The real highlight of the past few years for him has been forming A Cedar Suede. Working with collaborator Jamie Maschler, who plays the accordion, they formed a group based around what guitarist Belskus described as textural and artistic music. Working together, they put out a self-titled album in 2011. Since then, Belskus said a number of new members have been added, playing violin, drums and bass.

“We plan on recording a debut full length this fall,” he said, and that they will probably self-release that album as well. “We’re not in such a hurry to sell ourselves to a record label.”

So far, he said the band has a solid local backing.

“We have a good following in the Pacific Northwest,” he said, adding that he is hoping to continue building a solid fan base. “Our ambition is to have our music afford us to travel to wherever we want.”

Through such travel he believes that it will help the growth of music created by A Cedar Suede.

Belskus praised the city for fostering a level of creativity that helped him succeed with his dreams.

“I think that Issaquah is a very nurturing environment in a lot of ways for artistic expression,” he said. “It has a very deep appreciation for classic yet deep art. It allows for eclectic minds to blossom.”

A Cedar Suede will play at Vino Bella, 99 Front St. N., beginning at 7:30 p.m. Learn more at


On the Web

Issaquah is making music June 21 in celebration of National Music Day. It is the one day a year people around the world celebrate the importance of music through free, open and accessible events throughout the world, according to a press release from the Downtown Issaquah Association. Music Day is celebrated in more than 450 cities and 100 countries.

On Fete de la Musique (International Music Day), musicians take to the streets, sidewalks, and parks to play. Entire communities come out to listen, dance and join in making music. Each community organizes its own events, and each celebration has a distinct expression.

In Issaquah, musicians are taking to the streets throughout Downtown and Gilman Village. Downtown restaurants and merchants will bring live music into their businesses for the night. There will also be several outdoor spots where bands will play, including Hailstone Feed Store, library, train depot and Pedestrian Park.

Bands are already signing up and include the Fabulous Roof Shakers, Train Wreck and Travis Hartnett Trio. Interested musicians should email Karen Donovan at

Additionally, the city will host an All-Instrument Flash Mob performing ‘Louie, Louie’ on the steps of City Hall from 6-6:30 p.m. The public is welcome to attend. Learn more at

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